ABUJA – The militant African group Boko Haram has terrorized Nigerians for nearly 10 years, destroying churches, schools, and homes. The infamously mass murder entire villages of people before burning the villages to the ground. They have taken more than 3,000 women and schoolgirls captive and attempt to convert them to Islam. Those who refuse are subject to multiple rounds of torture and rape. Some are never heard from again. Some who do convert to Islam are radicalized and groomed to become suicide bombers. Those who escape or are set free are deeply traumatized and look forward with joyful anticipation as they come within sight of their homes.
Many of these innocent women return home with young children born as a result of the sexual assaults they have endured. These women, in particular, often do not receive the welcome they had expected.
Instead, they find themselves confronted with the thing they need the least – rejection. Family and friends ostracize them because they have brought ‘Boko Haram babies’ with them. Many Nigerians have a deep-seated cultural belief ingrained by a heritage based on witchcraft that the babies carry ‘bad blood’ from their Boko Haram fathers. The people fear that the child with bring evil upon the family and the community and, when the child is grown and has its own children, its blood will infect them, causing them to become terrorists.
This phobia has been installed in many of these people for generations. Even Christian families struggle with the issue depending upon their grounding in the Word.
Open Doors USA has established trauma care seminars in conjunction with local churches to provide counseling for these young women to help them cope with what they have endured and with the rejection by their families and friends.
Counselors lead the girls to forgive both their captors and their ostracizers – not something that is easy to do. They help the girls to visualize that forgiveness by asking them to write their sorrows and burdens on a piece of paper. Then they ask the girls to pin that paper to a hand-carved wooden cross as a symbol of turning all of those burdens over to the Lord.
One young woman said, “When I pinned that piece of paper to the cross, it felt like I was handing over all my sorrow to God.”
Then, near the end of the seminar, the caregiver removes the notes and burns them to help the girls see that those burdens are given to the Lord no longer exist.
The visualization technique begins to have its effect immediately as the comfort of Christ’s unconditional love and care becomes real and they realize that He will never leave nor forsake them. Their anxiety and spirit of defeat are replaced by a peace that passes all human understanding. It is the peace that only Jesus Christ can give.
- The Christian Post, Teen Who Refused to Renounce Christ Despite Rape by Boko Haram Faces Rejection at Home
- Open Doors USA, No Homecoming for Boko Haram Victims – One Woman’s Story of Scorn, Sorrow and Saving Faith
- By Chifehealth [CC BY-SA 3.0], from Wikimedia Commons