Posted by Jide Babalola, Abuja | 14 May 2018 | 1,552 times
Christian groups in Nigeria, United States, United Kingdom and other parts of the world are conducting special prayers to ‘celebrate’ the 15th birthday of Leah Sharibu on Monday.
14 year -old Leah Sharibu was one of 110 girls abducted by the Al Barnawi faction of Boko Haram on 19 February 2018 from the Government Girls Science and Technical College in Dapchi, Yobe State.
Statements sent to The Nation by US-based rights activist, Mr. Emmanuel Ogebe and Khataza Gondwe , the Team Leader, Africa and Middle East of UK-based Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) which works for religious freedom through advocacy and human right , in the pursuit of justice confirm the involvement of several groups and individuals across the world.
“Monday 14 May will be Leah’s 15th birthday, and CSW has planned a solidarity action to raise the profile of her case.
“We will be sending out an official tweet to mark the day, which we are asking people to retweet so we can get #FreeLeah trending; we are also asking people to send their own tweets using #FreeLeah along with #Dapchgirls, and if possible, attaching a picture of themselves holding A4 or A3 signs with the words “#FreeLeah” on them, which we will retweet.
“Similar actions can also be taken via Facebook; please join us in standing in solidarity with this courageous young girl, in calling for her release and in upholding her right to freedom of religion or belief and to education, and please spread the word so others join in too,” Christian Solidarity Worldwide stated.
US-based lawyer, Emmanuel Ogebe who had himself suffered detention under the Abacha administration emphasized that many prayer groups are hopeful that God can touch the heart of Leah’s captors, adding that other Nigerians should join in the global prayer efforts.
“Monday, May 14th will be Leah Sharibu’s birthday; imagine for a moment your daughter or son celebrating their 15th birthday in captivity under the hands of Boko Haram terrorists.
“Leah could have been freed on March 21st, 2018 but instead, she chose not to deny Christ and is now in captivity due to her faith in Jesus Christ; because of the uncommon courage for a girl her age, Leah’s case now represents a defining moment in the persecution of Christians in Nigeria and around the world.
“Let us join in marking Leah’s birthday by praying and working together for her release; let us also remember the Chibok girls and many others, both Christian and Muslim, also kidnapped by Boko Haram and still in captivity.
“Through God’s mercy and grace, may they soon all be set free; Psalm 125:1-2 says those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved but abides forever.
“As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people, from this time forth and forevermore,”.
Following the 19 February 2018 abduction of 110 girls by Boko Haram from the Government Girls Science and Technical College in Dapchi , Yobe State, it returned 104 girls on 21 March, along with two other abductees, a male and female minor.
The move followed the conclusion of an agreement with the government that saw armed forces withdraw from the town, allowing the terrorists unhindered access.
The returning students confirmed that five of the younger students had died during their arduous journey to the terrorists’ camp and had been buried in the bush.
They also confirmed that Leah, the sole Christian among them, had been “held back on religious grounds” due to her refusal to renounce her faith and put on a hijab.
Her friends begged her to pretend to convert so they could all return home together, but she said she could not live with herself if she did that.
As they left Leah sent a message to her mother, Rebecca Sharibu, asking for prayer for the will of God to be done in her life.
In a comment to Nigerian media, her father Nathan Sharibu said: “They gave her the option of converting in order to be released but she said she will never become a Muslim.
“ I am very sad… but I’m also jubilating too because my daughter did not denounce Christ”
Leah’s mother, who was in deep shock, later added: “Even if they shoot Leah there, we believe that she will be with Christ Jesus.”
Text (excluding headline) gleaned from The Nation
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