Four years ago, Leah Sharibu’s world was turned upside down. She went from being a normal schoolgirl in a rural region of Nigeria to being a captive of a faction of one of the world’s most notorious terrorist groups, Boko Haram.
On February 19, 2018, Boko Haram terrorists attacked the Government Girls’ Science and Technical College in Dapchi, Yobe State, in northeast Nigeria. They kidnapped 109 students. However, they quickly released all but one: Leah Sharibu.
The girls who were released said the terrorists would not free Leah, who was just 14 years old at the time, because she refused to renounce her faith in Christ and convert to Islam. The world has not seen or heard from Leah since, but multiple recent reports indicate that she is still alive.
Reverend Gideon Para-Mallam told Open Doors: “It has been almost four years since Leah’s abduction. What a traumatic experience for this teenage girl. But we are grateful to God that she is still alive. The news of her being alive should encourage our hearts to remain hopeful that one day Leah will be set free.”
Reports indicate that Leah may have two young children at this point, likely a result of rape and/or forced marriage to one of her captors. The truth remains unclear, but one thing is for sure—Leah needs our prayers. Here are three ways you can pray for Leah:
1. Pray for Leah’s release from captivity.
This weekend marks the beginning of Leah’s fourth year in bondage. Pray that her captors would have a miraculous change of heart. Also, pray that the Nigerian government—which has blatantly neglected the pleas for help from Nigerian Christians who are routinely victimized by terrorist attacks—would be motivated to locate and rescue Leah.
2. Pray for Leah’s encouragement and protection.
Persecution can place immense strain on one’s character, mental health, and walk with the Lord. Pray that the Lord would encourage Leah and give her the mental, emotional, and physical strength and perseverance she needs. Pray that no harm would come to her body from Boko Haram terrorists or others.
3. Pray for Leah’s family and the many Christians just like Leah who are facing persecution.
One often-forgotten consequence of persecution is the effect it has on the victims’ families. Since her kidnapping, Leah’s family has been distraught. Her mother does not even have proof that her daughter is alive. She has visited the United States to ask American leaders to urge the Nigerian government to help but has little to show for it. Pray that God would comfort Leah’s family while they wait and pray for Leah’s freedom.
Today, Leah is the face of so many persecuted people whose names and stories the world does not know. She reminds us of the price people pay to follow Christ. As we remember that Leah was captured four years ago, please also pray for the millions of others who face religious persecution in Nigeria, China, North Korea, Pakistan, and far too many other places.