Today marks one year since nearly three hundred schoolgirls in the Nigerian city of Chibok were kidnapped by the terrorist organization Boko Haram. Since that day, many around the world have been holding onto hope that the girls are still safe and can be rescued. Today, and every day, please join together in praying and mobilizing for their peaceful release.
The Chibok kidnapping looms in our memory because it was the event that brought the situation in Nigeria to the attention of the United States. Most people remember, #BringBackOurGirls which circulated around the country. For a while, this situation in Nigeria, which few people had heard about before hand, dominated our social media and our thoughts.
While we continue to think about, pray for, and help the girls of Chibok, it’s also important to think about, pray for, and help the many, many people in Nigeria who have been effected by Boko Haram who have not received the same media attention. And it’s important to remember that this conflict has been going on in Nigeria for far longer than a year.
As members of The Church of the Brethren, this conflict is one that we feel very personally. The Church of the Brethren’s largest body of members is in Nigeria. The COB there is called the Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN). The area in Nigeria served by the EYN, in the northeast, pretty much perfectly overlaps with the area most devastated by Boko Haram. This means that the EYN has felt the sting of Boko Haram more than most. To put this into the context of the Chibok girls, roughly three-fourths of those girls belong to EYN congregations.
What makes the story of the EYN remarkable to me, though, isn’t the suffering that the EYN have experienced, but their Christ-like response to that suffering. The EYN are courageous prophets of peace, working against their hardship and the evil that surrounds them to build peace, in a sustainable, nonviolent way. Beyond their own survival as individuals and as a denomination, their focus has been on restoring community and helping those around them that have also been effected by the violence.
In a situation where it can be so hard to see hope through all the hatred, the EYN have been ambassadors of Christ’s love. They have been the Church at just the time that the Church was needed more than ever before.
Today, the anniversary of the Chibok kidnapping, remember the girls in your prayers and actions. But also remember the EYN, who have long suffered at the hands of Boko Haram, but continue to espouse a message of peace and love. And as you advocate for change in Nigeria, remember to honor the work and message of the EYN. As you raise awareness of the situation in Nigeria, don’t do it in hate for Boko Haram, but in love for all human beings. When you contact lawmakers and the media, don’t ask for a violent military solution, but for a peaceful response that builds community and addresses the systemic social, economic, and cultural causes of terrorism. And most of all, remember that if the EYN can look like Jesus in the midst of such trials, so can you. In all you do, be like Jesus.
Emmett Eldred is a sophomore Creative Writing; Professional Writing; and Ethics, History, and Public Policy Major at Carnegie Mellon University. His passions include reading about, writing about, and snuggling with pugs. Emmett is the founder of DunkerPunks.com, and he wants lots more people to contribute! Fill out a Dunker Punks profile, and join the conversation! Follow Emmett on twitter @emmetteldred and follow Dunker Punks on Twitter@DunkerPunks and on Facebook.
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