14 April 2015
One year on: how can we help the Chibok girls?
On 14 April 2014, over 250 young women were kidnapped from their boarding school in Chibok, a province in northern Nigeria by militant terrorist group Boko Haram. One year on, 219 young women remain missing. Dr Claire Rush of The Girls' Brigade speaks to the Evangelical Alliance about the tragic situation.
"They are simply the forgotten many. Gone. Just think about all the things that you've done in the last year? Perhaps went on holiday? Graduated from university? Got married? These young women have had a year imprisoned by fear; a year without love and without freedom of choice. The 219 young women represent a small fraction of the many thousands of lives which have been affected by Boko Haram's campaign of violence. The situation raises issues like girls' right to education as well as increasing religious persecution of Christians."
Why is The Girls' Brigade involved?
"The Girls' Brigade England & Wales is part of a global mission movement for girls, which has members in more than 50 countries - including Nigeria. GB cares about these girls because God cares for them. These girls are not just a number. They are individuals. They have a name. They have hopes and dreams. Six of these young women – Abigail, Deborah, Awa, Grace, Esther, Deborah – are members of GB in Nigeria. Today, when so many people want to give up hope, GB really wants to turn up the volume of hope for them."
What is The Girls' Brigade doing to help?
"It's incredible to be part of a global GB family who are raising hope. GB girls across the world, from Cook Islands to Zambia, have been praying and advocating for these young women. Over the last year, GB groups across England and Wales have been hosting prayer nights, writing to the UK Prime Minister and encouraging others to write messages of hope to the girls' families. At the start of 2015, young people from GB England & Wales took part in the Cards of Hope initiative to remind the government not to forget to use its influence to help bring these girls home safely as well as end the terrorist reign of Boko Haram. Since January, GB has received over 2,500 Cards of Hope from 100 GB groups. On 17 March, 2015, an 18-strong delegation of hope, made up of GB members, leaders and girls of all ages, went to London to present some of the cards to Baroness Joyce Anelay at the UK Foreign Office, and the door of Number 10 Downing Street, the home of the UK Prime Minister (pictured)."
What can we do to help these girls?
"GB would love the Church to join us in raising the volume of hope for these young women. But let's not make 'hope' a wishy-washy word. Hope is an action – 'hope does'. So let's choose to spread hope in two ways:
1 - Prayer
Let's keep praying intentionally for Nigeria and for the Christian Church there. The political situation is very precarious at the moment. Many people have given up hope for the 219 young women - and the many more who have been taken since - but we serve a God who can do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).
2 - Make a Card of Hope
On the one year anniversary of the abductions, GB is inviting individuals, youth groups, families and churches to make a Card of Hope and participate in a collective positive action, which will ensure that these girls are not forgotten by people in positions of influence. You can make a Card of Hope as an individual, as a family, as a youth group or even as part of a church service is simple. Just download the resource pack and cards and send them back to GB. We're going to continue to collect Cards of Hope and plan to present them to influential bodies like the United Nations and the Council of Europe. By creating a Card of Hope, you'll be saying: 'I've not forgotten you.' You'll also be reminding people in positions of influence not to forget either."
Dr Claire Rush is the participation and advocacy co-ordinator for The Girls' Brigade England & Wales.