Where is Esther Joshua?

October 17, 2014 § Leave a comment

IMG_2618The last couple of days Esther Joshua’s name has come to my mind, as it does on occasion when I’m still. I don’t know her but I’ve been praying for her by name. Esther is one of the 300 Nigerian schoolgirls abducted way back in April by Boko Haram, the radical Islamist terror group.

I wonder what she’s eating, and where she lays her head. Does she have shelter? Has she been forced to say the words of conversion? I think of my own granddaughter that age and don’t let my mind go to unspeakable darker places. Esther’s name speaks of a queen who saved her people by standing up for what is right, and Joshua, a pioneering commander who wasn’t afraid to take new territory. Does she pray in her darkest times? Does she sense God’s presence? Is she even alive?

The news services have been quiet about the captive girls for months. The outraged campaigns to “storm heaven for Nigeria” and the viral Twitter campaign hashtag #BringBackOurGirls have been stilled. Four months after the capture, about sixty girls managed to escape. News anchors have gone on to reporting the spread of Ebola, the encroaches of ISIL in Syria and Iraq, and the wedding of George Clooney.

But while we were looking elsewhere, something is happening in Nigeria. In the last few days, twenty-seven hostages, including ten Chinese workers were freed by Boko Haram and handed over to Cameroonian soldiers near the border with Nigeria, according to the Voice of America’s VOA News. One of the captives Abdouraman Seini, said Boko Haram is running out of food for their hundreds of fighters and captives. And then on October 10, 2014, Christian pastor Rotimi Obajimi escaped from captivity by Boko Haram after nearly ten months. In reporting his escape, the Christian Post (October 17, 2014) said Boko Haram has been “waging war on the Nigerian government for over five years now, have slaughtered Christian pastors and entire congregations in their mission to establish Islamic rule over the nation.” This includes beheading of villagers opposing them. Some 2,000 civilians were reportedly killed this year. In a video, Abubakar Shekau, Boko Haram leader is quoted as saying, “We are running our caliphate, our Islamic caliphate. We follow the Quran … We now practice the injunctions of the Quran in the land of Allah.” Cautionary words indeed.

And then today when Esther Joshua came to my mind again, the BBC News says after a month of negotiations, an agreement was sealed between Nigeria and Boko Haram and the girls are to be released. According to the BBC, Nigerian Presidential aide Hassan Tukur said, “They’ve assured us they have the girls and they will release them … I am cautiously optimistic.” No word yet on what concessions the government had to make.

Today I am praying for Esther Joshua and the other approximately 218 other young women, the pride of their families, students who are the future of the nation, forcibly detained by a group whose name means “Western education is sinful.”

We wait. And pray: bring back our girls.

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