#FreeLeahSharibu: 15-Year-Old Leah Remains in Captivity by Boko Haram in Nigeria; Christians Must Resolve to Free Her in 2019
Save the Persecuted Christians Calls on Believers to Engage with the Plight of Brothers and Sisters in Christ Worldwide
WASHINGTON—Imagine being a 15-year-old girl, alone, separated from family and friends at Christmas, and held captive in Nigeria by some of the world’s most violent terrorists.
This is the life of Leah Sharibu, a Christian schoolgirl kidnapped and held as a “slave for life” by Boko Haram who has also been named Nigeria’s 2018 Person of the Year.
With its “SaveUs Movement,” Save the Persecuted Christians advocates on behalf of 215 million Christians facing heavy persecution worldwide, and is working mightily for Leah to be freed.
Leah was kidnapped in February with 109 of her female classmates; five died in captivity while 104 were released on March 20, 2018. Leah alone was not released because she refused to renounce her faith in Jesus Christ and convert to Islam, as demanded by her captors.
In September, Leah was given 30 days to live. Boko Haram’s threat was sent along with video of the execution of Saifura Khorsa, a young nurse midwife and International Red Cross worker who was kidnapped with other female colleagues in March 2018. Then, in mid-October, Boko Haram announced, with the video execution of Saifura’s colleague, Hauwa Leman, that Leah and another young Christian woman, Alice Ngaddah, would instead be kept as “slaves for life.”
“Why is there no outcry in America for Leah?” asked Dede Laugesen, executive director of Save the Persecuted Christians. “As American Christians, we can no longer turn a blind eye to what is happening worldwide to Christians, and most especially Christian women and girls. Our SaveUs Movement urges all believers to tell others—family, friends and prayer groups—about Leah. We know that passionate public outcry for Pastor Andrew Brunson and Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi was instrumental in their releases—and believe it can make a difference for Leah too.”
Anglican Archbishop Ben Kwashi of Jos Nigeria, during a press conference hosted by Save the Persecuted Christians in December, asked specifically that concerned Americans use #FreeLeahSharibu on social media to bring attention to her dire situation and help free her as soon as possible.
Save the Persecuted Christians is calling on the Trump administration to appoint a special envoy to Nigeria to coordinate U.S. agencies’ response to the genocidal attacks on Christians, which threaten to destabilize Africa’s most populous country and the entire Lake Chad region, including Niger, Chad and Cameroon. Read more here or visit www.SavethePersecutedChristians.org and click on the “Special Envoy for Nigeria” tab.
For young women like Leah, Save the Persecuted Christians seeks to bring awareness about Christians in Nigeria who are targeted for genocide through the “The People of the Cross” exhibit, a series of vertical traveling banners that details Christian persecution in various countries around the world. The exhibit’s panel on Nigeria reports the shocking fact that 6,000 Christians, mostly women, children and the elderly, were murdered in the first half of 2018 alone.
“Human rights groups describe Muslim Fulani and Boko Haram jihadi attacks as ‘war by Islam to eliminate Christianity,’” the Nigeria panel reads. “Unhindered by Nigeria’s leaders, who are Islamists, these attacks threaten to cleanse Nigeria of Christians.”
Banners also feature images, facts and quotes from recent news stories about the persecution of Christians in multiple countries, such as North Korea, where Christians are tortured or worse; Syria, where Christian girls and women have been sold into sex slavery; East Africa, where terrorists are exterminating Christians with genocidal intent; and China, where Communists are increasingly hostile to people of faith and churches and shrines are being demolished.
Since the debut of the exhibit as a side event to the U.S. Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom in July, the banners have been touring the United States and are available for display in many states. Learn more about the exhibit here.
Save the Persecuted Christians strives to disseminate actionable information about other ways in which Americans can help Christians worldwide who are being persecuted for their faith in Christ. Especially in light of immense global oppression, raising awareness about Christian persecution is crucial, as violence toward and imprisonment of Christians occurs so routinely it rarely makes the news.
For example, according to Open Doors, 255 Christians are killed worldwide every month. 104 Christians are abducted. 180 Christian women are raped, sexually assaulted or forced into marriage. 160 Christians are detained or imprisoned without trial. And 66 churches are attacked. Every month.
With such staggering statistics, and the knowledge that most of these crimes are not covered in the media, Save the Persecuted Christians developed a dedicated news aggregator—www.ChristianPersecutionNews.com—to capture current instances of persecution that do make the news and to provide readers an easy way to share these heartbreaking stories with others.
One of the simple and economical ways Americans can render support is by encouraging their pastors and faith leaders to visit www.SavethePersecutedChristians.org and to order a free banner to display in front of their houses of worship. These simple banners feature a graphic “SaveUs” plea with a cross and the website where Americans can learn about the global persecution of Christians and find out more about what they can do to help stop it.
With so much of the world’s population attacked, imprisoned or exiled for their beliefs—such as Christians in Nigeria—the need for the sort of campaign the SaveUs Movement is working to foster has never been greater. Its efforts are modeled after an effort that helped free another population suffering from heavy persecution, Soviet Jews, by holding its persecutors in the Kremlin accountable and imposing real costs for its repression of people of faith. The SaveUs Movement, in our time, aims to provide American policymakers with the popular support they need to effect real change worldwide and alleviate the suffering of those persecuted simply because they follow Jesus Christ.