At one time, life was good for the young 20-something. “I used to go to church, and I was in the girls’ brigade and ladies fellowship. In the evening, we would sit down and chat without fear of the unknown.”
But then Boko Haram attacked her village of Pakka. And everything changed. “In the late hours of the morning, we began to hear gunshots,” Ativi says, remembering the day. “I was at the farm harvesting groundnuts with my mother. I ran home, took our belongings and fled. The sound of the guns made me so scared.”
Her family fled to Cameroon and with the help of a friend found a place to stay. Her mother joined the family later. They stayed there until it was safe to return.
“When we were told that peace has returned to our village, we came back home. When we got here things were calm, but people lived in poverty. We were really traumatized seeing our church burnt down.
“Whenever I enter the church, I feel heavy-hearted because the way I knew my church wasn’t the same anymore. The relationship between people was no longer the same. Everybody kept to himself for quite some time. Some of the girls I had hung out with converted to Islam while some just lived wayward lives.”
The attack also affected Ativi—more than she knew. And that played out in negative ways.
“After the attack, I didn’t understand myself anymore. I was living a reckless life.”
Fortunately, Ativi connected with Open Doors and participated in persecution and vocational training. Then things became better, she says. “I used to be very hot-tempered. When anyone hurt me, I didn’t forgive easily. But we were taught to live lives that we would be remembered for good anywhere we stay, and we should be people who forgive.
She also learned a trade to support herself and her family, as well as best practices for customer service.
“I learned how to sew very well. Previously it was very difficult for me. I didn’t even know how to cut fabric. Anytime I was told to cut fabric, I would get scared, but my teacher taught me how to do it. This has now become my pride. Now if people bring their fabrics, I sew it for them with full confidence.
“I also learnt how to be patient with customers who bring their fabrics to me. If a customer brings his fabric, we should sew it on time. We shouldn’t waste the yard and the customers fabric shouldn’t stay with us longer than it should. If he comes and you are not done sewing, plead with him, give him a seat and finish up the work.”
Because of your support and prayers, life and her perspective have changed for the young woman who at one time felt “lost.”
“Every morning we have devotions. The Word of God is the foundation for everything. Now God is everything to me. He made me, and he knows everything in my life. He is the one that opens doors in my life where there seems to be no doors.”