On February 19, the Islamic militant group Boko Haram kidnapped more than 100 girls from the secondary school in the Nigerian town of Dapchi. On March 21, all the girls–except for Leah Sharibu–were released reportedly through back-channel efforts. At that time, Open Doors reported Leah wasn’t released because she is a Christian and had refused to convert to Islam.
After the rest of the girls returned home, some of them shared with the Sharibu family the details of what happened the day they were released. They also delivered a note Leah wrote to her mother, Rebecca. Our Open Doors team recently visited the Sharibu family.
She said she would not renounce Christ.
“My mother you should not be disturbed. I know it is not easy missing me, but I want to assure you that I am fine where I am. My God … is showing Himself mighty in my trying moment. I know your words to me during our morning devotions that God is very close to people in pain. I am witnessing this now. I am confident that one day I shall see your face again. If not here, then there at the bosom of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
After she realized she would not be released with the other young captives, Leah Sharibu quickly wrote a message to her mother and asked a friend to deliver it. When Rebecca read the note from her daughter, she fainted.
Leah’s friend, Aisha, later shared with Rebecca what happened the day the rest of the girls were released.
“(Leah) was about to board the vehicle that was to bring them back,” Rebecca said, sharing Aisha’s words to her. “Then Boko Haram said she should convert. Her friends said they tried to convince her, but she said she would not convert to Islam. Boko Haram said since she will not convert to Islam, she should remain behind. That was how they left her. She is alone.”
Closer to Christ
Heartbroken over their daughter’s situation, Rebecca and Leah’s father Natha say this nightmare—and their daughter’s courage in the midst of it–have inspired them to trust in God’s grace and strength in a deeper way.
Natha is stunned and inspired by his daughter’s spiritual strength.
“The confidence and faith of my daughter in the face of death in the hands of Boko Haram, to say she will never denounce Christ, made me realize that I had been living with a strong follower of Christ in my house.
“I am highly encouraged by her strong faith in the Lord. I could only imagine what I would have done if I were in her shoes. My daughter’s testimony has drawn me very closer to Christ. I am a proud father and call on her to remain faithful to God … Hold on to Christ, Leah. You are a heroine of faith.”
Send a Message to Natha and Rebecca Sharibu and Their Family
Open Doors is calling on our supporters to send email messages of encouragement to Natha and Rebeccah Sharibu as they pray for the safe return of their daughter. As messages come in, our partners will print and deliver them to the Sharibu family. Here are the specifics:
Please limit your messages to 100 words or less, focusing on encouragement (refrain from criticizing her persecutors or governments). Bible verses are welcome. Please, also, include your name.