Escape From a Boko Haram Camp
In an encampment of hundreds of armed terrorists, 37-year-old mother of three, Rahila Moses found herself in the dark shadow of death when she was captured by an extremist group that is located primarily in Northern Nigeria insurgents. Her persevering, courageous faith and subsequent miraculous deliverance are a living testimony of God’s awesome power.
Rahila had boarded a public bus in northeastern Nigeria. She was the only Christian among a group of about ten Muslim passengers. They had just started their journey when an armed group of young jihadists blocked the road and forced the bus to stop.
The terrorists ordered the passengers out of the bus. Rahila was terrified and began to call on the name of Jesus, shouting “Blood of Jesus! Blood of Jesus!” This made the jihadists laugh and ask whether she was a Christian. She boldly answered, “Yes, I am.”
The terrorists let all the other travelers go, but forced Rahila back onto the bus. They told her that they were taking her to the forest where she would be doing Aiken Allah (Allah’s work). She pled with them to let her go because she had aged parents and three little children who all depended on her for survival since her husband went missing in the incessant Boko Haram attacks. Ignoring her pleas, they continued to drive deeper into the Sambisa Forest.
When they reached the camp, one of the young men shouted, “Allah Akhbar!” (God is great) as he alighted from the bus. People immediately gathered from all parts of the camp. She saw hundreds of armed men, women, and children. Some of the children were dragging their weapons because they were too heavy for them to carry. The leader told the large crowd Allah had given them a lady who would be part of the jihad. He again shouted “Allah Akhbar!”, and the crowd disappeared.
For fourteen days, Rahila faced constant terrifying threats. She resisted when a man that tried to force her into his tent, threatening to “slaughter her like an animal” if she did not comply. By the providence of God, another leader stepped in; he promised to take her aside and get her to renounce Christ. And still Rahila remained steadfast, demonstrating her faith in Christ by kneeling in prayer and calling on Jesus to either rescue her from this situation or give her the grace to die while standing firm in the faith.
One morning, Rahila was taken to another tent within the camp and told that she was to be the wife of the man inside following meetings with the Boko Haram leaders scheduled to take place a few days later. Realizing it would be best to play along; Rahila waited until they left and then found one of the man’s other wives and appealed to her for compassion. She told the woman she was worried about her three children and ached so much for them that she wanted to fetch them and bring them back to the camp to be with her. To Rahila’s astonishment, the woman sympathized with her. Even more astonishingly, the man agreed to let her fetch them, as long as she promised to return to the camp within two days. Before he allowed her to go, however, he forced her to eat Debino dates, which Boko Haram always serves to new initiates.
Then he instructed a motorcycle driver and some soldiers to take Rahila to the edge of the Sambisa forest. He even offered her money for travel expenses, since she was now his responsibility. After a long day, the driver dropped her off under a tree with directions for getting out of the forest and to the paved road where she could catch a bus. Rahila rested that night, prepared to walk as long as she needed to get away and never return to the camp. But when she reached the road, she realized that it was not a main road, and she ended up walking a long distance, all the while praying for the Lord to give her strength.
Though Rahila was very thankful for her escape, something she had been given to eat, likely the Debino dates, was making her violently ill and she was soon in urgent need of medical help to survive. The Lord granted her favor with the compassionate Muslim family with whom she sought refuge, and they took her to a place where she could catch a bus.
A couple of days after her escape, Open Doors met her in a displaced people’s camp and was able to provide good medical care for her. At Open Doors, we praise the Lord for not only rescuing Rahila out of the hands of the insurgents, but also for healing her from the poison and reuniting her with her children and parents. We pray that He will continue to heal her emotionally.
We rejoice with Rahila for the Lord’s deliverance, but cannot help but remember that thousands of other women, men, and children remain trapped in Boko Haram camps. An Open Doors worker in West Africa comments, “The emotional impact on the people of Nigeria is unimaginable, and the government is ill-equipped to deal with its magnitude. The aftermath of this crisis will offer the church one of her biggest opportunities, but also one of her biggest challenges to be instruments of healing in the hands of the Lord. Over many years of involvement in northern Nigeria, Open Doors has worked to prepare and equip Christians for dynamic ministry in times such as these. Pray that the local and international Body of Christ will be able to rise to this occasion through practical and emotional help and through prayer for massively traumatized people.”
Thank You, Father, for the clear evidence of Christ’s presence in Rahila’s life and the testimony of her faith. Watch over her and her family, and heal the emotional pain of all that has transpired in their lives. Thank You for Your gracious protection; that You rescued her from the clutches of the enemy. And, as we reflect on all she went through, we remember the hundreds still being held by Boko Haram terrorists. Our hearts ache for their safety and protection, for their safe return to grieving families, and for their healing in body and soul, heart and mind. Mere language defies us as we consider how to pray for them. We call on Your Holy Spirit to search our hearts and bring our requests before You with wordless prayers that are pleasing and in accord with Your good pleasure. In the name of Jesus, who bends his ear to hear the cries of His children, Amen.