MERCY IN NIGERIA: ‘GOD SPARED MY LIFE FOR A PURPOSE’
*Representative photo used to protect identity
Mercy is from Gwoza in the violent northeastern area of Nigeria. She and others who used to call Gwoza home watched helplessly as the Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram set up camp in the hills to the east of the town. Boko Haram forces soon began encroaching on their area. In June 2014, the militants claimed the town and declared a caliphate there.
The insurgents arrived in Mercy’s neighborhood in the middle of the night.
“Everyone in the town ran helter-skelter to save themselves,” recalls Mercy. My dad and I were separated. I do not know what happened to him. I think he died the same way many others died – they refused to deny Christ.”
The attackers abducted Mercy, 22, and other women and took them to the near-by town of Mubi, which had also fallen.
Mercy says: “They asked if we agreed to become Muslims and to marry Boko Haram members. I pleaded that they allow me to remain a Christian, but my pleas fell on deaf ears. They beat me and told me to never mention Christianity in the camp again. Then they told me that they would arrange a husband for me. I received a husband a few weeks later.”
She doesn’t want to give details about the arranged marriage. All she says was, “Every single day came with tears and fears for the unknown.”
She witnessed how Christian men who refused to deny Christ were killed. She could not endure the torture and gave in to their demands.
“I knew God saw my heart, but still I could not sleep,” Mercy stated. “I prayed and fasted like never before. I kept pleading with God to intervene.”
After Mercy had spent five weeks in captivity and five days after she was married, the government stepped up their campaign to retake Mubi. A bomb was dropped on the house where she was kept and everyone except Mercy died. She suffered a broken leg.
When it was certain that Mercy would survive, she was dropped off at a displaced people’s camp in Yola. She was just one of the thousands of victims who survived Boko Haram violence. They are trying to recover from the trauma of facing threats for months and then having their worst nightmares of displacement, cruelty, and submission to flogging, rape and forced Islamization.
After the local church gave her as much help as it could, Open Doors stepped in and committed to providing the medical assistance she needed, arranging trauma care and finding ways for her to earn a sustainable income.
She says: “I thank God for rescuing me. I thank God for giving me a second chance. Many lost their lives after being forced into Islam, but I am alive today.”
Mercy faces a lot of uncertainty, but because she has seen God’s mercy at work in her life she trusts Him with her future.
“God spared my life for a purpose,” she concludes.
Nigeria is ranked #10 on the Open Doors 2015 World Watch List (www.worldwatchlist.us) of the 50 worst persecutors of Christians.
Compiled by Jerry Dykstra. For media inquiries, contact Christine Cape at 404-545-0085 or Katie Rouse at 678-410-9575.