When Boko Haram stormed Amina’s home in Nigeria in 2012, her husband and two sons could have escaped harm if they denied Jesus. They refused – but it came at a tragically awful cost. That wasn’t the end of the story: five years later, Amina was abducted and held deep in the Sambisa Forest under the yoke of Boko Haram. Asked to deny Jesus, she refused too. This is Amina’s story and the powerful role you’ve played in it…
It was a fairly typical Tuesday evening in Maiduguri, Nigeria.
Amina’s four sons and one daughter were watching television whilst she prepared a bed outside for Daniel, her husband, who was feeling the sweltering heat. Then suddenly, loud bangs could be heard at the door. Within moments, Boko Haram militants had invaded the family’s home.
This would be a Tuesday evening like no other.
“They told the boys to lie down on the floor and I saw them bringing my husband inside,” Amina recalls. They were all tied up. “Today is your day, tomorrow is not yours,” one of the militants said to Daniel. “When I heard this, I started praying,” Amina shares. “‘God, I do not want to be a widow, please help me Lord!’”
But in horror she watched as the attackers took the men outside. “They started asking them to denounce Christ and they refused. The attackers said, ‘If you are not going to denounce Christ, we are going to kill you today.’” Still they refused to deny Jesus.
At that, Daniel was killed. He did not see tomorrow.
The attackers also knifed Amina’s two eldest sons, Daniel and Manga. Kambu, the third eldest who was also tied up, was spared because he was deemed too young to be killed under their laws. Soon after, the attackers left, leaving Daniel and Manga to die.
Amina frantically called for help. She knew her husband was dead, but still hoped to save her two sons. They were hospitalised for a month and left with scars to their neck – but, miraculously, survived. “At first, we were shy of these scars,” Manga says. “But later we came to realise it is a testimony. It is evidence of the existence of God.”
Amina with her four sons and one daughter
Meanwhile, Amina suffered from severe post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. She received treatment and slowly learnt to live without Daniel.
Despite the horror and grief of the attack, in many ways it came as no surprise to Amina. Boko Haram grew out of Maiduguri, capital of Borno State. As their insurgency spread, the family didn’t consider leaving. “I thank God that I knew the Bible and the Bible doesn’t hide anything about persecution,” she explains. “Anything can happen anytime. A Christian should not be afraid.”
But Boko Haram was not done with her yet.
“We were just chatting inside the van when we heard gunshots,” Amina remembers of the day, almost five years later, when she was with five men and ten other women travelling to the funeral of her sister-in-law. “They started shooting the car. All of us just lay down on the floor of the van.”
“I just said, ‘Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, have mercy on me! Lord, if I die today, what of my fatherless children? You promised me that I will stay with the children and that is what I know because I did not die that time. Why now?’ Then I said, ‘Lord, let Your will be done.’” Amina kept praying the words of Psalm 118:17 – “I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done.”
"By His grace we all joined our hearts and said we are not going to denounce Christ" Amina
All five men were killed. Amina sustained three gunshot wounds and fell unconscious. She woke up in the Sambisa Forest, a well-known Boko Haram stronghold.
The women faced enormous pressure to renounce their faith in Jesus, but they courageously stood firm. “They used to send their imam to come and preach to us, and after the preaching, they would ask, ‘Who amongst you wants to denounce Christ so that we take her and give to our people to stay with our women and have freedom.
“By His grace we all joined our hearts and said we are not going to denounce Christ. For us to live is Christ, but to die is gain. Every Sunday, we used to do as we would a normal Sunday. But once they heard us singing, they sent a delegate to say that if we do this again it will be our end.”
Despite hardship, trauma, hunger and fear, Amina resolutely stuck close to Jesus, entrusting herself to His purposes. “There must be a reason,” she prayed in the forest. “Help me to fulfil it.”
After prolonged negotiations between Boko Haram and the government, the women were freed. Reunited with her family, friends, church and neighbours after eight long months, Amina broke out into song: “By His grace I am alive, that is why I am singing. Jehovah saved my life.”
It’s a testimony to God’s goodness and faithfulness that, despite the immense horror, hurt and hardship of the last eight years, Amina feels closer to God than ever – and you’ve played a powerful role in this.
"All these things that happened to me, it makes me come closer to Him, more and more" Amina
“Open Doors has been a great help to me,” Amina says. “Especially the first time they called me for trauma healing. It has helped me in so many ways because a person that has gone into this trauma has so many things. There is fear, isolation, anger. But after that training all came down by His grace.”
Your support has also helped construction of her home and provided her with food support during Covid-19.
“Open Doors helped me realise the love of God, especially through trauma healing and the other help, because were it not for God’s love, I couldn’t have gotten all these things. You showed love by caring for those that are suffering, those that are in trauma, those that are in trouble. You make them realise that God still exists.”
“Now I only focus myself on God and my children,” she adds. “All these things that happened to me, it makes me come closer to Him, more and more.”
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