Serving Persecuted Christians Worldwide - 10 years on: keep praying for Chibok schoolgirls - Open Doors UK & Ireland
11 April 2024

10 years on: keep praying for Chibok schoolgirls

The Chibok schoolgirls were abducted 10 years ago. More than 90 of the young women are still missing. Please remember this anniversary with your prayers.

It’s been ten years since the horrific attack in Chibok, northern Nigeria, that made headlines around the world. On 14 April 2014, 276 girls were kidnapped from their secondary school in Chibok by the Islamic militant group, Boko Haram. On the 10th anniversary, parents of the young women gathered for a special service - to pray for those who have yet to return.

Yaubu Nkeki

Whilst some managed to escape, and others have been released, a decade later, at least 90 of the schoolgirls – now young women – are still in captivity. The majority of the girls that were taken were Christians, and the ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ campaign garnered global attention. Many Open Doors supporters have been faithfully praying for the kidnap victims and their families for many years.

“We are still hopeful as parents of these girls. We haven’t lost hope at all,” said Yakubu Nkeki (pictured), the father of one of the missing women and the chair of the Chibok Girls Parents Association, speaking to Open Doors partners last year. “We have so much hope that with continuous prayers, one day we will see the remaining girls, just as we received the girls that have returned. We will receive them with joy.”

One of many abductions

The girls had gathered for exams at Chibok Girls State Secondary School when Boko Haram militants arrived, pretending to be government security officials who had come to protect them. They coaxed the girls from their dorms onto trucks and headed for the Sambisa Forest. Before, during and shortly after the attack, 47 of the girls managed to escape. Over the years since, other women have been rescued, released or managed to escape. In April 2023, for example, the Nigerian army rescued Hauwa Maltha and Esther Marcus when they were fetching water in the Sambisa Forest.

"We are still hopeful as parents of these girls." Yakubu Nkeki, father

This abduction was widely reported on in national and international news, but many more examples of Islamic militant violence pass with much less notice. Abduction is a common tactic of jihadists, seeking to undermine and destabilise Christian communities. Every year, thousands of Christian women, men and children are killed or kidnapped for their faith in Nigeria. Hundreds of thousands more have been forcibly displaced by persecution or the threat of persecution.

Ongoing complexities for Chibok girls

Being released isn’t the end of the complexities for these women, though. Some have joyful reunions with their families and are delighted to re-start their lives with their loved ones and church families – but this isn’t the story for everyone. Women who have been held captive are often forcibly married to the militants, and bear their children. Upon returning, sometimes they are stigmatised by their ordeal in the eyes of their communities.

Meanwhile, some of the women who have found freedom have chosen to remain married to the militants they wed in captivity. This can cause a lot of understandable pain for the women’s families, and make it difficult to restore the relationship they once had with their daughters. These marriages can only continue when the militants have handed themselves in to the Nigerian authorities and undergone a ‘deradicalisation’ programme.

“We have been married for eight years,” Aisha, one of the kidnapped women who escaped told the BBC. “I first came out of the forest and then he followed me. There in the bush, we had no relative, no brother, no sister, that is why we decided to come out. He finished deradicalisation before we were allowed to stay together. The government welcomed us well, gave us food, shelter, everything.”

Stories like Aisha’s highlight the complexities and sensitivities of the situation, even after good news emerges of more women returning to freedom, and why your prayers continue to be urgently needed for all those affected.

Please keep praying

Please pray today that the remaining young women would be released, and that those no longer in captivity would be able to live freely, without stigma, control or fear. Pray for healing and freedom from trauma for all those that were taken, and ask God for protection for Christians in Nigeria who are seeing an increase in mass kidnappings and attacks on Christian communities. Ask that Jesus would encounter those who perpetrate this appalling violence and change their hearts. Finally, please pray for true reconciliation and unity for all who have returned to their families and communities, and for God’s blessing on everyone impacted.

Please pray
  • For the safe release of all the Chibok women who are still held in captivity
  • That God would reconcile and unify women with their families, and give peace to all involved
  • For an end to violence against Christians in Nigeria.
Tears of Gold

The free, updated Tears of Gold prayer resource is an opportunity for you or your small group to pray for Nigerian Christian women - and to truly see your own identity in Christ. Each pack has self-portraits painted by persecuted Christian women at Open Doors trauma care sessions, alongside prayer requests and information.


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