27 Nov Like Esther, This 17 Year Old Boko Haram Captive Was Ready To Die For The Gospel
A 17 year old Nigerian Christian teenager fell pregnant after being raped countless times by her captors, the Islamist militants Boko Haram, and her life changed forever.
The violent insurgents attacked her town, Gwoza in October 2015, and along with her, abducted several young women. Having previously lost her mother, the girl had been caring for her ill father the best she could while also attending school. As she and the other young women were seized she endured the pain of watching her father been struck down and left for dead at the hands of her captors. While being carried away into the Sambisa Forest she continued to look back, longing for her father to get up. But he died during her captivity.
Boko Haram wanted the girls to renounce their Christian faith. She tells of the numerous methods they used, trying to lure them with various privileges. However, when their attempts failed they reverted to violence, threats and intimidation. Many of the girls broke under the pressure and surrendered their faith.
For her however, the experience of cruelty and attempts to force her to convert continued to mount. Many of her imprisoners found her extremely beautiful and wanted to take her as a wife. She, however, took a brave decision and resolved never to yield her faith. She tells the Open Doors media the words she spoke in her heart at the time: ‘If I perish, I perish, but I will not become a Muslim’.
Her courageous decision to hold firm to her faith had unimaginable consequences. She tells how she was raped continually by countless men. While struggling to hold back her tears she relives her imprisonment, saying: ‘I cannot count how many men raped me. Every time they came back from their attacks, they would rape us, defile us.’
She adds: ‘Each passing day, I hated myself more and more. I felt that God had forsaken me. There were times when I was so angry with God’.
Yet through this torment she clung to her faith, saying: ‘But still I could not get myself to renounce Him. I found myself remembering His promise to never leave me or forsake me.’
Over a year later in November 2016, the military rescued her and the other girls. However, the overwhelming joy of freedom was soon eclipsed by the rejection she received from her community. Many were not so keen to welcome back the ‘Boko Haram women’.
As she had lost both her mother and father she had no choice but to go and live with her grandparents. However, she was not warmly welcomed there, because of her pregnancy, even her own grandparents taunted her. She says: ‘They mocked me because I was pregnant. Even my grandparents despised me and called me names. I cried many tears. I felt so lonely. What broke my heart even more was that they refused to call my daughter “Rebecca”.’ Instead, they referred to her as ‘Boko’.
Even though her captivity ended, her torment had not. Through her church leaders she was put in contact with Open Doors. They invited her to a trauma care centre seminar. The centres have been provided by Open Doors to give professional care to those like her who have been the victims of severe persecution.
Even though many in her community still struggle to accept her and her child, she is full of hope, saying: ‘People have noticed a change. Some of those people who used to mock me now ask me my secret. I tell them, “I forgave my enemies and now trust God to take vengeance in His time”.’
She is now working on a farm to provide for herself, and her family while also receiving support from Open Doors.
Although she has endured great pain and suffering she pours all the love she can into her daughter and, speaking about Rebecca, says: ‘She has become my joy and laughter amidst sadness’.