With all the “me too” voices ringing through Hollywood, politics, and into the lives of everyday Americans, let’s look beyond our own borders.
Let’s look past the Golden Globe awards ceremony where Hollywood celebrities made their bold “me too” statements of moral strength and female dignity by wearing black so-called dresses exposing more skin than not. Forget the extreme vulgarity of the women who marched in DC yelling obscenities and wearing hats and costumes resembling female reproductive parts.
Let’s look at Nigeria.
Nigeria is split nearly down the middle in terms of its religious affiliation. Most living in northern Nigeria practice the Islamic religion, while the great majority of those who live in the south are Christian.
Nigeria is the most heavily populated country in Africa, and is number 14 on the Open Doors 2018 World Watch List for Christian persecution. Persecution exists on many levels, especially in Northern Nigeria where the oppressive Islamic rule is violently active at the hands of radical groups like Muslim Fulani herdsmen and Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is forbidden.”
One of the most pressing concerns is for women. Young girls are being abducted, raped repeatedly by multiple men, impregnated, and even forced to marry their Muslim rapists.
Though the mainstream media is chocked full of stories about sexual exploitation, it is unlikely you have seen any coverage concerning this cruel and inhumane treatment of women. Schoolgirls in Nigeria abused by Islamic oppressors just don’t produce the fodder for ratings that images of porn stars, famous politicians and actors, or fallen religious leaders do.
On February 19, Boko Haram kidnapped 110 school girls from their school in Dapchi (northern Nigeria). Five girls died during the kidnapping. The others were released this month…all except one.
“One girl, Leah, is still with them because she is a Christian,” explained one of the released girls. Leah was given the option to convert, but she did not denounce Christ.
Leah didn’t say, “me too” at all. When given the opportunity, she didn’t join in with the rest even though it meant she would have been set free. She didn’t take the easy follow-the-others route. Instead of saying “me too,” she said,“not me.” That, my friends, is true courage.
Such resolve is worthy of respect and reporting. When we come across this kind of conviction and bravery, we should make a big deal of it. Leah deserves our voices, our prayers, and our help.
This followed a similar kidnapping in April 2014 when 276 girls, mostly Christian, were taken from their school in Chibok, also in the northern district of Nigeria. Still, nearly four years later, more than 100 of them are missing.
Esther, a girl in that group who was rescued 2 ½ years later by the Nigerian military, told Open Doors about the rejection she experienced by her family and community who despised her for returning pregnant. Though she had been raped repeatedly by multiple men, they feared she had been radicalized and her offspring would join the next generation of violent offenders.
Now 17 and mother to Rebecca, who the villagers call “Boko,” she says she has cried many tears and experienced severe loneliness. But she has found contentment and gathered the courage to forgive her enemies.
There was plenty to forgive. Esther couldn’t have imagined a nightmare nearly so dreadful. The terrorists used coercive methods to get her and the others to renounce their faith in Christ. If enticing them with privileges didn’t work, they resorted to violence.
Esther said many of the girls could not resist and married their captors. But Esther, like the biblical Esther, determined she would not give in – even if she were to perish.
“I cannot count how many men raped me,” she said. “Every time they came back from their attacks, they would rape us…defile us…Each passing day, I hated myself more and more,” she says. “I felt that God had forsaken me. There were times when I was so angry with Him…Still, I could not get myself to renounce Him. I found myself remembering His promise to never leave me or forsake me.”
Esther refused to say “me too.” Esther said, “not me.”
Against all odds, Esther and Leah chose Jesus.