Join us in giving thanks to God for Treasure Ayuba regaining freedom. Treasure is the last of the 121 students from the Bethel Baptist School in Kaduna State, Nigeria that was kidnapped in 2021.
“Glory be to God! Glory be to God!! Glory be to God!!!” wrote Rev. Dr Israel Akanji, the President of the Nigerian Baptist Convention, on social media. “Treasure Ayuba, the last boy who was still with the bandits who kidnapped the 121 students of Bethel Baptist High School, Kaduna, on July 5, 2021, has just returned home!”
Treasure had just turned 12 three days before he was abducted from his school dormitory by armed Fulani militants, along with 120 other classmates. They were forced to walk for hours until they reached the camp. While his schoolmates were released in groups as ransom demands were paid, Treasure was kept hostage for more than two years.
“Christians from the Nigerian Baptist Convention, which runs Bethel High School, were forced to negotiate with the terrorists over ransom demands,” says local Christian pastor Winyadebi Rolis*. “To see their children released, parents along with the convention have had to pay the very same people who abducted their children 250,000,000 Nigerian Niara. That’s equivalent to more than £250,000.
“When the convention first started negotiating with the extremists over ransom payments, they thought that all the children would be released. However, to the anguish of the parents, the children were only released in batches with extremists then demanding more money to release the next batch of students.”
"Thanks be to our unfailing God. Thank you also very much for your prayers and support." Pastor Winyadebi
Since Islamic extremist group Boko Haram famously abducted 276 mainly Christian schoolgirls from Chibok in Borno State in 2014, kidnappings for ransom have become endemic in northern Nigeria. Violence is spreading further south. Nigeria is number six on the World Watch List but, if it were ranked solely by violence, it would be number one. On average, 14 Christians are killed every day for their faith, and abductions are rife.
In this case, the Fulani militants refused to release Treasure – reportedly because they planned to convert him to Islam. But one day he was able to get away from his captors.
“Treasure somehow managed to sneak away and escape from the extremists,” says Pastor Winyadebi. “He walked at night and hid during the day. Eventually he found hunters who took him to his hometown and from there he was able to find his way home.” His mum didn’t know he’d escaped until he turned up in her doorway – an answer to her faithful prayers and the prayers of many Christians around the world.
Treasure’s family are, of course, overjoyed that he has returned home to them. Rev. Dr Israel Akanji speaks for the whole community when he glorifies God and says, “Thanks be to our unfailing God. Thank you also very much for your prayers and support.”
But Treasure is also very traumatised from his experiences, of course, as are all the schoolchildren who were held captive. Trauma care is planned for Treasure, now 14 years old. While we join the church in Kaduna in rejoicing over in Treasure's homecoming, please join us in prayer for him and his family during this time.
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