Leah Sharibu’s parents, Natha and Rebeccah Sharibu, have expressed their joy at hearing their daughter’s voice six months after she was first taken captive. They have also expressed their thanks for your prayers.
Last week, an image of Leah Sharibu and an audio recording of her were released to the general public via a Nigerian newspaper. In the audio, she pleads for Nigeria’s president to intervene and help facilitate her release. Leah is the only girl from Dapchi, Nigeria, who is still being held captive by militant Islamist group Boko Haram after they raided her school in February earlier this year.
‘MAY GOD BLESS YOU ALL’
Leah’s father, Natha, says: “My joy knows no bounds. That wonderful day when my neighbour came running to me and showed me that video clip on the internet, I heard my Leah’s voice. My wife began to cry and I pleaded with her not to cry. Gradually she stopped crying and started singing praises to God.
“Honestly, I believe that Leah is alive today because of the prayers of believers. And your prayers are important for me and my wife too, because the wound is still fresh in our hearts. But praise be to God that believers all over the world have taken our burden to become theirs.
“My plea is this: I am calling on Christians in high positions all over the world to raise their voices and plead with our president to bring back my Leah. She has pleaded in her audio clip that top Christians should help us. I plead the same.
“This situation has opened my eyes to see and understand that Christianity comes along with suffering and pain. If our master Jesus, who was blameless, was persecuted, how much more will we who are His followers. I am aware that Open Doors has been praying and spreading our story all over the world for prayers. May God bless you all and meet you too at the points of your needs. Thank you.”
‘YOUR PRAYERS GIVE ME STRENGTH TO CARRY ON’
Leah’s mother added: “I don’t even know how to describe how I felt when I heard my daughter’s voice and saw the picture where she wears a hijab. After six months and ten days of praying for the moment I would actually see or hear anything of my daughter, there it was when my neighbour came to my house.
“At first, I felt shivers all over my body as I waited for the audio clip to load. Then when I heard her voice and saw the picture where she is sitting down with a hijab on, I began to cry. ‘Oh God see my little Leah… God, please bring her back to me,’ I kept lamenting as I cried. My husband told me… to thank God because this means that our prayers have started to be answered. I struggled to keep my tears back and started singing.
“As a mother, it has not been easy for me at all. Each day I wake up I think about Leah and the condition that she is in. Anytime I feel discouraged and start crying, God just sends someone to visit me or to call and encourage me. When I remember that Christians all over the world are praying for Leah, it gives me strength to carry on.
“This audio recording has brought hope to me and I believe that her freedom is on the way. God bless you all – especially Open Doors who have been praying and spreading the situation of persecuted Christians all over the world.”
'PITY ME AND GET ME OUT OF THIS SERIOUS SITUATION'
In the 35 seconds-long audio recording, obtained by Ahmad Salkida for the Nigerian newspaper The Cable, Leah asks for help for her family and herself.
“I also plead to the members of the public to help my mother, my father, my younger brother and relatives. Kindly help me out of my predicament. I am begging you to treat me with compassion. I am calling on the government, particularly the president, to pity me and get me out of this serious situation. Thank you,” she said.
Natha says the recording has given the family hope and that they want the government to do more, ‘as were Christians and some Muslims that are praying for my daughter.’
“We are very, very sad in the family. I hope they will put more pressure concerning her release,” he said.
Leah, 15, was the only Christian taken when the Islamist group Boko Haram abducted 109 girls during a raid on a school in Dapchi, in the north-eastern state of Yobe. Boko Haram later released 104, with the last five thought to have died in captivity.
Leah was held because she refused to denounce her faith, according to her father. He said in March, after hearing that Leah had turned down an opportunity to be released if she converted to Islam, that he was ‘very sad but also jubilant because my daughter did not denounce Christ’.
Leah also refused to blend in with other captives wearing a hijab, according to friends who were released. She sent a message with one of her friends to her mother, saying: “My mother you should not be disturbed. I know it is not easy missing me, but I want to assure you that I am fine where I am… I am confident that one day I shall see your face again. If not here, then there at the bosom of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Thank you for all of your prayers for Leah and her family. Please continue to pray for them, and pray for Leah’s swift release.
YOU CAN BE AN ANSWER TO PRAYER FOR OUR PERSECUTED FAMILY IN AFRICA
Open Doors works through local partners and churches to strengthen persecuted believers in Africa through Bible distribution, leadership and trauma care training, emergency relief, community development and advocacy support.
Will you be there for your persecuted brothers and sisters for as long as it takes? Your prayers and support could be the answer to the prayers of a believer facing extreme persecution.
£30 can provide two days of trauma care training for a church leader or lay leader in Africa, so they can help others begin to recover from their traumatic experiences of persecution.
- That God would strengthen Leah in her captivity, that she would know His tangible presence close to her
- For Leah’s parents and friends, that God would comfort them in their distress and that they would know His peace and provision
- That God would move the hearts of Leah’s captors, and President Buhari, to compassion, and that she would be released quickly.