Hannatu Dauda cradles a picture of her missing daughter Saratu.
"Anytime I hold this picture I feel as if she is here with me," she says. "I have so much hope that if she is alive, God willing, one day my tears will be wiped away."
Saratu was among the 230 girls abducted by Boko Haram extremists from Chibok Secondary Girls' School five years ago, on 14 April 2014. Some escaped during the kidnapping or very shortly afterwards. Others have been released – 21 girls in October 2016 and another 82 in May 2017.
But 112 Christian girls are still captive and no one knows how many are still alive.
Keeping hope alive
Ever since that night, Open Doors has been supporting the Chibok parents with emergency relief and spiritual care. Your support has enabled us to provide them with food and medicine, trauma care, prayer and encouragement – and has kept their hope alive.
"If they have killed her and show me her body, then I will stop hoping for her return," says Yana Gana, whose daughter, Rifkatu, is still missing. "Until then, we will wait for her to come back. I believe that God will perform a miracle and the girls will be released. He alone can make a way where there is no way for her to return."
Comfort from around the world
But it is so difficult for these grieving women. With only rumours about their whereabouts, there is no closure. It is an open wound.
"There is a Hausa proverb that says fresh wounds are always very painful," said Yana Gana. "Any time I speak about Rifkatu, I feel so much pain in my heart."
At these times they take comfort from the support given by other Christians around the world.
"There has been crying and praying all over the world for these girls, and we can’t forget that. We, the people of Chibok, thank the world. If we were left alone, all of us parents would have died. But believers all over the world stood by us."
"You have helped us with trauma counselling, prayed with us and, through all of that, we have been able to stand strong. We have placed our total trust and dependence on God, knowing He is the only one that can save them. We thank everyone who stood by us in different ways in our time of pain."
Send a message of hope
"I am grateful for your prayer and support," says Hannatu Dauda. "I have hope that this year God will bring them out. Just as we rejoiced with those who were freed, we will also rejoice when our daughters come back."
Please continue to pray with these parents.
And you can send a message of encouragement to them via email. Send your message to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will forward your message to the parents.
You can also help other women and girls who have been targeted for their faith and their gender.
The suffering of the Chibok girls made headlines around the world. But for each of them there are thousands of other women whose suffering goes unseen. Women like Esther, who was captured by Boko Haram and who, for some, remains tainted by association. Or Aisha who was brutally assaulted by Fulani herdsmen.
Shocking new research from Open Doors shows that millions of women are doubly vulnerable to persecution, targeted both because of their gender and because of their faith.
THIS HAS TO CHANGE.
Open Doors’ vision is that every woman who is persecuted for her faith and gender is seen, valued and empowered to reach her God-given potential. That’s why we’ve launched the new See. Change. campaign, to restore the hope, dignity and identity of women who are doubly at risk of persecution because they follow Jesus.
Join the See. Change campaign now to support women who suffer for their faith.