The church I serve does not often bring up world news topics during joys and concerns. I’m not sure why. Maybe historically the pastor has done it? Maybe they think that time is just for personal items? Regardless, I often do incorporate issues from the news if I deem it appropriate. This past Sunday, I felt the need to bring up the tornadoes in Arkansas, the conflicts in the Ukraine, and the kidnapping of over 200 Nigerian schoolgirls.
That last one was the toughest. We prayed for the girls (and I’m considering praying for them by name this week, since many of them are available). We prayed for their families, and for those trying desperately to rescue them.
And we prayed for their captors.
I didn’t even think about it. Of course we would pray for their captors. We are told explicitly to pray for our enemies, and I’m pretty sure these guys qualify. I’m a fairly empathetic person, easily seeing others’ views, so I rarely find myself considering anyone an enemy, but still. These militants have taken girls from their homes and are holding them against their will and offering them for sale. It’s beyond comprehension.
Yet they, too, are someone’s children. Perhaps they, too, are parents. What kind of hate and darkness must reside in their hearts which would allow them to do what they are doing? What would it feel like to live with that, to have your pride and self-worth be based on causing suffering to others? It’s beyond comprehension.
So I prayed for them, and I continue to do so. I pray not only that they will let those girls go free, but that their hearts will be healed and they can move on to begin to make amends for the terrible trauma they have caused. Of course, they can never fully make it right. These girls will live with this experience for the remainder of their lives. But I pray because I believe that death does not have the last word, and neither does hate, violence, or fear. God can bring resurrection to even the most desperate and desolate situations.
So God, in this season of Easter, I pray for resurrection in this situation. For governments to intervene as they should, for comfort and strength surrounding and upholding the girls and their families, for captors to recognize their wrongdoings and know there is another way. Release all of these people from that which binds them, that they may live as you intend. In the name of the Risen One, Amen.