United Methodist Leaders Ask for Prayers for Missing Girls in Nigeria
The leader of The United Methodist Church in Nigeria and the head of the denomination’s international mission agency have joined in an appeal for prayers for the safe return of a large group of girls who were kidnapped from their government secondary school in Chibok, Nigeria, more than two weeks ago.
Bishop John Wesley Yohanna, of the Nigeria Episcopal Area, and Thomas Kemper, chief executive of the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries, expressed concern for the more than 200 teenaged girls taken from the school by armed men in uniform. They asked for prayers for the students and their families.
Reports on the abduction vary, but many suspect it is the work of the terrorist group Boko Haram. In condemning the action, Bishop Yohanna also indicated some of the reasons it has proven difficult for the government to rescue the girls. “The insurgents are well armed and they are hiding in a dense forest,” he said. “The military cannot use their might because Boko Haram will push the girls to the front line and cause causalities. Two weeks is a long time. We pray for the safe and immediate release of our daughters.”
Boko Haram is often implicated in the religious conflict that increasingly engulfs regions of Nigeria. It remains unclear what strategic or political purpose the abduction of these students might play. Kemper added that “Nigeria is a nation of great resources and potential. While its riches are unequally distributed, Nigeria recently surpassed South Africa as the wealthiest country in Africa. It has the potential for becoming a pacesetter for prosperity and equality.”
“Our hearts ache with the hearts of their parents,” Kemper continued, “and we pray that their daughters will all be returned safely to their homes. These young women are innocent and have nothing to do with political or religious conflict. We pray that Boko Haram’s horrific crimes will come to an end and that there will be peace and stability in Nigeria.”
Media contact: Melissa Hinnen, Director of Content and Public Information