Esther was a teenager when Boko Haram militants attacked her village in Nigeria’s Borno state. She spent three years in captivity. Offered the choice between marriage and slavery, she chose to be a slave. She was still married off to a man who already had three wives. Intimidation and sexual abuse followed. She says, “Each passing day, I hated myself more and more. I felt that God had forsaken me.” Yet she couldn’t let go of God: “There were times when I was so angry with God, but I still could not get myself to renounce Him.”
She eventually escaped with three other women, but she was pregnant and with no idea who the father was. At first her family was delighted to have her back. But then the reality of her pregnancy began to tell. She was put under pressure to have an abortion, even by her own grandmother. People said the baby belonged to Boko Haram and nobody wanted the child. And when Esther gave birth to Rebecca, her daughter was called ‘Baby Boko.’
Now aged 20, Esther has survived, her faith intact, thanks to a programme run by Open Doors local church partners, showing her compassion and giving her trauma counselling and Bible teaching. Of Rebecca she can say, “I had no idea how I would ever be able to love this child … She has become my joy and laughter.” And incredibly she speaks of God’s love for her: “I know that God loves me, and I cannot describe all the good things he has done for me. God loves me so much, I think I am the one God loves most in the world.” [From Open Doors magazine, March 2019].
Yours warmly, in Christ,
Chris Hobbs (Senior Minister/Vicar)