‘Bring Back Our Girls!’

A statement on the abduction of two hundred young girls from Chibok, Nigeria from Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada.

That’s the curdling cry of mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters of the more than two hundred young girls abducted from their school in Chibok, Nigeria, three weeks ago. The abductions have traumatized families and outraged a nation. The group behind the schoolgirl kidnappings, Boko Haram, and its declared intention “to sell them in the market” is appalling. It is an abomination against internationally held human rights, and an absolute affront to the efforts of many nations to honour the Millennium Development Goals to empower women and young girls through a good education.

As this atrocity continues to unfold with the reports of yet more abductions for the same evil intentions, the world watches with horror.

I am asking Anglicans to offer prayers of special intent in the coming weeks with people of all faiths who are appalled by these crimes. Pray for these innocent girls and young women terrorized and trafficked at gunpoint under the cover of darkness into a future that is grim. Pray for their families who are desperate for information as to their whereabouts. Pray for those who seek a forum for negotiating their release. Pray for a change of heart on the part of these armed extremists. Pray for the safe return of the daughters of Nigeria.

Let’s remember these young women and their families not only in the context of the community gathered in liturgy, but also in a public way. Let’s plan community prayer vigils. Let’s light candles. Let’s bring into these moments of trauma for the daughters of Nigeria the very thing we do during the White Ribbon Campaign between December 6th, National Day of Action to End Violence against Women, to December 10th, International Human Rights Day. Let’s wear a white ribbon and let’s renew the promise associated with it.

“I will not commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women and girls.” 

Let’s hang white ribbons on our church doors, and encourage other keepers of public buildings to hang ribbons as well.

As we hold before the mercy and justice of God these young women and their families, I commend for our use this prayer being offered by Anglicans worldwide:

Prayer for the kidnapped Nigerian girls, May 2014

O God, we cry out to you
for the lives and the freedom
of the 276 kidnapped girls in Nigeria.
In their time of danger and fear,
pour out your strong Spirit for them.
Make a way home for them in safety.
Make a way back for them
to the education that will lift them up.
Hold them in the knowledge
that they are not captive slaves,
they are not purchased brides,
but they are your beloved daughters,
and precious in your sight.
Change the hearts and minds of their kidnappers
and of all who choose violence against women and girls.
Cast down the mighty from their seat
and lift up the humble and meek,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Written by Elizabeth Smith
Diocese of Perth, The Anglican Church of Australia

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