Finding God in the Scars
Who amongst you wants to denounce Christ?
That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Editor’s Note: Written by Amina from northeast Nigeria. Amina’s story is difficult yet powerful. Her husband was killed for his faith by Boko Haram, an Islamic extremist group in sub-Saharan Africa. The group terrorizes Christians and anyone else who does not adhere to their strict interpretation of Islam. It’s estimated that more than 25,000 people remain in Boko Haram captivity.
Trusting and Walking With Jesus
I thank God I grew up reading the Bible and that the Bible didn’t hide from me anything about persecution. I would read about Paul and how he suffered. He was beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, arrested, and imprisoned again and again. (2 Corinthians 11:23-27)
But through it all, he walked with and trusted Jesus, knowing that the trials revealed the strength of Jesus in his life. Jesus’ power in Paul’s life gave him strength to stand, as the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 12:10:
“That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
From Scripture, I learned that anything can happen anytime, anywhere. Looking back, I know God’s Word prepared me to face my trials.
I lived with my husband, Daniel, and our five children — four sons and one daughter — in the northeast region of Nigeria, in Maiduguri, a city of 1 million people.
Scars are Testimonies
But that was before October 2, 2012. That evening, our whole family was inside watching TV, trying to get away from the 90-degree heat outside, when we began to hear pounding on the front gate. In seconds, men with guns had forced their way inside, shouting at us. It was chaos.
They told Daniel, “Today is your day; tomorrow is not yours.”
When I heard this, I started praying, God, I do not want to be a widow; please help me, Lord!
They took Daniel and my sons outside and told them to denounce Christ. When my husband and sons refused, the attackers told them, “If you are not going to denounce Christ, we are going to kill you today.”
That day, I became a widow. The Lord spared the lives of my sons. Praise God! They were in the hospital for a month with severe injuries, but they are with me today. My sons say the scars from the attack are their testimonies — evidence of the existence of God.
My Faith Tested
Five years after that, I had no idea my faith would also be tested in the same way as my husband’s. I was on my way to a funeral, traveling with 15 other people, when we heard gunshots. We all fell on the floor of the van, and I silently prayed Psalm 118:17: “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the LORD” (KJV).
The terrorists took most of the women into the Sambisa Forest, where we lived in captivity for the next five weeks. Each day, we spent most of our time fasting and praying. They would send their imam (Muslim teacher) to preach to us, and after, they would ask: “Who amongst you wants to denounce Christ?”
Each time we said, “No,” I knew that breath might be my last. Philippians 1:21 became our verse: “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (NIV). I believe the years I spent studying the Bible gave me strength for these days in captivity.
Eventually, after negotiations with the government, we were freed. The day we came home, I remember going into a room by myself, kneeling and thanking God, praising Him through tears. I came out of the room singing the words of a song I now sing often:
By His grace, I am alive.
That’s why I’m singing.
Jehovah saved my life.
By God’s grace, I have slowly learned to live without my husband and be a single parent. All these things that happened to me make me come closer to Jesus, more and more.
Like Paul, I understand that my trials can reveal Jesus’ strength if I stay with Him and walk with Him. Sometimes I feel so weak and weary, but I know that it is Jesus’ strength that holds me up.
I want to ask you, my sisters and brothers, to pray for me. Pray for wisdom as I raise and take care of my family. Pray for protection and for God to continue to give us strong hearts. What these men did has forever changed our lives. But through God’s grace and provision, the physical and emotional scars continue to heal in me and my family. Our scars continue to draw us even more deeply to Christ.
Pray this week:
Father in Heaven, we lift up persecuted Christians around the world and ask that You keep them strong in their suffering. May their testimony of Your enduring faithfulness bring glory to You Lord.
What painful physical or emotional scars do you have that you want to surrender to Jesus so He can draw you closer to His heart? Please let us know how to pray for you.
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