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It’s been four long years since Islamic state terrorists abducted teenager Leah Sharibu in Nigeria. May 14 was Leah’s 19th birthday – her fifth in captivity.

Terrorists from Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) struck on February 19, 2018. They attacked the Government Girls’ Science and Technical College in Dapchi, Yobe state, Nigeria.

The militants killed five girls in the attack, according to reports. The following month, ISWAP returned 104 girls to their families. The only student they refused to give back was 14-year-old Leah Sharibu.

It’s believed that Leah, a Christian, refused their demands to convert to Islam. ISWAP has declared publicly that they intend to keep Leah as ‘a slave for life’.

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The Nigerian government has pledged it would ‘not relent in efforts to bring Leah Sharibu safely back home’. But Leah and her parents continue to wait for them to deliver on that pledge.

Leah is one of an increasing number of kidnap victims in Nigeria. It’s estimated that more than 2,500 Christians were abducted in that country in 2021.

Leah’s mother, Rebecca, told Punch magazine last year: ‘The reason they have left my daughter in captivity is because she is a Christian.

‘All the other girls that were taken were Muslims, and they were all released. But my daughter… refused to renounce her Christian faith.’

What gives Rebecca hope, she says, is that God is in control and people are praying. She told Punch: ‘By the grace of God… I have hope that one day I will see my daughter again.’

Unconfirmed press reports say Leah was forced to marry a Boko Haram fighter and has given birth to two children in captivity. Last year, her parents dismissed that as rumour.

  • Please pray for Leah that she will hold on to her faith and know God’s presence.
  • Pray for her parents, that they will continue strong in their faith.
  • And pray for the Nigerian government, that they will follow through on their pledge to rescue Leah and take urgent steps to protect Christians, who are increasingly under attack in their country.
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Sources: Punch, 9.5.21, 13.5.21; US Commission on International Religious Freedom