Remembering Chibok at Mt. Vernon Nazarene University

Church of the Brethren Newsline
April 14, 2017

Kristie Hammond (left) with roommate Gail Taylor at MVNU, and 20 boxes of books that they collected for Nigeria, November 2016. Photo courtesy of Pat Krabacher.

By Pat Krabacher

For the third year in a row, Kristie Hammond of Olivet Church of the Brethren in Ohio–now a senior at Mt. Vernon Nazarene University (MVNU)–arranged for a social justice speaker to commemorate each passing year of the Chibok abductions. She says she was personally affected by this horrific event because the girls were her age, or younger, and were kidnapped for trying to get a post-secondary education just as she is doing.

Of the original 276 girls taken from the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Nigeria, on April 14, 2014, 193 girls are still missing. Inaction by the Nigerian government to search for and rescue the girls who are still missing is now at odds with the perceived interference by the Nigerian government in the lives of the 83 Chibok girls who have escaped. Of those who have escaped, 57 escaped during the first night and day of the abduction. The 26 who escaped or were freed since May 2016 have been under the equivalent of house arrest.

My husband, John Krabacher, and I were the invited speakers for the third annual MVNU event to remember the Chibok schoolgirls. We showed slides and told stories from the August 2016 Fellowship Tour through northeast Nigeria, the Pegi Workcamp to rebuild one of the destroyed EYN churches this January, and our two-day visit to EYN Wulari, Maiduguri Local Church Council (LCC) camp for IDPs (internally displaced people) in Borno State on Feb. 8-10 this year. We included slides highlighting Chibok and the schoolgirls. A verbal report on Chibok town was shared based on the most recent visit by Jay Wittmeyer, executive director of Global Mission and Service for the Church of the Brethren.

Twelve young women asked probing questions ranging from “Who is Boko Haram?” to “Are any Muslims fighting the Boko Haram?” A handout of a March 18 article written by Dionne Searcey and Ashley Gilbertson of the New York Times, titled “Beneath Mask of Normal Life, Young Lives Scarred by Boko Haram,” helped us answer questions as it vividly describes the lives of children and teens abducted by Boko Haram ( www.nytimes.com/2017/03/18/world/africa/boko-haram-nigeria-child-soldiers.html ).

We closed the 90-minute gathering with a prayer circle, where we offered heartfelt prayers for all of the abducted, for those waiting for the return of a missing loved one, for Nigeria, for education to overcome the evil that was intended by Boko Haram, and even for the insurgency fighters. Tears where shed and eyes were opened to the tragedy that is still happening in northeast Nigeria.

When we pray for someone or something, we should be compelled to take action, to be a voice for the voiceless, or to do something good. Our hearts remember the 276 of Chibok and their families, along with the thousands of others now trying to pick up the pieces of shattered lives and communities destroyed.

— Pat Krabacher is a Brethren Volunteer Service worker serving in the Nigeria Crisis Response. Find out more about the response effort at www.brethren.org/nigeriacrisis .

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