“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.” 2 Corinthians 12:10 (NIV)
Editor’s Note: 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.
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 kids — four sons and one daughter — in the northeast region of Nigeria, in Maiduguri, a city of 1 million people.
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.
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 sister, 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.
God, thank You for Your healing and restoration as I live with my scars. May I see my scars as testimonies of Your grace and strength. Please work in the lives of Amina and her family and the rest of my suffering brothers and sisters around the world who are persecuted because of their deep faith in You. I ask that You give them Your courage — reminding them that Your Spirit lives inside them. And because of that, they can walk in Your power and peace. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
OUR FAVORITE THINGS
Persecuted Christians like Amina ask you to pray with them to stand strong in their suffering. Will you commit to pray with them through Open Doors USA? Download the Pray for the Persecuted smartphone app to receive real-time notifications and prayer requests straight from persecuted believers.
You can also download Open Doors’ 52-Week Prayer Guide and pray with believers like Amina in the 50 most dangerous countries for Christians.
Amina is a Christian widow and mother living in northeast Nigeria. Because she and her family are at risk of further persecution, she cannot provide her last name for publication. Open Doors USA is publishing this devotion on Amina’s behalf to help protect her and her family.
Learn more from Amina and other persecuted Christians at OpenDoorsUSA.org. And watch a powerful video testimony from Amina and her family here.
FOR DEEPER STUDY
Philippians 3:12-14, “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (ESV)
How has God walked with you in your previous trials? Look back and praise Him.
What scars are you holding on to that you need to give to Jesus and let Him use to draw you closer to His heart? Join us in the comments today.
© 2022 by Amina from northeast Nigeria. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Open Doors USA for their sponsorship of today’s devotion.
Click here to view our policy on 3rd party links.
What We Believe
If your life feels too overwhelming, click here for our care and counseling resources.