American Local Church Raises Fund for Chibok Girls
Following the release of 82 girls kidnapped by an Islamist militant group in Nigeria, the Church of Brethren in Anderson isn’t lowering its guard and rejoicing completely yet.
The church estimates about 100 to 115 of the almost 300 girls initially taken by Boko Haram in northern Nigeria three years ago have yet to be accounted for. Even for the dozens reported to be released May 6, the hard part of recovering from the tragic incident is yet to come, said Jaye Rogers, a Church of the Brethren congregation member.
It appears the captured girls either married radicals or became slaves, including sex slaves.
“But that means it’s very difficult to get acclimated back into your own culture and your own family again,” Rogers said. “By the government keeping them isolated, they may be getting the counseling, but they are not being brought back into the community.”
Rogers said they have heard stories of girls not being accepted back into the community once they return because of their involvement with Boko Haram.
“The trauma is not over. It is just continuing,” said Spencer Spaulding, pastor of Church of Brethren in Anderson. “And we have to remember, it’s not just trauma for the girls. It’s trauma for the families, for the community, for everyone.”
Northern Nigeria, including the village of Chibok from which the girls were taken, is a mix of Christians and Muslims, and Church of Brethren has a strong presence in the area.
When the girls were taken, it was clear that many of the girls were Christians and members of the Church of Brethren.
“Quickly, it became obvious to everyone that all of those girls are our girls, including those who are Muslim,” Spaulding said.Even though the girls who were released are now in the hands of the democratic government in Nigeria, Rogers said there is still a lot of need for support of the girls.
“Governments always look at the big picture, (such as) what can we do to resolve this issue?” she said. “For me, you still have to go back to the very basics, which is what can you do to help these girls?”
Spaulding said he thinks there is a lot of need for cross-cultural counseling specialists because culture plays a large part into psychological issues these girls are facing.
The Church of the Brethren in Anderson is taking donations to send to the congregation in Nigeria for assistance in the recovery of these girls. Donations can be mailed or dropped off at Anderson Church of Brethren, 741 N. Scatterfield Road, Anderson.
Each congregation throughout the United States has been given the name of one girl captured in the attack three years ago to pray for during worship each week. The girl the Anderson congregation has prayed for was released, and the congregation was happy for the good news.
But everyone was reminded the work is not over for what the church considers to be their girls.
“(Hearing the news) felt a little like that feeling of it’s over,” said Eugene Roop, a congregation member. “You have to remember there’s still more than 100 unaccounted for. I ended up feeling joy and sorrow all at once.”
The Anderson Church of Brethren is collecting donations to send to the congregation in Nigeria that will help the girls captured and now released moving forward.
Anyone who would like to donate can send a check to Anderson Church of Brethren, 741 N. Scatterfield Road, Anderson, IN 46012.
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