You’d think that being released from captivity would mean a happy ending. That, after years spent being held by kidnappers, a family reunion would be a blessing. But for Ijanada, like many other Nigerian women and girls, that wasn’t exactly what happened.
"I kept thinking of my family and the memories we shared before I was kidnapped." -IJANADA
Ijanada was a teenager when she was kidnapped by Islamic militants Boko Haram. She was forced to ‘marry’ one of the Boko Haram fighters, and gave birth to his child when she was only 16.
“I faced so much suffering, hunger, mistreatment and pain,” she remembers. “I kept thinking of my family and the memories we shared before I was kidnapped.”
After four years, and pregnant with her second child, she managed to escape. But her family and community weren’t welcoming to her. She returned to judgement and distrust. “I was not welcome. Most people kept mocking and insulting me,” she says.
This is a common experience for women and girls who have been kidnapped in West Africa – particularly if they have children with Islamic militants. The woman and her children are stigmatised, and the community doesn’t properly understand that the militants are the only ones who have done something wrong.
Ijanada loves her children, Luka and Warasini. “Even though people tell me that they are children of the enemy, everything that God makes is beautiful,” she says. It has been especially difficult for Ijanada’s father to fully accept her children.
But Ijanada and her family are healing, thanks to Open Doors trauma care – which is available thanks to the gifts and prayers of Open Doors supporters like you.
“After my escape, you helped me with trauma care. I am so grateful. Your prayers have really kept me going - I am so happy, thank you so much.”
Ijanada remains determined to not be defined by her past. “I have been able to finish my secondary school, and I want to go to a higher-level education,” she says – and she continues to place her trust in God: “God has been with us all the while. He has protected us.”
Her prayer is that Luka and Warasini ‘grow up in God’s image’ – and she also asks that supporters join her in praying for her education and her future: “Please pray that God will open doors for me.”
Ijanada is so grateful to Open Doors partners, and to the supporters who are making such a difference to her life: “You never forgot me. Today you travelled to my house again, just to see me and my children. Just to know how I am faring. I’m so grateful.”
"You never forgot me." -IJANADA
Your prayers and gifts can help many persecuted Christians in West Africa like Ijanada heal, and see their true identity in God’s eyes. As Jesus said in the parable of the sheep and the goats: “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
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