She is 14. She longs for adventure and freedom. She loves to learn and is at the top of her class. She helps her mother with her siblings and she doesn’t mind it. She snatches her mother’s bright shirt from the laundry and twirls as she holds it to her chest. She has dreams.
She is not my daughter.
But she could be.
The only difference between that girl and my own is where they were born.
One was born into freedom. The other oppression.
My daughter will live adventure. She will know freedom. She will continue in school and work to stay at the top of her class. She will help with her brother and sister and she will dream.
The girl born in the red dirt of Africa will be kidnapped from school in the middle of the night and held at ransom, probably abused or worse.
Every time I read that females are the most oppressed people group in the world my stomach knots and I feel sick.
Because I have daughters. And I am a mother. And I love God and He loves them. And I long for things to be made right in this world. For the girls to come home, to be free, safe. It’s the compelling force behind Mercy House. It’s the story behind the story.
In our world of sky scrapers, hand-held computers, busy schedules and lovely Pinterest, it’s too easy to think this good life we lead is normal. It’s not. This is not how most people in the world live.
And my girls painting their toenails and giggling in the bathroom is a luxury. They do not know oppression. They do not fear being taken in the middle of the night.
Do you know what the number one fear in the slums of Africa is? It’s not starvation or lack of water. It’s not provision. It’s violence. Girls fear being violated. Because the odds are they will be on their way home from school…by strangers, by their fathers and uncles, policemen. It’s a thought so sickening, it keeps me up at night.
How do we help these girls?
How do we stop the oppression of women and girls?
How do we put an end to the violence against them?
And we pray some more.
And we continue to pray until they are rescued. Until they are redeemed. Until they come home.
I was sitting in church the other day. My eyes were closed as I sang. I lifted my hand in surrender and when I did, the twine on my prayer bracelet snapped and the little heart fell onto my lap. How fitting. Holy hands. A Holy God. A Holy Fight to remember girls all over the world from Nigeria to Kenya to South America to the brothels in Thailand to the elusive massage parlors in my city, to the refugee moms we teach to crochet.
We feel helpless. But when we pray we unleash the Great Helper.
We feel inadequate. But when we pray God is more than adequate.
We feel defeated. But when we pray Jesus defeats the enemy.
This week, today, now, the staff at Mercy House are talking to helpless, hopeless pregnant girls who will be our next in-house residents. They are setting up a mentoring group in a nearby slum for those who won’t be residents. We are taking Mercy House to them. It’s overwhelming, heart-breaking work. The stories-oh, Jesus-the pain the girls in our world endure. We pray. It’s the one thing we can do.
3 Things We Can Do Today For the Most Oppressed People Group in the World:
- Sure, go ahead and light up social media with #bringbackourgirls. But at the same time, do battle. Shine a light on the darkness of terror that will draw attention from every corner. It’s time we fight on our knees.
- Wear a love mercy prayer bracelet. Every time you see it or touch it or feel it on your skin, whisper a prayer. It’s a constant reminder not to forget them and to pray for oppressed girls everywhere.
- Most of all, pray. Right now, wherever you are. Whisper this prayer to God on their behalf:
“God, we humbly seek your face and lift up the girls and women in our world who suffer in bondage and fear violence. We ask that you would set these captives free. We pray they would feel your strong arm of love in the midst of their suffering. Please give me the courage to stand against oppression. Bring back our girls. Amen.”
Do you know what the difference between their daughters are and mine?
[Does your church have a bookstore, coffee shop or do you own a restaurant, boutique or know someone who does? We are now offering our love mercy prayer bracelets at a low wholesale cost to help spread awareness. Please email for details.]