On April 15 Boko Haram, a militant Islamic group, kidnapped more than 300 girls from a school in Chibok, a town in northeastern Nigeria. Nearly a month later, more than 250 remain in captivity — and Nigerians have organized protests over the government’s inability to locate the missing girls. The leader of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, said in a video on Monday that the girls would only be released in exchange for imprisoned militants. The Nigerian government first said it would not negotiate with Boko Haram, but later said “all options” are on the table to secure the girls’ release. The phrase “Bring back our girls” has become a rallying cry in many countries as citizens, celebrities, and politicians call for increased international cooperation in securing the girls’ release.
How can prayer help in a situation such as this? The location of the girls isn’t known, but God’s power transcends geographic distance, speaking directly to each of His children. And a clear understanding of God’s laws can help bring an end to kidnapping and slavery.
“Human trafficking: don’t look away” explains how each of us can engage with this issue from a spiritual basis. When we insist in prayer that all men, women, and children are made in God’s image, as the Bible attests, we’re protesting against the view that men or women can be victimized or victimizers. The author writes, “Prayer reveals that man’s true nature is always to help, never to hurt, and never to attempt to profit at someone else’s expense.”
But how can this kind of prayer have an effect? One example is found in “From humanly trafficked to humanely freed,” in which a Christian Science practitioner recounts the role prayer played in freeing a woman she came to know, who’d been in a forced employment situation in the Middle East. The practitioner’s prayers—and those of a Christian Science branch church in the United States—focused on the freedom that is part of each person’s spiritual identity. Freedom, liberty, and harmony are spiritual qualities, emanating from God and reflected by each of His children. The woman was released from her oppressive employment contract and the threats against her ceased.
“Equality: already present” explains how the issue of gender inequality—from which violence and lack of available and supported education for girls often stem—can be addressed through prayer. Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science, often referred to God as “Father-Mother” in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, emphasizing the totality of spiritual qualities that can be expressed by both men and women. We can see individuals of both genders reflecting God’s qualities, and this elevated view helps ensure dignity and safety of all people around the world.