This is not a kidnapping
Uduak Afangideh sympathizes with the agony felt by the parents more than 200 girls, kidnapped from their boarding school in Nigeria by militant group Boko Haram.
The Nigerian native is a professor in the department of natural and physical sciences at Faulkner University in Montgomery, Ala. She is the daughter of Okon Mkpong, an influential leader among Churches of Christ in West Africa and founder of the Nigerian Christian Institute.
Uduak Afangideh, seated, and Idongesit Mkpong-Ruffin at Faulkner University. (PHOTO BY LOREN HOWELL)
In 2010, Mkpong was kidnapped and held by armed mercenaries for 12 days before his release. His wife, Afangideh’s mother, died less than a week later — likely due to stress, said another daughter, Idongesit Mkpong-Ruffin, who also works at Faulkner, serving as chair of the computer science department. (See our recent Dialogue with the sisters.)
Afangideh, who attends the Landmark Church of Christ in Montgomery, is organizing an evening of corporate prayer for the kidnapped girls. In recent days, the #BringBackOurGirls movement has swept across social media, as celebrities including hip hop artists Mary J. Blige and Ja Rule call for the girls’ immediate release.
The evening of prayer begins at 5:30 p.m. Friday, May 9, in the Landmark church’s worship center. (See the event’s Facebook page.)
“Let us cry out to the Lord,” Afangideh says, “and ask heaven to intervene and bring these children home.”
The Christian Chronicle asked Afangideh a few questions about the kidnappings:
I think the fact that it is on such a large scale, the fact that it involves young and innocent children, the fact that it is not just a kidnapping for ransom but enslavement. These might be some of the reasons why the world has taken notice.
Are you encouraged by the attention — or discouraged that it takes a kidnapping on this scale to highlight the threat of Boko Haram and other such militant groups?
Both. I am encouraged that it is now apparent that Boko Haram is not just a Nigerian problem, but discouraged that the world would wait this long to see the threat that this Islamic group poses — not just to Nigerians, but to freedom worldwide.
What do American Christians need to know about the situation in Nigeria?
I think the situation has been ably covered by international media. I would add that calling it a kidnapping makes it seem more tame than it really is.
What can American Christians do?
As Christians, we know that our greatest power lies in the power of prayer.