I just read the story of one Liya (Hausa for Leah) Sharibu, one of the Dapchi daughters who was reported to have refused conversion to Islam for her release.
Internet stories or social media news could be funny. Tomorrow, you will read that the story is not true, so it's a bit difficult for me to dwell much on Liya now. But the story reminds me of another gory but glorious narrative that happened when the Islamic Boko Haram captured its first Christian victims, comprising of some young Church men and their pastor, George Orji in Maiduguri in 2009.
They were having their all night (vigil) when Boko Haram invaded the Church and captured some men while others took to their heels. The Islamic Insurgents took the captives to their headquarters in Railway area in Maiduguri where they were kept for days, asking them to convert to Islam or be killed.
On the very day they were to be killed, six of them were lined up including the pastor, George Orji. Those who would convert to Islam, go to the right. If you are not, remain where you are. As the boys began to shift, the pastor began to encourage them,..." Don't deny Christ at this hour. Christ did not deny us at the Cross. This may be your last opportunity. Let Christ be proud of you as Christians. Please don't deny Him. Christ is looking for soldiers who will stand by Him even at the face of death...."
The pastor went on and on. His boys denied Christ and opted to become Muslims at that moment, to save their lives. Only the pastor stood by the Cross. Knives and cutlass were brought to kill him. The pastor was defiant. Death meant nothing to him. He began to sing hilariously, his hands manacled behind him. He was jumping happily to meet his Lord. When they were ready to behead him from the back, he sent a message to his family... "Tell my family, that I died well.. Tell them I stood for Christ to the end."
He was immediately decapitated by the Islamic Boko boys. As his head hit the floor and body, the ground, his soul reported at the gates of heaven. There was a loud roar in heaven that a soldier has come! A general has arrived. See Jesus embracing him and his crown placed on his head. His body was buried where nobody knows. This flesh matters nothing to Christian. The boys who 'converted' to Islam were released.
George Orji's widow and children were relocated to .... (I keep this for security reasons) I am still in touch with the widow if you care to help her. She is still in the faith, defiant like her husband. In my interview with her that year, she said though she was glad her husband did not deny Christ, it is still not a joke to lose ones husband when the children are so young.
I had visited Maiduguri days after this incident. I met two of the boys who renounced Christ. As they were narrating the story to me, they were weeping bad, asking God to forgive them for denying Christ. Much later, these boys were brought to the Ecumenical Centre in Abuja, where they publicly related the story again. I was there. I remember Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor prayed for them that the Lord will forgive them and we celebrated the life of George Orji, who is with Jesus right now. Thank God for the contributions of men like Wale Adefarasin and Ladi Thompson, who stood tall for these Christians.
It is within this context I celebrate Liya, that little daughter of Jesus who would not denounce Him. Little in age but strong and mighty in faith. How many of us would play the Shadrach, Meshack and Abednego faith game before the furnace of fire? How many of us would defy the Satraps like Daniel and walk into the Lion's den? How many of us would spit at the face of terrorists like George Orji and Liya and say 'if i die now, I am glorious'?
It takes a certain level of conviction in Christ to stand by Christ at the face of death. May God give us the grace to know that this earth is not our home, that to die in Christ is great gain.