$12.50. This reportedly is the current "market" price for Nigerian girl brides in some areas of Cameroon and Chad.
Two-hundred and thirty Nigerian girls, mostly Christians ages 16-20, were kidnapped from a boarding school in the northeastern village of Chobok by members of the Muslim terrorist group Boko Haram on the night of April 21. Approximately 200 girls are still missing.
The parents have taken to the streets and pleaded for help from the government to rescue the girls. But the government seems powerless to make a concerted rescue attempt.
It probably is too little and too late. Some of the girls could have already been married to Muslim men and forced to convert to Islam. If the past kidnappings of Nigerian girls are any indication, some are now sexual slaves for Boko Haram members, while also making their meals and doing their dirty work.
A worker with Open Doors International, which partners with churches in northern Nigeria, states: "The abducted girls will most probably be responsible for cooking and cleaning for the insurgents. But there is every possibility that these children could be forcefully converted to Islam and married off to members of the group or other Muslim men."
To sum up a recent report from Nigeria's Political Violence Research Network entitled "Our Bodies, Their Battleground," -- Christian women and girls are targeted in specific ways by the Bok Haram because they are simply visible and more vulnerable – ostensibly more of a threat and ultimately a more efficient means of incapacitating the Christian community. And forging a path to make Nigeria an Islamic country governed by Sharia Law. Boko Haram, in the local Hausa language, means "Western education is sin."
Kidnapping is only one means to accomplish the goals of Boko Haram. In February terrorists killed around 30 boys who were sleeping in a school dormitory in the northern state of Yobe. Last month a bus bombing took 75 lives in the capital of Abuja. Another car bomb went off in Abuja Thursday night, leaving at least 20 dead and 66 injured.
The Associated Press reports approximately 1,500 Nigerians, including Christians and Muslims, were killed in the first quarter of this year.
When the first reports of the mass kidnappings reached the families and friends of the students, the wailing of anguished mothers could be heard on every street corner of Chobok. Most of the girls were taken deep into the jungle.
Over the past three weeks, there has been outrage in Nigeria. But the carnage has been under-reported in the West. Where is the concern among Christians and other faith groups? Don't we hear the cries of these girls' mothers and fathers? Are we so wrapped up in often protecting and coddling our own sons, daughters and grandchildren that we have insulated ourselves to the "killing fields" now rampant in Nigeria and other places, such as Syria and North Korea? Shouldn't the kidnapping of 230 girls rank just as high as the media's obsession with the missing Malaysian plane and its 239 victims.
I don't have any daughters. But I have two teenage sons. Honestly, I can't imagine what my reaction and that of my wife would be if they both went missing. And then not receiving any support from the police or governmental agencies that the kidnappers would ever be caught.
Famous Christian author and pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was executed by the Nazis in 1945, wrote these powerful words: "Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act."
In the face of the mounting evil of Boko Haram, will you speak out today?
I believe we as Christians and other faith groups have a duty – an obligation – to intercede, certainly with prayer, but also with action for the missing girls of Chobok. Ask your family and community of friends to join you in prayer. Bring the concern to your pastors and churches. In a positive development on Thursday, the U.S. State Department offered the Nigerian government help to locate the girls.
Follow the example of Jesus. He had compassion for the blind, the sick and the outcasts of society. So must we. We need to press on until every one of the girls are brought back into the loving arms of their families.