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Zinder, Niger
Photo: World Watch Monitor

On October 16th, the teenage daughter of a pastor was kidnapped in southeastern Niger. Security forces were alerted at the time of the incident and the 17-year-old, Aphodiya Garba Maida, was thankfully found alive and well about ten kilometres away from Diffa a day later. At the time of receiving this updated report, Aphodiya was in the care of authorities.

The teen was on her way to school when she was kidnapped by three women and three men. She used her mobile phone to send a message to her father, stating that she was being held in an unknown location. While the kidnapping appears to be a targeted occurrence initiated by Boko Haram-affiliated militants, the case is still under investigation.

The Diffa area, which borders Nigeria to the south and Chad to the east, has seen an upsurge in attacks by Boko Haram in recent months. In July, militants kidnapped close to 40 women and children, then slit the throats of nine other people in the village of Ngalewa. A month earlier, two female suicide bombers attacked a camp for internally displaced people in Kablewa.

In January 2015, following the Charlie Hebdo cartoon of Prophet Muhammad, more than 70 churches and over 30 Christian homes were destroyed. Following the violence, several non-governmental organizations suspended their operations and all the churches in the region were closed. The anti-Christian violence caused by militants has been condemned by the country's authorities and the Islamic Council of Niger, among other groups.

While we are rejoicing with Aphodiya's family over her safe release, we now ask for her continued protection and well-being. In fact, may the Lord assure this teen and her loved ones of His promised peace, protection and strength. Pray that the testimony of His swift intervention in her situation will minister to many in Niger, reminding them of His greatness. May the same powerful intervention also be at work within the hearts of her captors and others in need of eternal salvation, bringing about genuine repentance and radical spiritual transformation.