Woman Attacked by Boko Haram Lives to Tell Her Story
This is the story of an extraordinary young woman named Rose, a Nigerian woman whose courage in the face of unthinkable persecution exemplifies the sacrificial spirit that is the very heartbeat of the Martyr’s Oath.
Rose’s skin glows and a timid smile plays across her face. As she speaks, she studies the long, gold drapery in the coffee shop and glances through the glass tabletop at the floor. She rests one hand in another, favoring one arm. Nigerian pedestrians on a crowded sidewalk outside make loud, declarative statements that serve as both questions and answers. Over the din, it’s difficult to hear Rose’s rasp, which rises barely above a whisper. Her tone isn’t natural. It’s clearly the product of some awful story, some terrible memory.
Otherwise, the young woman looks every bit a soccer mom from Africa. Black hair pulled straight back, kind eyes, a pleasant expression. It seems as if she would be discussing kids and her husband with a friend. But if she turns, you see the labyrinth of scars on the back of her neck and you notice the favored arm is mangled. When she speaks, she doesn’t tell about a Saturday soccer game or a husband’s laughable attempt at coaching. Instead, with calm composure, she tells of how she once lived in northeast Nigeria under threat of Boko Haram—and of the night her husband was beheaded before her eyes, followed by two of her children.
Saying two simple words was all that separated Rose from life and death—Allahu Akbar. But her faith refused to let her say them. Instead, she offered a one-word prayer: “Jesus.” She was willing to give her life for Jesus. After all, he had given his life for her.
I was running and running. They had sliced my arm, so I took off my shirt and wrapped it around to stop the bleeding. But three people caught up and pushed me. I fell to the ground. They started slicing my neck. They said, “Say Allahu Akbar!”
I said, “No, I won’t!”
With every rejection they sliced at my neck with their swords and chanting with greater determination, “Say it! Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar!” Instead I chanted, “Jesus! Jesus!” until I could no longer speak.
Even then, I kept trying to say his name, “Jesus!”
My husband and I had been home with two of our three children. He was a police officer. My oldest daughter was visiting another village. That’s when my husband heard shots outside and said, “Those don’t sound like police arms. It must be Boko Haram.”
He said an official had given him permission to defend himself if they ever came. “These people are here to kill us,” he said. “But before they kill us, I will put up a fight.”
When the terrorists busted in, my husband shot every one that came through the door. He had thirty-six rounds and fired them all. I saw eight people fall dead, and I watched others run away injured. Then he was out of bullets. They came in and ordered him to lie down. That’s when they cut off my husband’s head entirely, then our children’s heads.
I crouched as though I was going to lie down, but then I took off running. I was six months pregnant and didn’t feel well. They reached out with a sword and sliced my arm as I ran by. That didn’t stop me. I ran, but they caught me and pushed me to the ground. They sliced my neck deeply. I was bleeding so much that they left me for dead.
The attack came on Wednesday night, and I lay where I fell until Friday. It rained. The wind blew. Mosquitoes were all over me. I had to swat them away. Then, health workers came to clear away corpses. I heard them. I lifted my hand. They said, “Someone is alive!”
That was the first miracle I ever experienced. How could I lie there for more than thirty-six hours? Bleeding as I was, yet I survived. It was God who protected me. God who allowed me to survive.
I spent three months in the intensive care unit. My family paid some of my medical bills and visited me. I ate food through a tube. They said the tube would be permanent. Then missionaries in the area recognized I needed better care and took me to a Christian hospital. The doctors did a few operations on me and also took out the feeding tube. The nerves in my arm are still badly damaged and painful. I lost the baby I was carrying. I lost my husband. I lost my sons.
When I finally got home, my in-laws had taken all of our possessions. They said I should marry my late husband’s brother to get back our belongings, but I refused. They took custody of my sole surviving child, my twelve-year-old daughter. Later I was able to recover custody of her, and then we moved to live with my parents.
A few years later, at about ten o’clock one morning, Boko Haram started bombing and burning my parents’ village. Can you believe it—a second attack? I found my daughter, my mom, and my sister, and we ran. We escaped to another town, just barely. We reached out again to the missionaries.
They set up a shop for me, but thieves robbed it. I grew a garden, farmed for a while, then some people taught me how to sew and I opened another shop. My father said, “Don’t worry; life is more than possessions.”
He was right. My daughter is behind in school by a couple of grades, but she’s taking exams to catch up.
I am thankful to God for sparing my life. I’m grateful for people who have come along who are like a new family to me. We need prayers because of how those people are running around continuing to kill others.
For more information visit MartyrsOath.com.
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