Moved Me to My Knees

How often do you read something that causes you to stop reading and start praying? Now, imagine reading a book (beyond the books of the Bible) that does this at least once in every chapter. Miss Leah Sharibu’s real-life story, of her capture and continued captivity by Boko Haram in Nigeria, is that powerful. Near February 19th of each year, I dedicate my blog to the courage and faith of this young lady. As we recognize her fourth year of captivity, she remains a prisoner for her faith.

Since October 2019, I have prayed daily for Leah’s continued strength, courage, hope, and faith. While receiving no “official” word on her condition, reliable sources report Leah is still alive in captivity and raped many times, delivering at least two children to Boko Haram terrorists. My heart believes she continues to stand strong in her faith in God; resolved to being used by Him in mighty ways we cannot understand. While my flesh-driven mind wants God to heap great plagues upon Boko Haram, forcing them to surrender her, my heart prays God’s will for her life as she remains safe.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Miss Leah’s story, please visit my original blog post here (Tunawa Leah – J.D. Wininger, Christian Author ( Several months ago, I received a copy of the recently released book “Leah: Hero for Jesus”. Written last year by my friends Dr. Gloria Samdi-Puldu (President of the Leah Foundation) and Rev. Peter Fretheim (Missionary to Nigeria), it is now available in the U.S. and internationally. While my copy has a different cover than the “Americanized” version, the powerful story is the same. As the title of this post shows, this book moved me to stop and pray many times. Below are some quotes from the book that led me to pray.

  • “God, help me to be discomforted.”–Lee Cantelon, Director of Marketing and Missions, Microboard
  • “Though Leah may not exactly be like Esther of the Bible in the sense that she was not placed in an earthly royal position, it feels as though God placed her in our lives ‘for such a time as this.’ I have no doubt that the person I have become would have been entirely different without her.”–Siyona, one of Leah’s classmates, friend, and fellow Christian
  • “Leah must have sensed my fear. ‘Even if it’s true,’ she said confidently, ‘we’ll stand firm in our faith. God will watch over us.’ “ – Comfort Ambrose, one of Leah’s classmates, friend, and fellow Christian
  • “Many times I let my tears be my prayers when my tongue could form no words.”–Rebecca Sharibu, Leah’s mother

As I think about the words from this book that led me to prayer, I reflected upon the brokenness in my life and how many times I’ve fallen to my knees, able only to share my tears with God. I thought about how young Leah has cried herself to sleep, unable to find words to express her fear, loneliness, rejection; longing to live and worship freely. How many times has she quietly hummed the words of a hymn or worship song to her Lord as she toiled in the labor being forced upon her by captors?

Most can’t imagine the level of persecution Christians face daily in other parts of the world. Is America next? Share on X

“Leah: Hero for Jesus” caused me to look headlong at what Christian persecution looks like. Groups like Voice of the Martyrs (, United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) (, and others share information each day about Christian persecution around the world. Until you experience it firsthand, you can only imagine what it would be like. Will we in America come to understand this more personally in the coming years? I believe we will indeed see religious persecution increase in frequency and intensity.

Ask friends in Australia and Canada who have had fences erected, pastors arrested and imprisoned, and armed officials enter their churches to arrest or fine those attending services. Yes, the growing threat has even come to the United States of America, a nation founded on the very principles of religious freedom. Ask those churches and church schools in California, Maryland, and other states police have shuttered.

February 19, 2022 will mark four years that Miss Leah Sharibu has been a prisoner, held by Boko Haram terrorists. For whatever reasons, the Nigerian government and other high-ranking leaders of the predominantly Muslim country have done little or nothing to secure her release.

The Leah Foundation continues to advocate for Leah’s release. They will host a livestream virtual event with updates and encouraging words from Leah’s global friends and supporters on Saturday, February 19th at 12PM EST (6PM WAT). You can click this link to watch the event.

#FreeLeah – Four Years a Captive – YouTube

If you would like to purchase a copy of the book “Leah: Hero for Jesus”, you can purchase it in paperback or Kindle™ format at using this link.

I humbly ask that on this day, you remember (tunawa) Leah, her family, and those who are holding her captive in prayer. If you share this post, please add these hashtags to help spread this message around the world.

#FreeLeah #LeahFoundation #StandUpForChrist #TunawaLeah

God’s blessings,

48 thoughts on “Moved Me to My Knees”

  1. J.D. I subscribe to the Voice of the Martyrs magazine and online newsletter. One can’t help but be overcome by the suffering of so many saints in various parts of the world. They are such an inspiration of faith and strength. We don’t understand why some of them must languish in prison for years but we can pray and give financially to the organizations that help them. May we pray also for our own country as it looks like someday we may face the same persecution. I pray to be strong in the face of whatever comes and not deny my Lord. Thanks for sharing. People like Leah do not need to be forgotten.

    1. Yes ma’am, I do also. VOM is an important voice in the world for those who can’t speak out for themselves. I join you in praying for the release of prisoners of conscience and religious freedom around the world. I too pray daily for our nation and its officials. While I can’t always call them leaders, for they do not lead, they are the elected officials and we should respect their position and pray God’s influence in their lives. Most of all, my prayers for our nation focuses on our moral character and that we return to the godliness, values, and righteousness this nation was formed by. Thank you for commenting ma’am; and thank you especially for your prayers of support. God’s blessings

  2. I will most definitely keep Leah in my prayers, J. D., and all the other Christians around the world suffering for their faith. Jesus warned us of this, and we must be prepared to face persecution and hate in this world.
    God bless, and thanks for sharing this Leah’s dire situation with us.

    1. Thank you Ms. Martha. I pray for the day when I have a final post that reads “Leah is Home!” Oh, how a great many people look forward to this day. And, yes ma’am, we must prepare ourselves and those we love for what has been promised in God’s word will come. I pray also “Maranatha”, as I sometimes tire of the struggle. Yet, we must remember that God is our portion and our strength. God’s blessings ma’am.

  3. I will join you in praying for Leah. Thank you for bringing her serious situation to our attention. This truly is heartbreaking. We must remember all who suffer persecution for their faith. Bless you for this reminder!

  4. Thank you for reminding us about Leah. I continue to pray for her and her family and those who are holding her captive. The suffering endured is more than we can imagine. Praying for God’s love and comfort to all who are held captive.

    1. I am certain her family appreciates all our prayers Ms. Melissa. So many around the world suffer intense persecution, especially in the Middle East, Far East, and Africa. It is heartbreaking indeed. Thank you for your prayers my friend.

  5. Edwina E Cowgill

    I will join you in praying for Leah, and other persecuted Christians. I will pray for her to remain strong, to keep her faith, and for her protection.
    Thank you for sharing her story.


  6. Thanks for the update on Leah and thank you for being a powerful prayer warrior for her and others facing persecution. I’m not familiar with the VOM magazine you and Barbara mention, so I’m going to check it out.

  7. Thank you for sharing this update. Since I saw your post last year I have prayed for this young lady. I pray we may all stand firm in our face if/when we face these same threats

    1. Thank you Ms. Renee. I too am looking most forward to understanding how God’s plan is going to be realized through this precious child. When you receive the book, read Mrs. Gloria Samdi-Puldu’s thoughts in the back of the book, entitled “What is God Doing?” I thought it inspiring. I met Ms. Gloria when they were here in the U.S. addressing Congress, etc. She was Mrs. Rebecca Sharibu’s interpreter and was such a gracious lady.

  8. I remember the first time I read one of your posts about Leah. It’s a story we must not forget. In sharing this one, I inserted the observation it’s not hard to read your words, but the story behind them is hard to contemplate and the implications are awful. The gift of imagination is one of those human capacities that often kick into gear to thrill us, but then there are those times when we almost wish we didn’t have it because it totally shreds our heart with pain and grief. I shared this piece in the hope that it would encourage others to take a moment to allow their imagination to let them be Leah for a moment and totally disrupt their sense of complacency. May God help us all to remember that He made Leah part of our family, and us a part of hers. My hope is that until she’s free, all of us will join you in praying for her like she’s one of our sisters–because she is. Thanks, J.D., for your faithfulness, your heart, your gifts in communication, and for transporting me to a place I didn’t really want to be, but needed to see again.

    1. So very true Mr. Ron. I would love nothing more than to write only one more post that tells the story of her victory for God, her release, and her successful return to her family and a happy life. Am not sure I could ever recover from such atrocities, but we both know what God can do. Just ask Job! I agree, this is not something I want to think about, but something we must all consider and prepare for. God’s blessings sir; and thank you for helping spread the word of this young lady’s plight.

  9. Yes, I do remember Leah’s story, thanks to your vigilant efforts. This is more heartbreak than my mind can imagine and my heart can take. I’m praying for Leah and her family today, JD. I admire so much your commitment to praying for her.

  10. I appreciate this update, J.D., as sad as it is. It’s an honor to pray for Leah. Thank you for raising our awareness.

    1. Indeed it is an honor Ms. Jeannie. Knowing how so many of my Christian writing friends are standing with us in prayer is such a blessing ma’am . Thank you, and God’s blessings.

  11. As hard as this is to read about, we must, so that we can pray for Leah and all those in these tragic circumstances. And, as you point out, it is also of vital importance that we pray for our own country and its people, that we will not lose faith and that we continue to spread the love of Jesus. The only way to defeat hate is with love.

    1. How very true Ms. Katherine. The “warrior” in me wants to hunt the terrorists down and inflict as much pain and carnage as is needed for them to relent and set these prisoners free. Even having those “human” thoughts makes me no better than they are though. We must reach for that higher ground and show them God’s love. I somehow sense Miss Leah is doing that very thing. Perhaps it is that love that has kept her alive all this time. Great thoughts ma’am. God’s blessings.

  12. You’re so right, J.D. We are so unaware of what living our faith is like for those in other places–perhaps soon to include us.
    Martial Law in Canada–Canada! Who’s next?
    May we shine light into the darkness that surrounds them and the darkness of comfort we immerse ourselves in.

  13. Her story touched me deeply the first time I read your post about it several years ago. I have been praying for her regularly ever since my friend and will continue to do so until she is released.

  14. I will pray for Leah. Thanks for sharing her story. We know that God works in ways we don’t understand. May He get all the glory.

    1. Absolutely Ms. Joanna. The glory is His and His alone my young friend. Our job, as Ambassadors for Christ, is to show them His light through our lives. The more we are in the world, rather than in His Word, the more dimly His light shines. I thank God for you ma’am, a bright shining beacon of hope in God.

    1. Thank you Ms. Kathy. It’s heartbreaking to think about, but I can’t let this little girl languish in anonymity. To her family, she’s much more than a statistic. God’s blessings for your kindness and prayers ma’am.

  15. “How many times has she quietly hummed the words of a hymn or worship song to her Lord as she toiled in the labor being forced upon her by captors?”
    Happy to join the army of prayer on Leah’s behalf. I hold onto this image of her praising God against all reason otherwise. It’s supernatural strength she needs. You faith in prayer and concern for her well-being is one of the reasons she has persevered!

  16. Thanks for this reminder of Leah’s situation and the update. The cost of standing for Jesus is so high for many in the global church. But a blanket prayer for persecuted Christians in general is not the same as a prayer for a name, a face, and a story. Bless you for carrying this torch for her.

    1. Thank you Ms. Dottie. I don’t know that I’ll ever meet Miss Leah this side of heaven, but I am certain that I will one day get to give her the hug and celebrate with her as we worship God together in glory my friend. See you there! 🙂 God’s blessings ma’am.

  17. J.D., I was joyful yet apprehensive when this post hit my email the other day and I saw Leah’s well remembered photo. This story so touched my heart the last time you shared. I will be watching today on YouTube and continued prayers for this sweet Christian who loves Jesus with all her heart. It warms my heart and inspires me.

  18. Persecution has become a big topic of prayer for me. The persecuted have so much to teach us in our comfortable and warm homes. I still contemplate the book “The Insanity of God” which is all about persecution and its values. I am blown away by the story of Richard Wurmstand (sp), founder of the Voice of the Martyrs. And I’ll never completely understand the sentiment of one martyr I heard that said not to pray for release but for perseverance. They can actually find joy in their situation knowing it is for the cause of Christ. I imagine Leah will have a jeweled crown waiting for her in heaven.

    1. I can sure understand that Ms. Karen. It seems it is happening more and more, and in more and more places around the world, every day. Yes; I loved Pastor Wurmstand’s book also. I received a copy from VOM a few years back. Oh, how it broke my heart for him and his family and all they endured. And again, yes! While I still pray that Miss Leah Sharibu will one day be released, my prayer focus is that her faith remains intact, her testimony strong, and her will surrendered to God. I can’t imagine what she must endure in captivity, but I also can’t help but wonder that effect she is having on her captors. Let God’s will be done. Thank you so much for commenting, and especially for praying, ma’am.

  19. I hopped over to read your original post about when you first learned about Leah. It’s such a heart wrenching story, but you shared it well, Mr. J.D..
    I’m adding Leah’s name to a bookmark in my Bible, so I’ll remember to pray for her. Also, I pray for the strength of her mother and her family as they wait on the Lord.
    Thank you for opening our eyes and hearts to this.

    1. It is indeed heart-wrenching Ms. Sally. At first, I prayed the plagues of Pharaoh and Egypt upon Boko Haram, but as each year passes, I pray that whatever God is doing in this, that it impact the captors’ hearts and they find Him through Miss Leah’s efforts. Thank you so much ma’am.

  20. I remember well your original post about Leah and continue to pray for her, her mom, and others. Thank you for your continued love and concern, reminding us to keep her lifted up to our Father. He sees her and knows all. Praise Him for that.
    Thank you, J.D.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top