A 15-year-old Christian girl was the face of victims of violence in Nigeria during a hearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee this week. Like the hundreds of girls who were abducted last month, Deborah Peter is also from the Nigerian town of Chibok and she, too, has suffered greatly at the hands of the Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram.
Prior to the hearing, Ms. Peter shared her story with the committee. In prepared testimony, she told of Boko Haram’s murder of her father, a Christian pastor, and her brother:
They said that if he did not deny his faith they were going to kill him. My dad refused, saying that Jesus said whoever acknowledges Him in front of man, He will acknowledge in front of God; and whoever denies Him in front of man, He will deny in front of God in heaven. My dad said that he would rather die than go to hell fire. After he told the men that, the men shot him three times in his chest.
Another pastor helped her flee the region, and she was eventually able to come to the United States with the help of the Jubilee Campaign, an organization that seeks to help persecuted Christians. Ms. Peter stated that the pastor who helped her was later killed by Boko Haram, too.
“I decided to tell the world my story when the Chibok girls were taken because everyone needs to know how horrible Boko Haram is. They kill innocent people who never hurt them. I want the world to understand what happened to me,” said Ms. Peter. “I hope that the kidnapped Chibok girls will take courage from my story, and know more of what God says, and know what it means to stand strong in the face of bad people. I hope that they will be free and be able to go to school and worship freely.”
Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) noted at the hearing that this situation not only presents the immediate need to rescue the abducted girls, but also the long-term challenge of disempowering Boko Haram, a threat to people in Nigeria and to Western interests. He declared, “Many around the world are just now hearing of ‘Boko Haram’. Sadly, for communities in northern Nigeria, they know the death and destruction this group brings all too well.”
By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations
Published: May 23, 2014