In Nigeria, members of the Muslim sect known as Boko Haram, which in the local language means “Western things are unclean,” threw two-year-old Zachary into Lake Chad where he quickly drowned. They murdered him because his mother, Rebecca, had refused to have sex with a mob of Muslim jihadi militants. Little Zachary was the second child Rebecca lost after being abducted by the terrorists. The violence she suffered at the hands of the Muslim marauders also led to the death of the baby she was carrying within her.
Rebecca’s troubles began when Boko Haram terrorists attacked Baga, the village where she lived in northeastern Nigeria. She and her husband, Vitus, and two sons: Zachary and Jonathan. Little Jonathan was but one year old. Even though she was but 24 years old, the pregnant Rebecca could not keep up the frantic pace. She and Vitus decided to split up because they knew that the terrorists were killing all of the men. As in the case with prior wars and raids conducted by Muslims, the women were subject to abduction and enslavement. Just when the couple had parted, both Vitus and Rebecca heard a blaze of gunfire. Each believed that the other was dead.
A troop of Boko Haram combatants seized Rebecca and her sons and took them, along with a group of Christian women of Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, to a training camp. There they were forced to work sun-up to sun-down and to submit to unwanted sex. But Rebecca refused to turn her body over to the terrorists: an act that cost her an untold number of beatings. It was during these tortures that she miscarried her unborn baby. The terrorists also murdered Zacharias.
The Muslim terrorists demanded that Rebecca deny her faith in Jesus Christ, and that she read passages from the Koran at least five times each day. Forced to her knees and oriented toward Mecca, Rebecca would recite interiorly: “In the name of Jesus, I love you, Lord Jesus.” When the Muslims demanded that she use Muslim prayers beads to say praised to their deity, Rebecca instead whispered praises of the Virgin Mary.
In the end, Rebecca was forcibly raped and impregnated by a Boko Haram terrorist, who thus became a father nine months later. After two hellish years, Rebecca was able to escape and flee the training camp with her two sons: the son of her husband, Vitus, and the son of her rapist. She spent weeks lost in northern Nigeria until she was able to reach her village. Fortunately, she arrived just in time. Her husband, Vitus, was about to remarry because he believed Rebecca to be dead.
Rebecca’s story was but one of several that were offered at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Almudena in Madrid and Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) -- a charity that serves neglected and persecuted members of the Church. Cardinal Archbishop Carlos Osoro of Madrid, presided over the evening’s presentations on May 8. Rebecca’s story was recounted by Raquel Martín of ACN-Spain. “Thanks to the church and the local community, their marriage began a process of reconciliation that has allowed the couple to reunite and for Vitus to accept the boy child who was conceived in rape,” said Martín, who met Rebecca in March. “I have held Christopher [the name of terrorist’s natural child] in my arms and I can assure you that without the presence of Jesus it would be humanly impossible for this family to be reunited, that the child would be accepted, or that Rebecca would be able to look at him with infinite love without being defined by hatred for his terrorist father.”
Before ending her presentation, Martín said that Rebecca has been able to put “Jesus Christ before everything” and that her story “has become a beacon that illuminates my faith and whose very real relationship with Jesus makes me ask myself every day ‘Who is Jesus to me? Is He the more important thing in my life?”
The presentation was just one of several that was offered at Madrid’s cathedral in one of a series of events focusing on persecuted Christians that is dubbed “Night of Witnesses.”
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