The leader of Nigeria's Evangelical Church Winning All has called on Christians to pray for a number of women kidnapped by Islamic extremist groups in north-east Nigeria in recent years.

Morning Star News reports that Rev Stephen Baba Panya, president of the ECWA, said church leaders were troubled at the lack of efforts from the Nigerian Govermnment to free church members years after they were kidnapped and has called for prayer for those still being held captive.

“Please join faith with me, and let us pray standing on God’s promises in Matthew 18:18-19 that Boko Haram/ISWAP or any other Islamic terror group shall not determine the fate of God’s beloved daughters..." Pastor Panya said in a statement sent to Morning Star News. The statement went on to name kidnap victims Leah Sharibu, Alice Ngaddah, Grace Taku, and Lillian Gyang as well as those of the Chibok schoolgirls still in captivity.

Sharibu was 15-years-old when she was one of 110 girls kidnapped by Boko Haram on 19th February, 2018, from her school in Dapchi, Yobe state. The Muslim girls were subsequently released but Sharibu has reportedly been held because she refused to renounce her Christian faith. 

Ngaddah is an aid worker who was working with UNICEF when she was abducted by militants from Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) - a group which broke from Boko Haram in 2016 - on 1st March, 2018, from a camp for displaced people in Rann, Borno state. Grace Taku, a health worker with Action Against Hunger, was kidnapped by ISWAP militants on 18th July, 2019, while Gyang, a student at the University of Maiduguri in Borno state, was kidnapped on 9th January this year while returning to school following the Christmas and New Year break.

The call to prayer comes amid ongoing attacks on Christians in Nigeria including recent attacks on the towns of Pulka and Gwoza in which armed militants reportedly entered the towns firing weapons indiscriminantly.

Earlier this month, leaders of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria appealed for prayer for Christians facing Islamic extremist violence in southern Borno state.

“It is harvest time, which is challenging in normal years, but in these past years includes the threat of Boko Haram destroying the crop or attacking people as they harvest,” the leaders wrote in 6th November email to Morning Star News. “Pray for many vulnerable villages in southern Borno state and other areas far from military bases.”