We need an alleluia

A reflection on the kidnapping of Nigerian schoolgirls

By Roger W. Hutchison
Posted May 8, 2014

We are in the fifty days of Easter, but I am having a hard time saying “Alleluia.”

We learned today that eight more girls were kidnapped from their school in Nigeria.  This adds to the 276 that we are aware of. Faces of grief, anger, and fear cover the screens of our televisions, computers, smart phones and Twitter feeds.  The angry reaction is palpable.

The social media world is buzzing.  Bring back our girls.


ens_050814_bringBackOurGirlsOur girls?  Why are they our girls?  They live in a place far away from the world I know.  I live in a middle class subdivision in a bedroom community just outside of Columbia, SC.  I drive almost 30 minutes to work every day.  I listen to NPR or sing out loud to some band that is piped from my iPhone through my car’s speakers.

Today I didn’t feel like singing.

I am a dad.  I have a daughter who is 12 years old.  She is a happy child . . . most of the time. Her emotions shift like the wind. One moment she is laughing and joyful. The next she is a sobbing mess. She is 12-years-old.  This is normal.  I have to constantly remind myself of this.

The missing girls in Nigeria range in age from 12-15. These children were ripped from their lives – from their families. My girl is in the kitchen spreading Nutella on toast.  These girls are being sold as slaves; their bodies are likely being ravaged my men twice their age.

I have an enlarged heart. It is filled with the faces and names of children I have served and loved.  It is filled with the faces of the children who were taken from their families and loved ones in Sandy Hook.  It is filled with the faces and names of the ones who remain.

My enlarged heart is close to breaking.  There are now 284 more children I grieve for.  284 more children to love and pray for.

They are our girls because they need us.  They are our girls because they are our sisters, daughters, and friends.  They are our girls because they are in trouble. They are our girls because we are all children of God.

Bring back our girls.

Bring back our girls.

Bring back our girls.

We need an Alleluia. I’m ready to shout it from the rafters.

Just not yet.

— Roger W. Hutchison is Canon for Children’s Ministries at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral n Columbia, South Carolina, Diocese of Upper South Carolina.