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Center for Global Justice Intern – Tiffany Bennett

Tiffany Bennett, 3L
Intern at Jubilee Campaign

Like a typical young American, I’ve done my fair share of complaining about how hard my life is—including the difficulties of living a God-honoring life when others don’t understand my convictions. Despite my frequent altar-call intentions to surrender all to God, I’ve struggled with the big issues: forgiveness, love, and trusting God. However, my internship with Jubilee Campaign has changed the way I view surrender by allowing me to interact with Christians who have come face-to-face with pure evil—and have returned it with forgiveness and love.

Three weeks ago, I was privileged to meet a young lady named Deborah Peter—a 15 year old Christian survivor of the Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram. Jubilee Campaign brought Debbie to the U.S. after her family was killed. After Boko Haram kidnapped the 276 Chibok girls, Debbie decided that she could no longer stay silent. She came to Washington D.C. twice to grant major media interviews and to brief the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on the situation. I was able to accompany her, tour the Capitol, meet with congressmen, write press releases, write a statement to Congress, and help control the media.  

Debbie’s story is one of tragedy, but also a testimony of a young Christian’s faith in Jesus. Debbie was 12 when Boko Haram came to her house and demanded that her father, a strong Christian pastor, convert to Islam. He refused, stating that 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 (Matthew 10:32–33, NIV). The terrorists then shot Pastor Peter several times. As he slowly died, they calmly discussed whether they should kill Debbie’s young brother. They decided that they should kill him because in Nigeria, pastor’s sons usually grow up to become Christian pastors. Despite the fact that 13 year old Caleb just saw his father murdered, he too claimed Jesus as Lord. Boko Haram slaughtered him and tied Debbie between their corpses with threats to remain quiet. She stayed there until the next day when the army gained courage to enter the area. When another pastor heard that Boko Haram changed their minds about sparing Debbie because she is the daughter of a Muslim woman who converted to Christianity, the pastor helped Debbie connect with Jubilee Campaign. After she was safely in America, Boko Haram publicly slaughtered that pastor for assisting. Debbie admits that she was traumatized and struggled with understanding why this entire tragedy happened. Yet, on May 13, 2014, she was able to say to 50 media interviewers, “I hope if people hear my story, they will understand and they will know more and more of what God said, and understand what it means to stand strong.” Through talking with her, I’ve learned that she loves Jesus and even forgives those who murdered her family.

Debbie Peter is not the only person I’ve been privileged to assist at Jubilee Campaign. Since most of the advocacy I’ve done involves Nigeria, I drafted a skeleton bill to help safely repatriate the 60,000+ Nigerian refugees fleeing Boko Haram. After a Nigerian congresswoman adds enforcement legislation, I hope that the bill I drafted provides restoration to those fleeing persecution. I’ve also been able to work on corporate law issues surrounding Bombay Teen Challenge, an anti-trafficking organization that rescues girls in India. Though most people don’t automatically associate corporate law with anti-trafficking advocacy, I’ve learned that a corporate or tax lawyer is vital to keeping an organization operating smoothly.

The thing I’ve been most excited about doing at Jubilee Campaign is working on asylum cases for people fleeing persecution. Though the work is entirely new for me, I’m learning how to legally assist people in finding a safe place to practice their religion. Drafting affidavits for these individuals has made me incredibly thankful to live in a place where Christians do not have to live as second-class citizens simply for professing Jesus. The faith of believers in persecuted countries demonstrates how awesome God’s love is—a love so powerful that a young orphan can say that he forgives the jihadists who murdered his family because God also forgives him.  

These people are true overcomers. My own faith has been strengthened as I’ve witnessed God’s love in the lives of Christians who, by the world’s standards, have every reason to viciously hate their attackers. The power of God’s forgiveness is truly amazing and I’m honored to have a part in each individual’s life.