The story of the Birth and Growth of SIM/ECWA Church in Ilorin

by E. A. Adeyemi | ECWA Ilorin district church council is a district among 82 districts of ECWA worldwide, it was founded in 1973 out of former Yoruba DCC, four DCCs has been Inaugurated out in Ilorin district church council. The DCCs include Omu-Aran DCC established in 1992, Igbaja DCC established in 1998, Oro ago DCC established in 2000, and Fate-Tanke DCC established in the year 2015. Currently Ilorin DCC has about 7 local church council (LCC). The Ilorin district church council has its secretariat located in Ilorin, along Ahmadu Bello Avenue GRA, Ilorin.

BEHOLD! I am doing a new thing. Isaiah 43:19-21

The Pioneers
On 7th April 1946 a small congregation of seven people started an S. I. M. Church in Ilorin. That humble beginning grew into what is today the ECWA Churches in the city. The population has risen from over 7,000 worshippers in ten different locations in 1995 to approximately 21,000 in 2019. There are also many out-station churches established in villages surrounding the town by the church. The name Sudan Interior Mission (S. I. M.) was adopted by pioneers of a Christian Mission whose sole objective was to open Sudan, the land of the blacks from the West to the East of Africa between the Equator and Sahara Desert, to the Gospel of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

ECWA Founders: Walter Gowans (23) Thomas Kent (25) Rowland Bingham (21)

ECWA Founders: Walter Gowans (23) Thomas Kent (25) Rowland Bingham (21)

A month after landing in Lagos, Bingham wrote a letter to Mr. J. C. Hindle of Southport, England and said “… we have decided to call the mission, The Sudan Interior Mission.

There were times, however, when it was called by other names. In 1901 it was known as the African Industrial Mission. In 1905 it became known as African Evangelistic Mission. The name was again changed to the Sudan United Mission in 1906. The original name, the Sudan Interior Mission was reverted to by 1907. Reasons for these frequent changes in the name within seven years are not clear. The aim, however, remained unchanged at any time; the sixty million lives in the ‘dark Sudan‘ must be reached for Christ. This aim was resolutely pursued. The degree of its achievement was quite remarkable. By 1954 a move had been made to indigenize the mission. The name Evangelical Churches of West Africa (ECWA) was adopted.

The name reflects the evangelical nature of the Mission, while the vision that the work would extend to other countries in West Africa inspired its authors to extend its scope beyond Nigerian borders.

The story of the coming of the Sudan Interior Mission into Nigeria has been told elsewhere, and it is hoped that it will be further told by author in another work soon. Therefore only a few words need be written in that regard here.

It all started in 1893 when Mrs. Gowans, the mother or a Canadian young man, Walter Gowans, saw the vision of Sudan as a dark area waiting for spiritual illumination and decided that her son, Walter Gowans, should be used by God for that purpose. She got two more willing people in this regard: Thomas Kent and Rowland Victor Bingham. The three landed in Lagos on December 4, 1893. They were warned by the Methodist Missionaries of the dangers ahead, but they remained undaunted. Bingham stayed in Lagos to get supplies from home and maintain contact with friends, while the remaining two moved on to the Interior.

History of ECWA

Gowans soon died in Girku near Zaria on November 17, 1894. He was buried in a cornfield by his servant. Tom Kent was taken ill with malaria and also died at Bida on December 8, 1894. Bingham returned home. Mission impossible? Far from that, Bingham came back to Africa in 1900. He was again dissuaded by missionaries and by the ‘devil‘ himself from making another attempt to the Sudan. He was ill again and, on medical advice, ordered home. The two companions who had promised to carry on while he was away, could not make good on their promises and they left Lagos for home by the next boat. Mission impossible? Far from it.

The third pioneer of the S. I. M. (the Patigi party), Bingham, E. A. Anthony, Charles Robinson and Albert Taylor, 1901

The third pioneer of the S. I. M. (the Patigi party), 1901. Patigi is a city in Kwara State, Nigeria

Bingham got three other willing missionaries, E. A. Anthony, Charles Robinson and Albert Taylor who were ready to make the third attempt while another, A. W. Banfields joined the party later. With the help of Sir Frederick Lugard who gave them a safe passage they got to Pategi to build the first mission home in Africa in 1901. There, Dr. Andrew P. Stirret also worked as a Missionary and doctor but within two years three of the four missionaries – Anthony, Robinson and Taylor had died leaving only Banfield.

In 1904 the second SIM station opened at Wushishi was headed by Mr. F. E. Hein. In 1908 the third SIM station was opened at Egbe under the supervision of Tommie Titcombe. In 1912 another station was opened at Oro-Ago by Guy Playfair. In 1915 the Mission at Agunjin was started.

Ilorin fell into the northern protectorate and schools were established with mix of Islamic and Western education. Although Christianity was not permitted in Ilorin when it was first introduced in 1917 with the caveat that churches and mission schools should operate at the outskirts. After independence in 1960, Western schools were established and grew side by side with the mission schools. In the Western schools, Yoruba, Arabic and english languages were in the curriculum.

From Agunjin the SIM Missionary work spread to most Igbomina villages. Although progress was very slow, the Mission at Agunjin later became the nucleus of SIM expansion into Igbominaland. Understandably, Ilorin remained untouched by the mission’s efforts until the early part of 1940s. The Islamic adherents in the town jealously guarded against any outside influence, particularly from missionaries, on the religion. The colonial government, in line with official policy in this regard would not allow the missionaries to operate so freely in a provincial capital and at the headquarters of the Emir. By 1942, however, the necessity to have a mission station where missionaries going to Igbomina and Yagba towns would receive their supplies became quite obvious.

All missionaries passing through Ilorin had made use of a building belonging to the Church Missionary Society which was formerly occupied by Bishop Smith. With the departure of Bishop Smith, the house was used by all missionaries as a Rest House. That building became inadequate for the SIM Missionaries whose number had grown to the extent that by 1943 they had been operating seven European Staffed stations that depended on Ilorin for supplies and transport facilities. It became necessary for the Mission to apply for certificate of occupancy for land to build a Rest House and accommodation for a resident transport agent in Ilorin.

This was granted in 1943 and work began on it in 1944. Elder R. B. Buremoh was the main contractor, the Missionaries kept strictly to the purposes the buildings were put up for as contained on the certificate of occupancy. No attempt was made to establish a local SIM church until 1946 when the move was made by Rev. C. P. Jenson.

 ECWA Church in Ilorin
The ECWA Church in Ilorin is administered in line with the general practice of the denomination in Nigeria. In ECWA, the basic unit of authority is the Local Church Board (L.C.B.). There, the Board of Elders is the highest authority in the Local Church. The Board is headed by the pastor in-charge who is its Chairman.

The church secretary keeps the records of the church and receives as well as sends all correspondence matters on behalf of the church. He makes announcements on Sundays and coordinates the various committees and Fellowships in the Church. At the First ECWA Church in Ilorin, the same person had performed all these duties as well as served as the recorder of the minutes of Elders meetings, the Church Secretary performed both administrative and secretarial duties for the church.

Each Elder is also assigned a specific portfolio and represents the Elders in a specific committee or fellowship. Below the Elders are the executives of various committees’ fellowship and church groups. Below them are of course the members of the congregation.

The Hierarchy of the Church Organization
From the L. C.B. the hierarchy of the church organization is to the Local Church Council (L. C. C.) headed by the Local overseer (L.O.). The L. C. C. is in tum responsible to the District Church Council (D. C. C.) under a chairman and an executive secretary. The Council takes care of allocation of ministers to various churches. It is the highest authority in the District. It is responsible to the General Church Council (G. C. C.), the headquarters of which is at Jos. The GCC is headed by the ECWA President. There is a General Secretary and Assistant Secretary. ECWA has the following eight Departments:

  1. Christian Education Department
  2. Education Department
  3. The services to International Missionary Department
  4. The ECWA Production Limited (EPL)
  5. The ECWA Rural Development Limited (ERDL)
  6. The Medical Department
  7. Radio Ministry Department (ELWA)
  8. Mission Department (EMS)

These departments are directly responsible to the Board Constituted over them by the ECWA Executive. So, in this hierarchy, policies come from the GCC to the DCC to the LCC to the LCB. From the LCB orders are usually given through the executives of various committees and fellowships to the members of the congregation.

In Ilorin, all the ECWA Churches agreed in 1985 to be holding joint Elders’ meetings quarterly. The first of such meetings was held on April 26th 1985 at the first ECWA Church Ilorin. The second meeting was held at the second ECWA Church, Amilegbe on 30th August 1985 while the third came up on 13th December 1985. Since then it had been held regularly in rotation among the churches. Matters affecting each church are usually discussed in the meeting.

The fellowship enjoyed among elders from various churches makes the meetings a worth-while exercise. Moreover, plans for establishing new churches are discussed and executed through deliberations in the meetings. It was a result of the unifying efforts of Reverend S. A. Fatoye that the joint meetings came into being.

Earlier in 1983, The ECWA Day was jointly celebrated by all ECWA Churches in Ilorin. That first joint service to mark ECWA day was held at the 1st ECWA Church Ilorin on 29th May 1983. Since then it had become an annual event.

Bibliographic information
Title: From seven to seven thousand: the story of the birth and growth of SIM/ECWA church in Ilorin, 1946-1995
Author: E. A. Adeyemi
Publisher: Okinbaloye Commercial Press, 1995
ISBN: 9783273248, 9789783273245
Length: 163 pages
Subjects: Missions, SIM, ECWA, Nigeria

E. A. Adeyemi is a historian, educator and a writer. He had his B.A. in History and Graduate Certificate in Education from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria in 1973. Dr. Adeyemi also got his M.A. and Ph.D. in History from the University of Ilorin. He has more than 35 years of research experience in history of Igbomina, including the history of Churches in those areas. Some of his publications include, Moving from Curse to Blessing 1981 and co-author of the Effects of Spacing and Component Crops Population on Seedling Establishment in four Cocoa/ Kola/ Citrus Intercrop in 2015.

He has a wide range of experience in teaching history at both secondary school and post-secondary levels. Dr. Adeyemi is a Senior Principal Lecturer and Head of Department of History at the Kwara State College of Education in Ilorin.



Genocide in Nigeria!

by Joanna Bogunjoko | Despite his re-election, Buhari has not begun to change or do things better. Alas, he has not even acknowledged anything is going on. The All Progressives Congress (APC), South African Chapter, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure that the lives of Nigerians are safe in South Africa.

A university professor was gruesomely axed and murdered recently. He was 40 years old, married and a father of three young children. This is one in a thousand stories, and each murder was deliberate, planned and done without remorse or consequences. Is this how the story of Nigeria will continue? Will the world keep being quiet and turning a blind eye and deaf ear to the GENOCIDE going on in Nigeria?

Despite his re-election, Buhari has not begun to change or do things better. Alas, he has not even acknowledged anything is going on.

Please click the links in the references below and read about the massacres. And, please ask your government to put pressure on Buhari to stop these barbaric killings and bring the man-slaughterers to justice.
I can’t help but cry out the words of Psalm 10 that I have shared below.

PSALM 10
Why, Lord, do you stand far off?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?….

He lies in wait near the villages;
from ambush he murders the innocent.
His eyes watch in secret for his victims;
like a lion in cover he lies in wait.
He lies in wait to catch the helpless;
he catches the helpless and drags them off in his net.

His victims are crushed, they collapse;
they fall under his strength.
He says to himself, “God will never notice;
he covers his face and never sees.”
Arise, Lord! Lift up your hand, O God.
Do not forget the helpless.

But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted
you consider their grief and take it in hand.
The victims commit themselves to you;
you are the helper of the fatherless.

Break the arm of the wicked man;
call the evildoer to account for his wickedness
that would not otherwise be found out.
The Lord is King for ever and ever;
the nations will perish from his land.

You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted;
you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,
defending the fatherless and the oppressed,
so that mere earthly mortals
will never again strike terror.

Thank you for your prayers and support for my country!

Refrences

Nigerian Christians Under Siege: Attacks Claim 120 Lives Since February
CBNNews.com
http://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/cwn/2019/march/nigerian-christians-under-siege-attacks-claim-120-lives-since-february-nbsp

A Dozen Christian Villages in Nigeria Wiped Out in Four-Day Killing Spree:
https://www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution/stories/a-dozen-christian-villages-in-nigeria-wiped-out-in-four-day-killing-spree/?fbclid=IwAR36UxyUGFRE7ayqOxr2BEGQpTeSS-eG3YQP3Q2XmatIGYiyO8K5OJaWCBQ

New Zealand: Fani-Kayode queries international community over silence on Kaduna killings
http://dailypost.ng/2019/03/18/new-zealand-fani-kayode-queries-international-community-silence-kaduna-killings/
CBNNews.com

2 Islamic Groups Target Nigerian Christians – 300 Killed While 72 Others Supernaturally Saved from Firing Squad
http://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/cwn/2019/march/2-islamic-groups-target-nigerian-christians-300-killed-while-72-others-supernaturally-saved-from-firing-squad

Media IGNORING Mass Slaughter of Christians in Nigeria
https://activistmommy.com/media-ignoring-mass-slaughter-of-christians-in-nigeria/?mc_cid=d1ce8599e9&mc_eid=ebeffe5ddd

Muslim Terrorists’ Merciless Killing of Nigerian Christians Continues as Mainstream Media Remains Silenthttp://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/cwn/2019/march/muslim-terrorists-merciless-killing-of-nigerian-christians-continues-as-mainstream-media-remains-silent

Joshua and Joanna Bogunjoko

Joshua & Joanna Bogunjoko

Joanna Bogunjoko is the SIM’s Special Assistant to the International Director and Archives Assistant under the umbrella of SIM International Leadership and Services. She have served at three mission hospitals in West Africa and became full members of SIM in 2001.

 



Olumo Rock Day Visit

by Jimoh Babatunde, Ayodeji Ayodele and Kola Tubosun | A trip to Olumo rock usually commences with a climb up the man-made stairs carved into the rock. The journey continues with climbs on irregularly sized rocks (or ladders which are now provided) through a narrow corridor that leads to the top of the rock.

Olumo Rock is a mountain in south-western Nigeria. It is located in the ancient city of Abeokuta in Ogun State, and was historically used as a natural fortress during inter-tribal warfare in the 19th century. Nigeria, an African country on the Gulf of Guinea, has many natural landmarks and wildlife reserves. Protected areas such as Cross River National Park and Yankari National Park have waterfalls, dense rainforest, savanna and rare primate habitats. One of the most recognizable sites is Zuma Rock, a 725m-tall monolith outside the capital of Abuja that’s pictured on the national currency.

Olumo is a popular tourist attraction. It provided protection to the Egba people when they needed it, and is now held in high esteem by the members of the clan. The mountain is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the heart of Abeokuta (a name which means “Under the rock” in the Yoruba language) in Nigeria. It’s at an elevation of 137 meters above sea level. Abeokuta was originally inhabited by the Egbas, who used the rock as a sanctuary at a higher elevation to monitor enemy’s advances, leading to eventual triumph in war. The town of Abeokuta eventually grew as these new settlers spread out from this location.

Olumo Rock Tourist Complex

Olumo Rock Tourist Complex

Abeokuta is just about an hour’s drive from the bustling metropolitan city of Lagos, providing convenient access to an array of hotels, restaurants, clubs, casinos and various nightlife activities. Lagos is also home to the closest airport to Abeokuta, the Murtala Muhammed International Airport. Most of the Hotels in Abeokuta are within few minutes’ drive from the rock.

New renovations completed in early 2006 upgraded the infrastructure of the site to include a new museum, restaurants, water fountain and the ancient Itoku market, where local artisans and traders enjoy haggling over prices just as much as the customers like to find a bargain. The Complex houses both modern and ancient facilities that have been incorporated into the Rock to make the environment one of a kind home away from home tourist destination. The market lies just outside the Olumo rock premises. It is the center of the indigenous Abeokuta industry of tie-and-dye, locally known as adire. Adire crafters, usually women both old and young, show off their designs in sheds alongside the roads. Behind these sheds are buildings where several generation of these crafters live and work.

The locals are very friendly and if asked, will often give tourists and visitors informal tours of the dyeing areas. Other popular items to watch out for include local beads, bracelets, sculptures and musical instruments like the sekere and talking drum.

A trip to Olumo rock usually commences with a climb up the man-made stairs carved into the rock. The journey continues with climbs on irregularly sized rocks (or ladders which are now provided) through a narrow corridor that leads to the top of the rock. All along the way, catch sights of carvings in the rock, cowrie-studded statues and the ancient abode of the priestesses of the mountain deity who live in huts on the rock.

Climbing the rock could be extremely challenging, most especially for the aged, the installation of this facility has greatly helped to attract more visitors to Olumo Rock, but the fun still lies in using the old stairway.

As we make our way to the top of the rock, it leaves many breathless and ready to take a break to rest on the benches under the trees growing from the rock and enjoy some clean breeze. The journey continues with climbs on irregularly sized rocks through a narrow corridor that leads to the top of the rock.

The view of the Ogun river from Olumo Rock

The view of the Ogun river from Olumo Rock

At the summit of the rock, tourists have the opportunity of having a panoramic view of the city from atop the rock. The old St. Peters Cathedral, the Ogun River, the city’s beautiful central mosque, the Alake’s palace and many others, can be seen from the top of the rock. Descending was not as difficult as climbing. At the base of the rock; one has the opportunity to visit the museum of history plain relax at the eatery.

Professional guides are available at the site or from Lagos or Abeokuta. If you start from Lagos, your tour begins with a pick up from your hotel for a 90mins drive to Olumo Rock, Abeokuta in Ogun State. After the tour of the rocks you can stop for a meal at the city of Abeokuta, before heading back to Lagos.



Elections: Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Expresses Worry Over Vote-Buying in Ondo

by Bankole Adewale | Revd. John Oladapo, CAN Chairman, said he observed that people were still being given money to vote while monitoring the presidential and National Assembly elections in some parts of the state on Saturday

The Christian Association of Nigeria, Ondo State chapter, has expressed worry over the increasing incidence of vote buying during elections in the country.

The CAN Chairman in the state, Revd. John Oladapo, said he observed that people were still being given money to vote while monitoring the presidential and National Assembly elections in some parts of the state on Saturday.

Oladipo, who spoke with journalists while monitoring the election in Igbotako, the headquarters of Ilaje Local Government area of the state, however, commended the Independent National Electoral Commission for the smooth commencement of the poll, saying the electoral body really prepared for the polls.

He described vote-buying as a threat to the nation’s democracy, urging people to vote for candidates of their choice.

He said, “The election has been going smoothly and I can say INEC has done well. However, the issue of money inducement is happening but not open and it is only those that can observe very well that will discover.

“There is an improvement compared to other elections in the past. People behaved maturely by abiding by INEC guidelines.

“We are disturbed though. I don’t know how far it will influence the outcome of the poll but I can see people are still being induced. Inducement is ungodly. We are disturbed and we are not pleased with it.”

 



Pray for Democratic Elections, Standards & Monitoring in Nigeria on February 16th and March 2nd

by Joanna  Bogunjoko | As you may know, Leah, Alice and many others are still in Boko Haram’s captivity. Please continue to pray for their release. Rev. Gideon Para-Mallam has done a lot to raise prayers on their behalf and to reach out to the government to do more in getting them released. President Muhammadu Buhari [Photo: The News (Nigeria)]

Happy New Year! I trust that you had a wonderful Christmas and a restful holiday season with family and friends. May we have a joy, peace, mercy and grace filled year 2019 and many more.

I would like to thank you all for your prayers for Nigeria, your guidance on who I need to connect with to see that justice is done and to see that the upcoming elections are monitored. God bless you all!

As you may know, Leah, Alice and many others are still in Boko Haram’s captivity. Please continue to pray for their release. Rev. Gideon Para-Mallam has done a lot to raise prayers on their behalf and to reach out to the government to do more in getting them released.

May I beseech you to please pray fervently for the upcoming Nigerian elections (Presidential on February 16th and Governorship on March 2nd). May He in His infinite mercies guide and direct the electorate so that they could cast their ballots rightly in order to elect a credible candidate.

See below a list of election monitoring agencies sent to me that you can implore to go and monitor the elections. I believe that as God used King Artaxerxes of Persia to help Nehemiah rebuild Israel and its walls, He can also use anyone to rebuild Nigeria.

May the Lord bless you all and meet your every need according to His riches in glory. Thank you very much for your support.


Election Monitoring Agents

The International Foundation for Electoral Systems
https://www.ifes.org/
IFES 2011 Crystal Drive 10th Floor,
Arlington, VA 22202
TEL 202.350.6700
FAX 202.350.6701

Democratic Elections and Standards, Monitoring Elections Carter Center https://www.cartercenter.org/peace/democracy/index.html
The Carter Center
453 Freedom Parkway
Atlanta, GA 30307
Phone (404)420-5100 or (800)550-3560

National Democratic Institute (NDI)
https://www.ndi.org/what-we-do/elections
National Democratic Institute
455 Massachusetts Ave, NW, 8th Floor
Washington, DC 20001-2621
Phone: 202-728-5500
Fax: 888-875-2887

Westminster Foundation for Democracy
https://www.wfd.org/elections/
House, 11/19 Artillery Row
London SW1P 1RT
T +44 (0) 20 7799 1311

Christian Association of Nigeria
https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/more-news/287734-2019-can-to-deploy-300-electoral-observers.html
National Christian Centre Central Area Abuja
P.M.B. 260 Garki
Abuja Nigeria
Email: info@canng.org
Phone: +234-806-081-6172
Mobile: +234-806-081-6172

African Union
https://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2018/10/26/2019-au-to-deploy-election-observers-to-nigeria/
African Union Headquarters
P.O. Box 3243 | Roosvelt Street (Old Airport Area) | W21K19 | Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Tel: (251) 11 551 77 00 | Fax:(251) 11 551 78 44 | Webmaster: webmaster@africa-union.org

European Commission
Service for Foreign Policy Instruments (FPI)
Service for Foreign Policy Instruments
1049 Brussels.  Telephone: +32 2 584 11 11

Joshua and Joanna Bogunjoko

Joshua & Joanna Bogunjoko

Joanna Bogunjoko is the SIM’s Special Assistant to the International Director and Archives Assistant under the umbrella of SIM International Leadership and Services. She have served at three mission hospitals in West Africa and became full members of SIM in 2001.

 



Nigerians in the Diasporas – Voting Opportunity


by Joanna Bogunjoko | Special Assistant to the International Director and Archives Assistant | Be sure to vote on November 1st, tomorrow, and remind others please.
Listen to the above on Youtube, subscribe to be eligible to vote, read the instructions below it (also attached), and share widely please.
Be a part of rebuilding Nigeria!
Watching the video lifted my spirit. I have been weeping for my beloved but tormented country, Nigeria for a long time, praying and thinking of what to do. I have connected with some influential people internationally to see how they can put pressure on our government to do what is right about the atrocities and genocide going on and to see how they can monitor our elections, especially in February 2019. This seems to be a ray of hope and by God’s grace, a workable and brilliant solution.

Great way for the Nigerians in the diaspora to be able to have a say in the elections!

Omoyele Sowore is the person everyone I spoke with is going to vote for.

Some people keep saying one of the 2 bigger parties will win anyway because of rigging and they won’t vote. Also because the two parties are already well known and the others are not. This is a silly and self-crucifying ideology.
How will a 3rd person be known and given a chance if people won’t be open minded and give someone else a chance?
Which of the two evils are we ready to have rule our country again? Is it Buhari who has dug us deeper in the grave and is allowing atrocities to reign or Atiku who stole our money when he was in government?

My ideology is that if all those who don’t want to vote for Atiku from PDP and those who don’t want to vote for Buhari from APC come together to vote for a third party, Sowore of AAC, I think by simple mathematics, Sowore will win. But, we all have to come together as a united force to vote for him.



Chinua Achebe, The Art of Fiction No. 139

by Jerome Brooks | “When I began going to school and learned to read, I encountered stories of other people and other lands. In one of my essays, I remember the kind of things that fascinated me. Weird things, even, about a wizard who lived in Africa and went to China to find a lamp . . . Fascinating to me because they were about things remote, and almost ethereal.”

Chinua Achebe was born in Eastern Nigeria in 1930 and died March 21, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S. He went to the local public schools and was among the first students to graduate from the University of Ibadan. After graduation, he worked for the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation as a radio producer and Director of External Broadcasting, and it was during this period that he began his writing career.

He is the author, coauthor, or editor of some seventeen books, among them five novels: Things Fall Apart, 1958; No Longer at Ease, 1960; Arrow of God, 1964; A Man of the People, 1966; and Anthills of the Savannah, 1987. He is the editor of several anthologies, including the essay collections Morning Yet on Creation Day and Hopes and Impediments, and the collection of poetry Beware Soul Brother. He is the editor of the magazine Okike and founding editor of the Heinemann series on African literature, a list that now has more than three hundred titles. He is often called the father of modern African literature. He is the recipient, at last count, of some twenty-five honorary doctorates from universities throughout the world and is currently the Charles P. Stevenson Jr. Professor of English at Bard College.

This interview took place on two very different occasions. The first meeting was before a live audience at the Unterberg Poetry Center of the Ninety-second Street Y on a bitterly cold and rainy January evening; the weather made the sidewalks and roads treacherous. We were all the more surprised at the very large and enthusiastic audience. The theater was almost packed. It was Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday; Achebe paid gracious tribute to him and then answered questions from the interviewer and audience. The interviewer and Achebe sat on a stage with a table and a bouquet of flowers between them. Achebe was at ease and captured the audience with stories of his childhood and youth.

The second session took place on an early fall day at Achebe’s house on the beautiful grounds where he lives in upstate New York. He answered the door in his wheelchair and graciously ushered his guest through his large, neat living room to his study—a long, narrow room lined with many books on history, religion, and literature. There is a small slightly cluttered desk where he writes.

Achebe favors traditional Nigerian clothes and reminds one more of the priest in Arrow of God than Okonkwo in Things Fall Apart. His appearance is peaceful and his eyes wise. His demeanor is modest, but when he begins to talk about literature and Nigeria, he is transformed. His eyes light up; he is an assured, elegant, and witty storyteller.

The year 1990 marked Achebe’s sixtieth birthday. His colleagues at the University of Nigeria at Nsukka, where he is a professor of English and chairman emeritus of the department, sponsored an international conference entitled Eagle on Iroko in his honor. Participants came from around the world to appraise the significance of his work for African and world literature. The conference opened on the day Nelson Mandela was liberated from prison, and the day was declared a national holiday. There was a festive mood during the weeklong activities of scholarly papers, traditional drama, dancing, and banquets. The iroko is the tallest tree in that part of Africa and the eagle soars to its height.

Scarcely a month later, while on his way to the airport in Lagos to resume a teaching post at Dartmouth, Achebe was severely injured in a car accident. He was flown to a London hospital where he underwent surgery and spent many months in painful recuperation. Although confined to a wheelchair, he has made a remarkable recovery in the past three years and, to the surprise of his family and many friends throughout the world, is beginning to look and sound like his old self.

INTERVIEWER

Would you tell us something about the Achebe family and growing up in an Igbo village, your early education, and whether there was anything there that pointed you that early in the direction of writing?

CHINUA ACHEBE

I think the thing that clearly pointed me there was my interest in stories. Not necessarily writing stories, because at that point, writing stories was not really viable. So you didn’t think of it. But I knew I loved stories, stories told in our home, first by my mother, then by my elder sister—such as the story of the tortoise—whatever scraps of stories I could gather from conversations, just from hanging around, sitting around when my father had visitors. When I began going to school, I loved the stories I read. They were different, but I loved them too. My parents were early converts to Christianity in my part of Nigeria. They were not just converts; my father was an evangelist, a religious teacher. He and my mother traveled for thirty-five years to different parts of Igboland, spreading the gospel. I was the fifth of their six children. By the time I was growing up, my father had retired, and had returned with his family to his ancestral village.

When I began going to school and learned to read, I encountered stories of other people and other lands. In one of my essays, I remember the kind of things that fascinated me. Weird things, even, about a wizard who lived in Africa and went to China to find a lamp . . . Fascinating to me because they were about things remote, and almost ethereal.

Then I grew older and began to read about adventures in which I didn’t know that I was supposed to be on the side of those savages who were encountered by the good white man. I instinctively took sides with the white people. They were fine! They were excellent. They were intelligent. The others were not . . . they were stupid and ugly. That was the way I was introduced to the danger of not having your own stories. There is that great proverb—that until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter. That did not come to me until much later. Once I realized that, I had to be a writer. I had to be that historian. It’s not one man’s job. It’s not one person’s job. But it is something we have to do, so that the story of the hunt will also reflect the agony, the travail—the bravery, even, of the lions.

INTERVIEWER

You were among the first graduates of the great University of Ibadan. What was it like in the early years of that university, and what did you study there? Has it stuck with you in your writing?

ACHEBE

Ibadan was, in retrospect, a great institution. In a way, it revealed the paradox of the colonial situation, because this university college was founded towards the end of British colonial rule in Nigeria. If they did any good things, Ibadan was one of them. It began as a college of London University, because under the British, you don’t rush into doing any of those things like universities just like that. You start off as an appendage of somebody else. You go through a period of tutelage. We were the University College of Ibadan of London. So I took a degree from London University. That was the way it was organized in those days. One of the signs of independence, when it came, was for Ibadan to become a full-fledged university.

I began with science, then English, history, and religion. I found these subjects exciting and very useful. Studying religion was new to me and interesting because it wasn’t only Christian theology; we also studied West African religions. My teacher there, Dr. Parrinder, now an emeritus professor of London University, was a pioneer in the area. He had done extensive research in West Africa, in Dahomey. For the first time, I was able to see the systems—including my own—compared and placed side by side, which was really exciting. I also encountered a professor, James Welch, in that department, an extraordinary man, who had been chaplain to King George VI, chaplain to the BBC, and all kinds of high powered things before he came to us. He was a very eloquent preacher. On one occasion, he said to me, We may not be able to teach you what you need or what you want. We can only teach you what we know. I thought that was wonderful. That was really the best education I had. I didn’t learn anything there that I really needed, except this kind of attitude. I have had to go out on my own. The English department was a very good example of what I mean. The people there would have laughed at the idea that any of us would become a writer. That didn’t really cross their minds. I remember on one occasion a departmental prize was offered. They put up a notice—write a short story over the long vacation for the departmental prize. I’d never written a short story before, but when I got home, I thought, Well, why not. So I wrote one and submitted it. Months passed; then finally one day there was a notice on the board announcing the result. It said that no prize was awarded because no entry was up to the standard. They named me, said that my story deserved mention. Ibadan in those days was not a dance you danced with snuff in one palm. It was a dance you danced with all your body. So when Ibadan said you deserved mention, that was very high praise.

I went to the lecturer who had organized the prize and said, You said my story wasn’t really good enough but it was interesting. Now what was wrong with it? She said, Well, it’s the form. It’s the wrong form. So I said, Ah, can you tell me about this? She said, Yes, but not now. I’m going to play tennis; we’ll talk about it. Remind me later, and I’ll tell you. This went on for a whole term. Every day when I saw her, I’d say, Can we talk about form? She’d say, No, not now. We’ll talk about it later. Then at the very end she saw me and said, You know, I looked at your story again and actually there’s nothing wrong with it. So that was it! That was all I learned from the English department about writing short stories. You really have to go out on your own and do it.

INTERVIEWER

When you finished university, one of the first careers you embarked upon was broadcasting with the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation.

ACHEBE

I got into it through the intervention of Professor Welch. He had tried to get me a scholarship to Trinity College, Cambridge, and it didn’t work out. So the next thing was the broadcasting department, which was newly started in Nigeria, with a lot of BBC people. So that’s how I got into it. It wasn’t because I was thinking of broadcasting. I really had no idea what I was going to do when I left college. I’m amazed when I think about students today. They know from day one what they are going to be. We didn’t. We just coasted. We just knew that things would work out. Fortunately, things did work out. There were not too many of us. You couldn’t do that today and survive. So I got into broadcasting and then discovered that the section of it where I worked, the spoken word department, the Talks Department, as it’s called, was really congenial. It was just the thing I wanted. You edited scripts. People’s speeches. Then short stories. I really got into editing and commissioning short stories. Things were happening very fast in our newly independent country, and I was soon promoted out of this excitement into management.

INTERVIEWER

The titles of your first two books—Things Fall Apart and No Longer at Ease—are from modern Irish and American poets. Other black writers—I’m thinking particularly of Paule Marshall—borrow from Yeats. I wonder if Yeats and Eliot are among your favorite poets.

ACHEBE

They are. Actually, I wouldn’t make too much of that. I was showing off more than anything else. As I told you, I took a general degree, with English as part of it, and you had to show some evidence of that. But I liked Yeats! That wild Irishman. I really loved his love of language, his flow. His chaotic ideas seemed to me just the right thing for a poet. Passion! He was always on the right side. He may be wrongheaded, but his heart was always on the right side. He wrote beautiful poetry. It had the same kind of magic about it that I mentioned the wizard had for me. I used to make up lines with anything that came into my head, anything that sounded interesting. So Yeats was that kind of person for me. It was only later I discovered his theory of circles or cycles of civilization. I wasn’t thinking of that at all when it came time to find a title. That phrase “things fall apart” seemed to me just right and appropriate.

T. S. Eliot was quite different. I had to study him at Ibadan. He had a kind of priestly erudition—eloquence, but of a different kind. Scholarly to a fault. But I think the poem from which I took the title of No Longer at Ease, the one about the three magi, is one of the great poems in the English language. These people who went and then came back to their countries were “no longer at ease” . . . I think that that is great—the use of simple language, even when things talked about are profound, very moving, very poignant. So that’s really all there is to it. But you’ll notice that after those first two titles I didn’t do it anymore.

INTERVIEWER

I once heard your English publisher, Alan Hill, talk about how you sent the manuscript of Things Fall Apart to him.

ACHEBE

That was a long story. The first part of it was how the manuscript was nearly lost. In 1957 I was given a scholarship to go to London and study for some months at the BBC. I had a draft of Things Fall Apart with me, so I took it along to finish it. When I got to the BBC, one of my friends—there were two of us from Nigeria—said, Why don’t you show this to Mr. Phelps? Gilbert Phelps, one of the instructors of the BBC school, was a novelist. I said, What? No! This went on for some time. Eventually I was pushed to do it and I took the manuscript and handed it to Mr. Phelps. He said, Well . . . all right, the way I would today if anyone brought me a manuscript. He was not really enthusiastic. Why should he be? He took it anyway, very politely. He was the first person, outside of myself, to say, I think this is interesting. In fact, he felt so strongly that one Saturday he was compelled to look for me and tell me. I had traveled out of London; he found out where I was, phoned the hotel, and asked me to call him back. When I was given this message, I was completely floored. I said, Maybe he doesn’t like it. But then why would he call me if he doesn’t like it. So it must be he likes it. Anyway, I was very excited. When I got back to London, he said, This is wonderful. Do you want me to show it to my publishers? I said, Yes, but not yet, because I had decided that the form wasn’t right. Attempting to do a saga of three families, I was covering too much ground in this first draft. So I realized that I needed to do something drastic, really give it more body. So I said to Mr. Phelps, OK, I am very grateful but I’d like to take this back to Nigeria and look at it again. Which is what I did.

When I was in England, I had seen advertisements about typing agencies; I had learned that if you really want to make a good impression, you should have your manuscript well typed. So, foolishly, from Nigeria I parceled my manuscript—handwritten, by the way, and the only copy in the whole world—wrapped it up and posted it to this typing agency that advertised in the Spectator. They wrote back and said, Thank you for your manuscript. We’ll charge thirty-two pounds. That was what they wanted for two copies and which they had to receive before they started. So I sent thirty-two pounds in British postal order to these people and then I heard no more. Weeks passed, and months. I wrote and wrote and wrote. No answer. Not a word. I was getting thinner and thinner and thinner. Finally, I was very lucky. My boss at the broadcasting house was going home to London on leave. A very stubborn Englishwoman. I told her about this. She said, Give me their name and address. When she got to London she went there! She said, What’s this nonsense? They must have been shocked, because I think their notion was that a manuscript sent from Africa—well, there’s really nobody to follow it up. The British don’t normally behave like that. It’s not done, you see. But something from Africa was treated differently. So when this woman, Mrs. Beattie, turned up in their office and said, What’s going on? they were confused. They said, The manuscript was sent but customs returned it. Mrs. Beattie said, Can I see your dispatch book? They had no dispatch book. So she said, Well, send this thing, typed up, back to him in the next week, or otherwise you’ll hear about it. So soon after that, I received the typed manuscript of Things Fall Apart. One copy, not two. No letter at all to say what happened. My publisher, Alan Hill, rather believed that the thing was simply neglected, left in a corner gathering dust. That’s not what happened. These people did not want to return it to me and had no intention of doing so. Anyway, when I got it I sent it back up to Heinemann. They had never seen an African novel. They didn’t know what to do with it. Someone told them, Oh, there’s a professor of economics at London School of Economics and Political Science who just came back from those places. He might be able to advise you. Fortunately, Don Macrae was a very literate professor, a wonderful man. I got to know him later. He wrote what they said was the shortest report they ever had on any novel—seven words: “The best first novel since the war.” So that’s how I got launched.

INTERVIEWER

Heinemann was also perplexed as to how many copies should be printed . . .

ACHEBE

Oh yes. They printed very, very few. It was a risk. Not something they’d ever done before. They had no idea if anybody would want to read it. It went out of print very quickly. It would have stayed that way if Alan Hill hadn’t decided that he was going to gamble even more and launch a paperback edition of this book. Other publishers thought it was mad, that this was crazy. But that was how the African Writers Series came in to existence. In the end, Alan Hill was made a Commander of the British Empire for bringing into existence a body of literature they said was among the biggest developments in British literature of this century. So it was a very small beginning, but it caught fire.

INTERVIEWER

You have said that you wrote Things Fall Apart as a response to Joyce Cary’s Mr. Johnson.

ACHEBE

I wish I hadn’t said that.

 



‘Pure Genocide’ in Nigeria: Christians Under Attack

by John Stonestreet, Roberto Rivera | Unfortunately, Nigerian officials are downplaying, if not outright denying, the religious dimension of what’s happening. Instead, they’re calling this a conflict over resources, in this case, over land (image: Christianity Today).

Recently on BreakPoint, I said that it took a lot of courage to be a Christian in Iraq. Just two years ago, the Obama administration called what ISIS was doing to Iraqi Christians “genocide.”

Unfortunately, there are other places in the world where being a Christians requires a lot of courage as well, and, where the treatment of Christians merits the word “genocide.”

One such place: Nigeria. By most estimates, the population of Nigeria is almost evenly divided between Muslims and Christians. That religious split largely follows geographic lines: The northern part of the country is predominantly Muslim, the eastern and southern parts of the country heavily Christian. The middle, sometimes called the “Middle Belt,” is ethnically and religiously diverse.

Not surprisingly, what makes Nigeria so dangerous for Christians originates in the Islamic north. There, Christians have been on the receiving end of a campaign Open Doors calls “religious cleansing,” that is, an attempt “to eradicate Christianity” from the region.

One of the most notorious Islamist terrorist groups in the world, Boko Haram, is responsible for killing thousands of Christians and displacing countless more in northern Nigeria. But Boko Haram isn’t the only group targeting Christians there.

In a statement released in late June, Christian leaders claimed that “over 6,000 persons—mostly children, women and the aged—have been maimed and killed in night raids by armed Fulani herdsmen.”

The Fulani are an ethnic group who are overwhelmingly Muslim, and their raids are not always at night. In April, Fulani herdsman attacked a group of Christians during Sunday mass, killing two priests and seventeen parishioners.  The same attackers then razed fifty homes belonging to Christians. In fact, earlier in the year, on New Year’s Day, 72 people died at the hands of a Fulani attack.

In their statement, Nigerian Christian leaders also complained about the “continuous abduction of under aged Christian girls by Muslim youths…” These girls “are forcefully converted to Islam and taken in for marriage without the consent of their parents.”

The language used by Christian leaders in Nigeria in their statement to describe what is happening, “pure genocide,” is hard to disagree with. As was the call, directed toward the national government to “stop this senseless … blood shedding… and avoid a state of complete anarchy where the people are forced to defend themselves.”

Unfortunately, Nigerian officials are downplaying, if not outright denying, the religious dimension of what’s happening. Instead, they’re calling this a conflict over resources, in this case, over land.

Don’t believe it. For starters, the security forces are, in the words of the statement, “skewed to one religion and one region of the country,” that is, Islam and the Islamic north.

What’s more, this idea conveniently glosses over the one-sided nature of the violence in the region: The Fulani are the hammer and the Christians are the nails.

Finally, any student of the history of genocide or ethnic cleansing knows that conflicts over resources are often just the trigger that unleashes the sort of mass violence we’re currently seeing in the nation of Nigeria.

So, what can we do about this? First, we must pray, continually, for our brothers and sisters there. Second, we have to encourage the White House to continue pressing Nigeria about what’s happening in its Middle Belt, as it did during an April meeting with the Nigerian president.

President Trump called what’s happening then a “serious problem.” That’s an understatement. It’s past time to make sure that the response to the problem is equally as serious and not understated at all.

BreakPoint is a Christian worldview ministry that seeks to build and resource a movement of Christians committed to living and defending Christian worldview in all areas of life. Begun by Chuck Colson in 1991 as a daily radio broadcast, BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today’s news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print. Today BreakPoint commentaries, co-hosted by Eric Metaxas and John Stonestreet, air daily on more than 1,200 outlets with an estimated weekly listening audience of eight million people. Feel free to contact us at BreakPoint.org where you can read and search answers to common questions.

John Stonestreet, the host of The Point, a daily national radio program, provides thought-provoking commentaries on current events and life issues from a biblical worldview. John holds degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (IL) and Bryan College (TN), and is the co-author of Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview.



Being ECWA Today: ECWA Identity and Sense of Belonging in Christ in an Age of Challenge

by Emmanuel Datiyong Akanet | Reclaiming ECWA Believers’ Identity and Sense of Belonging in Christ: A Problem of Christian Identity
Download Reclaiming ECWA Believers’ Identity and Sense of Belonging in Christ
I had the privilege of participating in the Lord’s ministry in Nigeria for twenty-eight years before I came to Asbury Theological Seminary in the fall of 2004, and I realize that the Lord enables me to serve better in the areas of teaching, preaching, and writing Christian literature. I served as a teacher and principal in one of my denomination’s Bible schools as well as pastoring several churches at various locations and times.

A mission body known as the Sudan Interior Mission (SIM) founded the denomination to which I belong: the Evangelical Church of West Africa (ECWA) back then but now known as the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) in Nigeria. My previous observations and experiences as well as the history of the church shows that early congregations started on a solid foundation, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, with a desire to grow towards maturity in Christ. At the beginning believers were known for what they profess to be believers in Christ otherwise called “Christians.” They were not afraid to share their faith with others in obedience to the Lord’s command to preach the gospel to all nations of the world (Matt. 28: 18-20). They were continuously striving and engaging in Bible studies, evangelistic activities, and constant fellowship in community settings. They collaborated with the missionaries in building and sustaining the body of Christ.

Nevertheless, the time came when missionaries handed over the church leadership to nationals who followed the examples set forth by the founding fathers. The work continued well. Leaders gave their time and resources in selfless service in the Lord’s vineyard, and the congregations trusted them and their leadership. Fifty years after the handover to the nationals, several problems seem to have crept into the life of the church. The spiritual state of believers appears to be declining, and some of the leaders seem to be deviating from the mission of the church which is to glorify God in life and service. Sensing the problem is what prompted me to be devoted in preaching, teaching, and writing.

This report includes a brief history of Nigeria and the church, biblical and theological foundations for the research, a literature review on leaders, leadership tasks, leadership approaches, the qualities, competencies as well as the spirituality required of a leader. The ministry intervention aimed at helping ECWA believers reclaim their identity and sense of belonging in Christ and to one another. Assessments confirmed the existence of spiritual decline among ECWA believers and the need for leaders with spiritual vision and direction to lead the church in reclaiming ECWA believers’ identity and sense of belonging in Christ and to one another. The ministry intervention of this research was designed with a need for spiritual and visionary leaders to provide learning environments that would facilitate a learning process in helping ECWA believers reclaim their identity and sense of belonging in Christ and to one another. This need, which has been a burden upon my wife and I, led us into starting a Servant Leadership Ministry to the disable persons, widows/widowers, orphans, senior citizens, and the poor in Madakiya community in which we were brought up and to which we belong.

Ministry Intervention
The distinctly Christian response to any need is a ministry response (i.e., a servant response). Jesus conceived of his own ministry as a response to specific human need. He articulated this construal of his ministry in his explanation of his unconventional behavior of “eating with tax collectors and sinners” (Mark 2:13-17). He responded to questions about this behavior in terms of the link between human need (the “sick” and their need of a “physician“) and his own purpose (why he “came” [Mark 2:17]). Similarly, in his programmatic statement summarizing his whole ministry, he claimed he had come “not to be served but to serve” and to “give [his] life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). Therefore, a most fitting response to the perceived need in ECWA is along the lines of the following design, judging from the research.

Encouragement from Greater Africa and a Testimony
The need for trans-formative leaders seems to be of great concern among many ecclesiastical leaders in many African countries. Other Africans are leading awakenings like that proposed in this study. Two ministry initiatives that are taking place in Africa today encourage one to think that a ministry intervention of the sort here proposed has, by God’s grace, a reasonable likelihood of success.

Calembo’s International Leadership Institute of Southern Africa (ILISA)
A premier example of these African ministries is the International Leadership Institute of Southern Africa founded and led by Alfred Calembo. His ministry aims at recruiting and training potential leaders who would also train others in their localities. The ministry appears to be flourishing, apparently meeting well the needs of adult learners and meeting perceived leadership needs. Calembo demonstrates the servant leadership attitude needed to be able to influence leaders in a community. His ministry is administered at the national and international levels. Its main aim is influencing the direction of his denomination by shaping leaders who would go and shape others, too.

The core values of Calembo’s ministry emphasize the importance of visionary leadership, relevant evangelism, stewardship, and leadership multiplication processes that seek and train men and women who, in turn become leaders of leaders who will effectively train others. According to Calembo, the curriculum emphasizes the importance of character and integrity because credible leaders exert greater influence on their followers. His ministry focus is based on:

  • Training and mobilizing leaders of leaders,
  • Evangelization and Church planting,
  • Ministering to HIV/AIDS, widows/orphans and vulnerable children,
  • Community health,
  • Education, and
  • Economic empowerment and emergency food relief

Producing leaders with a vision such as Calembo’s who will lead transformational learning programs like his is the goal of this proposed ministry intervention. Calembo exemplifies the fruit anticipated when ECWA believers find their identity and sense of belonging in Christ and to one another.

Akanet’s Servant Leadership Ministry
My own experience encourages me to think that new awareness of ECWA’s identity in Christ, of belonging to Christ and to one another, can take hold across the denomination from national to local grassroots levels to energize and shape local ministries and Christian witness. Based on my understanding of the gospel, which offers full liberation from the ravages of sin and the call to Christian leadership as a call to serve, my wife and I started a “servant leadership ministry” in the community in which we were raised. This ministry extends God’s grace and love to the disabled, the sick, the less privileged, and to HFV/AIDS victims and other needy persons within the range of our influence. The ministry focuses on the following:

  • To support and encourage young widows struggling with young children ages 1-15;
  • To support and encourage disabled persons and the disadvantaged to be self-supportive and self-reliance;
  • To support and encourage young persons in leadership positions to strive towards excellence, able to balance their lives between family and ministry demands;
  • To encourage and support senior citizens who have no relatives to support and care for them.
  • To help and support the sick who have much difficulty or no means of getting medical care; and,
  • To provide economic empowerment and emergency food relief to the diverse groups as described above.

The ministry is microcosm, done in a neighborhood environment that could be done at regional and national levels. However, the success and positive response to our limited efforts has encouraged me to think similar ministries could be creatively replicated in many local ECWA congregations. The spirit and direction of the holistic ministry could also set the tone and direction for national and regional leadership and would be a harbinger of spiritual renewal in ECWA.

Connect with Emmanuel Datiyong Akanet @datiyongx



British Missionary Kidnapped in Nigeria has been Killed

by Veronica Neffinger | Squires was one of four British missionaries who were abducted by the Nigerian cult in the country. He was working to help provide eye care for people in the country.(image, McKinsey & Company)

A British missionary who was abducted in October by a Nigerian cult has reportedly been killed.

According to Open Doors USA, Ian Squires was shot after leading a group in singing “Amazing Grace.”

“This missionary, Ian Squire, he was a real person,” said David Curry, of Open Doors USA. “He’s a real human being who was giving his life to try to help these folks in the south of Nigeria, and he was kidnapped and killed for his faith.

“And there are many people like him in Nigeria who have names and faces and families. They’re not all British, most of them are Nigerian themselves but they love Jesus and they’re dying for their faith.”

Squires was one of four British missionaries who were abducted by the Nigerian cult in the country. He was working to help provide eye care for people in the country.

“It’s just another example of what’s happening in Nigeria, although in a different vein,” Curry said. “Nigeria is a country that’s divided into—you’ve got the southern portion that’s largely Christian, but you have tribal factions in the north. You have these extremists from Boko Haram. It’s a country that is being pulled in a lot of directions.”

In November, a child suicide bombing killed more than 50 people in a mosque attack and another conflict between herders and farmers killed at least 30 people.

Nigeria is ranked number 12 on the Open Doors World Watch List of countries where Christians face the worst persecution.

“We are a particular people called by the name of Jesus,” Curry said. “We are called in Scripture to care for, to pray for others who are in chains or persecuted for the name of Jesus, and we have not done it. We do it on an incidental basis if we hear about an episode.

“This needs to be integrated into every church, every small group, every person’s prayer life that you’re praying for what God is doing in Africa, in Nigeria, those imprisoned and hurt and attacked, because we’re family.”

 



Violence in Southern Kaduna Fueled by Government Support for Fulanis, says Bishop

World Watch Monitor | “It is important to put on record that the insecure situation we experience in Kafanchan and Southern Kaduna has not stopped despite the presence of Security Agents,” said Mgr. Bagobiri"

The Bishop of Kafanchan, in Nigeria’s volatile Southern Kaduna region, has denounced the violence of the Fulani as fueled by government complicity.

“The crisis here has persisted because of the way and manner the Federal and State governments, as well as the Security Agents are handling it,” said Mgr. Joseph Bagobiri in a statement to a visiting delegation of the Episcopal Conference of Nigeria (CBCN).

The delegation, led by the President of CBCN, Mgr. Ignatius Ayau Kaigama, Archbishop of Jos, visited Southern Kaduna to, according to Fides, “express the closeness of the entire Church in Nigeria to the local population threatened by the raids of the Fulani farmers.” The clerics also brought some concrete help for those affected by the violence.

Attacks attributed to Fulani herdsmen against the predominantly Christian population of Southern Kaduna have claimed more than 800 lives between 2011 and the end of 2016, and they continue to occur on an almost weekly basis, sometimes even increasing to a daily frequency.

“It is important to put on record that the insecure situation we experience in Kafanchan and Southern Kaduna has not stopped despite the presence of Security Agents,” said Mgr. Bagobiri, denouncing that “many of us are disappointed to see that our political leaders are taking sides and known to be supporting, directly or indirectly, the Fulanis themselves and that is why they are fast losing the support and trust of the people.”

According to the Bishop, the federal government has fueling the crisis because, in contrast to Northern and Central Kaduna, Southern Kaduna (where the majority of Christians in the area live), has not been the beneficiary of federal development projects.

The Archbishop of Jos stressed that Nigeria is a country that is “multi-ethnic, multi-religious and complex in nature.” That is why, he concluded, “we must constantly appeal to the sensibilities of our political leaders not to be seen to promote the interest of any particular group, but to be neutral and seek the common things that will promote unity, fairness and equity in the country.”

Father, we pray for the Christians of Nigeria, so long besieged by opposition and violence, not only from Boko Haram, but also from the Fulani herdsmen. We pray especially that You will direct the hearts and minds of the political leaders to help promote development in Southern Kaduna and quell the conflict between the Fulani herdsmen and the (mostly) Christian famers. We pray that You will grant wisdom to the Christian farmers, that they may know what it means to respond biblically to these attacks. We pray that You will execute justice on their behalf and protect their ability to raise their crops. With the words of the Psalmist David in Psalm 10:17-18, we pray for fellow Christians in Southern Kaduna. “O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.” In the name of Jesus, who loves justice and has established equity. Amen.



Christian Persecution in Nigeria

The pattern of persecution in Nigeria is much more complex than only killing or wounding Christians (EMS of ECWA photo)
 
QUICK FACTS
Leader: Muhammadu Buhari
Government: Federal republic

 

Population: 183 million (89 million Christians)
Main Religion: Islam/Christianity

 

Persecution Level: Extreme
Source of persecution: Islamic extremism
 
OVERVIEW OF NIGERIA
Although Boko Haram is most often associated with persecution of Christians in northern Nigerian, the pattern of persecution is much more complex than only killing or wounding Christians – as well as moderate Muslims – by an Islamic terrorist group. This is especially so in the 12 northern Sharia states where local government and social groups leave hardly any space for Christians to live their own lives. The current situation in Nigeria casts dark clouds ahead with the declaration of a caliphate in northeastern Nigeria. Boko Haram has kidnapped hundreds of girls, boys and women. Also, the attacks have left thousands homeless.
 
PRAYER POINTS
  • That the 200 girls of Chibok and the many others kidnapped by Boko Haram will be returned to their homes
  • That the thousands of Christians who have been displaced in northeastern Nigeria will be reunited with their families and receive relief help and trauma counseling from Open Doors workers
  • That all those affected by the violence and trauma of Boko Haram would rest secure in God
TAKE ACTION
Read original article on Open Doors, Serving persecuted Christians worldwide.
 


The Passing of a great Leader – Rev. Prof. Cornelius. Abiodun Olowola

Rev. Prof. Cornelius Abiodun Olowola

We have received words that the funeral service for the late Rev. Prof. Cornelius Olowola, former ECWA President has been set for May 22-25. Let us continue to pray for the wife, children, extended family members and the ECWA leadership as they plan for the funeral so that all will go well. You can call or text condolence messages to Mrs. Olowola using the following number: 0112347066801648.

Rev. Prof. Cornelius Olowola (ThD Theology, Dallas Theological Seminary). Professor Emeritus of Theology and African Traditional Religion. Also former Provost ECWA Theological Seminary, Igbaja, Nigeria; and the immediate past President of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA), with its headquarters Jos, Nigeria went to be with the Lord on March 6th, 2013.

If you missed the funeral service, you may download the burial update from the Bingham University Update



Amazing Grace

Most, if not all of you, have been aware of the terrible attacks of Christians by the Muslim Boko Haram Movement in Northern and Middle Belt Regions of Nigeria. Of recent, there has been a very vicious onslaught of Christians and the church in Yobe State of Nigeria. Concerned about the situation there, the EMS North East Regional Coordinator, Rev Zaka Maji, was asked during our monthly management meeting last Tuesday how the missionaries were fairing in Yobe and if any has had to be evacuated from his mission station because of the attacks and danger to their lives and families.

The Regional Co-ordinator responded that all of the missionaries were at their various stations, God has so far graciously protected them and none has left . Furthermore, he said it was actually the missionaries who were the ones encouraging him to stand firm. The missionaries told him that they were trusting the Lord for support and protection and infact were ready to pay the price with their lives if that be the Lord’s will.
To our greatest surprise, against all odds, the Yobe Church was able to raise funds and pay for all its 9 (nine) missionaries last month. If you know the severe persecution that the Yobe Brethren are experiencing today, you would know that this is a miracle. Our missionaries’ stand and this miracle of provision through faithful severely persecuted Christian Brethren in Yobe state, who are literally living under siege of the devil, cannot be anything but the AMAZING GRACE OF GOD.

We in EMS are totally humbled by the testimony of the Yobe Mission Field. Please join us in praising and thanking GOD FOR HIS AMAZING GRACE.
We urge you to continue to pray for these dedicated servants of God and their families and for all these faithful Brethren in Yobe State and the entire Yobe Church leadership and members. Pray that God will fill them with power to continue to be His bold witnesses in the most dangerous circumstances just as in Acts 45:23 -31.

Pray that God would comfort our Yobe Brethren who have lost their loved ones, some brutally killed right in from of their wives and family members because they would not renounce Christ or simply bear His name -Christians.

Pray for the protection of Church leaders and for them to stand firm in the present most difficult and trying times. Indeed continue in prayer for all EMS Missionaries and Brethren living and laboring in various challenging Missions Fields in the world.

Remain in His abundant Grace.
Rev Stephen Panya