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Ministry addresses ongoing violence in Nigeria

Trent Wheeler, left, on the campus of Nigerian Christian Bible College in 2008. (Photo by Erik Tryggestad)

In a recent newsletter, Trent Wheeler, newly-named director of African Christian Schools Foundation, addresses the ongoing violence in Nigeria, where the Nashville, Tenn.-based ministry focuses much of its work:

I am sure many of you have read the news stories and heard about horrible atrocities taking place in Nigeria. …
Until this violence and danger subsides, we will not send Americans to Nigeria. They are ready targets for kidnapping and violence. Even though we are blessed to have many faithful Nigerians who can carry on the work, their lives have also been at risk. In recent years, we have seen our Nigerian brethren shot, kidnapped and the targets of threats and violence, yet these men still serve God faithfully.

The newsletter also contains an update on the trials faced by the Nigerian Christian Bible College in Ukpom, Nigeria. Threats of violence and other problems forced the college to suspend classes in 2008, but the school has reopened with 37 students enrolled in weekday and weekend programs, Trent reports.
African Christian Schools also supports the newer West Nigeria Christian College in Abeokuta, Nigeria. Biodun Owalobi, the school’s director, has prepared the school for the addition of a virtual classroom. The school is testing a partnership program with Amridge University in Montgomery, Ala.

Joyce Anderson joins Nigerian Christians in prayer at the Kemta church in Abeokuta, Nigeria. (Photo by Erik Tryggestad)

The ministry also works with Tsumeb Bible Academy in Namibia.
I visited Nigeria with Trent in 2008. We attended an annual lectureship on the campus of Nigerian Christian Bible College before attending Africans Claiming Africa for Christ in the southern Nigerian city of Badagry. Here’s a story about the conference.
I also wrote a feature about Nigeria’s “iron lady,” Joyce Anderson, overseas consultant for African Christian Schools.
Finally, here’s an excerpt from column I wrote about the experience of traveling to Nigeria and meeting Biodun Owalobi. This excerpt, I think, highlights the bravery of Nigerian Christians that Trent mentions in the newsletter:

Nigeria may be the toughest place I’ll ever love. Though rich in oil revenues, millions of this country’s people live in poverty. Many look for a better life on the crowded streets in Lagos, resulting in traffic congestion that one Nigerian columnist compared to “a repugnant, cancerous sore that has defied all medical treatment.” Criminals take advantage of the situation, robbing motorists at gunpoint, sometimes in the middle of the afternoon.

Biodun Owalabi at Africans Claiming Africa for Christ in 2008. (Photo by Erik Tryggestad)

It happened just a few days ago to Biodun Owolabi, the director of West Nigeria Christian College and one of the organizers of Africans Claiming Africa for Christ — the conference I traveled to Badagry to attend. Robbers fired into gridlocked traffic, shattering his car’s window and hitting his hand. They took his money and left him bleeding in the street.
Biodun’s wife died a few years ago from cancer, making him a single dad. If it had been me, that robbery would have been my breaking point.
But Biodun went through the whole conference with a bandage on his wrist and a smile on his face.
That kind of optimism in the face of adversity overwhelms me whenever I visit Africa — especially Nigeria. This country is a crucible of faith. Time and again I’ve been amazed by the hospitality and generosity of people living in humble circumstances.

  • Feedback
    Dear Erik,
    I appreciated your article. I, too, love Nigeria, but have been advised, along with many others, including Tom Carr, Exe.Director of IHCF, African Christian Hospitals, not to come to Nigeria not to send others – especially not to Abia State in eastern Nigeria where the Nigerian Christian Hospital and NIATS, the Nigerian Institute of Arts and Theological Studies, located adjacent to the Nigerian Christian Hospital. Several of our physicians and workers have been kidnapped and robbed. There has been so much violence on the highway that passed our hospital, that patients are afraid to come to the hospital except from nearby villages. The city of Aba, 11 miles west of the hospital, has almost become a dead city due to so many people fleeing and businesses closing. Doctors and other people of wealth have fled, since they are key targets. We continue to pray for Nigeria with its 150 million people. Thanks for the article.
    Dr. H. Glenn Boyd, President emeritus, African Christian Hospitals
    H. Glenn Boyd
    December, 11 2010
    Dear Erik,
    Thanks for your article. I am from Cameroon and worked at the Nigerian Christian Bible College when you visited. I have witness most of the violence on that campus and even to many servants of God. I am back in Cameroon now but will be in Nigeria in a week’s time to attend the funeral of the mother of one of the hero’s who stood with NCBC inspite his humiliation(brother John Sunday Ekpo).
    Thank you.
    Obed Anthony(former lecturer NCBC)
    Obed Anthony
    December, 11 2010
    I have been evangelizing in Uganda 2009. 2 of us were robbed in the city of Kampala. Police suggested we get an escort to airport when leaving as they could not guarantee our safety. white visitors certainly are targets. We continue returning to Uganda. Ugandans are wonderful people, our contacts desire teaching and preaching, they long for the Church of Christ to grow in Uganda. To this we labor. Until you travel to Africa, see such concentrated poverty in areas, understand many of her countries have wealth to sustain its people, you can’t fully grasp her challenges nor understand how to pray for christian missionaries or located workers on their soils. Africans love Christ, they give such a wonderful fresh perspective to all that is possible in Christ. Something that seems a challenge to see real substance here in America. Thank you for this article. I know what and how to pray for our Nigerian workers.
    December, 13 2010

Filed under: Breaking News News Extras Travel Reports Uncategorized

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