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Nigerian Christian honored for empowering women

Christian women attend a Christian Women’s Forum event at the Ukanafun Township Church of Christ in Nigeria in 2005. (Photob by Erik Tryggestad)

Moses and Jessie Akpanudo (Photo by Erik Tryggestad)

Jessie Akpanudo was honored recently for more than 38 years of dedicated leadership among believers in the West African country of Nigeria.
Jessie and her husband, Moses Akpanudo, organized the Christian Women’s Forum, a monthly gospel meeting and lectureship, in 1971.
“The major aim of starting the gospel meeting for the women was to counter the general belief that Church of Christ women were asked to remain perpetually silent,” Moses said. “Jessie started teaching them how to pray among the women folk, lead singing, read the Bible as well as teach other women about Christ and his kingdom. Many of the women were illiterate. They were taught to memorize many Bible passages that helped them navigate through life at all seasons.”
The forum meets monthly at church facilities in Nigeria’s Akwa Ibom state. Women who attend come from three local government areas (or counties) in the state. Today there are about 60 Churches of Christ in those three counties.

A woman listens while her child sleeps at a Christian Women’s Forum event in 2005. (Photo by Erik Tryggestad)

The elders of the Church of Christ in Obong Ntak and minister Nkereke Idio were there as Jessie was presented with a plaque for her years of commitment to Nigeria’s Christian women.
“It was spiritually very rewarding to all of us as a family, as Jessie has been able to leave the mantle of leadership to younger women,” Moses said. “Whether she is present or not, the women’s forum usually goes on. Pray for this type of leadership among the men in our local churches.”
I first met the Akpanudos in 2005 during a reporting trip to Nigeria. I interviewed Moses about his life and ministry, including his dreams for Obong University, a four-year university affiliated with Churches of Christ. The campus’ buildings were under construction at the time. I wrote a feature about the work.
Obong University has since opened and is training students in subjects from business to Bible. The school needs to raise $100,000 to meet the requirements of the Nigerian government for permanent accreditation. For more information, contact the Rivergate Church of Christ in Madison, Tenn., which supports the work.

Jessie Akpanudo speaks at a ladies’ event at the Ukunafun Township Church of Christ in 2005. (Photo by Erik Tryggestad)

Attendees at the Christian Women’s Forum event in Nigeria in 2005. (Photo by Erik Tryggestad)

I visited the Ukanafun Township Church of Christ during one of the women’s forums. The small worship hall was packed with ladies, who were more than gracious as I walked up the main aisle and crouched down to get a few photos. I have one of those photos framed in my den at home. (Nigeria is a photographer’s paradise.)
The church’s leaders also presented me with a colorful binder bearing the name of the church. I display it on one of my shelves here in the office.
Recently a Nigerian friend of mine — a graduate student here at Oklahoma Christian University — was in my office. He saw the binder and said, “Oh, you’ve been to Ukanafun. Me too. I have one of those.”
Small world.
Here’s a brief video from the final day of a youth conference I covered during the trip:

  • Feedback
    Bless you, Jessie! So sorry that we haven’t been able to see you the
    last couple years. You are certainly deserving of this honor, but God
    has a better one planned for you. God Bless, my Christian friend.
    Ethel A Whisler
    October, 1 2010

    I forgot to mention that Friday was Nigeria’s 50th independence day. Unfortunately, the celebrations were marred by a bomb attack that killed 12 people. Nigeria needs our prayers. Here’s a <a href=”http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-11458674″ rel=”nofollow”>BBC story about the attack</a>.
    Erik Tryggestad
    October, 2 2010

    The works going on in Nigeria deserves prayers and Christain support. The work of Jesse is one among many that Christain Ladies champion throughout the nooks and Cranies of Nigeria. God bless brethren who still work with Nigerians in the cause of Christ.
    Uchenna Bekee
    October, 9 2010

    Thanks to our Lord who gives you understanding and maintaining you through the Gospel, that you ”ll teach
    Nice work and please share your experience with others churches of christ
    John Thabach
    John Thabach
    October, 10 2010

    Dear brothers and Sisters ,
    Life Challenges are designed NOT to break us,BUT to bend us toward God.we want to promise that we Kenyan Brethren are praying for you.Please take courage.The psamist said : “it is good for me that i have been afflicted thati may learn your statutes see Psalms 119:17.
    Pius Ivui
    November, 2 2010

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