by Zakariya Musa
A multi-million Naira Technological Centre was dedicated and commissioned by Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) president Joel S. Billi on Monday, Jan. 8, in Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria. In his address at the occasion, the president stated that the facility would not be standing today if it were not for the tremendous financial support received from brothers and sisters in America.
He commended those who worked very hard to achieve the mission, mentioning but not restricted to Mark Lancaster [staff of Bethany Seminary], Musa Mambula [a visiting international scholar at Bethany], and architect Ali Abbas.
“In keeping with our Brethren heritage, I am pleased to announce that the facility will not only be utilized by EYN. Sister denominations and organizations are welcome to make use of it for video conference, trainings, etc., at a minimal fee. We have enjoyed your support and encouragement in our journey together, we shall also enjoy God’s abundant provisions together,” Billi said.
According to the officials, the partnership idea to establish the center is to:
-- Assist the church establish a Bethany Seminary Centre in EYN with the aim of contributing in the training of manpower for the church in Nigeria.
-- Provide an opportunity for people who intend to study at Bethany Seminary in the USA but are unable because of visa and TOEFL issues, receive such training online without necessarily going to Bethany at the initial stage.
-- Reduce the cost of other challenges of study in America since it is cheaper to train more leaders in Nigeria.
-- Enable the candidates to study in their familiar environment while also interacting with students of Bethany Seminary.
-- Bring Bethany Theological Seminary to the church in Nigeria.
-- Enhance the written and spoken English of intending candidates as they are required to undergo two-week intensive English proficiency training and must pass TOEFL if they are interested in going to Bethany subsequently.
The first set of students has been admitted and are working toward a Certificate of Achievement in Theological Studies (CATS).
Speaking from the side of the US Brethren, Jeff Carter, president of the Bethany Theological Seminary, said this technology center represents such a vision and continues a long-held tradition of calling, educating, and empowering leaders to serve the church and world.
“We did not know that there would be a class of students from Nigeria and the United States, when we signed the educational partnership agreement. We did so in faith, knowing the Spirit was moving in ways both known and yet to be revealed,” he said.
Jay Wittmeyer, executive director of Global Mission and Service for the Church of the Brethren, along with Jay Marvin Oberhotzer, Mark Lancaster, and Musa A. Mambula were the representatives from the US at the event that brought the presence of top officials of the Plateau State Government to congratulate EYN over the innovation.
Other dignitaries present included professors Pandam Yamtasat and Yohanna Byo and Peter N. Lassa, speaker of the Plateau State House of Assembly Peter Ajang Azi, and many heads of churches. Elder Malla Gadzama was the chairman of the occasion, held in front of the building at Boulder Hill in Jos.
-- Zakariya Musa is on the communications staff of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria.