Mission Staff Give Leadership for Peace Events in Nigeria

The 2010 graduating class at Kulp Bible College in Nigeria pose with Church of the Brethren mission workers Nathan and Jennifer Hosler (third row, center), who are teaching peacebuilding classes at the college. Photo courtesy of the Hoslers

In an update on their work with Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN–the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) mission staff Nathan and Jennifer Hosler have reported on a number of peace events and peacebuilding classes they teach at EYN’s Kulp Bible College in eastern Nigeria.

In the meantime, a recurrence of violence and bombings over the Christmas weekend killed a number of people in the city of Jos, in central Nigeria, and in the northern city of Maiduguri. The Anglican bishop for the area of Jos reported to BBC news that he believes this latest round of bombings is politically motivated, and called on new media not to link it to religious differences in the hope of preventing more retaliatory violence by Christian or Muslim mobs.

A leader of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN) e-mailed a preliminary report to the Global Mission Partnerships office that at least one EYN church in Maiduguri was attacked on the 24th and there are reports that one EYN member may have been killed.

Following is an excerpt from the Hoslers’ newsletter for November/December:

“The month of November flew by, with classes and conferences and a lot of work for peace! KBC final exams started Dec. 1 and finished on Dec. 4. Twenty students in the Certificate in Christian Ministry class graduated on Dec. 10. Though we arrived about a month into the start of the semester (mid-October), we were able to get in a fair amount of teaching.

“Nate gave four lectures on restorative justice, a field of peacebuilding that attempts to change a framework of wrongdoing and justice from retribution to restoration…. Jenn taught two lectures on trauma and trauma healing, lessons that aimed to create awareness of the physical, emotional, and spiritual wounds that are caused by traumatic events like violent conflict.

“A Female Theologian’s group exists within EYN and it held its annual conference from Nov. 4-6 on ‘Women and Peacebuilding in Church and Society.’ Jenn was asked to write and present a paper, which was entitled, ‘Peace by Peace: Roles for Women in Peacebuilding.’ Looking specifically at the context of violent religious identity conflict in Nigeria, she highlighted peacebuilding roles at interpersonal, family, and church levels. Additionally, roles for women were highlighted in the realms of mediation, negotiation, trauma healing, reconciliation, advocacy and awareness-raising, and coalition building. These were explained with Nigerian examples as well as stories of women’s peacebuilding across African countries like Liberia. Nate shared the importance of women doing the theology of justice and peacemaking.

“For Jenn, writing the paper was a chance to do focused research and also have her eyes opened to the great resource for peace that exists in the ZME, or Women’s Fellowship group in EYN. We hope that new efforts of the EYN Peace Program will engage this vital group within the church, training, supporting, and encouraging them in creative grassroots peacebuilding efforts. We shall see where this goes in the future!

“One of the highlights for Nate was seeing the KBC Peace Club implement its first official event on Nov. 14. The group meets weekly for discussions on various biblical themes and topics related to peace. Another of its goals is also to plan events that build peace and encourage thinking about peace within the KBC community and local area. The group planned a forum for the Sunday evening church service at the KBC Chapel, entitled ‘What Is Peace?’ A faculty member, a student, and KBC principal Toma Ragnjiya were the presenters on the New Testament and Peace, Women and Peace, and Peace and Conflict in Nigeria, respectively. Feedback from attendees–KBC students and staff, EYN denominational staff, and community members–was positive and people were eager to attend another event or hold a similar event in another location.

“We also have been putting the finishing touches on the EYN Peace Resource Library, creating bibliographic resources for students and knowledge seekers.”

The Hoslers’ newsletter ended with several prayer requests, including for peace in Nigeria as the country faces elections. “Originally scheduled for January, they have been postponed until April,” the Hoslers reported. “Elections are typically times of tension, corruption, and even violence. The country faces many problems for which good leaders of integrity are needed. Pray for good leadership for Nigeria and for peace during tense times.” For more about the Hoslers’ work: www.brethren.org/site/PageServer?pagename=go_places_serve_nigeria_HoslerUpdates .

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