Church of the Brethren mission workers Nathan and Jennifer Hosler are concluding their service in Nigeria and returning to the United States this week. Following is an excerpt from their final newsletter reporting on their work at Kulp Bible College of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN–the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria):
We have had much time for reflection lately–with farewell parties, goodbyes, and graduations–and feel content at the progress that has been made since we arrived in 2009. A peace and reconciliation curriculum is now complete and included in the course of studies at Kulp Bible College (KBC). An interfaith steering committee, CAMPI (Christians and Muslims for Peacebuilding Initiatives), has been in existence for more than one year, it has completed its first peace initiative and is currently planning the second. Through CAMPI, imams and pastors have been brought together, have dialogued with each other, and have built relationships across religious divides. A KBC Peace Club was formed and it is actively pursuing peace initiatives within communities around KBC.
We leave thankful that we can see fruit of our labors and the labors of our colleagues. The EYN Peace Program has assigned new Nigerian staff to the organization and the denominational leadership of EYN has expressed its commitment to further strengthening peacebuilding in EYN. We know that the work will move forward and pray for a continued strengthening of the Peace Program, CAMPI, and peace education within EYN. We look forward with expectation and hope that we will hear more about the progress for peace which will come in the future: Christians and Muslims living together peacefully, EYN churches modeling reconciliation, conflict transformation, and justice to their surrounding communities.
Peace Club update: When we think of peace, we typically assume that the opposite of peace is conflict or violence. However, when we think about the broader practice of peacebuilding and the biblical theology of peace, we must expand our thinking to include many other aspects of life. For many people the absence of peace means poverty. When your children are hungry, susceptible to treatable diseases, and are unable to attend school because of poverty–this is the absence of peace. Additionally, resource scarcity tends to lead to conflict. This semester, the KBC Peace Club prepared two dramas and two sermons addressing the issues of peace and poverty. They suggested that we can deal with poverty through working together (literally in Hausa it is “putting heads together”) and challenging injustice. The program was conducted on Nov. 5 and 6 as well as Nov. 12 and 13. Between the two services, more than 2,000 people attended the programs. They constituted the third and fourth outreach events conducted by the KBC Peace Club.
Documentary: In early November, videographer Dave Sollenberger visited Nigeria and EYN. He conducted filming for a documentary on the conflicts in Nigeria and EYN’s response to conflict through its Peace Program. He attended the Peace Club event on Nov. 6. He also filmed a CAMPI meeting, KBC peace classes, the Peace Resource Library, and interviewed many EYN workers and members.
Finishing up our work: Dec. 13 we will be leaving KBC. Our final weeks have included the expected packing up procedures and farewells, as well as handing over Peace Program documents, tasks, and projects, working to organize the Peace Club so that it will continue, and finishing all of the other relatively small but numerous tasks.
We are grateful for the prayers, support, and encouragement that sisters and brothers have given to us during our time of service. As we head back to the United States, we look forward to three months of home leave where we can rest, regroup, visit with family, attend a staff meeting in Elgin, Ill., and speak at Church of the Brethren churches about peace ministry in Nigeria.
Prayer requests: For travel preparations and travel. The Christmas season is expected to bring more incidences of violence. For peace in Nigeria in this time when the angels proclaimed “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” For a smooth transfer of our work to other Peace Program staff.