By David Sollenberger
Following is the script from a short video report on the Nigeria crisis by Church of the Brethren videographer David Sollenberger. He returned last week from a reporting trip to Nigeria on behalf of Brethren Disaster Ministries and Global Mission and Service. In the video, this script is interspersed with brief interviews not quoted here. View the video at www.brethren.org or on YouTube at http://youtu.be/T_Y9hlxuBfo :
The women’s choir at one of the EYN churches in Jos, one of the relatively few congregations in the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria still holding regular worship services. Two months ago, there were an estimated 96,000 EYN members who had fled their homes, and become essentially refugees in their own country. With the attack in late October by the terrorist group Boko Haram on Kwari, the community where the EYN headquarters and Kulp Bible College are located, that number increased dramatically. The attack began early in the morning and people left everything behind, dodging bullets and fleeing into the bush….
Many people ended up walking some 20 miles through the mountains to safety in Cameroon, many others are staying with relatives and friends in the Yola area, and others in large resettlement camps. Many of them have found their way to the relatively safe regions of Abuja and Jos but are homeless, bringing only the clothes they had on when they fled.
EYN staff liaison Markus Gamache and his wife opened their home in Jos to almost 50 people, who had nowhere else to go. Other EYN members in the Yola, Jos, and Abuja areas are doing the same….
The people standing here at the Jos church on Sunday are those who are displaced, who have fled the violence in their home communities, but wanted to worship with other EYN members on this Sunday.
EYN leadership has re-located to Jos, and is trying to provide housing for EYN leadership and for pastors whose churches have either been burned or whose communities have been evacuated. Eight pastors and over 3,000 EYN members so far have been killed by Boko Haram. EYN leadership is consulting with Carl and Roxane Hill, who had been the most recent American teachers at Kulp Bible College, who left this past May. They will be key figures in the assistance efforts of the Church of the Brethren in the US.
Many EYN members who don’t have relatives in the safe zones are staying in resettlement camps, like this one set up by a mission group in Jos called Stefanos Foundation. Others have been moved to relocation sites like this one near Abuja, which is one of the few open to both Muslims and Christians. Muslims who have not embraced the radical jihadist position of Boko Haram are also being killed, and many of them, like Ibriham Ali and the nine members of his family, have fled the towns now occupied by Boko Haram.
At this point, EYN leadership is considering building temporary housing in several areas, including this large piece of land owned by EYN near a school that closed several years ago. Already 20 families are staying in these classrooms, 8 to 10 to a room, with many more on their way here.
Food is another desperate need of the displaced people. Grants from the Nigeria Crisis Fund in the US helped provide food for many EYN members and assistance to displaced persons, but those initial grants are gone.
Rebecca Dali, the wife of EYN President Samuel Dali, and the woman who visited the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference last summer, turned almost $16,000 dollars worth of Brethren funds into food and emergency supplies, which were given out to families in some of the resettlement areas. A distribution at the EYN church in Jos resulted in far more people needing food and supplies than she was able to provide….
So far the Church of the Brethren in the US has provided more than $320,000 worth of relief for our sister church in Nigeria, including contributions from the EYN Compassion Fund, but much more is needed.
In addition to constant prayer for the safety of both EYN members and their Muslim neighbors who have also fled, funds are needed to build homes for displaced families, for clean water and sanitation, sleeping mats and mosquito nets, food for those displaced, and support for families who are housing the displaced people…
All money is being channeled through the Nigeria Crisis Fund…and all individual donations are being matched by the denominational funds ear marked by the Mission and Ministry Board at their October meeting.
The Church of the Brethren in Nigeria has been displaced by violence, but indeed they have not been abandoned. Their deep faith in God and commitment to each other sustains them. But now is clearly an opportunity for their brothers and sisters in the U.S. to walk with them, to share their burdens, for as it says in first Corinthians, when one part of the body suffers, we all suffer, and when one part is honored, we all rejoice.
Send contributions to: The Nigeria Crisis Fund, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120; or donate at www.brethren.org .
— David Sollenberger is a Church of the Brethren videographer. This script accompanies a short video report on the crisis in Nigeria, with footage from Sollenberger’s recent reporting trip to Nigeria on behalf of Brethren Disaster Ministries and Global Mission and Service. View the video at www.brethren.org or posted on YouTube at http://youtu.be/T_Y9hlxuBfo . Find an album of Sollenberger’s photographs of displaced people and the relief effort in Nigeria at www.bluemelon.com/churchofthebrethren/nigeriacrisisreliefeffort .