Roy Winter of Brethren Disaster Ministries (second from left above) and Jay Wittmeyer of Global Mission and Service (second from right above) spent two days in meetings with EYN leadership to discuss plans for a disaster relief effort focused on the needs of refugees and people displaced by violence. Below, Winter and EYN president Samuel Dali, shown with papers of notes during the meetings. The two executive staff of the Church of the Brethren returned to the US on Aug. 19. During their time in Nigeria, they also visited refugee camps and other sites in the Abuja and Jos areas.
Many Church of the Brethren congregations, groups, and individuals are taking part in a week of prayer and fasting for Nigeria, from Sunday, Aug. 17, through Sunday, Aug. 24. The denomination committed to the week of emphasis on Nigeria as part of a resolution adopted by the 2014 Annual Conference. Brethren are called to pray during a time of violence and suffering in Nigeria, in support of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria).
The Church of the Brethren has had a mission in northeastern Nigeria since 1923, from which EYN grew into an independent indigenous African Christian denomination. Find the resolution at www.brethren.org/news/2014/delegates-adopt-nigeria-resolution.html . Find resources for prayer and fasting at www.brethren.org/partners/nigeria/week-of-prayer-and-fasting.html .
In related news, Church of the Brethren executive staff returned today from a trip to Nigeria to assist EYN in planning a disaster relief effort focused on refugees and those displaced by violence. Jay Wittmeyer of Global Mission and Service and Roy Winter of Brethren Disaster Ministries spent two days meeting with EYN leadership, and visited refugee camps and other sites in the areas of Abuja and Jos. (Look for a report from their trip in the next Newsline).
Brethren across the United States commit to pray and fast
“I would offer us a challenge,” wrote Annual Conference moderator David Steele in his letter inviting Brethren to take part in the week of prayer and fasting. “Imagine sisters and brothers offering 192 continuous hours of prayer around the globe. Imagine the Church of the Brethren being at prayer somewhere for the entire week for our EYN sisters and brother in Christ. This of course means that some will rise early in the morning, go to bed a bit later, or even awake during the night in order to be in prayer for our sisters and brothers.
“In Matthew 17 Jesus instructed us that even mountains can be moved by faith, that there is nothing we cannot do by faith…. May we, as followers of Jesus, witness to the peace of God and companion our sisters and brothers in Nigeria and around the world with our prayers. May we encircle the globe with the prayer of faith!”
As evidenced by the list of groups that signed up online for the effort, prayers of Brethren are going up for Nigeria from across the country. At least 63 congregations, groups, and organizations of Brethren are listed, and there may be more that are taking part in the effort whose names have not made it on to the web listing.
In the Goshen area of Indiana, a group of eight congregations are each hosting a special service one evening this week. Several churches are hosting day-long prayer vigils, or are having a special Nigeria emphasis during a Sunday morning worship service. Groups of neighboring congregations are cooperating in a common effort in parts of the country. Some churches are gathering their members together every day for a time of focused prayer.
Several wrote prayers for the online listing. Others offered ideas for fasting: “We are invited to fast one meal a day and give the money we would have spent on that meal to the EYN Compassion Fund.” “Fast from meals, or Facebook or news or TV or books or ???” “Folks in our congregation…are being encouraged to give up something to make more time for prayer.”
Among other efforts of Brethren groups is a letter issued by the Shenandoah District Pastors for Peace. The letter decries the violence in Nigeria and commends EYN for its peaceful witness and faithful discipleship. “We lift up their faith as a light to all of us…. Could such a faith as theirs be possible among us?” the letter says, in part, as quoted in the district newsletter.
The online schedule where individuals can commit to pray for a hour or hours this week shows almost every hourly slot filled. (Still to be filled with prayer are the hours of 2-3 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 23, and the hours of 2-3 a.m., 3-4 a.m., 10-11 a.m., and 11 a.m.-12 noon on Sunday, Aug. 24.) Some hours list eight or more people committing to that time of prayer.
It is not too late to take part in the effort to fill every hour with prayer, go to www.signupgenius.com/go/10c0544acaa2aa7fa7-week . Find the listing of congregations and groups holding services or vigils at www.brethren.org/partners/nigeria/prayer-events.html .
A special chapel service at the General Offices
Every Wednesday morning the staff who work at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., gather for a weekly chapel service. Tomorrow’s chapel will be a time of focused prayer for Nigeria. The special service from 8:30-9 a.m., will be the opening event of an August gathering for Church of the Brethren staff.
The chapel service will focus on the four elements of “The resolve of the church” section of the Nigeria resolution: lament, prayer, fasting, and bearing witness. Following the service, in place of the usual “Goodie Wednesday” coffee break, the staff of the Church of the Brethren and Brethren Benefit Trust, which share in the weekly gatherings, are invited to join in fellowship and share in a cup of cold water.
Find out more about this week of fasting and prayer for Nigeria, and links to information about the Church of the Brethren’s mission in Nigeria and sister denomination Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria, at www.brethren.org/partners/nigeria/week-of-prayer-and-fasting.html .