General secretary Stan Noffsinger (at right) and Roy Winter of Brethren Disaster Ministries (at left) meet for prayer with Nigerian church leader Musa Mambula and his wife Sarah, after news is received that Nigerian Brethren headquarters have been overtaken by the Boko Haram insurgents in the early morning hours of Oct. 29. The Mambulas have been visiting their daughter in Pennsylvania. The US church leaders prayed with the couple and received an update from the Mambulas on the situation of EYN, Ekklesiyar Yan’ua a Nigeria, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria.
“The Lord is my shepherd…even when I walk through the darkest valley” (Psalm 23:4a, CEB).The Nigeria Brethren church headquarters property has been overtaken by Boko Haram extremist insurgents. The news was shared in the early hours of this morning in an e-mail from the staff liaison of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), who wrote:
“JUST RECEIVED A CALL FROM EYN PRESIDENT
WITH TEARS IN MY EYES I WANT TO INFORM YOU THAT BH HAS TAKEN OVER EYN HEADQUARTERS KWARHI. THANKS FOR YOUR PRAYERS ALWAYS
THANKS FOR YOUR PRAYERS ALWAYS”
Since then, Church of the Brethren staff have been in contact with EYN leaders by telephone and e-mail, and additional information has been received. Many aspects of the situation remain unclear. However here is what is known at this time:
The EYN headquarters property and Kulp Bible College, which are located in the village of Kwarhi, were attacked and taken by the insurgents. Boko Haram is in control of Kwarhi, and also reportedly has taken the nearby city of Mubi, and another nearby town of Maraba.
At the time of the attack on Kwarhi and the EYN headquarters, leading staff including EYN president Samuel Dali were holding meetings in a community several kilometers away, and were safe. However their families, many of whom had returned to their homes on the headquarters property in recent weeks, were forced to flee for their lives.
In the attack on the EYN headquarters, some of the guards for the compound were killed, and the conference hall was hit by a rocket launcher. During the attack on Kwarhi, many soldiers in the contingent that was stationed there also were killed.
There is uncertainty about the whereabouts of some Kulp Bible College students and family members, and serious concern for the people who may be trapped in Mubi, along with many of the inhabitants of surrounding villages.
Among those whose whereabouts are causing concern are people from the International Rescue Committee, a partner organization to the nonprofit relief group CCEPI, which is headed up by Rebecca Dali who represented EYN at this summer’s Annual Conference.
Some weeks ago, at a time when Boko Haram attacks were closing in on Kwarhi, KBC was closed and students and families, as well as EYN staff families, were evacuated and left the compound. However, recently families had been returning, and in recent days there even were reports that KBC was reopening.
The EYN staff and their families are taking refuge in a community several kilometers away from the Mubi area, where they are assessing immediate needs and still waiting to hear from some members of the community. However, the EYN leadership does not feel the situation at that location is safe either, and understands it to be very vulnerable to attack.
EYN president Samuel Dali said that “the situation is very bad” in a telephone conversation with Jay Wittmeyer, executive director of Global Mission and Service, and requested prayer.
In addition to prayer for those who have not yet been heard from, those who are trapped in Boko Haram controlled areas, those who have lost loved ones, and those who have been forced to flee their homes, prayer is requested for God’s guidance for EYN to decide where to relocate its headquarters and its staff and their families.
The Global Mission office has wired $100,000 which has been collected for the EYN Compassion Fund to assist EYN to meet the immediate needs at this time.
It is hoped that more information will be available from EYN later in the week.
For online resources and background information about EYN and the Church of the Brethren mission in Nigeria, go to www.brethren.org/nigeria .