A Chat with ‘Spirited Brethren’ Carl and Roxane Hill

By Zakariya Musa

Photo by Zakariya Musa
Carl and Roxane Hill, co-directors of Nigeria Crisis Response for the Church of the Brethren, with the manager of the EYN Disaster Relief Team at the new foundation of the EYN Headquarters Annex. Annex Headquarters being renovated

The Church of the Brethren co-directors of Nigeria Crisis Response, Carl Hill and his wife Roxane from the United States of America, were here once again to assess the impact of the donations made by American Brethren on the activities of EYN (Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria, or the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria).

As part of the visit, the couple presented a paper at the 2015 EYN Ministers’ Conference held at the EYN Headquarters Annex in central Nigeria. In their presentation, entitled “Continuing the Work of Jesus Christ,” the Hills encouraged the pastors to be servants to people around them at this time.

Carl and Roxane Hill, who liaise between the Church of the Brethren and EYN, said that they were fully committed to join hands to raise awareness among American Brethren and other partners of EYN on the severity of the Nigerian crisis, and its devastating effect on leadership of EYN in particular and the church’s membership in general.

The couple made their intentions known to “EYN Quarterly Magazine” in an interview recently. Below are excerpts from the interaction. We wish you happy reading.

EYN QM: Sir and madam, you are here again. You are highly welcome. What is your impression this time after some months in Nigeria?

The overall health of EYN was very different in March than when we came in November. We were so encouraged to see the Headquarters Annex offices completed and every leader working in his furnished office. We felt happy that each of the leaders was back in his/her assigned position and handling their work duties to the best of their ability. Staff and their families also seemed to be settled in the new environment.

EYN QM: You both liaise between EYN and the Church of the Brethren on the current Nigerian security situation, particularly as it affects EYN. What is your view about the use of donations from the Brethren?

EYN is well on the way to implementing the mutual plan agreed upon by EYN and the Church of the Brethren. The Disaster Management Team is taking its job seriously and is mobilized for action. We were able to review the plan and lay out the next steps that need to be taken. We are very impressed that EYN (leaders and team) are using the money as designed.

EYN QM: What would be your briefing at home on the EYN situation after attending the EYN Ministers Conference?

It was very encouraging to see all the pastors attending the Ministers’ Conference. What a great way to bring the church together, to unify the ministers and to encourage them in their difficult situation. It was fun to see groups of pastors talking and laughing together. We pray that this brief time away from their troubles will energize them and empower them to go back and care for their people. As we told them at the conference, each of them has been called to carry out Jesus’ words which say, “Feed my sheep.”

EYN QM: One of your students at Kulp Bible College, Kwarhi, was kidnapped by Boko Haram in northeastern Nigeria about three months ago, and one of the college’s security men is missing. How do you feel about that?

We are very sad about the missing people from KBC. One of Carl’s students, Ishaya Salhona, was kidnapped by the Boko Haram. We tried to find out about him but there is no official word. This is more evidence of the large scale of violence that has swept the northeast. Everyone has been affected and lost someone they know or love. We continue to pray.

EYN QM: Almost all of the churches are destroyed in northeastern Nigeria and now the government announces the reclaiming of most of the areas held by insurgents. Would you advocate for the rebuilding of the structures destroyed in the areas?

This is a long-term plan of recovery. The Church of the Brethren is committing to 5 to 10 years of working with EYN. During this period, our attention will focus on the eventual returning home of our brothers and sisters, and rebuilding of their communities. As we know, almost everything has been destroyed completely by the insurgents, and it will take the special grace of God and concerted effort to be able to return and live in those areas again. Just as the way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time, we must begin to recover one small step at a time. Working together will make the task easier hopefully.

EYN QM: What would you want to say to sum up this session?

We are really encouraged to see things fast coming back on track in EYN. Compared to the frozen state of the leadership in November, we are so impressed with the way everyone is moving forward at this time. We are glad with the high level of zeal with which people are poised for action. We are also pleased with the work of the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) we are sponsoring. They are able to do some things that the church could not. The interfaith community at Gurku is going well. Education is being addressed by one NGO. Other NGOs are working at livelihood for people and making sure the vulnerable are being taken good care of. We are looking forward to receiving help from other large organizations like Mennonite Central Committee and Christian Aid Ministries. We look forward to returning to America and giving a good report on the progress of the Nigeria Crisis Response Project.

— Zakariya Musa is a communicator for Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) and works on the EYN Quarterly Magazine. He conducted this interview on March 19 while Carl and Roxane Hill were in Nigeria to visit with EYN leadership and assess the progress of the Nigeria Crisis Response. The effort is a cooperative one between EYN and the Church of the Brethren, working through Global Mission and Service and Brethren Disaster Ministries. For more about the work in Nigeria go to www.brethren.org/nigeriacrisis .

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