By James K. Musa
A seminar on trauma healing for displaced pastors of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), was offered at Yola from Sept. 7-12. This seminar was organized by the office of the Ministers Council in conjunction with the EYN Disaster Relief Management financed by the Church of the Brethren. It was offered for 100 displaced pastors.
The purposes of the seminar were:
1. To offer a seminar on trauma and reconciliation to these displaced pastors so that they can be of help to their members who are scattered all over.
2. To brief them of the activities of the Church of the Brethren through Disaster Relief Management in EYN.
3. To correct some misconception among the pastors, that EYN and the Church of the Brethren do not care about their welfare, especially their salaries.
4. To encourage them to work among the displaced in camps and other places instead of being idle waiting for Boko Haram to finish their activities before going back to work.
5. Lastly, to assist them with some amount (20,000 Nigerian Naira, about $100) to buy food for their families.
Initially the seminar was organized for two days but because there was not enough accommodation for 108 people at the center we had to split it into two groups which took us five days instead of two. The first group of 50 came on Monday to Wednesday morning and the second group came on Wednesday to Friday.
God inspired Jim Mitchell, a Church of the Brethren volunteer, who gave a wonderful message about trauma. Most of the pastors testified at the end of the seminar that they have gained a lot and now are ready to face their members to encourage them.
Another interesting session was that of Joseph T. Kwaha, who had just returned from a one month course in South Africa on reconciliation organized by Mennonite Central Committee (MCC). He emphasized the need of reconciliation among displaced people as they go back home. He said pastors are key to achieving that, being a representative of Christ here on earth.
The EYN president Samuel Dante Dali took time to explain to the pastors the activities of the Church of the Brethren in EYN through the Disaster Relief Management, and corrected the misconception that the pastors were left out. At this point also, many pastors confessed that they have said many things out of ignorance. They asked the president to ignore what happened in the past and focus on the current plan with the Church of the Brethren. They asked Jim Mitchell to extend their appreciation to the Church of the Brethren.
Yuguda Mdurvwa, manager of the EYN disaster team, also briefed the pastors on the work of the Disaster Relief Team serving jointly with the Church of the Brethren.
Finally, I encouraged the pastors to go out and minister to the displaced people in camps and churches. That will keep them busy and it will attract the attention of other people to think of their welfare.
Immediately after the seminar, five of the pastors–Amos Maina, Meshak Madziga, Yunana Tariwashe, James Tumba, and Dauda Madu–went and settled with displaced people in different camps, conducting Sunday services and helping in counseling and other things. I have visited three out of the five places.
Another success is that complaints among the displaced have reduced drastically and relationships have improved.
We are organizing the same training for pastors who were directly affected by the insurgency, even though they have returned back to their stations. They have numerous challenges before them. This will be for pastors from locations from Gombi to Madagali, and the Chibok and Lassa/Dille areas.
Once more, on behalf of the entire ministers of EYN, I wish to express our deepest appreciation to the Church of the Brethren for deciding to offer help in this aspect. May the Lord continue to bless you and keep you fit for his job.
— James K. Musa is an EYN minister and serves as secretary of the EYN Ministers Council. For more information about the Nigeria Crisis Response, a cooperative effort of EYN and the Church of the Brethren, go to www.brethren.org/nigeriacrisis .