By Carl and Roxane Hill
Having recently returned from a short trip to Nigeria, we were encouraged by the relief efforts headed by the EYN Disaster Team of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). The church’s large-scale program of assistance is funneling money to EYN with a five-pronged approach. We were happy that progress has been made in all five areas that we have designated.
The five areas where donations are being targeted are:
1. Food and basic living materials
2. Land acquisition and the building of care centers for displaced people, which includes medical care
3. Trauma and reconciliation workshops
4. EYN strengthening
5. Livelihood, sustainability, and education.
Each area is a huge undertaking and donations are only enough to scratch the surface. But each area is so vital for recovery and sustainability that we cannot ignore any of the efforts currently being made.
Food and basic living materials
As the situation in Nigeria continues to be unsettled, these efforts are very challenging, to say the least. This summer one of our American partner organizations, Christian Aid Ministries based in Berlin, Ohio, has been funding the distribution of food. Their representatives, Glen Zimmerman and Marcus Troyer, have been on the ground in Nigeria encouraging the EYN Disaster Team in its work.
In a two-week period in July, the team was able to reach more than 6,000 needy people. Multiple distributions took place to provide aid to people, reaching from the camps around Abuja and Jos to some of the villages in the northeast that were considered safe. At some of the locations in the northeast the Nigerian military accompanied the EYN Disaster Team. No problems were encountered at these sites.
Glen Zimmerman told us that he was amazed at the number of people showing up to receive support. “Many times, almost double the number of people showed up compared to what we were expecting,” he said. “We were able to provide for everyone, although sometimes the portions were smaller. But, by God’s grace, everybody received something.”
The long-range goal is to continue providing emergency food until the fall of 2016.
When we visited a site south of Yola, more than 350 people were waiting for us to arrive. The purpose of our visit there was just to inspect another parcel of land set aside for a new Care Center (a community for displaced persons). When we saw the desperation of the people who had assembled we “pooled” the money we had on us and purchased foodstuffs so they could be given to these very appreciative people.
We wish we could take all of you with us to Nigeria so you could see the look of appreciation on the faces of these people, especially the children. The Church of the Brethren is making a big difference and a huge impact for the Kingdom of God.
Our prayer, as coordinators for Nigeria Crisis Response, is that the church does not tire of doing good. “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).
— Carl and Roxane Hill are co-directors of the Nigeria Crisis Response, a cooperative effort of the Church of the Brethren’s Global Mission and Service and Brethren Disaster Ministries, working with Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). For more information go to www.brethren.org/nigeriacrisis .