By Zakariya Musa
At her 72nd Annual General Church Council Conference, or Majalisa, Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) appointed three directors and an advisor and awarded six members. The conference title “Jesus the Author and Finisher of Our Faith” was taken from the book of Hebrews 12:2, and held between April 2-5 at the EYN Headquarters, Kwarhi, Hong LGA, Adamawa State. About 1,700 participants attended the highest decision-making body of the 96-year-old denomination, which has faced the terrible experience of insurgent activities.
The executive director of Global Mission and Service for the Church of the Brethren in the US, Jay Wittmeyer, was the guest preacher. He and other Brethren were expected to come from the US and from Mission 21 in Switzerland, but due to security restrictions only Wittmeyer came from the Church of the Brethren and the Nigeria country coordinator Yakubu Joseph read the note of greetings from Mission 21.
EYN vice president Anthony A. Ndamsai, on behalf of the EYN president, welcomed the pastors, delegates, past, and present leaders who came from across Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger, and Togo. This is the third Conference presided over by EYN president Joel S. Billi.
President Billi in his address called on the federal government of Nigeria to intensify its commitment to address security challenges in the country. “Our leaders who have deliberately refused to keep peace and order, are moving all over places with heavy armed security men, leaving the poor masses on their own. Nigeria is drifting day by day toward a state of anarchy while we are busy blowing big, big grammar that we are practicing democracy. Honestly we are too far away from real democracy.”
Billi also warned church workers to be honest. “We are committed to serve you to the best of our abilities and be good and faithful stewards of the things entrusted into our care to keep them and use them as prescribed by our working documents. Whoever in any way decides to mishandle church money conscientiously will not be protected.”
The Conference awarded six EYN members for their outstanding contributions towards church development. The awardees are: Ayuba Waba, Nigeria Labor Congress president; Joseph Ayuba, member of the Adamawa State House of Assembly; Kubili David, a former TEKAN Women’s Leader; Mike Mshelia, a businessman and EYN Estate Officer; Dr. John Quaghe and Bitrus Ndahi, through their representatives.
Three new directors were approved by the Majalisa: John Wada Zambwa as director of Audit and Documentation, Yamtikarya Joseph Mshelia as director of the Women’s Ministry, and Markus Vandi as director of Integrated Community-Based Development Program (ICBDP). The outgoing directors and their years of service: Silas Ishaya served for eight years as director of Audit and Documentation, Suzan Mark served for four years as director of the Women’s Ministry, and James T. Mamza served for four years as director of the ICBDP.
Election of the position of EYN spiritual advisor also was conducted. The incumbent advisor, Samuel Birma Shinggu, was elected for another three years tenure.
Other guests of the Conference included the president of the Lutheran World Federation, Filibus Panti Musa, and the Adamawa State CAN chairman and Archbishop of the Catholic Diocese of Yola, Stephen Dame Mamza.
Prayers were offered for eight members of the Christ Reformed Church of Nigeria including its legal advisor who were kidnapped recently, for the sick, and for peace in some areas where people are living in fear.
Reports were presented by the central administration and other departments of the church. Teachings on health with emphasis on communicable diseases, and on agriculture with emphasis on soybean farming, were conducted by Ezekiel O. Ogunbiyi and Kefas Z.
The next General Church Council Conference is scheduled from April 20-24, 2020.
— Zakariya Musa is communications staff for Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria. The Majalisa caught the attention of Nigerian media for leaders’ statements to the government on the need to do something about the violence plaguing the northeast of the country. EYN president Joel S. Billi and general secretary Daniel Mbaya were quoted in the Leadership newspaper at https://leadership.ng/2019/04/04/church-decries-govt-inability-to-end-insurgency-in-north-east and in “The Nation” at http://thenationonlineng.net/democracy-a-mirage-with-continuing-attacks-abductions-eyn-church .
Following is the full text of EYN president Joel Billi’s speech to the 2019 Majalisa:
“The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be discouraged” (Deut. 31:18, NIV).
My heart is bubbling with joy and gratitude to God to welcome you to 2019 Majalisa. I thank God for sparing our lives and making it possible for us to witness this annual gathering. Thank you all for your indefatigable support and ceaseless allegiance to the leadership. We have not done anything without your backing. As you all know EYN structure as of today, money ascends from LCB to LCC, LCC to DCC, then DCC to GCC. For now both the DCCs and GCC do not generate even one Naira for the entire growth of EYN. We thank the faithful ones for being faithful. And we encourage the unfaithful ones to be faithful. Therefore, if there is anything worthy of praise all of us are beneficiaries.
Before we go further, I would like to thank you all for making us to be your leaders at such a difficult time in the history of mankind. The devil is busy trying to intoxicate people with all manners of sin including the elects. It is our responsibility to denounced the devil and saturate the world with the gospel.
I wish to tell Majalisa that the Church of the Brethren invited me for the third time to her Annual Conference. I was invited to the Annual Conference with my wife and three other people along with us. The conference was held in Cincinnati, Ohio, July 4th-8th, 2018. I was also invited to Brethren prayer and worship summit, April 20th-21st, 2018. I was invited as one of the keynote speakers. Julian Rittenhouse, Stafford Frederick, and Joel S. Billi. Special music by Abe Evans, over the past 60 years of his life, God has given Abe Evans the opportunity to share a ministry in song in many different settings. Discussion leaders, Nathan Rittenhouse, Roy McVey, and Kendal Elmore. I was also in Israel on a holy Pilgrimage, courtesy Adamawa State Government, as a spillover of 2017.
I am happy to report to Majalisa that Global Brethren was formed last year at the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference. Our brother the Church of the Brethren General Secretary, David Steele, and brother Jay Wittmeyer, Executive Director of Global Mission and Service, presented to the Annual Conference a comprehensive proposal of why the fellowship needs to be formed. After a lengthy brainstorming and cross-examinations the Annual Conference endorsed for the formation of the fellowship. And by the special grace of God, the fellowship is going to hold its maiden gathering this year. The good news is, EYN is going to host Global Brethren gathering, 1st-5th December, 2019, at EYN Headquarters, Kwarhi. Brother Jay Wittmeyer has started raising funds toward the global gathering. Pray for the success of the global gathering and God’s speed to every participant.
MISSION TO RWANDA
Pastor Chris Elliott and Rev. Galen Hackman of the Church of the Brethren requested EYN leadership to nominate someone to accompany them to Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo, 6th-19th November, 2018, for the purpose of teaching the book “Brethren Beliefs and Practices.” EYN leadership suggested Rev. Caleb Sylvanus, Coordinator of Pastoral Enhancement Ministry, to go with them and it was accepted. Rev. Caleb went and came back with a good news that our brothers and sisters in Rwanda want EYN to send some missionaries and pastors to them. Pastor Chris and Rev. Galen both appreciated Rev. Caleb’s gesture in teaching from a new perspective. Rev. Caleb, since his return from the trip, has been suffering from ill health. He needs our prayer for a speedy recovery.
We thank you all for approving this long awaited dream at 2018 Majalisa. As was decided during the Majalisa that January 2019 was to be the starting month of central payment. The central payment committee and the leadership adhered to the resolution despite all forms of discouragements and deliberate efforts by many pastors to thwart this laudable decision. Majalisa’s approval of central payment is really commendable and acceptable by the majority of our members. We call on all of you to kindly rally around this selfless decision to nurture it to a full maturity. If our sister churches in TEKAN can do it effectively, we can also do it. For instance, COCIN Church is paying a sum of N157,000,000 to her pastors and workers every month. Despite this, they were able to build Carl Kum University. It is sad to say that there are pastors who are telling their members not to bring money but building materials, so that it will not attract payment of 35 percent. EYN will not tolerate any minister who depicts Ananias’ behaviour. We should learn to live in the presence of the living God. He should be a well for us: delightful, comforting, unfailing, springing up to eternal life.
Permit me to say that shortfall is a sin of omission. Year in and year out, we have been receiving reports of huge millions of shortfalls. Often a time we proffer solutions of how to mitigate the practice but it is always on the increase. If all churches will commit the sin of shortfall the Church will come to a standstill.
I am pleased to inform Majalisa that we were able to recruit three directors as we were directed to do. They are namely:
1. Rev. Musa Daniel Mbaya, Director of Evangelism and Church Growth
2. Mr. James Daniel Kwaha, Director of Finance
3. Dr. Yohanna Y. Wamdeo, Director of Education
All of them have assumed office and are doing good job in their respective ministries. Let us continue to pray for them even as they contribute their quota in the vineyard.
As old as transfer is in EYN, many pastors and workers are looking at it as a punishment especially if he or she is transferred to a place that is assumed not within his catchment area. We call on all pastors and workers to approach transfer with open mind and flexibility and most of all with prayer. Skepticism and choosy attitude will make you doubt our leaders. Therefore transfer is for the good of the workers and for the growth of the church. To my mind unification and edification of the Church are accelerate by the Holy Spirit through different workers with different gifts endowed on them.
It has become a daily cry by every peace loving person, when shall peace be restored? Nigeria has woefully failed in restoring peace. Security forces are always claiming to be on top of the problem. If it were so, the insurgency would not have lasted about ten years. Every part of Nigeria today faces one form of violence or the other. And from the look of things it is likely the insecurity is far from coming to an end. For how long are we going to live under such barbarism and uncertainty? We need peace and tranquility. Our leaders who have deliberately refused to keep peace and order, are moving all over the place with heavily armed security men, leaving the poor masses on their own. Nigeria is drifting day by day toward a state of anarchy while we are busy blowing big, big grammar that we are practicing democracy. Honestly, we are too far away from real democracy.
Up to now the Church is still groaning because of the ongoing persecution. Christians are facing the most difficult time in the history of this nation. Boko Haram attacks almost on a daily basis. Thilaimakalama suffered several attacks before they were finally displaced from the village. Ngurthlavu was attacked on March 13, 2019, where many houses were burnt and the terrorists left with two girls. Consequently the villagers decided to leave the village for the time being. The number of abductees are on the increase and the government is doing nothing about it.
MISAPPROPRIATION OF FUNDS
We are committed to serve you to the best of our abilities and be good and faithful stewards of the things entrusted into our care, to keep them and use them as prescribed by our working documents. Whoever in any way decides to mishandle church money conscientiously, will not be protected. You may cover your actions that auditors may not see but you cannot cover it from God. A financial plundering such as EYN had never before seen it, is ongoing. We must work on monetary penalties which will be imposed on our workers in order to stop corruption and bring back the glory of the Church. You will come to hear in details when the Director of Audit and Documentation comes up with his report.
OFFICE COMPLEX/BANQUET HALL
We didn’t know at all if these projects were going to finish within our tenure of office. We were working round the clock thinking that our successors will come and complete the projects. We give God all the glory for such a miracle. You will bear us witness that there had never been a special appeal or fundraising for these projects. On several occasions we were tempted to organize an appeal fund or call on EYN’s affluent sons and daughters but we never did that. We thank our brother builder Mike Mshelia for his efforts and sacrifice. We thank our brother Jay Wittmeyer for organizing two groups of workcampers to the site and bearing some logistics. DCC Hildi, Mubi, Giima, Lokuwa, Uba, and KTS are not left out. Their contributions in mobilizing youth and skilled persons will always be remembered. It is important to let you know that we still require lots of things to make the buildings complete. We crave for your donations and assistance for the remaining needs. These are few of our needs:
1. A big generator/solar panels
4. Dining tables (Banquet Hall)
FORTIFICATION OF HEADQUARTERS AND KULP THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY (KTS)
Fencing of EYN Headquarters and Kulp Theological Seminary has been one of our major concerns. We are glad to tell you that very soon we are going to start the project. We thank our brother Roy Winter who graciously recommended the approval of a sum of N10,000,000.00 for this work. We want our churches to know that whenever this money is exhausted in the course of the work we will call on you.
1. The Church of the Brethren–we lack words to express our heartfelt gratitude for their perennial support and encouragement for EYN. We are happy to have brother Jay and sister Roxanne in our midst. We want to assure you that we shall start reroofing the conference hall immediately after Majalisa if Christ tarries. We thank our brother Roy Winter who is always here with us to ensure smooth running of our Disaster and Relief Ministry. A big thank you to sister Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford for her recent visit to EYN. Thank you for the fantastic and accurate report you wrote on EYN in the Messenger. Special appreciation to Markus Gamache (“Jauron EYN”) for liaising work for the Church of the Brethren and EYN.
2. Mission 21–we welcome our brother Mathias Waldmeyer from Mission 21. Young, agile and trustworthy fellow. It is our prayer that the zeal and charisma we see in you will continue to be burning. We thank Dr. Yakubu Joseph, who is the engine room of Mission 21 in Nigeria. I always call him a workaholic, and that is exactly his description. We congratulate him for his marriage. We also wish to congratulate our brother Rev. Jochen Kirsch for his elevation to a rank of a Director. We wish him God’s blessings and protection. We thank his predecessor Rev. Claudia Bandixen who visited EYN severally. We most of all thank God for sustaining our partnership with Mission 21. God willing we will celebrate our 60th anniversary of togetherness. Sixty years in cordial partnership is a thing of celebration. Praise God! May God continue to cement this partnership until Christ comes.
RESOURCE PERSONS COMMITTEE (RPC)
We thank the outgoing resource persons who served the Church for a period of seven years. Help me clap for them for their inexhaustible sacrifice. Thank you and God bless you real good. Warm welcome to the new committee. It is our prayer that God will use you effectively in this special assignment. May God see you to the very end.
1. Spiritual revival across EYN
2. EYN to be in every state of the Federation
3. Rebuilding of all the destroyed churches and constructing new ones
4. Release of all the captives or abductees
5. Modernizing KTS and all regional schools (JBC, MBC, LBS and CBS)
6. Having an ultramodern guesthouse in a state capital
7. Having a medical doctor and a surgeon in our clinic
Wish you fruitful and peaceful Majalisa. God’s speed to your respective homes. See you at 2020 Majalisa.
“Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don’t be afraid or discouraged by the size of the task, for the LORD GOD, my God is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you” (1 Chr. 28:20).