Being the church

David Steele speaking with the group at the Atlantic Northeast District Listening Session. Photo by Glenn Riegel

David Steele speaking with the group at the
Atlantic Northeast District Listening Session.
Photo by Glenn Riegel

By David Steele, general secretary

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope”(Romans 15:13).

My first 100 days as general secretary have come and gone. These first weeks have been exhilarating, challenging, and joy-filled. Assessment, questions, review of past board and committee minutes, and many meetings have filled my days. What has been and will continue to be central in my work and ministry has been listening—listening to staff and you, the church. From the hallways and meeting rooms of the General Offices and Brethren Service Center to the listening sessions being held across the denomination, I am learning much. I count it a privilege to meet with you to hear your hopes, passions, and concerns, and I look forward to many more listening opportunities as I continue to schedule listening sessions in other districts.

What am I learning from your sharing? We are passionate about the Church of the Brethren and our common ministries of service, mission, discipleship, and evangelism. Yet, we are also distracted by dwindling numbers and whether we will split over our diverging or opposite views related to human sexuality and same-gender marriage. Many of your hopes have been centered in a desire for unity, reconciliation, and focusing on what unites us. Much of your sharing can be taken at face value; however, for some our desire for unity and staying together are tied to certain outcomes.

The issues we face as a church will not go away. Let’s not kid ourselves. Given our diversity, there is no decision that we can make about a social issue that will satisfy all of us. And when we do make a decision about a social issue, it will likely be replaced by another, and another, and another.

Being the church is messy. It always has been. I have always appreciated the diversity of the church and the opportunities and challenges such diversity offers. In 1 Corinthians 12:12 we read, “The body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body.” Each part of the body is essential and cannot be denied its place in the body. “God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose” (12:18).

I believe we must work together as one body—the body of Christ—to attend to the issues before us and those that we will face in the future. Our rich diversity provides us the ability to speak to a very complex and diverse world and model another way of living—the way of Jesus. Our working together, despite our differences, is not a denial of our convictions, but an acknowledgment of our conviction that Jesus is central in our lives and that we are part of one body in Christ. Sure, it is easier to seek out and gather with those who think and believe like us, but where would be our sense of smell, sight, ability to walk, to touch? As one dear brother said in one of the listening sessions, “I need those of you calling me to purity equally as much as I need those calling me to grace and compassion.”

As we step into this new year, I am committed to our common struggle together as the body of Christ. In the midst of distractions, it has been most exhilarating in my first 100 days to experience firsthand the tireless efforts of staff and leaders to be the church. Mission work around the globe, disaster response ministries, workcamps for youth, discipleship ministries and working with congregations in efforts of vitality and evangelism, intercultural ministries, church planting coaching and support, and planning for Christian Citizenship Seminar, Young Adult Conference, and Inspiration 2017 (National Older Adult Conference)and the list could go on.

We are called to another way of living, a way that looks much different from the world around us. I invite you to support and join in our mission and ministry—to be the church. Being the church is where our body finds its unity and strength through Jesus.

Learn more about the ministries of the Church of the Brethren at www.brethren.org or support it today at www.brethren.org/give .

(Read this issue of eBrethren)

Education Must Continue – Highlights of 2016 and Prayers for 2017

Paul & Becky Gadzama Directors of EMCI

Paul & Becky Gadzama (on the2  sides)
Directors of EMCI

By Becky Gadzama

Education Must Continue Initiative (EMCI) is so thankful to God for another year.  Our prayer is that , every one of you would  enjoy a very exciting  walk with the Lord through out this new year. We also pray that He will provide ALL your  needs both spiritual and material according  to His  riches in  glory by Christ  Jesus.

2016 was very encouraging for EMCI. Highlights include:

– Graduation of 59 IDP Yola senior class. 85% of whom passed their SSCE exams( SAT) equivalence.

– Efforts to start EMCI school in a maiduguri suburb for Kanuri girls,

– Greater opportunities for the relocation of children from from north east to safe schools in central Nigeria and other southern parts of Nigeria,

Children in Yola classrooms

Children in Yola classrooms

– Gradual stabilization of the Yola and Lassa IDP schools for better future directions and planning.

– One of the chibok girls that have lived with us has started her degree (Accounting ) program in AUN Yola. The other is preparing for her SSCE. Their determinations are very encouraging.

-Amazing donation of nutritious food to EMCI kid by ALL THINGS POSSIBLE. It arrived very timely , at the peak of the food crisis in the Borno camps. Over 14000 kids benefited from it in Maiduguri and 6000 children, orphaned by Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen violence.

Lassa School

Lassa School

Praise and prayer requests for 2017:

– Thanking God His  provisions in the past years. – that God will continue to bless CoB both financially and materially – peace in Nigeria – freedom and human right in Nigeria – stable school year – EMCI senior students to do well in their SSCE exams this year also. – successful teacher capacity programs – safety as we travel to and fro – God’s blessings so that EMCI can do much more this year. – Good health – more opportunities to impact the lives of children educationally. – Favor for the take off of the Kanuri girls school in Maiduguri. -That the remaining 194 Chibok  girls still in captivity will be home very soon

 

Highway 2

Upper Peninsula straits. Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Kinsey.

Upper Peninsula straits. Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Kinsey.


By Elizabeth Kinsey

I would have to say that my favorite stretch of highway in Michigan is Highway 2 east of St Ignac in the Upper Peninsula, just over the Mackinac Bridge. There are scenic overlooks of the bridge. It’s a long highway, miles where one can get off the road and relax on the beach and in the water. My bladder is over 60, so I can’t stay there as long as I’d like since there are no bathrooms along this stretch of lake, but it’s just so beautiful and clean. There’s such a luxury in the view and the cold clean water. I can’t say enough about this stretch of Michigan! Oh, and you haven’t REALLY experienced the Upper Peninsula of Michigan unless you’ve enjoyed a hot pasty, meaty hot pockets that miners used to tuck in their shirts to keep themselves warm and for lunch deep in the mines later. Lehto’s Pasties is our favorite on Hwy. 2 just a few miles east of St. Ignac. It’s lunch-to-go, find an overlook and………….PERFECTION!

Trip to Nigeria connects with peacebuilding efforts, food crisis needs

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Meeting with the EYN President, Vice President, and General Secretary

Jennifer Hosler and I recently traveled to Nigeria to consult, connect with, and support the development and peacebuilding work of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). Jennifer traveled to Nigeria in her role as a member of the advisory committee of the Church of the Brethren’s Global Food Initiative. In this role, she met with EYN leaders and members who had traveled to Ghana in September 2016, together with Jeff Boshart (Global Food Initiative director) to learn about soybean projects.

Most EYN members and other residents in northeast Nigeria are farmers (often small-scale) who grow food for family use and to supplement income. Due to the extensive displacement by Boko Haram over the past several years, the ability to plant and harvest has been severely disrupted. Displacement from land, return after planting season, and fear of ongoing and sporadic Boko Haram attacks in some areas have led to reduced harvests and food shortages. Some communities face crop theft and terrorism from Boko Haram. During our visit, we heard that Kauthama, a village not far from EYN headquarters, had been attacked and 80 percent of its homes and crops were destroyed or taken.

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I traveled as part of my work with the Office of Public Witness. Much focus was on the growing food crisis and famine in the northeast as well as on peacebuilding. The Office of Public Witness has been raising concerns about Nigeria’s food crisis in Washington, D.C. The office collaborated to organize a briefing for US Congressional staff in November and sent out an action alert asking Brethren to contact their elected officials to adequately address this emerging famine.

As former peace and reconciliation staff with EYN from September 2009 to December 2011, we were also able to use this visit to support EYN and other groups’ peacemaking efforts. We taught a three-hour peacebuilding workshop at Kulp Bible College, met with the EYN Peace Program staff in Kwarhi, and visited one of its new initiatives in Yola.

CAMPI (Christians and Muslims for Peacebuilding Initiatives) was founded in Mubi in 2010 and has recently established a chapter in Yola, the state capital of Adamawa State. We were involved with the starting of CAMPI in Mubi in 2010 and 2011. Since their work ended in December 2011, EYN’s Peace Program CAMPI in Mubi has started nine peace clubs in secondary schools.

We were hosted for a meal by the Adamawa Peacemakers Initiative (API) at American University in Nigeria (AUN), also based in Yola. API is bringing together Christians and Muslims to meet human need and to build bridges between communities often wracked by distrust. During the massive influx of internally displaced persons (IDPs) into Yola in 2014 and 2015, API worked with AUN to provide emergency food relief to thousands of people in need. Additionally, they are working at reconciliation in communities through women’s empowerment programs, informal education, and sports. Though no formal agreements were made, API responded enthusiastically to the efforts of EYN for peace, meeting food needs, and trauma healing.

We also had extensive conversations with staff of the US embassy to Nigeria, highlighting the effects of displacement, the causes of violence, the food crisis, the Nigerian government’s response, and needed work for peacebuilding.

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Nathan Hosler is director of the Church of the Brethren’s Office of Public Witness in Washington, D.C.

Accomplishments in 2016

2016 Nigeria Crisis Summary  (Total $1,525,082)

Thank you to everyone who supported the Nigeria Crisis work in 2016. It is amazing to see what we have accomplished together. May God continue to work among us.

317 818 853 903 1220 eyn-food-distribution2

Home Repair and Rebuilding                                                                                             30 new units with kitchens and toilets                                                                                       Provided Water sources and 2 solar powered pumps                                                          260 homes re-roofed (4 zones)

Peace Building and Trauma Recovery                                                                            18 basic workshops                                                                                                                 3 advanced workshops                                                                                                             3 Training of Trainer                                                                                                                 Leaders sent to Rwanda for Alternatives to Violence Program                                               2 Healing and Rebuilding our Community Workshops (Maiduguri and Damaturu)                 Training for 14 women’s leaders by Children’s Disaster Service USA                                     10 Children’s Trauma  Training workshops (155 trained)

Agriculture & Community Development                                                                             6 leaders attended ECHO conference                                                                                     5 leaders attended a soybean innovation lab                                                                           Goat trial project started for 10 workers                                                                     Vaccinations for 10,000 chickens                                                                                            Seeds and fertilizer to 8500 families

Livelihoods                                                                                                                            2 women’s projects for 200 widows & orphans                                                                        Empowered 587 families to established their own businesses                                               3 Skills Acquisition Centers provided training and businesses for 152 widows &                   orphans

Education                                                                                                                           Kulp Bible College renovations/repairs                                                             Comprehensive Secondary School wall built for security                                               School fees paid for 420 students                                                                                       120 orphans housed, fed and school provided                                                                       3 Learning centers providing schooling for 2,180 students

Food, Medical & Home Supplies                                                                                      35 distributions to 12,500 families                                                                                  Medical assistance at 19 locations serving 5000                                                           Medical refresher course held for 16 dispensary workers

EYN Strengthening                                                                                                         Unity house in Jos furnished                                                                                           Kwarhi staff housing and offices repaired                                                                      Conference center repaired                                                                                              Conference assistance for Majalisa, Peace conference for pastors, Minister’s conference, Devotional materials printed                                                                                             Hosted 42 US visitors during the year                                                                                     Joint Workcamp – EYN and 9 US volunteers began building a church for IDP’s

God has a plan for you

Laura (pictured left) and her colleagues.  Photo by Laura Slattery

Laura (pictured left) and her colleagues.
Photo by Laura Slattery

By Laura Hassel, Brethren Volunteer Service volunteer from Unit 313

Two weeks after my high school graduation in Essen, Germany, was my flight to the US and the start of three weeks at orientation. The time before orientation was very stressful for me. I constantly looked at the available projects, always asking where I will serve for this year. On my flight to the United States, I thought: “Laura don’t be so stressed out. God has a plan for you and you will go to the place you are called.” These thoughts were right.

In my second week at orientation, I was placed at “The Gubbio Project” in San Francisco. Now, after a few weeks at my project, I have the feeling that I was called to be here.

At The Gubbio Project, we try to create a welcoming community for people dealing with homelessness. There are two churches where unhoused people find a sacred place to sleep. In these sacred places, we try to create a community where people feel welcome. The Gubbio is also a place where unhoused and housed people get in touch with each other. Both are children of God, both are in a holy space, and both have a similar way of using this space.

My jobs range from making sure the space is clean, coordinating volunteers, writing letters to different churches about preaching there, and taking care of donations. I love my work and how much variety is in it. I also see and feel how important and nessessary it is. God chose this place for me and I give thanks every day for this opportunity.

We need to remember to not get stressed out if we have not found our calling yet. Maybe you already found your vocation. Maybe you don’t know what you are called to do. Nobody knows the plan of God and what life holds for them. We have to trust in God that the plan he has for us is the right one.

Learn more about the work of Brethren Volunteer Service at www.brethren.org/bvs or support it today at www.brethren.org/give .

(Read this issue of eBrethren)

God’s gift of love

Workcampers in Portland, Ore., shared God’s love through serving at SnowCap community gardens.

Workcampers in Portland, Ore., shared God’s love
through serving at SnowCap community gardens.

By Matt DeBall, coordinator of Donor Communications

Christmas is a beautiful season of celebration. Though visible in many ways, one image of celebration is the assortment of beautifully wrapped gifts. Regardless of how many presents surround our Christmas trees, these packages of colorful paper and bows represent the love we have for one another. Additionally, gifts with our names on them raise anticipation and invite us to have hope for what we will receive.

Some 2,000 years ago, God gave us the ultimate gift. Wrapped in a form that we would recognize, God entered our world. Like the presents we place under our decorated trees, the gift of Jesus is an expression of God’s love for us.

Remembering the gift of Jesus in this season, we re-imagine the anticipation that Israel felt for the coming of the Messiah. This experience isn’t very difficult since we see the injustices and disharmony in our world and our anticipation for the second coming of Jesus grows. Held in tension between what we experience now and what we will experience when Jesus returns, we wait with hope for what will come.

As this year comes to a close, we invite you to consider how you can give a gift of love to the Church of the Brethren. Though we all are held in the tension of what has been and what will be, we pray and give with expectation of what God will do.

May you experience God’s presence in this season of waiting, and may you be filled with hope as we celebrate Jesus, God’s gift of love to the world.

Learn more about the ministries of the Church of the Brethren at www.brethren.org or support them today at www.brethren.org/give .

(Read this issue of eBrethren)

Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island


By Elizabeth Kinsey

Tour Mackinac Island by horse carriage

Tour Mackinac Island by horse carriage

I’m sure you’ve heard of Mackinac Island, a Michigan favorite! Well, you CAN get there from here, but you CAN’T drive to do so. Catch a ferry from Mackinaw City or St. Ignace for the short ride. There are no cars allowed on the island. Charming. You can enjoy Mackinac Island many ways. One is to take a carriage tour. These horse-driven tours give oodles of information and show you many sights of the island including the Butterfly House and interesting Arch Rock. Restaurants and beautiful gardens abound on the two main streets and up the hill as well as more shops than you’d care to visit.

Horse carriage on Mackinac Island

Horse carriage on Mackinac Island

The views of the Straits of Mackinac and the Mackinac Bridge are gorgeous. If you’re up to it, take a bike ride around the island. There are plenty of rental spots right off the ferry docks. It’s about eight miles around, all paved. You can make it in an hour, but most likely, you’ll want to take a bit more time so you can get off your bike and dabble your feet in the crystal clear cold water. Ride by horseback! Hike up into the middle of the island or around the island if you choose. Sit on the porch of the Grand Hotel (although that comes at a bit of a price).

Flowers on Mackinac Island

Flowers on Mackinac Island

If you visit Mackinac Island for the day, you’re considered a “fudgie” because few folks leave without a pound or two of Mackinac’s popular delicacy (and maybe a pound or two on the hips from all the free samples!). Summer stays on the island are pricy, but there are plenty of choices in nearby Mackinaw City or St. Ignace. While you’re in St. Ignace, you might like Castle Rock. Hang out with Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox! Head east to Sault Ste Marie, the Soo Locks. Boat tours take you through the locks. Very interesting! Or head north to the Tahquamenon Falls State Park, an Upper Peninsula gem. Hike to your heart’s content. Tour the Quincy Mine in Hancock and see how copper mining was done between 1846 and 1945. At Kitch-Iti-Kipi (The Big Spring) help guide a cable boat over the water that never freezes. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is considered the best place to see in the Upper Peninsula. Head to Munising and sign up for a boat ride with sights you’ll never forget. There’s so much to do, something for everybody!
View of Mackinac Bridge

View of Mackinac Bridge

Free New Castle Chicken Vaccinations for EYN communities (Funded through Nigeria Crisis)

shared by Zakariya Musa

roosterThe EYN Integrated Community Based Development Programme (ICBDP) had an awareness gathering with 30 community leaders on Local Chicken vaccine. The meeting include lecture on the importance of Local Chicken to a community delivered by the HoD EYN Agric Mr. Yakubu Peter. In his lecture Peter stressed that people misunderstood the benefits of Local Chickens which he said are easier to manage than Hybrid chickens.

The advocacy meeting was to inform the communities of the free vaccine to be administered to Kwarhi, Mararraba, Anguwan WarTilli, Anguwa Kafu, Lumba, Kwagwanga, Bakin Rijiya, Jan Lamba, and Plefu wards.

vaccineJoro Yuguda Washebiyanda, who spoke on behalf of the Leaders, appreciated the effort and asked the 30 Ward heads to inform their people and encourage them to come out on the days scheduled for the vaccination. The farmers were asked to try to cage their local birds for New Castle Vaccination on the specified dates when the department staff will meet them from early hours. Eight days (12th to 21st December 2016) were proposed for the vaccination.

Joro Yuguda thanked the sponsors of this project and the Church for reaching them with what he called “grace”. He and also called on the ward heads to go home and do their own part by informing every farmer in the domain. “May God reward you, be free to ask the Agric section of the church if we have any questions” he said.

vaccine-trainingThe Agric Department has served Christian and Muslim Communities for a decade with Agricultural services ranging from seeds, egg, fertilizers, herbicides,  and farming techniques.

The Director of  EYN ICBDP, Rev. James K. Mamza, who on behalf of the EYN President thanked the community leaders for responding to the call, said, “This is just a beginning of such assistance to the community.” He also hinted that the church is planning to promote soya beans production in communities with series of projects they have to change life of farmers being supported by EYN Partners.

Traveling with Markus Gamache

By Deb Ziegler

We have been blessed to host Markus Gamache as he hosted us when visited in Nigeria.  One body in Christ, across the ocean… we have seen and heard each other’s journey and we have been blessed. It was a busy two weeks, we traveled over 2000 miles and spoke in 10 different venues from churches to Colleges.  It was a real treat to be able to hear and watch Markus interact with different audiences across the country.  He has a way of connecting with those he is speaking to and can bring an update of the true happenings in Nigeria to a very personal level.  Here are a few highlights about Markus and our journey with him.

Markus at Postdam Church of the Brethren Southern Ohio District Nigeria Fundraiser

Markus at Postdam Church of the Brethren with Pastor Carl Hill
Southern Ohio District Nigeria Fundraiser

Markus’ journey

Each time I listened to Markus speak to a group or held a conversation in the car I learned a little bit more of his story.  Markus was born into a pagan family.  He was the first boy born to his mother, who was the fourth wife of his father.  He grew up in the bush where each wife had three huts, one for sleeping, one for cooking and one for storing corn and making beer. The father had a hut to himself in the center of the compound.  Markus grew up with many brothers and sisters.  When he was about 7 years old to 10 years old he began going to school where he learned to read the Koran and was learning the Muslim prayers.  His father was a leader in the community and became a Muslim and so his whole family became Muslim. This was when Markus was 13 years old.   Between the age of 10 and 13 Markus and the other boys in his school met a Christian man who told them it would be very difficult to become a Muslim; because if you did not recite the prayers just right they would burn you with a hot poker stick.  Markus decided to become a Christian out of this fear.  When his father decided the family would become Muslim, Markus was kicked out of the house and built a small corn stalk house at the edge of the village.  His mother lived with him until he was 15 years old, when his father required her to return home.  She continued to support him with food placed over the fence.  Currently Markus’ father is deceased and his mother is living in his home as a Muslim.  He has many Muslim friends and family members as well as Christian friends and family members.

Markus with his wife and mother

Markus with his wife and mother

Markus has been working with interfaith relations for years. He has six children, two with his first wife who died of complications of diabetes when the children were 7 and 8 years old.  He then married his current wife Janada and they have four children ages 7, 5, 3 and 6 months old.  Markus works with the EYN church and is the representative from EYN to the Church of the Brethren, USA.  This requires much time and energy away from his family.  He hosts visitors to Nigeria, making many things possible.  He visits both in USA and Germany to continue work for the church.  During the Crisis since 2014 Markus shared he has not slept in his bed.  He has hosted many people in his home, both Muslim and Christian, all running for their lives from Boko Haram.  He lives in a three bedroom home, with one bathroom. He described hosting over 60 people in his home at one point.   Not just of a night or two, but for months.  It was a hard burden… to feed these people.  Little children were everywhere, sometimes defecating and urinating on the floors.  His wife was exhausted and their marriage stressed.   So the interfaith camp at Gurku…was born out of necessity.  The Church of the Brethren and many others have supported its ministry.  Before I get lost in the story of Gurku, let me say that Markus still hosts 20 people in his home and he continues to covet time with his family and his wife. Still giving up his bed for others, he is a servant for sure, with much sacrifice.

Visiting Gurku Interfaith Camp (January 2016)

Visiting Gurku Interfaith Camp (January 2016)

The interfaith camp at Gurku

When our group visited the interfaith camp at Gurku there were 70 families living there, both Muslim and Christians, all displaced by the violence in the Northeast.  They had a church building started and were beginning to build a mosque.  The people worked together to make their own bricks and helped each other build their homes.  They have an infirmary and a brick oven for the widows to bake muffins to sell.  Now there are 170 families living at Gurku.  The widows have their own living area and a fish pond.  They just finished harvesting the fish and smoking them for eating and selling.  The church has been completed with windows and doors, and a tile floor.  They have also built a guest house at the site.  This community is very close to Markus’ heart and in the future he would like to move his family to this community to live and work with them.  He often thinks of a day when he can spend his time raising his family.  Markus will say that he never planned to build an interfaith camp, but out of the need for a place for all the displaced people the community has been developing with support and leadership from many people.

Who are the Boko Haram?

I am no expert, but I have learned in the past two weeks that Boko Haram was born out of poverty, lack of resources, food, and they are fellow Nigerians, brothers and cousins and yes relatives to the people we have met in the EYN.  Nigeria had been suffering from lack of food and a poor economy since 2009.  Somehow Boko Haram has been able to obtain weapons, food and money.  They have ways of employing others to work for them and since the economy is so depressed people will agree to work for them before they even know what they signed up for.  So indeed Boko Haram includes people in each community that are known by members of EYN;  people they have gone to school with, met in the market, and members of their own family.  Markus shared his mother was held by the Boko Haram for nine months. He did not know if she was dead or alive.  Her own grandson came to her numerous times intending to kill her.  And so yes, religious ideology is part of the Boko Haram, but it is also political and economical as well.   As I think of the Chibok girls, I am realizing it is a very complicated situation. It leads me to the scripture Markus was sharing and struggling with on this trip.  “You shall love your enemies, pray for those that hurt you.”   Markus asked us to think about who are our enemies?  Can you name them?  Did Jesus know what Nigeria was going to go through when he said love your enemies?  What should they do when they recognize the man that killed their husband, or slaughtered their baby?  What should you do when you face them in the market?  Markus and others covet our prayers and our wisdom, inspiration and strength to help them to love their enemies because as human beings it is extremely difficult to forgive and love.  I can only suggest that it is the Christ in us that allows us to be able to look upon another person who has harmed us and hurt us so deeply, and to respond with grace, love and forgiveness.  It is not us alone that can forgive and love, but the power of Christ in us that gives us the strength to not retaliate.  Markus challenged people to give to him the wisdom of how to respond to enemies.  He was searching for answers, for strength, for our prayers and support.

Markus in a tractor

Markus in a tractor

Building the Church in Nigeria through a tractor?

Each day of our journey with Markus was filled with moments of deep sharing, wondering and dreaming.  It was good.  It was exhausting.  As we traveled from farm to farm, and drove from Elizabethtown to McPherson College, a dream started to develop in our car.  Markus was learning more and more about farming, preparing the soil, tractors.   And then we started thinking how would a tractor in Nigeria change the ability of the people to plant more crops.  And with each new farm and farmer we met we asked more questions.  We researched tractors in Nigeria, and a proposal began to take shape.  And although it is still only a dream, a possibility, it is exciting to think about building the church in Nigeria with a tractor.  We have learned that Nigeria is the third worst country for famine.  In the northeast and even in the camps closer to the center of the country the people do not have enough food to eat.  People are dying in the camps every week for lack of food.  A tractor would be helpful in preparing the soil for planting.  Right now all farming is done by hand.  In some areas the bush is being tilled for the first time and it is very hard work.  If the tractor could disk the ground, the people could plant more crops and harvest more food.  They would have more food to eat and to share with their neighbors.  They would have seeds to save to plant for the next year.  Some of the crops could be sold and the money used to pay for hospital needs, school fees for their children and placed in the church offering.  Many people are not going to church because they have nothing to give to the offering.  Pastors are not being paid because the people are in crisis and do not have much to give. Over 1600 churches have been burned and destroyed in the northeast.  Pastors are out of work.  We do not even know where some pastors are located presently, dead or alive.  People are settling new areas of Nigeria and the church is growing as host communities join displaced EYN members.   If people had more money to give to the church, they could pay their pastors and have money to rebuild the buildings that were destroyed and build new buildings in new communities.  They would feel good about being about to support their families and community.

Each day I shed tears of compassion for the far reaching effects of crisis.  I learned how complicated counties, people, churches, governments and systems can be.  How overwhelming the needs.  How faithful God’s people are all over the world.  I continue to witness the power of prayer, the faithfulness of God’s mercy.