Devotions (EYN Daily Link) November 29 – December 5, 2015


EYN Devotions graphicA Daily Devotional Guide from the
EYN (Church of the Brethren in Nigeria)

EYN leaders in Nigeria believe prayer is one of the most important ways to support the Nigerian people and the Church.  These daily devotions were written by EYN members and published by the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria. Reading them daily is a powerful way we can be in solidarity and connect with our brothers and sisters caught in this crisis.  EYN’s daily devotional for 2015 will be posted a week at a time on this blog, appearing mid-week for the following week. More information about the crisis can be found at

Click on this link for Devotions Nov 29 – Dec 5, 2015

When “IT” Makes the News

By Gimbiya Kettering

I’ll admit, the news story about Jamar Clark has not been on my radar. I have been caught up in the pre-pre holiday business, local meetings, life with a toddler who now takes off her socks as I look for her gloves and her gloves while I am fastening her shoes. The news beyond my front door seems far away. In the midst of my own life, I can lull myself into thinking that the wider world has calmed down, become more reasonable, more sane, more sustainable. That something like peace has descended.

Of course, the reality is much more complicated and the lives of brothers and sisters around the country continue to be disrupted by oppression, poverty, racism, and violence. And in the case of Jamar Clark –ended. The protestors in Minneapolis were paying attention and came out to raise the national awareness about what happened – of the disturbing patterns that continue to happen around the country. They are protesting to raise the awareness of people like me – caught up in our own lives but who would also want to know, who want to be the type of person who pays attention and cares.

Protests are a way of raising awareness, as news reports carry the information into the homes of those of us who aren’t making it through our front doors and into the communities where protests are happening. Yet, the news that someone (it is not clear yet who) has fired on the protestors is frightening. It flies in the face of our American traditions of gathering together as part of raising national awareness that encompass movements from the Boston Tea Party of 1773 and the March on Selma in 1965 –and the public witness of our church such as the On Earth Peace tradition of having a “Peace Walk” at Annual Conference and International Day of Prayer for Peace celebrated by many congregations.

That someone – regardless of who – opened fire on the group is very disturbing. Thankfully, no one has died. However, the act of violence is horrific. And it calls us to ask what is our response as a people of a faith? As a church? As a people of peace?

A week with the Food Distribution Team

The logistics of each food distribution are different but they are never easy. Each trip is also combined with other business and visits to family and friends. Roads are filled with potholes and military check points. Purchase of the food and getting it ready for distribution are time consuming.

Black Market Gas

Black Market Gas


We left for Yola at 7:30 in the morning.  Many gas stations were closed because they were out of gas. The few that were open had long lines of cars waiting to get gas. Rather than wait up to a few hours in line for gas we got some along the road from an individual for over double the normal price. This is referred to as black market gas.



After spending the night in Yola we went to the bank to get the money to pay for the food

Destroyed bank in Mubi

Destroyed bank in Mubi

for the distribution. The banks in Mubi are all closed, as the Boko Haram destroyed all the bank buildings when they captured the city in 2014. We spent an hour at the bank, stopped by the land bought for the Yola Care Center and then went to Mubi where we met Rev Amos (materials coordinator for the disaster team) and gave him the money.

We then visited the EYN Lokuwa Church on the Adamawa State University campus. Rev Yuguda (manager of the disaster team) pastored this church at one time. Boko Haram burned the church last year when they overran the town of Mubi. The walls of the church building are still standing, but no repairs have yet been made. A temporary structure has been roofed where church is now being held.


We spent all day in the market buying rice and the rest of the distribution items. The rice in Mubi comes from across the border in Cameroon. For some reason the border is closed at this time so rice is scarce and hard to find; the price is also inching up. Amos was able to buy enough rice, but he had to get it from about eight different vendors. This took a lot of extra time. By the end of the day two trucks were loaded with the food items.

Food ready to distribute

Food ready to distribute


We drove almost thirty miles north of Mubi (most of it on a road that is full of potholes) arriving in the town of Michika about two hours later. The food distribution was held at the Nkaffa EYN Church. Most of the people were from the surrounding hill country. 350 families were served in the distribution. The distribution was a bit hectic, as again more people showed up than were told to come.  We still had some cooking oil and sugar left over after the rice and food was given to the 350 families, so it was left in the hands of the church pastors to give out to the rest of the people who hadn’t received anything.

Bible School distribution

Bible School distribution

The relief team went on to an EYN Bible School outside of Michika to do a 52 family food distribution. The food was for the staff and attendees of the school. Again, there wasn’t enough food to go around. There were 66 families. The school staff said to give the food to the attendees and they would wait until next time to get their food, so that is what was done.  After the bumpy drive back we arrived in Mubi at 6pm as dusk was arriving.


It was back to the market to buy 22 bags of rice and supplies for a 22 family distribution at the T.E.E. College in Mubi, a theological school that Mission 21 is supporting. The staff were very grateful for the help given. We spent the night in the Mubi area.

Destroyed church of 1500

Destroyed church of 1500


We attended worship EYN Giima Church in Mubi. The church building was burned out, with only the walls and tower still standing. A temporary building has been erected where church service is being held. The sides of the building are sheeted with the old burned tin from the church building with new tin on the roof. There were at least 500 people at the Service. After lunch we drove to Yola for the night.

Temporary church - Giima

Temporary church – Giima


We left Yola at 6:30 am and arrived in Jos at 2 pm. It was an uneventful, although, (as usual) tiring journey.


Are you as exhausted as the relief team? And they get to do it all over this next week.

A Word from the Experts: OPW Moderates Panel on Drones

The attacks in Paris on November 13 have further inflamed public conversation about the United States’ role in counterterrorism, but the efficacy of drone warfare as a tool in this endeavor is still largely ignored. On Monday November 16, the National Council of Churches and the Interfaith Network on Drone Warfare hosted a congressional briefing on drone warfare in order to spur much needed debate about the moral and practical challenges surrounding the United States’ burgeoning drone warfare program. Over 70 congressional staffers, faith leaders, and concerned citizens attended. Nathan Hosler, Director of the Office of Public Witness, moderated the panel and led a discussion with faith leaders about the use of drones after the event.

As a historic peace church, the Church of the Brethren recognizes that following Jesus’ path requires a radical denial of violence. The Annual Conference of 1988 reaffirmed “the belief and practice of the church in renouncing all war” and raised concerns about covert operations and covert war. Calling them “destructive” to truth, national security, and our relationships with other nations, the Annual Conference urged members of the church and the federal government to abstain from covert operations and covert war. In 2013, the Mission and Ministry Board specifically challenged the use of drones in covert operations.

The panelists on Monday echoed many of the church’s concerns. Panelists Wendy Patten from Open Society Foundations and Naureen Shah from Amnesty International USA highlighted the need for increased transparency and accountability. While the United States’ first targeted drone killing took place in 2002, information about the targets of and justifications for particular drone strikes is largely unavailable, obstructing public debate and limiting government accountability.

Particularly disturbing is that while the “precision” of drones is often touted, civilian death and unintentional structural damage is commonplace. At another drones hearing in 2013, Zubair, a 13-year-old Pakistani boy, said “I no longer love blue skies. In fact, I now prefer grey skies. The drones do not fly when the skies are grey.” His family were unintended victims in a drone strike. Drones have become a reminder of terrorism – not because they stop it, but because they cause it. The few reports that the United States releases about drone strikes misleadingly categorizes any military-age men as militants rather than civilian, covering up stories like Zubair’s.

Retired Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Davis challenged that the primary assertion that the CIA has the right to use drones at all. Citing that drone strikes are preemptive measures against potential threats, Davis challenges the underlying assumption that targets are automatically presumed guilty, even with very little evidence. While he calls this immoral and un-American, he further says this injustice is compounded by the fact that any perceived threat (real or not) is handled with total lethality. Coerced messengers or carriers receive the same end as a violent mastermind – death by drone missiles – often with little evidence and certainly no due process.

Yasmine Taeb, Legislative Representative for Human Rights and Civil Liberties, Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) followed up by describing legislative options available to dismantle the United States’ covert drone program and promote accountability. Yasmine also stayed to discuss with members of the faith community about tackling the issue of drone warfare in relation to promoting just peace. The faith community is committed to changing drone policies, and the Church of the Brethren should be proud for its leadership in this effort.

In Christ’s Peace,

Jesse Winter
Peacebuilding and Policy Associate
Office of Public Witness
Washington, DC


Devotions (EYN Daily Link) November 22 – 28, 2015


EYN Devotions graphicA Daily Devotional Guide from the
EYN (Church of the Brethren in Nigeria)

EYN leaders in Nigeria believe prayer is one of the most important ways to support the Nigerian people and the Church.  These daily devotions were written by EYN members and published by the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria. Reading them daily is a powerful way we can be in solidarity and connect with our brothers and sisters caught in this crisis.  EYN’s daily devotional for 2015 will be posted a week at a time on this blog, appearing mid-week for the following week. More information about the crisis can be found at

Click on this link for Devotions for November 22-28, 2015

Reflecting on Paris

This sermon was given by Jesse Winter at Washington City Church of the Brethren on November 15, 2015. The scripture for the service was Matthew 23:23-36.

When I was asked to preach today, Nate wanted me to talk about mass incarceration. Criminal justice reform is a major focus of my work in the Office of Public Witness, and over the past few months I have learned how complex that issue is. It involves everything from politics, money, and race to power, privilege, and fear. But even though this issue is important and needs to be discussed, as I read through my sermon last night, my words felt hollow. Given the recent events in Paris, I felt called to table that discussion for another day to talk about the equally complex and important issue of religious violence around the world. With Paris weighing on the hearts of people everywhere, this conversation is necessary and prudent – even if it means rewriting a sermon late into the night.

The support for those suffering in Paris on the news and in social media has been tremendous. At least so far, the outpouring of love and support has overshadowed any bigotry and fear mongering, of which I have seen very little. This response is heartening. The human spirit comes to fruition in community, and the people of the world – even those with their noses stuck in an iPhone – have banded together to kindle the fires of hope and comfort. I was shocked on Friday when I watched the news, hearing about shootings and hostage situations turning into mass killings. Eventually had to go away and distract myself. Technology has made this conflict real for us.

But as we mourn those in Paris with the rest of the world, we have to remember that such events are just a small part of a global equation that includes all those issues – politics, money, race, class, power, and fear. Paris is just a part of a bigger issue. The rise of religious violence around the world is fast becoming the hallmark of the 21st century.

I went to a talk at the Brookings Institution earlier this week that could not be timelier. Jonathan Sacks, former Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, philosopher, scholar, and recipient of over 16 honorary degrees, spoke about the his new book, Not in God’s Name: Confronting Religious Violence. Sacks argues that the secularization of western culture has created a West that lacks the mindset and language necessary to tackle an increasingly radically religious world. He argues that the growth of radical groups like the Islamic State is more than just a response to Western decadence. It is a battle of ideas that goes to the core of the three Abrahamic faiths: Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. Like Cain and Abel, the three faiths are locked in a sibling rivalry for the favor of their Abrahamic Parent, a fight that we all know ends in death. Religious radicalization and subsequent religious violence is about identity. The three faiths share many similarities, but they each are distinct, and it is that unique identity which can lead to zealotry and violence. The harder you hold on to an egg, the more likely you will have a mess.

This picture may be correct, but even more important is Sacks’ proposed response to this picture. While preserving identity is important, – crucial, in fact – religious, social, and cultural identities cannot overshadow a fundamental human identity. We are all children of God. On that scale, other differences are superficial. Our disproportional attention to Paris, if we are honest, comes out of our shared identities as wealthy, majority white, western nations. Our response, however, needs foresight and breadth that allows us to see the strings that tie those in Paris, to those in Syria, to those in Nigeria, to those in China, Romania, Nicaragua, Russia, Texas, Washington, DC.

One of the many posts I found on Facebook about Paris comes from my friend Mark. Mark has been a friend and mentor since my first year at Bridgewater College, and though he graduated that year, his thoughtfulness and wisdom are two qualities that have sustained our friendship over the years. Here is what Mark has to say:

“On November 1st, a terrorist group named Al-Shabaab killed 12 in Mogadishu, Somalia. A suicide bomber killed 5 in Lebanon on November 5th. An expected ISIS-related bombing killed 12 in Baghdad, Iraq (injuring 15) on November 7th. Boko Haram kills 3 in a suicide bombing in Chad on November 9th. In Cameroon, November 9th, a 14 year old girl acted as a suicide bomber killing 4 persons. 43 die and 240 are injured on November 12th by ISIL suicide bombers in Beirut, Lebanon. In Baghdad, Iraq, again, on November 13th, 19 are injured and 33 are killed by ISIS.

Last month, ISIL killed 244 people in Sinai, Egypt on October 31st. Bombings killed 27 and injured 96 on November 23rd in Yola, Nigeria and on October 14th, 42 were killed by suicide bombers in Maiduguri, Nigeria. On October 10th, Boko Haram kills 38 in Chad. 102 die and 508 are injured due to suicide bombings in Ankara, Turkey due to ISIL. Car bombings kill 57 in Baghdad, Iraq on October 5th due to the Islamic State. In Abuja, Nigeria, Boko Haram kills 18 on October 2nd.

I could keep going and mention the 145 that died and 150 that were injured in Maiduguri, Nigeria on September 20th due to Boko Haram, and so forth and so forth.

And yesterday, 129 (so far) people died in Paris, France. I have changed my profile picture, read the news about these attacks diligently, found relief that Facebook notifies that people are marked safe by these attacks, gotten into lengthy discussions on how to solve this problem, etc.

And yet. I have done absolutely none of that when persons died in Turkey, Nigeria, Iraq, Cameroon, Chad, Egypt, Syria, etc. Why not? That might be the most important question to come out of this whole thing.

Peace and hope to the people in France, Iraq, Turkey, Egypt, Chad, Nigeria, Syria, Cameroon, and the countless other places that live in constant terror.”

Our eyes glaze over at such numbers. We are conditioned to not pay attention. Mark’s question is right. Why, only now, are we really paying attention? Racism, xenophobia, and lack of a shared identity inhibit our ability to connect with those outside of the American suburbs. Again this is an unfortunate side effect of our conditioning and media bias and blah blah blah – but we have to own it. Jesus rails on the Pharisees for being hypocrites. While I don’t accuse anybody here as individuals, our nation as a whole is blind. We need to recognize our blindness, and even more, we need to make sure that Paris – in all of its horror, spectacle, and sadness – becomes the mud Jesus spat in to give us new sight. While it may have taken a bomb in a Paris coffee shop to unite the world, we need to remember the drowned Syrian boy who washed up on the Mediterranean, the Chibok girls taken hostage in Nigeria, those dead in a Yemini hospital. We need to remember a world with seemingly too many wounds to heal.

The Church of the Brethren has been faithful in its commitment to peace and stability in many of those forgotten places – especially Nigeria. The Church should be proud of its work, but we need to know there are still many places left untouched by a helpful hand.

The last part of the scripture is about humility. The Pharisees laud the heroes of the past and distance themselves from those who murdered the prophets. Jesus bursts that prideful bubble and tells them to own both the failures and successes of their ancestors.

Paris, too, I think has broken the West’s pride. There is a sense that the West is insulated from the problems of the rest of the world. The wars we fight are overseas – not at home. The events in Paris show that the bubble is broken. We stagger in disbelief: “This doesn’t happen here!” Our pride is our ignorance, and we need to admit that, through a series of unfortunate events, we played a role in this tragedy. As we move forward, we need to do so with humility. A recent international poll says that the US – not Russia, Iran, or North Korea – is the greatest threat to world peace. Even when acting with good intentions, this country has been both a direct and indirect cause of suffering in the world. How we move forward matters.

We also need to watch where we go after the initial shock of Paris goes away. Paris is fast becoming a symbol, and while support rains down now, where will that energy go? Will we be a shield that protects human dignity, or a sword that severs people from it? If we take the second option, are we forfeiting our own humanity? Jesus tells the Pharisees they have ignored the higher duties of justice, mercy, and faith. He told us to love our enemies. In a time where the world is so emotionally invested, I think the greatest challenge will be forestalling the call to vengeance, tempering our justice with mercy, walking forward in faith, loving our enemies. Our world needs this more than ever.

I don’t offer any concrete course of action, 1) because I don’t have a clue where to begin and 2) because I don’t think it is time. Emotions are high. Action is important, but any step forward needs to be done with a level head.  In these troubling times, the world needs to hear our prayers for peace. Jesus’ story promises redemption. May we redeem this world by remembering our kinship to all persons, especially those who commit violence out of hate. May we climb this mountain with humility, sending our loving voices down through the valley. May we take to heart the words of a true disciple: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” All this falls upon our generation.


Benediction: God, we come to you in the need of prayer. We ache and mourn for those in Paris. We hear their cries. But we know their cries are but an echo, for all over, fear and terror and violence rule the lives of so many. God, send your love to the people of this world. May it heal those who hurt and transform those who hate. Be there in the midst of suffering. Be there with policy makers as they discern the fates of nations. Be here with us as we struggle to find our place amid madness. We pray for peace and we pray for your light in the weeks ahead. Amen.

Violence and Suffering Become a Way Life

This was a good article (link below) highlighting what it is like to live long term under chaos and violence. Sadly, life goes on and people adapt to a new normal. Continue to pray for our brothers and sisters in Nigeria. 

Market scene in Nigeria

Market scene in Nigeria

QUOTE from the article (see link below):

“Just a few weeks ago a suicide bomber with alleged affiliations to Boko Haram struck at a newly opened mosque in Jimeta, a suburb of the city, as hundreds of worshippers gathered to pray there for the first time. More than 100 people were wounded and 42 were killed.

The attack came not long after a double bombing in the city’s main market, killing traders and commuters alike. “It only took two days for the market to reopen,” says local Asauten Anderibom. “Everyone has to feed their families so they went back to trading right at the same spot Boko Haram struck.”

Devotions (EYN Daily Link) November 15-21, 2015


EYN Devotions graphicA Daily Devotional Guide from the
EYN (Church of the Brethren in Nigeria)

EYN leaders in Nigeria believe prayer is one of the most important ways to support the Nigerian people and the Church.  These daily devotions were written by EYN members and published by the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria. Reading them daily is a powerful way we can be in solidarity and connect with our brothers and sisters caught in this crisis.  EYN’s daily devotional for 2015 will be posted a week at a time on this blog, appearing mid-week for the following week. More information about the crisis can be found at

Click on this link for Devotions November 15-21, 2015

2 visits to Chibok – 50 years apart

Chibok has always been a difficult place to get to. Here are stories of two journeys to Chibok 50 years apart.

Ralph Royer (2003 visit to Nigeria)

Ralph Royer (2003 visit to Nigeria)

 Story #1 Chibok Visit – A trip to Remember

(recalled by Ralph Royer – long time missionary in Nigeria, Supervisor of the 40 Church of the Brethren Elementary Schools during the 1960’s)

In the early 1960s the government of northern Nigeria announced a desire to transfer primary schools, both mission and native schools, to what were called Local Education Authorities (LEA). There being only a few non native schools in Borno LEA made it a good place to start. I made several trips to Maiduguri to help work out some of the details to transfer our three schools in Borno LEA – Chibok, Kaurwatikari and Mbalala. It was decided to do the transfer in 1963 and I felt the schools and teachers needed to know this as ownership and employment etc was to transfer to the LEA.

Current road to Chibok

Current road to Chibok

Usually Chibok was cut off by road from July to October, but this was August so I decided to take a small 50cc motorcycle from Lassa for the thirty miles to Chibok. At the Musa stream I had to get men to help hoist it over our heads to cross the stream. One of the shorter men stepped in a hole and briefly disappeared below the surface. When I was within seven miles of Chibok, I came to a large flowing stream at a spot I knew to be only a low area with an occasional mud puddle. Now it flowed two hundred feet across. I had already had help several times crossing streams, so seeing no around, I parked my moped by a tree and started walking in water up to my chest. A few miles on I met some Fulani cattle herders and their dog, but we could not converse and we each went on. After separating some distance, I heard a funny sound and turned around to see their dog really bearing down on me. I reached at it and the dog veered off, but it raised the hair on my neck and added to the seriousness of the whole situation with water everywhere. As I approached the last stream just behind the mission station, I began to wonder where the station was. There was nothing but water as far as I could see. A slight movement ahead caught my eye, it was a woman climbing into the branches of a tree. I watched as she went through to the other side and down holding onto small trees as she went forward. I followed and later found that this tree grew in the middle of the stream and we had crossed the stream where it was ten feet deep and three feet beyond each bank.

It was a very surprised Grace Brumbaugh who met me when I arrived at her house! They had four and a half inches of rain that afternoon and many mud houses had collapsed. It was also an appreciative group of teachers to whom I explained the upcoming changes in the running of the schools.

Over the next several years we arranged for the transfer of all of our forty-two schools. Informing these teachers required less “heroism”!

School from which the "Chibok girls" were abducted

School from which the “Chibok girls” were abducted

Story # 2 My Wilderness Journey To Land Of Chibok (An excerpt)

By Naija247news Posted In Crime & Investigative Reports

(A journalist tells of his trip to Chibok some time after Boko Haram had captured 276 girls)



The road to Chibok is bad and full of uncertainty; checking points everywhere mounted by vigilante group. Bombed cars, trucks and buses abound on the road to Chibok. Burnt houses and hot. Several villages sacked by the insurgents whose inhabitants now live under trees with their children begging for aid from travelers. Abandoned Police Posts that had received the insurgents’ baptism of fire! The Damboa-Chibok Road is particularly very bad. The major road has been taking over by flood. Drivers now drive through the desert forest like antelopes sneaking to avoid wet bushes from touching them. Some have been killed on the road by the insurgents and many escaped with varying degrees of gunshots injuries. Pastor Manasseh for instance, showed me injuries he escaped with on this road. At some checking points mounted by policemen and soldiers passengers are asked to step out of the car and walk through the check point.

We continue to remember those abducted by the Boko Haram and pray for their safe return.

Destroyed Chibok school

Destroyed Chibok school


Devotions (EYN Daily Link) November 8-14, 2015


EYN Devotions graphicA Daily Devotional Guide from the
EYN (Church of the Brethren in Nigeria)

EYN leaders in Nigeria believe prayer is one of the most important ways to support the Nigerian people and the Church.  These daily devotions were written by EYN members and published by the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria. Reading them daily is a powerful way we can be in solidarity and connect with our brothers and sisters caught in this crisis.  EYN’s daily devotional for 2015 will be posted a week at a time on this blog, appearing mid-week for the following week. More information about the crisis can be found at

Click on this link for Devotions Nov 8-14, 2015