Church in Uba by Zander Willoughby
Last Sunday, while staying at Kulp Bible College near Kwarhi, Adamawa State, Nigeria, Joshua, my travelling companion, and I got up and headed to church in Uba, Joshua’s home church. The road on which EYN headquarters and KBC sit is, by Nigerian standards (especially Adamawa State) fairly good, meaning that you can drive in a fairly straight line and not spend the whole time driving from ditch to ditch to avoid the potholes. This road, however, sings. The road has a slight hum to it. Our driver for the week, Bulus, told us that the road now sings because, during the insurgency, Boko Haram drove a huge APC (Armoured Personnel Carrier) down the road as they ransacked the area of Maraba Mubi and crushed the layers under the road.
The drive to Uba takes about 15 minutes (it would be 10 if it weren’t for all the military checkpoints). We turned down a dirt road squeezed between to walls and spent another five minutes or so weaving between goats, huts, compounds, and potholes. One the way back to the church, I saw my first monkey outside of a zoo!!!
When we got to the church, L.C.C. Mufa A, the people outside were very excited to have a guest visit with them. We walked into the church compound and saw what was probably the most bittersweet sight of my trip. On the right side of compound was a pile of rubble around a cement slab, what used to be L.C.C. Mufa A. On the left side was a building that, if it wasn’t Sunday and full of people, I’d assume was a pole barn. This is the new L.C.C. Mufa A. The bitter part is obvious, the sweet part was what happened inside. We were welcomed graciously inside (in true Nigerian fashion, we arrived late) and it was insisted that we sit right up front by the pulpit. They asked me to introduce myself and tell everyone why I was there. I told them that I was there to experience the resilience of the EYN church in such trying times and to extend a loving hand from the Church of the Brethren in America. Joshua translated it into Hausa for me.
If you’d been sitting in that worship service, you’d never know that we were sitting a few feet from their burned out church. Their tied together poles and scrap sheet metal might as well have been marble pillars. They sing with their heart. The sound of their drums filled the room and probably carried all the way back to Kwarhi. I was told later that the sermon was very good. I barely understand any Hausa, so I spent the sermon time reading through the Sermon on the Mount, wondering how Jesus would preach on non-violent resistance to today’s terrorism. Since many of the churches can’t afford to pay their pastors full salary, they had a special offering after the service for the pastor and his wife to give them gifts and blessings. It was a beautiful scene with love and support for all. In the end, a church isn’t a collection of bricks stuck together by mortar. A church is people, stuck together by love.