by Donna Parcell (Volunteer just returned from Nigeria)
I am overcome by the strength and resilience of the people of Ekklesiar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN-Church of the Brethren-Nigeria). Everyone has a story. There is not one who has not been affected.
There is Zakariya, who hasn’t seen his mother in two years and doesn’t know if she is alive or dead. And Ibraham who heard from a former neighbor that his father was killed by Boko Haram. There are those who saw their parents or children killed. Pastors tell of witnessing people in their congregation killed or tortured. People fled in different directions, and many have not seen or heard from family members in months or even years. Everyone we meet has lost someone. Everyone. I can’t imagine this happening to my own church.
Most have spent time in Internally Displaced Persons camps (IDP), living in tents with scarce food and water and crowded conditions. But the children still laugh and play. They make up games and fashion toys out of discarded water containers or broken tires. They all have many mothers as the entire village looks out for each other. They often cook together as a community and fellowship together.
The EYN members in Jos have taken in and cared for displaced persons into their homes. It is common for a family in a 2 bedroom house to be caring for 50 additional people. They are not discouraged by this, they are finding ways to take in even more people.
They firmly believe that this persecution will result in spreading the word of God and growing the church, just as it did in the early church.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God. And yet, they are not poor in spirit. Yes, they grieve and struggle deeply with their loss. But they rely heavily on each other for encouragement, support, and guidance. They turn always to our Heavenly Father, and trust Him in all things. They are confident in the love of Jesus, and have incredible faith that He will sustain them and bring peace to their country.
They are so appreciative of the concern of the global Church of the Brethren. They feel covered by the prayers that are placed before the Throne daily on their behalf. They are humbled that they are remembered and prayed for. They are strengthened by our concern and prayers. And through all of the horrific events of their everyday lives, they continue to pray for us.