Boko Haram continues “Tactic of Fear”

Northeast Nigeria

In May, Boko Haram (BH) attacked the villages of Lassa and Dille. These villages are just 30 miles from the Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN) headquarters. They attacked Lassa late one night and Dille the next night. In Lassa the BH burned shops and businesses and in Dille they destroyed people’s food supplies.

We received the following information from a young correspondent, Joshua, who has relatives in Dille but whose family home is in Uba. Vigilantes (local persons who help with security) posted on a high hill near Dille, saw the Boko Haram approaching the town. They were about 5 miles away. They immediately informed the military stationed there so they could go out and stop the attack. But the military said they had to wait until they entered the town. So, the vigilantes went around the town from house to house warning families that the Boko Haram were coming. Most families picked up and ran to the bush or to nearby villages. One mother and her three children didn’t get out in time and spent the night listening to the attack but remained unharmed. The next day, they ran to Uba to stay with her relatives.

Another man escaped from Dille after being held by the BH for a few hours. He was released and told to run away because, “Our contract is not to kill people but to keep them from farming.” It seems the Boko Haram tactic is to keep fear alive. Through these random attacks, everyone is afraid their village will be next. If people are too afraid to go out and farm, how will they survive the next year?

Our correspondent said there were 30 relatives staying at his family home in Uba. When we asked how they provide food for so many, he answered, “We give what we have and then we rely on God to provide.” The 30 people will stay for a day, or a week or until they feel it is safe to return to their hometown of Dille.

Fear paralyzes people, it wears them down, it causes health problems, it is what Boko Haram feeds on. Rev Yuguda, Director of EYN Disaster Ministry shared, “The security situation is getting worse in our region. People have fled these communities (Lassa and Dille), while the neighboring villages are living in panic. We only trust and depend on God for his mercy.”

Continue to pray for the situation in Nigeria.

Correspondent, Joshua, at family home in Uba – with his parents
and Carl & Roxane Hill

Sunday morning stewardship

Excerpted from a reflection by Grace Duddy Pomroy, senior financial educator and content developer at Portico Benefit Services, co-owner of Embracing Stewardship, LLC, and member of the Ecumenical Stewardship Center Board of Directors

When I graduated from college and went to seminary, I hoped to find a church with a contemporary worship style and more casual liturgy, bursting at the seams with young adults. The first Sunday that my friend and I went out church shopping we decided to visit a church representing quite the opposite of my wish list—a historic church with traditional liturgy and organ music and where the median age was about 70.

While the church was beautiful, I was prepared to dislike it and resume our search again the following week. However, as the service unfolded, my heart was softened. The organ music was beautiful, the worship space was unlike any I had ever seen, and the preaching was engaging; but what impressed me most was what came after worship—the fellowship. As my friend and I worked our way up the center aisle to greet the pastor (and get on our way to brunch), we were stopped countless times by church members who seemed genuinely curious to get to know us. What brought us here? What were we studying in graduate school? Where did we live? They saw us not as much-needed able-bodies (and additional financial support) to serve this small congregation but as people whom they could welcome into this tight-knit but ever-expanding community. I don’t think I have ever felt more welcomed in my life! Despite our protests, we were ushered into the fellowship hall for snacks, coffee, and more conversation.

Intergenerational stewardship begins with the belief that we all have something to give and we all have something to receive. Age doesn’t matter, and in many ways, neither does wealth. Just because I was in my early 20s, I wasn’t any more or less valuable than the 70-year-old women I would serve alongside. We all have something to learn from one another.

As a small congregation, we needed each other. There was a deep belief that everyone had something to give and something to receive, no matter their age, and that was something to be celebrated. Everyone was encouraged to participate. On Sunday morning, people of all ages would take part in every aspect of the service from singing in the choir to lighting the candles before worship. The attitude that all were welcome was held together by a pervasive sense of humor and a laid-back approach to high liturgy. Participation was more important than perfection. And with the Spirit’s help, as we each offered our gifts, we made it happen Sunday after Sunday.

A year later when I was invited to serve as stewardship chair, I wanted to keep this same generous, intergenerational spirit alive. I chose a stewardship committee that reflected where the church was and where it wanted to be. Each person was invited specifically for the gift they would share: a pastoral intern for teaching and preaching, a book editor for editing communications, and a long-time member of the church for thanking people. Our ragtag group spanned the age spectrum, but we each had gifts to bring. Whenever we met, there was a spirit of mutual respect, generosity, and learning that pervaded the space. Together, we led an annual stewardship response program and started a year-round stewardship emphasis.

When people think about intergenerational stewardship they often see it as a new initiative to bring to their congregation. But what I found in the congregations I’ve attended, and the many I’ve visited over the years, is that it’s already there. It’s present in the variety of ages involved in collecting the offering, serving their community on Saturday morning, and giving generously.

Take a look around: Where is intergenerational stewardship already present in your congregation? What can you learn? How might you name it as stewardship?

This reflection was originally featured in the new digital format of Giving magazine produced by the Ecumenical Stewardship Center. Find stewardship resources for you and your congregation at www.stewardshipresources.org.

(Read this issue of eBrethren.)

Filled with new life

www.brethren.org/giveoffering
Photo by Glenn Riegel

A scripture medley with Acts 2:1-12 for the 2019 Pentecost Offering

ONE:  When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.

ALL:  For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.

ONE:  And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.

ALL: The Lord God … breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.

ONE:  Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them.

ALL:  In the last days I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy.

ONE:  All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

ALL:  I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you forever.

ONE:  Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem.

ALL:  You shall be for me a priestly kingdom and a holy nation.

ONE:  And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each.

ALL:  I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?

ONE:  Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language?”

ALL:  For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible.

ONE: Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,

ALL:  I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.

ONE:  Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes,

ALL: By your offspring shall all the nations of the earth gain blessing for themselves.

ONE: Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.”

ALL:  Now in Christ Jesus, you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

ONE:  All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?”

(Matthew 18:20, Genesis 2:7, Joel 2:28, John 14:16, Exodus 19:5-6, Isaiah 43:9, Matthew 19:26, John 10:16, Genesis 22:18, Ephesians 2:13)

Find this and other worship resources for the Pentecost Offering or support it today at www.brethren.org/giveoffering.

(Read this issue of eBrethren.)

Entrepreneurship and One-On-One Lay Counseling

Entrepreneurship training for young women in Yola

50 young women attended a workshop in Yola. The focus of the workshop was to teach about entrepreneurship along with a hands on session. Many women are unemployed and lack the skills and initiative to provide for themselves. Poverty and hunger are rampant in Northeastern Nigeria and the situation is compounded by the large numbers of Internally Displaced Persons (IDP’s) who have nowhere to live and cannot support themselves. A relocation village (60 homes) was built in Yola which houses some of these IDP’s. Teaching women how to run a business and giving them skills and training is one way to help reduce poverty in the region. The women who attended the workshop were young; 2 were widows, 22 were married and 26 were single. Everyone learned how to take initiative; to start small but to do something for themselves and their families. At the end of the workshop all the women were shown how to make soap, shampoo, and cleaning supplies. They can use the products themselves but were encouraged to start up a small business by making the items and selling them to others. Several of the participants purchased the raw materials and have now started their own businesses. There is a large population near the Yola IDP village so they have a market for these products.

Pray for the EYN Women’s Ministry as they hold workshops and continue to provide assistance to the IDP’s.

One-on-One Lay Counseling in the Chibok area

Participant and lay counselor

Thirteen women and seven men were participants in a trauma workshop in the Chibok area. This workshop used lay counselors who met one-on-one with each participant. The counselors taught about trauma and how it affects each person then they encouraged each person to share their personal story. Finally forgiveness was emphasized as a means to overcome their trauma.

Maryamu said, “I met with Boko Haram face to face. They came to my house and set fire to it. I narrowly escaped but I lost everything I owned plus I lost my hope and confidence. This workshop by the EYN Peace Program has helped me to forgive the perpetrators (Boko Haram) and I am regaining my hope and confidence to continue with my life.

Rejoice shared, “I was seriously disturbed by what the Boko Harm Insurgents did to me. They slaughtered my brother-in-law in my presence and I was deeply disturbed whenever I remembered the gravity of what I witnessed. But today (after the workshop), I praise God for that I see myself as a normal person and I can sleep now unlike before. Moreover, I have forgiven Boko Haram and pray that God will change them, their attitudes and their conduct.

Continue to pray for the Peace/trauma leaders and the lay counselors as they minister to others.