Soybean Training and Field Observation

By Dennis Thompson

The Integrated Community Based Development Program’s (ICBDP) AGRIC Department coordinated and hosted a second 2019 agricultural extension methodology training program for the inaugural 15-member class of Volunteer Extension Agents (VEA) and key AGRIC Department personnel. Program activities were conducted at or near the EYN Headquarters in Kwarhi and at select field sites from Yola in the south up to Michika in the north.

Field site observational and training visits included two AGRIC soybean seed production field locations and various soybean and maize demonstrations in addition to four locations established and operated by VEAs as community-based soybean and maize AGRIC Demonstration Fields.

COB’s technical and educational resource person who provided the training was Dr. Dennis Thompson. This was his fifth NE Nigeria in-country experience supporting EYN’s Soybean Value Chain project and efforts to help redevelop NE Nigeria in the past two years. In addition, over the last three years he has coordinated and lead two experiential learning activities for EYN to Ghana related to soybean value chain work. He shared the EYN Soybean Value Chain story during an evening breakout session at the 2019 COB Annual Conference in Greensboro, NC.

Initial classroom extension methodology training was provided to VEAs by Thompson (fondly referred to as Dr. Dennis) in March 2019 being companion information and supplemental to the technical training provided by the Agric Steering Committee pertaining to soybean and maize production. The September 2019 training focused upon extension methodology (in both the classroom and fields) and the real-life experiences garnered by VEAs from the time they moved to their community assignments, established and operated demonstration fields, and trained farmers on EYN agronomic practices to produce maize and soybean.

“The soybean value chain journey, envisioned to become a catalyst for redevelopment, will be long and hard. Creation, development and support of the nascent EYB Volunteer Extension Agent program is certainly a step in the right direction”, according to Thompson. “The eagerness, dedication, enthusiasm and hopefulness exhibited in the faces and actions taken by this inaugural class of Volunteer Extension Agents is remarkable and they are being groomed as the example to be followed by other VEAs in the future” he concludes.

September Activities

Highlights include: 18 homes rebuilt, school fees for 33 children, food for 427 households, business grants for 56 women, and a security tips workshop for 92 (see pictures below)

In September the EYN Disaster Ministry continued its recovery efforts. 18 family homes were rebuilt in a village off the beaten path. Extra workers were employed to carry the roofing materials across the river. Those whose homes were repaired expressed their thanks; they thought no one would ever be able to reach them with this much needed help after their village was burned by the Boko Haram.

School is not free for children in Nigeria and sometimes the family cannot afford the school fees. As a new school year started, Disaster Ministry was able to pay the fees for 33 orphans.

Food distributions are still taking place across the region. Help was given at three camps for Internally Displaced Persons in Maiduguri. In Garkida region, a distribution for 132 families helped Christians and Muslims.

A workshop was held at the Headquarters for District leaders, staff, and heads of church programs. The workshop for 92 people dealt with how to handle ongoing security issues and gave tips and best practices during this difficult time.

In a subsistence farming culture, families try to grow enough food to feed themselves and then sell the excess for other necessities. In addition to farming, many people have a small business on the side but start-up capital is always hard to come by especially for widows. The Women’s Ministry coordinated Disaster Ministry funds to train 56 women in tailoring and business practices. At their graduation from the training, each woman was provided with $150 start-up capital to put their new skills to work.

Please continue to pray for Nigeria and the ongoing Disaster work.

EYN Disaster Team visits Cameroon Refugee Camp

In June, a 9 person delegation from EYN drove from Nigeria to visit the refugee camp at Minawao, Cameroon. The group consisted of three persons from the disaster ministry, the wife of EYN President, the Liaison officer, an EYN reporter, a student and two drivers. The trip was long and difficult with poor roads and several flooded rivers to cross.

The camp consists of 58,000 refugees living in close quarters. It stretches across 3.7 miles. There are Muslims, Christians, and some practicing traditional African religions. For the most part they live in harmony as they all struggle to survive. Christians are from 9 different denominations with the largest representation being EYN (Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). There are over 18,000 EYN members organized into 13 local churches; each with their own pastor. At a large meeting, the delegation brought greetings from EYN and presented the camp with $38,500 to assist in purchasing food. The refugees appreciated the visit and the meeting where they were encouraged to share about their struggles.

Four areas of difficulty were evident during the visit. Lack of food (a decrease in amount distributed by the United Nations who runs the camp), lack of water (long lines from morning to evening), few opportunities to farm and grow their own food, and schooling problems for the children. There are 16,000 elementary children registered at the camp but only about 10,000 are going to school. The school has no text books, few underpaid teachers (150 students to a class), and no official papers upon completion. The schooling is further hampered by the language barrier since this area of Cameroon is French speaking. Overlying the whole conversation is the desire of most of the refugees to return to their homelands in Nigeria. Although the Nigerian government claims the people can return home, the area is definitely not safe to live in.

We continue to pray for the refugees in Minawao, Cameroon and for the EYN Disaster Ministry as they help their fellow countrymen.

Pictures and information provided by EYN reporter, Zakariya Musa, and Liaison officer, Markus Gamache.

The powerful name of Jesus


By Traci Rabenstein, director of Mission Advancement

“When Peter saw [how they responded to the man being healed], he addressed the people, ‘You Israelites, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we had made him walk? The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our ancestors has glorified his servant Jesus, … but you rejected the Holy and Righteous One. . . . Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out’” (Acts 3:12-19).

What a commotion there was when Peter and John visited the temple in Jerusalem. The people were filled with disbelief when Peter healed the lame man by simply declaring the name of Jesus. We know that the Holy Spirit had just descended on the believers at Pentecost, giving them the ability to perform miracles like Jesus. However, it seems that many of the people at the temple hadn’t gotten the memo and wondered, “How can this be?”

Peter seemed caught off guard by their reaction and questioned why they were marveling at him and John when it was the name of Jesus and the power of God that had healed the man. Through faith in Christ, the disciples received the Holy Spirit, and because of that same faith, the lame man was healed.

Despite clear explanations in life, just like the one that Peter gave, don’t we still ask, “How can this be?” Our Lord Jesus Christ gave selflessly of himself, suffered and died, and was raised. Do we believe in the powerful name of Jesus and are we open to receive the healing that it brings? Do we fully embrace the protection and the comfort that believing in the risen Savior gives to us?

There are moments when our faith holds strong and we believe whole-heartedly that the Holy Spirit of God is active in our lives and in our world. On those days, we walk taller and with confidence in the name of Jesus. However, we also have moments and days when we are plagued with doubt. When things go wrong, when we can’t see a way out, or when it seems like things couldn’t possibly get any better, we sit in disbelief at what is happening around us.

I sit in disbelief because it has been five years since the girls of Chibok were kidnapped. While we rejoice for those who have been restored, we are still saddened by those who haven’t. I sit in disbelief that it has been nearly 10 years since the first insurgency of Boko Haram occurred against the Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, Church of the Brethren). I sit in disbelief that people take pride in our nation because it started with influence from the Christian faith but they also struggle to be kind and loving to others.

Despite everything that prompts disbelief, we can stand with hopeful expectation of when Christ will return to usher in the next phase of God’s plan for all of creation. Peter reminded the people of why Christ entered the world, and even though some who were sitting in the temple that day were part of the crowd who sentenced Jesus to death, they still had the opportunity to repent and accept the healing and transformative power of God. With Christ’s death and resurrection, our sins were wiped away, and, through believing in Jesus, we are healed.

It is wonderful to trust in the name of Jesus. It is exciting to serve in a church where we show the world another way of living. It is empowering to know that the same Spirit that resided in the risen Savior resides in you and me. The question and challenge we have is: what will we do with this power?! Will we sit and do nothing? Or will we evoke the name of Jesus and continue his work?

May God give us strength and wisdom to persevere through disbelief, and may the Holy Spirit open our eyes and hearts to do mighty works in the powerful name of Jesus.

The ministries of the Church of the Brethren are carried out in the name of Jesus. Learn more about them at www.brethren.org or support them today at www.brethren.org/give.

(Read this issue of eBrethren.)

Home Repairs, Security Wall, and Emergency Food Distribution in May

With security still an issue, the Disaster Ministry continued working on a wall to surround the EYN National Headquarters and Kulp Theological Seminary. The wall is the first line of defense against a Boko Haram attack. The work consists of molding the cement blocks, digging and laying a foundation, and finally cementing the blocks together for the wall. Taking some tips from Brethren Disaster Ministry in America, they are utilizing volunteers for much of the work and local masons for the rest. One difference between American and Nigeria is that in Nigeria the volunteers are considerably younger (average age of 30 instead of 70). The project is progressing as planned.

Blocks molded for the security wall

Home repairs also continued in May. It is best to get the repairs done before the rains come in June – October. The latest roof repairs were completed in Tsakasimta, a village in a remote area near Biu where 90% of the homes were destroyed by the Boko Haram. 29 rooms were roofed for those selected as most vulnerable. The beneficiaries of the new roofs were so happy and appreciative while others only slightly less vulnerable cried because their still unlivable homes were not chosen.

Following recent Boko Haram attacks, a special relief of food and supplies was carried out to displaced person who gathered in the Yawa District. 67 households were assisted with rice, oil, spices and detergent. Many of the displaced have still not been able to return to their homes to asses the damage and to plant for next year.

As violence continues, dealing with Trauma is ongoing. One-on-One counseling allows people to share their stories, forgive the perpetrators of the crimes and continue with life.

Saratu shared, “I am a widow, my village was attacked and I witnessed the slaughter of my husband and 8 others. In addition 16 women and 7 children were abducted by the insurgents. I narrowly escaped and lived on the mountain under severe hardships for 4 months. I thought my world had come to an end but after this one-on-one counseling, I know that life must continue and I am regaining my strength physically, emotionally and spiritually. I have also forgiven the perpetrators and pray that God will one day call them to salvation.”

Saratu continues healing following One-on-One Trauma Counseling

Additional Activities in May


Boko Haram continues “Tactic of Fear”

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.

Northeast Nigeria
Northeast Nigeria

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

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.

Disaster Relief Ministry visits IDP’s near Benin City

In March, the EYN  Disaster Relief Ministry Team traveled down to Edo state in southern Nigeria to visit an NGO called the International Christian Center. The NGO located just outside Benin City, was started in 1992 by Pastor Solomon Folorunsho. It’s purpose was to care for orphans and vulnerable children. When violence broke out in the Northeast and many people became Internally Displaced Persons(IDPs), the NGO opened its doors to this new set of IDPs. Up to 4000 persons, mostly children and widows, moved south. The women and children are given food, a place to live and education for the children.The costs to house this many people are very high and having enough food to feed them is always a problem.

                  

Since so many of the children at the International Christian Center are from the Northeast, leaders from EYN have made several visits to the Center. Salamatu Billi, wife of EYN President, accompanied the Disaster team in March. She visited the classrooms and encouraged the children to do their best. She also thanked Pastor Folorunsho for taking in these children.

One of the main reasons for the visit was to provide food assistance to the NGO. This was a large undertaking and included: 500 Yam tubers, 140 Gari bags, 53 bags of rice, a pallet of Plantains, 25 Jerri cans of palm oil and 42 bags of sugar.

The major challenges of the center according to the camp official are food shortage  and medical support. They also spend a lot of money on diesel to provide water.

Please pray for the Disaster Team, these children and all those providing their care.

Pictures and information provided by Zakariya Musa.

Nigeria Crisis work continues amidst the violence

There have been new reports of violence and attacks in Northeast Nigeria. Continue to pray for our brothers and sisters as they live in fear but continue to proclaim Jesus Christ as their strength.

As security continues to remain a concern, the EYN Disaster team has provided monetary assistance for the building of a wall which will surround the Kulp Theological Seminary and the church Headquarters area. This project is a huge under taking. Ten teams of block molders helped produce 21,000 blocks. Numerous other volunteers help move the dried blocks to where the bricklayers will construct the wall. Volunteers came from as far away as Maiduguri.

 

EYN Peace Program continues to work on trauma consciousness and resilience training. In February, workshops were held to measure the work of the newly trained Community Based Facilitators and encouraged these volunteers at the local level. The Community Based Facilitators are local volunteers who have been trained to assist others in dealing with the extreme trauma everyone is facing. As listeners, they give people a chance to share their stories. They  also teach some of the principles of trauma and encourage the forgiveness and resilience needed to live under such difficult circumstances. Four workshops took place in areas where Boko Haram are still active (Wagga, Madagali, Gulak and Midlu). The Peace program leaders had to travel back and forth from Michika each day as it was not safe to sleep in the towns holding the trainings.

All the churches in this eastern area of EYN have been burned and yet the churches continue to worship under temporary shelters. 81 facilitators, 22 females and 59 males, attended the four workshops; that’s 81 people at the local level trained to guide others through their trauma. Pray for all these volunteers and their trainers as they engage in such important work.

Life is Difficult in the Maiduguri Camps

The Ekklesiayar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN) Disaster Ministry visited two camps in Maiduguri. Shagari has 48 households and Cherubim & Seraphim has 65 households. The people are crowded into a small compound with 9-13 people sleeping in one 10X10 “tent” right next to the next one. There is often a lack of sufficient food for the camp, medical assistance is minimal, and many children are still not attending any school.

The Disaster Ministry registered the people at these two camps and brought food supplies.

In the town of Dabna in Hong Local Government Area 60 houses were destroyed by the Boko Haram insurgency. The Disaster Ministry was able to put roofs on 27 of these homes. Not everyone can be helped but the church helps choose those who need the most help. Please continue to pray for Nigeria!

Pictures are by EYN Disaster Team