This is article three of a three-part series
The relief ministries of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) have material needs of staggering proportions. But the one thing they crave from their Christian sisters and brothers, is that we pray with them.
“We are lifted up when we know that you are praying for us,” said Reverend Dr. Musa Mambula in a recent presentation.
Pray, fast, lament, and bear witness: By now, I can think of one hundred ways to focus my prayers before God on behalf of EYN, Boko Haram, and the people of Nigeria. So can you.
“Let’s keep on praying,” Mambula said. “Something will move Boko Haram to be convicted, to change. Then we will have peace, which the world cannot take away from us. Our witness must speak. We must practice the fruit of the Spirit.”
Pray the Scriptures: Romans 12 and 2 Corinthians 1:3-11 are key passages for EYN. They also invite us to use their daily devotional blog so we might focus on God’s Word together.
Pray, then give and pray: Don’t give so you can forget about it and just go about your business. Give as a sign of your commitment to continual, fervent prayer.
EYN has a Standing Committee of EYN leaders, with Church of the Brethren leaders (COB, in the US) as partners. They developed a five-year response framework and implementation plan that requires $11.2 million. You can support the Nigeria Crisis Fund and see the details here. Creative fundraising is encouraged. Mennonite Central Committee has provided an initial $10,000 grant.
Pray, then advocate: Nigeria needs better global news coverage, international pressure, and partnerships with international NGOs and other denominations. How can we make this happen? Contact Nate Hosler, director of the Church of the Brethren’s Office of Public Witness.
Pray, then volunteer and/or pray for volunteers: Brethren Disaster Service is seeking long-term volunteers with expertise in international disaster response or development, crisis counseling and trauma healing, program monitoring and evaluation, reporting, and pastoral care to work alongside EYN leaders. See Call for volunteers.
Cliff Kindy of the Church of the Brethren and a longtime Christian Peacemaker Teams activist, is currently in Nigeria at the request of EYN leaders. At last summer’s Church of the Brethren Annual Conference, Cliff offered to go with the Boko Haram in exchange for the release of the girls from Chibok. While his offer was not implemented, he is regarded with esteem by the Nigerian Brethren and is serving on the aforementioned Standing Committee.
Pray and be vigilant: Mambula couldn’t stress this enough. Radical groups like Boko Haram recruit young people, ages 10–25, in jails and on the internet in America and Europe. They sell their children and brainwash young people. Children are being forced to kill their families, their own people.
“Do not be complacent,” Mambula advised. “You must be on watch. Stay alert. Parents, watch your children carefully, with love. Know where they go on the internet, Facebook and YouTube. Know who their friends are.”
Boko Haram bears eerie resemblance to that of the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacy groups in America and Europe. They use a warped theology to excite loyalty among people who are lonely and/or feel disenfranchised. Reaching out to the bullied and those who bully with the love of Jesus, getting involved with youth and prison ministries, and connecting with every young person we know on social media is imperative. We must be “as wise as serpents, but as harmless as doves,” Mambula urged.
Sharon K. Williams is the Minister of Worship with Nueva Vida Norristown New Life Mennonite Church (PA). Her home denomination is the Church of the Brethren (US).
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