Yesterday I left Abuja, Nigeria after having attended the Mennonite Church Nigeria Youth Convention over the weekend. The convention was 4 days long, starting on Thursday morning and ending on Sunday evening, but I was there just for Saturday and Sunday. There were seminars, worship services and opportunities to tour Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city. For nearly everyone who made the trip from Akwa Ibom State, some 13 hours away by bus, this visit to the capital was a first. There were around 50 participants, fewer than what they normally draw at these gatherings, because of the prohibitive cost of traveling the whole way to Abuja. The Abuja site was chosen to give a boost to the new church plant there. It was successful as there was quite a bit of interest from the community due to the convention activities.
They asked me to lead a session on “Living a Worry Free Life.” So Saturday morning I led the group through a study of Matt 6:24-34 and focused on the importance of faith, righteousness and the example of Abraham as a person of faith and righteousness. In the afternoon there was a working session where participants worked at putting together a list of recommendations that they will send to the Mennonite Church Nigeria Executive Council. Just a few of the many suggestions they came up with where:
- The church should explore new methods of evangelism that focus more on urban centers.
- Ministers should be assigned across different regions of the church instead of spending their whole ministry career in the same region, as is currently often the case.
- Children’s ministries and development of Sunday School materials should be given more priority since the children are the future of the church. Currently there is no church-wide effort to work at those issues.
- There should be more opportunities for young people to assume leadership responsibilities in the church.
The weekend was a time of intense worship, lots of fellowship and little sleep for most of those who attended. Here is a short video clip of the worship leader leading the group in prayer on Sunday morning as well as a couple of photos of the worship time.
Worship at the Convention
Peter will be the Nigeria youth delegate to the 2009 MWC meetings
The first couple weeks of September have gotten us into the regular routine of the fall schedule. Deborah is in her second week of CE1 (2nd grade more or less I think in North America) at the local French school and Jeremiah’s first day of year four at the English International School was today. Deborah was a bit nervous about which teacher she would have but is quite pleased now with how things turned out. She is liking school and glad to be back. Jeremiah was pleased this morning to find out that his teacher is the same one he had last year, so he seems to be off to a good start too.
Nancy is busy again as classes are back in session at BBI with the seminar that started this past weekend and which continues until Thursday. Pastor Codjo is teaching that one, Biblical Theology. Pastor François spent the weekend in Parakou teaching Church and Culture to the new group of students there. Other activities include the evaluation of the full-time students’ mini thesis projects which needs to be done before the upcoming fall graduation and the preparations for the new “module” format for the full-time program. That is to start in mid October, and we hope the six-week intensive courses will be more manageable than the other semester-long format for the students. Many couldn’t participate because of time constraints but have said that shorter, more intensive courses would be easier to commit to. So we are hoping that this will be a positive change.
Fall means the start of my travel schedule again. Friday I leave for Abuja, Nigeria where the Mennonite Church NIgeria will have a youth convention (“youth” in that context includes those whom we in North America would label “young adults”). They haven’t had one for a few years and are hoping for a good turnout. The last time the youth got together for a convention they planted a church, so I’m kind of wondering what might come out of this gathering. After the weekend in Abuja I’ll head to Accra, Ghana for the annual conference of the Ghana Mennonite Church. So there will be a lot of travel during the next 12 days.
Pray for a good start to the school year for Deborah and Jeremiah, for lots of student interest in the new full-time program format at BBI and for safe travels for me as well as for successful gatherings in Abuja and Accra.