06 September 2016
UK churches to support trauma centre in Nigeria
Churches in the UK and Ireland will be partnering with a member organisation of the Evangelical Alliance to open a trauma centre in northern Nigeria.
UK church leaders met with parents of the abducted Chibok girls during a recent visit to Nigeria.
The centre, opened by Open Doors UK, will be the first of its kind in northern Nigeria and will provide professional help and support to those most affected by persecution.
Eddie Lyle, president of Open Doors UK and Ireland said: "Meeting four of the fathers of the Chibok girls encapsulated for me the agony of this tragic incident.
"Jonah, one of the fathers, asked me how he can stop his wife from screaming at night because of the sense of loss. She's missing her daughter and doesn't know how to live life again. 'What would Jesus do, Brother Eddie?' he asked.
"There are no easy answers to that most searching question, beyond the fact that God grieves with His suffering family.
"We made a solemn pledge to speak for these dignified but vulnerable people. I know God does answer prayer and I pray this cruel injustice will soon be righted."
Eddie Lyle was joined on the visit by David Muir, lecturer at the University of Roehampton, David Shosanya, regional minister of the London Baptist Association, Delroy Powell, the UK national leader of the New Testament Assembly and Jimi Adeleye, pastor of the Apostolic Church, Romford.
The team met with some of the Chibok parents to deliver messages of support from Christians in the UK and other parts of the world, and to spend time praying with them and encouraging them.
Open Doors has been supporting the parents of the Chibok girls with food, medical care and trauma counselling.
The trauma centre will accommodate up to 30 trauma victims at one time, and the centre will have a training annexe to help equip church leaders whose congregations are filled with members who have suffered terrible atrocities.
A family will typically stay at the trauma centre for six weeks before returning to their homes. It will cost £660 to care for an individual for six weeks at the centre.
The church leaders also met with Nigerian church leaders and heard the story of Pastor Isaac*, one of the Nigerian church leaders who could benefit from training at the centre.
On Christmas Day, Pastor Isaac learnt that his name was on a Boko Haram list and a few days later the town was attacked by the group. When his 500-strong church met not long after the attack, Isaac, his wife and the caretaker were the only ones there.
Isaac said: "As a shepherd, as a pastor, we don't take pleasure in burying our members. I've seen orphans in the church and widows in the church. Whenever we see them, we feel bad, because we need to take care of them and we have no resources….
"Persecution will never separate us from the love of God. We have made up our mind to serve God, and nothing will stop us. We have made up our mind to die for Jesus."
Eddie said: "No Bible college could ever prepare someone to face a situation like this. My hope and prayer is that this new centre will help Isaac and others like him to acquire the skills they need to care for themselves and those they are called to serve."
David Shosanya said: "Sometimes I've felt a sense of frustration because I've felt powerless and unable to do something tangible to make a difference in people's lives.
"But standing on the piece of land where the trauma centre will be built, recognising that I can turn a dream into a reality, alleviates a lot of that frustration and makes me feel that I can make a contribution."
Open Doors UK, Release International and Christian Solidarity Worldwide have joined with the Evangelical Alliance to form the Religious Liberty Commission (RLC), which exists to speak up for Christians who are persecuted because of their faith. The RLC believes in the rights of all people, of any faith or none, to have freedom of religion or belief, including the freedom to convert.
As a member of the Evangelical Alliance, Open Doors UK is one of 600 organisations supported by the Alliance. We facilitate members' initiatives and campaigns and offer support to increase their impact and provide training for organisations on how to engage with the local government and media.
If you would like to become a member of the Evangelical Alliance as an organisation, church or individual, you can find out more here.