The current situation in Nigeria is of great concern to Great Plains United Methodists, and many have inquired about the effect of the kidnappings on our friends at the Jalingo Orphanage. We continue to listen to our Nigerian friends and how we can support them. Here is what we know at this point.
The Great Plains Conference of the United Methodist Church has maintained a partnership with the United Methodist Church in Nigeria since 1999. With the help of the General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM), our conference built an orphanage in Jalingo, Taraba State, Nigeria. This orphanage serves one hundred children who have lost both parents and whose extended families could not care for them. Today, there is a grave concern for all children in Nigeria. An extremist group called Boko Haram is now targeting children. Over 200 young women between the ages of 16 and 18 were recently abducted from a school in Chibok, Borno State, Nigeria. This has produced outcries from the international community.
Chibok is approximately 280 miles from Jalingo where our orphanage is located. Security is a major concern of our friends at the orphanage. The coordinator has developed an evacuation procedure in the event of some kind of attack. At the present time attacks on schools and communities have been in the countryside where little military or police presence is available. The orphanage is located in a city with a greater presence of the military and police, therefore the likelihood Boko Haram will attack the orphanage in Jalingo is low, at least for now.
Historically, Christians and Muslims have lived together peacefully in the Jalingo area. The Boko Haram began as a very small core group and is now growing and recruiting young men. The leader has vowed to kill all Christians. Government leaders have not taken this as seriously as they should have. Now, with international pressure, there is a greater focus on dealing with this grave problem. United States Military intelligence is now supporting the Nigeria government and military in the efforts to rescue the girls.
Many people in Nigeria live in fear that their village or school will be the next to be attacked. Amnesty International has an action page that explains the issue and a way to take action.
Staying current on this issue through the media is important. We need to pray for our sisters and brothers in Nigeria. You can offer prayers individually and as a congregation. You can also write a note of encouragement to our United Methodist friends and the kids at the Orphanage. If you wish to send a note, contact Dorothy Halvorsen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your solidarity and your prayers.
The above article was submitted by Dorothy Halvorsen who is shown in the top photo with a student and the head teacher Magdiel Juaro who is shown in the second photo with other students. Dorothy was one of three people from the Great Plains Conference who traveled to Nigeria in February. The team took photos and biographies of the students to update our records, and took teacher photos with short bios to help contributors further get to know the school-side of the orphanage. Read about the trip at www.GreatPlainsUMC.org/NigeriaTripBlog.
From Dr. Iva E. Carruthers, General Secretary of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference:
Along with you, we remain prayerful for the safe return of our daughters who have been so violently removed from their families and community. We hope that the litany, We Speak Your Names, will be a valuable resource for your worship and ministry experiences this Sunday and the coming weeks. We will continue to share other resources that might keep us all informed and more faithful to God's will for peace and justice in this world.