Grace Bible Church is a mission-centric/evangelical church with an active Missions Ministry led by a team of Elders, Deacons and Lay people who spearhead our efforts and support on the Mission fields. In addition to supporting various missionaries and their organizations, GBC holds an annual Missions Conference each October.
Our first update from Africa
We have completed one and a half months of our 3 month stint in Nigeria. It has been a very interesting month -- in mostly good ways and some less so.
As we expected from out trip in January, we find ourselves surrounded by many people who are very motivated to get the Bible translated into their mother tongues. I have 24 students, and all of them have either done a New Testament translation, are doing one, or soon will be.There are many languages in Nigeria (especially in the Plateau area where we are), and the lack of a unified national language means that most of the minority languages are going to be around for a while. Around Jos, many Christian groups find themselves in a heavily Muslim environment where Hausa is the dominant language. For these groups, developing their mother tongue is a very strong way of taking a stand against the spread of Islam. They expect their future to be worshipping God in their mother tongue and interacting with wider society using English—but not using Hausa.
We have found the weather beautiful in Jos. It is on a plateau about 4000 feet above sea-level. It has a rainy and dry season, but the temperature range is from the high 60s to the low 80s. There are some extreme days, but even on those days there is a nice breeze. It certainly is not the hot Africa that others live in. While we wouldn’t say it is as beautiful as Thailand, we have been pleasantly surprised by the ‘temperate’ weather and the flowering green vegetation that is part of rainy season.
Pam’s most regular friend is a Nigerian girl named Peace. She helps Pam learn Hausa and does some basic house cleaning. Although, let’s be honest, our 2 rooms don’t give her that much to do. Sometimes I’m tempted to move clothes from my drawer to the laundry basket just to keep her working.
The languages in the classroom are interesting but not too unusual. When I surveyed my students I found the following:
15 have SVO word order, one has SOV word order
About 8 had only two color words (blackish and whitish) the rest have mix of 3 colors (adding red) or 4 (adding green).
Tone is not as prevalent as in Asian languages but is used to mark things like plural or causatives
Lots of ingressive consonants (where you breath in as you say that sound)
Some cases of there being only one word for all older male relatives (father) and female relatives (mother)
The students take their studies seriously, but it is clear that they have a more irregular academic background. Surprisingly, most have had several years of Greek and Hebrew. Hebrew is quite easy for those who speak an Arabic related dialect like Hausa. We have found many translation related issues to discuss—what to do if your group (and you secretly) believe that your ancestors’ spirits protect you. It is a Christian atmosphere with some very good teaching, but it also full of lots of heresy since very few people actually read the Bible in their own language.
The infrastructure here is not robust. We have about 6 hours of electricity per day, but that’s because the compound we live on has a generator. Without that we might have 2-3 hours of electricity per day. We are getting very good at making sure all of our computers and batteries are plugged in when not in use—just in case they can get a little sip of electricity. Our home is a one-bedroom apartment that is connected to five others. We share a washer and dryer—but only in the evenings when we have 2+ hours of electricity. We have to dry or iron our clothes, or we will get mango worms. What are mango worms? They are a kind of bot fly that gets under your skin and grows up there. To get it out you seal it off with Vaseline and wait for it to come out for air. Look it up on youtube—its gross.
Other interesting things
Transportation is interesting. The driving is pretty aggressive, but at least most people go the right way on the roads. I ride to work in a small Mitsubishi or Volkswagen van. It’s made to seat 8 (really only 6 comfortably). We never have less than 12, and my personal record is now 16 (twice) 18. Another alternative is to take something called a Kay Kay. It’s a three wheeled thing that reminds me of the teacup rides at the county fair. Its made to seat two in back and the driver up front. They usually have 3 in the back and 2 in the front. One day when I got off of my van, I saw this group on a Kay Kay—it’s hard to see but there are 9 + the driver.
We have created a photo album with some pictures that you can peruse here (link). I have tried to give a little comment on each one. https://photos.app.goo.gl/i2SaExUumB1uJK9W8
There is real violence between the Christians and the Muslims here in Jos. There have been dozens of people killed in the city since we got here.
The violence is mostly in the northern part of the city where there are more Muslims. It appears that mostly the Muslim side is instigating the attacks, and the army is hesitating to intervene. Then the “christian” youths attack the army/police in frustration, and then the army shoots at the Christians. This is my extreme outsider perspective,and it could be wrong (but this is what we also hear from the Nigerians around us). The violence is about 3-5 miles away from where we are located, and we have heard machine gun fire. This past week at church they spoke of a few members who had lost family to the violence.
If you want to know more, you can read about the recent crisis which began a couple weeks ago here:
The violence doesn’t pose any immediate threat to us, as it is several miles from our house. It is somewhat closer to where we go to church. You can pray for peace for the city and safety for the people who live here. On the way home from work a couple days ago I watched a fight breakout near a political party headquarters. It did not get too extreme, but it was a reminder of how quickly things can escalate.
We have really enjoyed our time here so far, and are confident that for right now this was where God wanted us and that He is using us. We are still unsure about the future, but we will enjoy the present work that He has given us to do.
Please pray for our health and safety in Nigeria. This is more real all the time
As always, we value your prayers about our family.. Please pray that while we are away, we can still stay connected.
That we will continue to have experiences that culturally enrich us and enable us to make our teaching more culturally relevant
Plus pray for the usual: our spiritual walks, our marriage, our love and service for and to those around us.
A good start at TCNN and the many serious students here
Love and support for from family and friends
Providing easy connections with Nigerians and other missionaries here
Looking back over the year, God has provided encouragement, direction, and financial support through friends, family, supporters, and sometimes strangers.
Our visa issues were solved and our tickets changed