I have been in Nigeria for four weeks now. My first week and a half were spent in self-isolation per the country’s covid-19 protocols. Grading 140+ book reviews, preparing lectures, and teaching online, kept me busy during my quarantine. I have been able to be on campus the last three weeks. It has been a great joy to be with students in class.
Two weeks ago, I received a vehicle, so I have been driving myself to campus. The commute is about twenty minutes. The tarmac roads are very good. Traffic can be heavy, but it is not nearly as crazy as Nairobi traffic.
I am learning new skills, like how to hand wash clothes, and figuring out the essentials of daily life, like where to get groceries. Some speciality items are bought at the store, but most things, especially fruits and vegetables, are bought in the market or at a roadside stand. I arrived in the middle of mango season, so I’ve been enjoying fresh fruit every day from a tree in our yard.
The neighbourhood behind our compound is quiet. If I get up early enough, I can take a three or four mile walk before it gets too warm. A nearby hotel has a nice pool where I have been able to lap swim for exercise. The compound where I live has a tennis court and I recently introduced several neighbours to the joys of pickleball.
Lectures for the current semester end this week. Exams will be administered over the next two weeks. In addition to grading term papers and exams, I will be preparing for a two-week Doctor of Ministry course I am teaching in the second half of May and for the course(s) in the part-time programme (summer intensives) that I will teach in June. The three student research projects that I am supervising should be completed by the end of June. It has been good to be in able to meet with those students in person to review their work.
Thank you for your love, encouragement, and prayers.
Yesterday – over a year since we had planned to arrive in Nigeria – I finally made it to the campus of TCNN! On Thursday (8 April) I received the results of my covid test – negative! – and was able to teach at the college in person yesterday (Friday 9 April). It was a very full first day, including five hours of lectures in two master-level classes, chapel attendance, lunch with a colleague, and afternoon tea with the provost (principal). It was a great joy to finally be able to meet students in person. Thanks be to God!
Last week, Ryan received the necessary visa to travel to Nigeria. He left on Saturday afternoon and arrived early Monday morning. He is now self-isolating at our house in Jos, and will continue to teach online during his quarantine. He is scheduled to have a COVID-19 test on Monday 5 April, and hopes to be able to teach on campus later that week. We praise God for answering prayers for smooth and safe travel. Ryan will be in Nigeria through the end of the current semester and the submission of the student research projects he is supervising, which will likely be three months. The rest of us are continuing on with life “as usual” (what does that even mean anymore?!) in Pella, Iowa. We appreciate your prayers for God’s provision and care for our family during this season of separation.
The Africa Study Bible (ASB) is an invaluable resource for African pastors and church leaders. Now you have the opportunity to help provide this resource to pastors in Uganda!
In April 2017, Jody and I attended a ASB launch event at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. For two days, we worshipped with and learned from contributors to the ASB. One highlight was meeting Emmanuel Mukeshimana, a Rwandan PhD student in Uganda and contributor to the ASB.
Emmanuel and I continue to correspond. Since 2017, Emmanuel has completed his PhD program, and now teaches at Uganda Christian University and continues to serve as CEO for Square Ministries Africa. Emmanuel was a great encourager for me as I completed my own PhD studies, and, more recently, was a tremendous help as I prepared to teach a course on Theology of Development (Emmanuel’s area of academic specialisation) for the Theological College of Northern Nigeria. Emmanuel is a dear friend and brother in Christ.
So, I was delighted when Oasis International, publisher of the ASB, invited me to participate in a project with Emmanuel to provide ASBs to Anglican pastors in Uganda. Our goal is to raise $5425 to provide 248 ASBs, one for each participant in a recent Theology of Work training program that Emmanuel ran. Please prayerfully consider joining us in this endeavour. You can contribute to the project here.
Some may recall a similar project in Kenya in 2017, which provided over 100 ASB to pastors I taught at Deliverance Church (Kahawa Sukari) and Bridgeworld College. (You can read about that project here, here, here, and here.) That experience confirmed for me what a gift this resource is for pastors in Africa.
“As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:10-11)
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It has been wonderful to be back at Bridgeworld College this week. It has been a very full week, teaching Preaching Apocalyptic Passages: Studies in the Books of Daniel and Revelation every day from 9.00am to 3.30pm. The class has been very well attended.
I was pleased to present 45 students and several members of Bridgeworld’s support staff with Africa Study Bibles this afternoon. The highlight, however, was presenting an Africa Study Bible to Bridgeworld’s own Professor Lois Semenye, a contributor to the Africa Study Bible. (Click on any picture below to open slideshow.)
All that’s left now is grading all of the exams, submitting my grades to the registrar, and packing for my return trip on Saturday night. A very big Asante Sana! (thank you) to all those who partnered with me on this trip, and especially to those who purchased an Africa Study Bible for a brother or sister here in Kenya. Words cannot express how excited and appreciative students have been to receive a copy of the Africa Study Bible.
Last Friday morning I traveled across Nairobi to Bridgeworld College in Karen. As most of my time last week was spent indoors or inside compounds at Deliverance Church and the Wang’ombes’ home, I was eager to get out and explore Karen on Friday afternoon. So, after greeting the staff at Bridgeworld, taking tea with Dr. and Mrs. Lee (principal of Bridgeworld), and getting settled in my guest room on campus, I borrowed the office car and visited our old neighborhood and the places we often shopped. There was one friend, John, our gardener, that I was delighted to meet on the street. There were some others, herds of Maasai cattle that can create traffic jams, that I was not as delighted to meet again.
I was grateful to spend time on Saturday morning at the prayer garden where Findley is buried. I was glad to see that the rose bushes we planted, though not in bloom, survived the drought, and I was again deeply grateful for the counseling center’s kindness to our family and for their care of Findley’s grave.
Saturday afternoon I reconnected with Phil & EJ Blohm, dear friends of ours in Nairobi. We enjoyed a late lunch together before attending a Hillsong concert that evening.
Sunday morning I worshiped and preached at St. Matthew’s ACK, our home-away-from-home church in Karen. It was wonderful to see so many friends. (Click on any picture to open slideshow)
Because the service included both a baptism and the Lord’s Supper, it was a bit longer (2 1/2 hours) than usual (2 hours).
I was delighted to see the school that the church is building. (Click here for an earlier post about and pictures from the construction.) The first two classrooms are now complete. Because they will begin using them tomorrow, the congregation had a special time of prayer in them after this morning’s worship service. While we thank God for these classrooms, we know that there is still much work to be done. The church hopes to complete two more ground floor classrooms yet this calendar year and four first-floor (aka second-floor in North America) classrooms next year. They are also praying that by the end of next year, when all eight classrooms are complete, they will be able to purchase a bus for the school.
Finally, on Sunday evening I enjoyed tea and dinner with Guy & Susan Rainsford, our across-the-street neighbors in Karen. Our girls especially enjoyed their time with the Rainsford’s daughters Josie and Rehemma during our time in Kenya last year.
Tomorrow my one-week intensive course, Preaching Apocalyptic Passages: Studies in Daniel and Revelation, begins at Bridgeworld College. Classes will be held Monday through Friday from 9.00am-3.30pm. Please pray for stamina and endurance.