6 September 2016

UK churches to support trauma centre in Nigeria following meeting with Chibok parents

Following a trip to Nigeria, where UK church leaders met with some of the parents of the abducted Chibok girls, churches in the UK and Ireland will be partnering with anti-persecution charity Open Doors to open a trauma care centre for victims of persecution in northern Nigeria.

Eddie Lyle, President of Open Doors UK & Ireland, went to Nigeria with David Muir (Lecturer at the University of Roehampton), David Shosanya (Regional Minister of the London Baptist Association), Delroy Powell (UK National Leader, 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.

Eddie says, "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."

Open Doors has been supporting the parents of the Chibok girls with food, medical care and trauma counselling.

The charity plans to extend its trauma care work by building a trauma care centre with the support of churches in UK and Ireland. The centre will be the first of its kind in northern Nigeria, and provide professional help and support to those most affected by persecution. It will accommodate up to 30 trauma victims at one time, and the centre will also 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.

During their trip, the team from the UK met with 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. A few days later, he held his family in his arms as the terrorists moved from house to house killing everything in their wake. Yet somehow he and his family were spared. When his 500-strong church was due to meet again a few days later, Isaac, his wife and the caretaker were the only ones there.

Isaac told the team, "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 says, "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 says of the trip, "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."

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Note to editors:

For more information or to arrange an interview with Eddie Lyle, President of Open Doors UK & Ireland, call the Open Doors press office on 01993 777377 or 01993 777346.

Open Doors UK & Ireland is part of Open Doors International, a global NGO network which has supported and strengthened persecuted Christians for 60 years. Last year supporters in the UK and Ireland raised over £11.7 million to provide practical support to persecuted Christians such as food, medicines, trauma care, legal assistance, safe houses and schools, as well as spiritual support through Christian literature, training and resources, in over 60 countries.

Nigeria is number 12 on the Open Doors 2016 World Watch List which ranks the persecution faced by Christians around the world.

Eddie giving out books during trip to Nigeria: