Ongoing violence in Nigeria has tragically touched members of the Christian Reformed Church of Nigeria (CRCN), including the deaths of three church leaders, Synod 2014 delegates learned this morning.
Rev. Peter Borgdorff, deputy executive director of the CRC in North America, read an email from CRCN president Rev. Caleb Ahima, a graduate of Calvin Theological Seminary. The email informed delegates that an evangelist, a pastor, and a denominational administrator have been killed in recent attacks. Another pastor was shot in the back but survived, Borgdorff said.
The CRCN “has come under heavy and unyielding pressure from forces of bad politics and of Islam,” Borgdorff read from Ahima’s email. “The CRCN is going through very challenging and trying times and needs the prayer support of all concerned Christian minds.”
The attacks happened in a region of south central Nigeria where the CRC has long done mission work, dating back to the 1920s when Johanna Veenstra served as the CRC’s first missionary in Nigeria. Christian Reformed World Missions has strong partnerships with CRCN and two other denominations in the area. The CRCN is more than 100 years old and has more than 100,000 members.
CRC officials last month called the churches to prayer for the release of more than 250 school girls kidnapped by the militant Islamic group Boko Haram in a different part of Nigeria.
Borgdorff said the CRC crisis management team would meet to determine whether further security measures are needed for CRC personnel in Nigeria. All employees are currently accounted for. World Missions Director Gary Bekker will draft a response from Synod 2014 to the Nigerian church. Borgdorff led delegates in prayer for the CRCN and all affected by the conflict in Nigeria.
“May people of goodwill be empowered to be of leadership and to bring an end to that senseless violence,” Borgdorff prayed.
Synod 2014 is meeting at Central College in Pella, Iowa, from June 13-19. For continuous Banner coverage, please follow The Banner on Facebook or @crcbanner on Twitter. You can find more tweeting by following hashtag #crcsynod. News stories will be posted at www.thebanner.org several times daily. For CRC Communications releases, webcast, and live blogging, please visit www.crcna.org/synod. Unless noted otherwise, all photographs are by Karen Huttenga.