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Michigan Church Connects with Nigerian Christians Through Letters, Bibles, Support

Children in the Rim community in Nigeria received Bibles from Forest Grove CRC on Nov. 20.
Children in the Rim community in Nigeria received Bibles from Forest Grove CRC on Nov. 20.

On a recent visit to the Rim community in Nigeria, David Tyokighir brought with him a collection of children’s Bibles from members of Forest Grove Christian Reformed Church in Hudsonville, Mich. Tyokighir is a country consultant with World Renew, the relief and development agency of the CRC, and his personal connection is helping the Forest Grove congregation make meaningful relationships with the Nigerian Christians whose community has been ravaged by attacks from the insurgent group Boko Haram.

The connection began more than two years ago. The church’s mission committee was looking for a long-term opportunity for support. Tyokighir shared the story of what was taking place in Nigeria during a presentation at Forest Grove, and a relationship was established.

Church members began supporting Tyokighir’s work, including the adoption of 20 orphans, helping to provide them with an education as well as gifts such as backpacks and water bottles at Christmas. Families would write to each child twice a year to share their love and concern.

“Then the Holy Spirit put it on our hearts to give them a Bible. David felt that English would be the best (as) they need to practice reading (English) anyway,” said LaVonne Koedam, a member of Forest Grove’s mission committee.

Through the Bible League, the church purchased Bibles at a third-grade reading level with pictures, a dictionary and maps. Tyokighir, who had been back in the United States to visit his daughter, retrieved the Bibles to deliver them in person.

“The timing was perfect. It was the perfect situation all the way around, it had to be a God thing,” Koedam said.

The support of the Forest Grove congregation, including the gift of Bibles, has been well-received in the Rim community, Tyokighir said. Children have written back notes of gratitude to Forest Grove members, telling of what they’re studying in school and thanking them for their care.

“They see this partnership as a demonstration of God’s unfailing love,” Tyokighir said. “Expressions of gratitude continue to flow from beneficiaries, caregivers, and other Church and community leaders in Rim community,”

Koedam said Forest Grove remains committed to this initiative for the long haul, and that there is a desire among some church members to visit Nigeria and meet the orphans and widows they have befriended.

“We would still love to go there,” she said. “You need to see what’s going on to know how best to help.”

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