“I learned a long time ago from my friends that teaching was one of my gifts,” said Flensted Omiunu, who lives in Abuja, Nigeria. “But I have two kids and a wife, and it just didn’t make sense to give up my salary as an architect.”
Omiunu’s concerns about teachers’ salaries in Nigeria are not unwarranted. A teacher might only earn the equivalent of $25 to $250USD monthly. This lack of valuing educators in Nigeria creates a big barrier that missionaries see when they work to transform Christian education.
“Flensted’s story is one I hear regularly as I interact with people in Nigeria,” said Sheila Dykstra, who serves with Christian Reformed World Missions as an education specialist in Nigeria.
Omiunu met Dykstra when she began serving there about 15 years ago. Early in their friendship, Dykstra recognized his gifts for teaching and invited him to some of the teacher training events she led.
“The trainings were very interesting to me,” said Omiunu. “Being around all those teachers and hearing their experiences just ignited the fire even more and made me realize this is where I should be.”
At the beginning of 2016, Omiunu took a huge step of faith. He enrolled in a postgraduate degree education program and cut most of his hours working as an architect so he could volunteer at a local Christian high school. Although he still worried about money, Omiunu immediately knew this was the right decision.
“I started looking forward to the next day. I started sleeping better. I was happier,” he said.
Having completed his certification, Omiunu now has his own classroom and fourth grade students. When it came to the interview, the school owner was nervous, as she knew she couldn’t offer him what he was “worth” in terms of salary.
“If I was here for the money, I would have stayed in my former profession,” Omiunu responded.
After gaining some hands-on experience in the classroom, Omiunu hopes to train more teachers and share his passion for education with them.