We have now been living in Jos for nine months and are settling in very well. One of the delightful things we have been discovering over the past couple of months is that our relationships with former students from Kagoro are very much ongoing.
In January we moved into a big house that we have been allocated on a SIM mission compound. This has turned out really well as we have lots of space and have been able to have lots of people staying and visiting. The ongoing relationships with former students who are now in ministry are really encouraging.
There are still a variety of insecurity issues affecting people in the communities our students come from. One major ministry that many local people are being trained in is ‘trauma healing’. Recently Alanna was able to arrange for one of our pastor friends to get specific trauma counselling in relation to experiences he has gone through. Please pray for those trained in these skills – that they will be able to help others to process their traumatic experiences and that those people will in turn be enabled to 'comfort others with the comfort they have known from God'.
As far as anyone can tell (because testing and diagnosis here are more limited), COVID has still has not taken off the way it has in many countries. The disease is present but, for some unknown reason, the case numbers have not exploded. This is obviously a blessing in general but especially so because the health system here is under strain at the best of times. (Oxygen supplies, for example, are very limited. If there is any significant up-tick in COVID cases, supplies will run short very quickly.)
Rick has been gradually settling in at JETS. For the last two semesters classes have been online. This is a sensible response to the COVID situation but makes settling into a new situation much slower. The online classes have been better than I (Rick) had expected – but my expectations were fairly low. The online offering has been ad hoc, with both students and faculty thrown in at the deep end, a long way from having appropriate training or equipment in place. It’s been a case of making the best of a tricky situation: not bad, considering, but room for a lot of improvement. Rick has been given the role of ‘Director of Online Education’ at JETS, so it is now his job to try to make the improvement happen.
Part of this ‘online improvement’ is scheduled to begin immediately. From now until 23 July Rick is in charge of running an online intensive summer programme (a ‘PGDT’ – Post-Graduate Diploma in Theology) for 20 student workers, who work with the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IFES, the umbrella organisation of which UCCF in the UK is a part). These IFES staff-workers come from 13 different countries across Africa – The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Angola, Lesotho, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania. We are attempting to make this a ‘good’ experience of online learning rather than a barely passable experience. Five courses will be happening over the next eight weeks. Rick will be co-teaching all five – which means that he is taking the lead on two and co-ordinating a small team of lecturers and teaching assistants across all five.
Asha has been enjoying going to Hillcrest (which recently reopened five days per week). Conor and Jack are continuing with homeschooling. For the past couple of months we have been joined by another family, and have done a sort of ‘joint homeschool’ at our house, which has worked well for everyone.
Early in May Alanna helped her friend Julie organise a women's bible weekend. We invited the women in our bible study group along with three of Alanna's friends from Kagoro. The idea was to have bible teaching that will help the women learn more bible teaching skills. 17 women came and we had a really encouraging time. Some of the women are keen to start similar studies in their local churches. We plan to run a similar teaching day every three months, starting with a bible overview in August
Alanna is now working on her Masters' thesis, which she is aiming to complete by August.
There have been a number of bereavements in recent months affecting former students who we are close to. One of those affected is Ishaku, whose wife died in February shortly after giving birth to baby Eunice. Ishaku has been living near us in Jos and we've been employing him as a driver/gardener. He is teaching part time in a local bible college. At the beginning of May we offered to help him with looking after baby Eunice so that he can be close to her and see her every day. Previously she had been looked after in Kagoro. It has been an adventure having such a young baby in the house again but she has settled in very well. The kids are all very attentive and helpful. Eunice's four year old sister Rita has also recently come to be with her dad and so has also been spending lots of time in our house.
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