Posted by - Julian Mann, January 2013VISIT TO JOS, NIGERIA OVER THE NEW YEAR
It was a great privilege to visit Jos a guest of the Anglican Diocese for a week just before and after the New Year. The 'Jospitality' was amazing and it was very inspiring to see the Anglican Church making such an impact for Christ in the city of Jos.
I visited various churches and a secondary school in the diocese and saw the commitment to biblical evangelism of the Anglican Church in Jos led by its bishop, Dr Ben Kwashi. I attended services at St Luke's Cathedral Church in the city centre and, though the security situation was tense over New Year with armed guards posted outside the church, the services were joyful and encouraging.
It was wonderful on the final day of my stay to visit the orphanage based at the home of Archbishop Ben Kwashi and his wife Mrs Gloria Kwashi. I saw the car that fetches the sacks of rice and flour for the children. The car boot can fit 8 sacks of flour, costing US $340.
So upon my return we as a PCC agreed that it would be a good idea to organise a 'Car Boot Full of Flour for Jos' event in our Parish Centre. This would be a way of communicating the Christian vision for our link as a parish church with the Diocese of Jos and also raising money to feed the children at the orphanage. Watch this space.
I came away from the visit with three contrasts between the Nigerian Anglican Church in Jos and the English Anglican scene:
1). The agreed biblical agenda in Jos Diocese compared rather sharply with the preference for theological diversity in the Church of England. The lack of an agreed agenda undoubtedly impedes church growth in this country whereas over there the agreed agenda for biblical evangelism under the leadership of the bishop and clergy facilitates growth.
2). The high level of commitment to their faith by Jos Anglicans compared with the consumer, 'when-it-suits-me' attitude to Christianity that can unfortunately mark English Anglicans. For Jos Anglicans, Christianity is not a hobby; it embraces the whole of life and they are passionately committed to getting the gospel out and living it out.
3). The very strong role of the Anglican Church in Jos in secondary education compared with the minimal role of the Church of England here. The Diocese of Jos has 8 secondary schools, each with over 1000 students receiving an integrated Christian education.
This is not to say that all is rosy in the Anglican Church garden in Jos. I observed that the clergy are over-stretched, pastoring churches as well as having to do considerable amounts of social and development work in their communities. These necessary tasks need to be done but they need to be shared between frontline clergy and dedicated church administrators. If clergy spread themselves too thinly and are distracted from their core ministry of the Word and prayer, then the mission of the Church will suffer.
But, despite the challenges they face externally and internally, Jos Anglicans are inspiring in their witness and work for the Lord Jesus Christ, particularly in the teeth of the constant threat from Islamist terrorism.
Finally, thank you very much to our friends in Jos who hosted me and thank you too to our supportive parish church family here who prayed for me.
January AD 2013