Monday, January 29, 2007

Psalm 138: A prayer update upon our return

"Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life" (Ps. 138.7).

1. Give thanks with us for safe travel back to Nigeria. Everything went smoothly, even on the road from Abuja. We only stopped once for some serious questions about a booklet on the highway code that we were supposed to have in the car (but do not actually need, since it is intended for those who are learning to drive). After a lengthy discussion we were allowed to continue. We are always grateful for God's protection on the road from accidents and thieves (especially those who pretend to be officials).

2. At the University of Jos courses are going well. Since we had completed all our undergraduate courses for the year before leaving in November, we are now taking up a variety of courses for the Master's level students, who have just started their program, since registration was delayed (as also happened last year). We are grateful that the section in Ethics and Philosophy this year has only 15 students, which is a good number for seminar style classes (unlike last year when we had 35 students in each of our classes). The New Testament classes have 8 students this year.

3. We also ask your prayers for Nigeria at this time. January 29 was declared a public holiday so people can complete voter registration leading up to the elections in a few months. There are long lines everywhere, so Nigerians are obviously serious about fulfilling their obligations as citizens of a democracy. There is additional motivation for them, since registration cards are required for many people, such as market women. Please pray with us that upcoming elections may proceed safely and fairly, and that the outcome will bring a degree of stability to Nigeria.

4. We would appreciate prayers for Adrian's parents in Ottawa. There are many issues to be resolved both in terms of health care and housing. Please pray with us for a resolution which allows them to receive the care they need so that they will be able to enjoy a degree of peace and well-being.

5. We are grateful for life and all the opportunities given us, as we hear about the death of loved ones, family and colleagues. Just before we arrived back in Jos a neighbor lost her sister, and only few days later an uncle in the same family died. Our helper, Julie, lost a close family friend the same week. Also we heard of the death of George VanderVelde, a much appreciated colleague and friend, in Toronto. May God comfort and sustain these families.

Back in the classroom with some of our graduate students, whom we share, since we teach different courses but to the same group
Back in Nigeria, where motorcycles are the most popular as well as the most dangerous mode of transportation

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Psalm 91: A prayer for the new year 2007

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty” (Ps. 91:1).

1. It is not difficult to become discouraged about the world in which we live. We notice that the nations put their trust in weapons of mass destruction. We notice how thoroughly celebration of the birth of Christ has become commercialized. And within the Christian community worldwide we find much division, mistrust and even active hostility. In the face of trouble, may we remember to say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust” (Ps. 91:2).

2. As Christians we discover that our lives are not smooth and easy; in fact, we no longer have full control of our own lives, but Christ has come to live in us. In the year that lies ahead, may we be proven as true agents of his love, mercy and compassion for a broken world. May we say with the psalmist, “He will cover us with his feathers, and under his wings we will find refuge; his faithfulness will be our shield and rampart” (Ps. 91:4).

3. Looking to the year ahead at Unijos, we hope to complete several writing projects. Adrian is working on a text for an Ecclesiology course, and Wendy hopes to finish a text for graduate students in New Testament Greek, as well as a text on Early Christianity suitable for classes which comprise both Christian and Muslim students. In this work our desire is to provide good resources for our students, resources that will continue to be useful once we are gone. Please pray with us for the guidance of the Spirit of God who “commands his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways” (Ps.91:11).

4. We celebrated Christmas and the New Year in North America, but hope to be on our way back to Nigeria by January 16th. Both of us have suffered from colds and flu in the past week. And there is always much to do in preparation for the return: winding up with the necessary shopping, medical appointments, completion of research needed for teaching and academic papers, as well as goodbyes to family and friends, supporters and colleagues. May we experience peace in the midst of this busyness, for we know “(his angels) will lift us up in their hands, so that we will not strike our foot against a stone” (Ps. 91:12).

5. One of the important concerns which drew us to North America at this time was the frailty of Adrian’s parents. For them aging has brought pain, struggle and confusion. And the issue of a long-term care facility has not yet been resolved. Even so, our Lord reminds us, “Because he loves me, I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation” (Ps. 91.14-16). May this truly be their comfort and ours, for the year that lies ahead.