Thursday, March 22, 2007

Gift books

Tuesday, March 13, was a very special day for Wendy’s class in New Testament Greek. Since the beginning of the course in January we struggled with the availability of the Greek New Testament, usually ordered by the Bible Society of Nigeria, which obtains them from the United Bible Society in German at a price which is affordable for our students. Our immediate source in this area of Nigeria is ACTS bookstore, the best source of good books for students in religion. But for a number of years ACTS has not been able to get New Testaments in Greek in this way. A few students had acquired a Greek New Testament in their first year of Greek in the various seminaries, but most have great difficulty in finding the needed copy. We thought of ordering directly from US suppliers, but the cost of $40 plus shipping cost, when translated into Naira, is simply too steep for our students – it comes close to a whole month’s wages for many here.

In response to our plea for help, our friend Ina de Moor at Calvin Seminary in Grand Rapids, MI, spread the word among seminarians, asking them if they had any extra or second-hand copies of the Greek New Testament with which they were willing to part. The result was a box with an assortment of texts, dictionaries and other exegetical aids. And not long after that our colleagues at UNIJOS, Roger and Joan Sikkenga, were able to include this box among their luggage on the return trip to Nigeria!

What a happy occasion! Students eagerly perused the box, and quickly decided which books should be theirs. There are still enough texts and exegetical aids to keep for classroom use. And even some to spare for the next group of students. But we are sincerely hoping that by that time a solution will have been found, and texts will be available in Nigeria once more.

This group of students is profoundly grateful to Ina de Moor, to all those at Calvin Seminary who donated their copies, and to staff at CRWM in Grand Rapids who facilitated the transfer of the books to Jos. The smile says it all!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Psalm 32: Prayer update

"...let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found;
surely when the mighty waters rise they will not reach him." Ps. 32.6

March 17, 2007

1. Thank God with us that examinations are progressing normally. We had a small incident a week ago, when students protested lack of water and electricity by burning tires and disrupting classes. The Vice Chancellor came directly to where students were gathered, addressed them, and managed to calm the situation down. That evening we had light at 7pm. Since then the service has been less dependable, but at least we are getting some electricity supplied evenings (our house is on the same circuit as that of the hostels). Please pray for the students as they prepare, and pray with us that examinations will finish without further incident.

2. Elections are to be held in a few weeks. Voting for candidates at the three levels of government (local, state and federal), is to take place on different Saturdays in April. So many things seem to hang in the balance. When we ask about nonexistent telephone service, for example, we get the response that the company is waiting on the outcome of elections before making necessary repairs. Please pray with us for fair and peaceful elections, and for results that can be accepted throughout Nigeria.

3. Thank you for your prayers on behalf of Adrian's travels, and for his Mom. She seems to be doing well after this difficult time. We are also grateful that Adrian has arrived back in Nigeria safely after long hours of travel. Please pray for him as he readjusts, and attempts to catch up with matters waiting for his return to the university after a period of absence.

Eccl. 3: Prayer update (March 4)

"A time to be born, and a time to die" (Eccl. 3:2).

(Note: This update was not published until March 20.)

Dear Friends, Supporters, Colleagues,

We want to thank you for your prayers for Adrian's father over the last weeks and months. During the night of last week Saturday he passed away peacefully in his sleep. He had celebrated his 87th birthday, but was also very tired. We mourn his loss, but do not mourn as those who have no hope. We know he is now with his Lord, and in a better place.

At this time we ask your prayers for Mom Helleman, who is 86. Pray that the Lord will comfort and sustain her in this time of transition. May He keep her from danger and ill health. May she be refreshed by the love of her family and friends.

Adrian was able to get a reasonable ticket within a day of hearing the news. He flew to Boston, where he spent the night with our daughter Pauline. On Wednesday morning they drove to Ottawa together to be with the family for the wake and the funeral on Thursday.

Thank the Lord with us that Adrian could join the family at this time. We are grateful for safe travel. He hopes to be back in Nigeria next week.

Wendy (for Adrian too)

Adrian and a family friend support Mom Helleman at the commital ceremony

Mom Helleman with one of her great-grandchildren; indeed, the Lord takes, but he also gives new life.

Acts 10: Prayer update (February 24)

"God has heard your prayer, and remembered your gifts to the poor" (Acts 10:31).

(Note: This update was prepared on February 24, thus before the death of Adrian's father and it mentions his birthday. It was not published until today.)

Dear Friends,

We are grateful for the week that is past, and want to thank you for praying. We know it has made all the difference.

1. We thank you for praying with us for the NABIS (Nigerian Association of Biblical Studies) local conference in Jos this past week. We are grateful for two days of good presentations and stimulating discussions on the theme "Biblical Understanding of Politics and Leadership". The topic was clearly of great interest, and we had a very good turnout for the conference: 84 participants and 21 different schools represented. Many participants came from Plateau State, but neighbouring states were also represented, as far away as Taraba State, with Veenstra Seminary in Donga.

2. Adrian is grateful for the stamina to finish an intensive five-day course on 'Ecclesiology' for the Nigerian Evangelical Missions Institute (NEMI). He was asked to do the course in their program of training those who will in turn train missionaries for their work. The sessions dealt with the nature and the role of the church, with an eye to missions. It is a joy to teach such mature 'students', and he appreciated the opportunity to challenge them and share his experience.

3. We would appreciate your prayer for the power situation. We are receiving only a few hours a day, and this is becoming a big concern for both our Unijos students and ourselves at this time. We get a few hours during the night, and sometimes during the day, but rarely have light when it is really needed in the evening. Students are preparing for exams, and becoming upset about the difficulty of getting their work done evenings. Please pray with us for a resolution to this problem.

4. Today (February 24) marks the 87th birthday of Adrian's Dad. Thank God with us for sparing him these many years. In spite of many obstacles to good health, we pray that he may enjoy the day with family and friends.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

NABIS conference

NABIS Zonal Conference Communiqué
23 February 2007


The National Association of Biblical Studies (NABIS) conducted its maiden Northern Zonal Conference at the Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria Conference Centre, Jos, on 22-23 February 2007. Given the context of the upcoming Nigerian elections, the theme of the conference was “Biblical Understanding of Politics and Leadership.” There were a total of 84 persons who participated in the conference, representing 22 educational institutions from 7 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

1. Themes and Deliberations

The conference examined Christian principles which are based upon sound Biblical exegesis. These were taken from both the didactic and narrative passages of Scripture. The papers of the conference focused on two major themes:

1.1 Democracy
1.1.1. Democracy is not the only type of governance illustrated in the Bible but is the current polity in Nigeria and therefore deserves our special attention.
1.1.2. Nigerian culture and traditions imply that the Nigerian version of democracy may look different from democracy practiced elsewhere in the world.
1.1.3. Democracy is the best way to protect minorities and provide a check on excesses of those who govern. It also provides a context of freedom for all citizens and especially the poor and oppressed.
1.2. Leadership. (Important Characteristics)
1.2.1. Righteousness. The fundamental characteristic of all government must be righteousness, which involves a strong focus on right and wrong. It also protects and provides equal rights to all citizens in the society.
1.2.2. Involvement. Christians must resist the temptation to think politics and governance are “dirty.” We must be fully involved in the political process.
1.2.3. Integrity. Christian politicians must be characterized by moral integrity.
1.2.4. Selflessness. Governance must not be seen as a means of personal enrichment but a means of serving the community.
1.2.5. Compassion. One of the basic responsibilities of political leaders is to take care of the weak and helpless in society.
1.2.6. Accountability. Politicians are accountable to those who placed them in their offices. Christian politicians have a special accountability to their spiritual leaders.
1.2.7. Christlikeness. The example and teachings of Jesus provide the ideal model for leadership and governance.

2. Observations

2.1 The conference recognizes that we Christians have often failed in our responsibility of providing righteous leadership and accountability in governance.
2.2 The conference acknowledges the need for greater participation in governance. Christians can no longer be silent or absent from governance.

3. Recommendations

3.1 The conference calls for Nigeria Christian leaders to identify and support honorable Christians as they seek public office. They must also provide encouragement and demand accountability of them whenever they reach public office.
3.2 The conference calls on theologians and teachers of the Bible to focus more research on Biblical teachings on democracy, leadership, and governance.
3.3 The conference calls political leaders to submit to the Lordship of Christ as servant-leaders and demonstrate exemplary obedience to God. Examples speak louder than words.


We are grateful to God Almighty for making this conference successful and giving us a chance to reflect on these topics that are vital and relevant.

Dr. J. D. Gwamna Zonal Co-ordinator
Rev. A. Gava Zonal Secretary

Registration for the conference - this photo speaks for itself.

We were pleased with an excellent turnout for this conference. And the power supply was also good during the days when we were meeting - we had electricity almost the entire time of the conference.

Danny McCain, our colleague in the Department of Religious Studies of Unijos and the founder of IICS, was asked to give the lead paper forthe conference, "Biblical Models for Leadership." As you will note, IICS was well represented at this conference.

Wendy presented a paper giving a word study of the Greek New Testament term for authority (exousia).

After the lead papers and after each series of shorter papers there was ample opportunity for questions and discussion. We enjoyed good interaction on the topics presented.

Yoila Yilpet, teaching Old Testament in the Department of Religious Studies of Unijos, an IICS colleague, presented the third major paper of the conference, "Biblical Principles of Political Partipation."

Our capable chairman of the conference, Dogara Gwamna (left), also of the Department of Religious Studies of Unijos, in conversation with Isaiah Hinkon. Gwamna is the zonal coordinator for the Northern Zone, our region within the Nigerian Association of Biblical Studies (NABIS).

Layne Turner (left) in conversation with Dauda Gava. Layne is the latest member of the IICS team to arrive in Nigeria; he teaches Biblical Studies at the Federal College of Education in Kafanchan. Dauda teaches New Testament Greek at the Theological College of Northern Nigeria and is a doctoral candidate in New Testament at Unijos.

Rudy Wiebe of the Federal College of Education in Pankshin, another IICS colleague, presented a paper in one of the final sessions. His topic: "Revealing God's Glory through Servanthood (Isaiah 58.6-14)."

Friday, March 2, 2007

In memoriam

Born: The Hague, Netherlands, February 24, 1920
Died: Ottawa, ON, Canada, February 25, 2007

On Sunday, February 25, 2007, the Lord called home His faithful servant, husband, father, grandfather, and great grandfather, Henk, leaving behind his loving wife of 63 years, Tess, and his beloved children, Adrian (Wendy), Folkert (Ellen), Hank (Caroline), Hans (Henni), Mary Breimer (Theo), Eveline De Vries (Albert). He is also remembered lovingly by his 17 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. A service to celebrate his life was held on Thursday, March 1, 2007 at Calvin Christian Reformed Church, Ottawa, ON. Donations may be made to Christian Studies International, 13607-109 Avenue, Edmonton, AB T5M 2G8, Canada.