Monday, April 16, 2007

Visit to Veenstra Seminary (April 10 –13)

While Unijos is on strike, we have opportunities to give lectures elsewhere. This past week we took the opportunity to visit the Veenstra Theological Seminary (VTS) in Donga (Taraba State), about 8 hours by car from Jos. VTS is the main institution for training pastors for the Christian Reformed Church of Nigeria. It is affiliated with the University of Jos. So alongside our desire to fulfill a long-standing invitation, there was a double reason for this visit.

Final arrangements for this visit were made only a week before we were to travel. Our trip down coincided with a meeting to be attended by CRWM colleague Mike VanderDyke, who goes for monthly meetings of the missionary board of the CRCN. We were happy that we did not have to take our own car on this journey.

We had arranged with the rector Isaiah Hinkon (seen above with one of the senior teachers of English) and finalized topics for lecturing only a week earlier: three special lectures on the Synoptic Problem (Wendy), on the Interpretation of Revelation (a combined effort: Wendy dealt with the structure and history of interpretation of the book, while Adrian with the three main millennial views). He also lectured on a Reformed Perspective on Politics. We agreed to do this, but it did entail intensive study on our part, to prepare ourselves adequately in such a short time period.

We arrived late Tuesday afternoon, and got settled into the guest house. We were royally welcomed by the children--there are lots of them on the campus!

Wendy presented the first lecture on the Synoptic issue in the chapel at 3pm, Wednesday afternoon.

It was pretty hot, but the students were obviously used to it; they listened attentively and asked lots of good questions afterwards.

The combined programs at the diploma and degree level have about 70 students, with a number of women among them. Alongside these programs the seminary runs a school for the wives of seminary students, teaaching literacy and other basic subjects, as well as a small program for children at the nursery and primary levels.

The original plan was for us to present three lectures on three successive afternoons, from Wednesday through Friday. However, because Saturday, April 14, was to be an election day, on which no vehicle movement would be allowed, we needed to be on our way back to Jos on Friday already. So the last two lectures were given during the schedule for regular classes on Thursday, from 8-10am, and from 11-1pm. The first lecture, on Revelation, was given in the chapel. It was not quite so hot as the evening before.

After the break we moved to a different venue, a ‘hall’ designed and built by Gil Suh. Gil and Joyce Suh, the last of the CRWM missionaries to serve on staff here, left about two years ago, but not without leaving a remarkable legacy, including this wonderful ‘lecture hall’. And indeed it was very comfortable, allowing the breezes to blow through as Adrian lectured on a Reformed Perspective on Politics.

As might be expected this presentation was followed by lively discussion. Politics is a very real topic in this election month. Even some of the children of women attended the lecture.

To finish up this visit the school arranged to entertain us with a football match between students of the seminary playing against youth from the churches in Donga. Because the President of the CRCN (and former principal of VTS), Istifanus Bahago, was conducting seminars in Donga at the time, he joined us for the games that afternoon. We spent the evening with the faculty over a lovely meal with good discussion of current issues faced by the school.

The rector, Isaiah Hinkon, concluded the sessions by thanking us for our contribution.

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