By: Linda Rowe Bloomfield, Iowa
For those who have traveled to Nigeria in the past as part of the Iowa Nigeria Partnership (INP), and all those who have contributed in any way, here is the latest update. We are now part of the In Mission Together program and are continuing with some of the ministry Iowa started.
My fourteenth trip to Nigeria since 2005 was very eventful as always. I traveled with Dorothy Halvorsen from the Great Plains Conference and Kathryn Witte, the coordinator for The General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM) for all the partners in Nigeria.
The trip was very different in one way: The United Methodist Church in Nigeria (UMCN) hired two security guards with large guns over their shoulders to be with us all the time. There have been a lot of kidnappings in Nigeria recently and they wanted to make sure we were not victims. However, we had no problems and never felt threatened at all. The guards were with us in our hotels, guesthouses, meetings and meals. They rode in our vehicles and became pretty good photographers when we wanted pictures.
Dorothy stayed at the orphanage in Jalingo most of the time since it was a place the Nebraska Conference, now the Great Plains Conference, has sponsored for a long time. Kathryn wanted to see as many projects as possible and meet the people in leadership positions, and I was able to help her. My main objectives were to see the village wells and our sister village of Panya, in addition to showing Kathryn around and introducing her to people. We also had a short time together with Nyamah Dunbar, who is the GBGM West Africa representative.
There is now a hospital in Jalingo on the same grounds as the Secretariat and Orphanage. There used to be only one Comprehensive Jr. Secondary Seminary school in Jalingo, but now there is one near Karim named for Ethel Johnson and one near Pero named for Ron Wilmot. There is a water factory at Pero producing and selling sachet water (water in little plastic pouches). Many of the buildings at Banyam Theological Seminary (BTS) have been improved and have had solar panels added.
The Rural Health Program continues to take mosquito nets around as well as distributing medicines. The Worom Clinic as well as others continue to operate on a shoestring. The women’s micro loan program continues to grow and serve the people well. Banyam Theological Seminary continues to train pastors and new churches are being planted all the time. The Village Wells program started by Ron Wilmot in 2007 now has drilled close to 100 boreholes thanks to a large gift from a person in Iowa as well as Iowa churches.
We also have several partnerships between churches in Iowa and places in Nigeria that are continuing. Some included Davis County and Panya; Grandview (Dubuque) and Damka; Eldora and Salaminkala; and Cedar Falls First and BTS.
While we were there, one of the first storms of the season came through and did a lot of damage to the Ethel Johnson School and a new Secretariat building for the Northeast Conference and some damage at the Ron Wilmot School.
Traveling from place to place remains the same. The roads are still terrible, and you still cross the Benue River on the ferry in the dry season. It’s very hot, but the people are wonderful and showed us great hospitality. You get all the chicken and rice you possibly can eat. We attended a revival, a wedding, and cultural festivities. The orphanage put on quite a farewell for us.
Though there are other partners besides Iowa that have worked in Nigeria, including Germany, Georgia, North Alabama and Great Plains to name a few, it was kind of neat when I introduced Kathryn to hear many say ‘Iowa did this or that’, or ‘thanks to Iowa’ we have this. They appreciate and have not forgotten all that we in Iowa have done since our beginning in 1990. Those who have been there know they always want to gift us something in return for all we have done. This year we were gifted no less than seven dresses, some rugs, material, and a few chickens.
If anyone has questions or comments or would like to be an In Mission Together partner, you can contact me at