Mike (the driver), Heecheon Jeon, Karen Dungan, Courtney Glienke, Tim Horsch, Beverly Nolte, Felicia Coe, Eloise Cranke, Mike Sitzman, Larry Pauley, Taylor Updike, Jeremy Poland, Linda Rowe, and Bill Poland (Liz Winders not picture because she was taking the photo)
November 16, 2017
The last sea container headed to Nigeria from the Iowa Conference of The United Methodist Church was loaded and sent on its way. Fourteen volunteers transferred boxes from a tractor-trailer to the container on Friday, November 10, 2017.
The sea container was filled to the top with kits delivered to the 2016 Thanksgiving Ingathering sites across the state—the last year the Iowa Nigeria Partnership accepted school, medical, health, dorm, and layette kits, medical and theological books, robes, Bibles, hymnals, and beds.
For 25 years Iowa and Nigeria were partners in a shared mission and ministry. The Iowa Nigeria Partnership has been one of the longest-running partnerships in the history of the United Methodist Church. It began in 1989 when four Iowans traveled to Nigeria in response to the invitation of the Great Commission. After that visit, the Iowa Nigeria Partnership was formed and began shipping supplies to Nigeria in 1990 because the local people did not have adequate access to supplies for schools and hospitals.
2017 was the 27th year that a sea container was shipped to Nigeria from Iowa. Approximately 1,000 boxes of kits and supplies were sent each year in addition to shipments that contained PET carts (Personal Energy Transportation), solar panels and refrigerators.
“Our goals were to help the church receive full conference status, to develop leaders for the rapidly growing membership and help expand areas of ministry,” said Beverly Nolte, former coordinator of the Iowa Nigeria Partnership about the beginnings of the partnership. During the last quarter century, she explained, “unreached groups of Muslims, Tuaregs, and Fulanis, displaced by the encroaching desert, have been being reached through ministries of education, health-care, literacy programs and work with youth and women. Iowans have been there all the way.”
"Because our work teams were going to Nigeria and helping with the unloading and distribution of the kits and supplies, we could bring back pictures and stories of how these kits made an impact on people," said Nolte. "It was first-hand information which you normally don't get but was helpful because people knew where their kits were going and that they actually arrived at their final destination."
After the 2016 Thanksgiving Ingathering, only donations and kits made for the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) have been accepted at the Ingathering. UMCOR will now provide Nigeria with monetary grants so that the supplies can be sourced locally.
The final sea container will make its way to Chicago where it will be loaded onto a rail car and taken to the east coast. There it will begin a 6-week journey on a ship headed to Spain, then Lagos, and then on to the Nigerian city of Jalingo—the headquarters for the United Methodist Church. After it arrives, kits will be unloaded and distributed throughout the conferences and districts of Nigeria.
Because of the Iowa Nigeria Partnership, countless lives were touched by the hard work and generosity of Iowans. Newborn babies were wrapped in blankets, children had supplies to use during school, disabled persons could transport themselves instead of crawl through the dirt, and seminary students had books to study at the Banyan Theological Seminary.
Though the initial partnership has now concluded, a task force of the Conference Board of Global Ministries is working with representatives of other US conferences in ministry relationship with Nigeria, US and West Africa executive staff of the General Board of Global Ministries, and Bishop Yohanna and other leaders of the UMC-Nigeria to develop a new partnership model that is based on the missional/strategic objectives of the conferences in Nigeria. As conversations progress and plans are made, more specific information will be communicated throughout our conference.
While these conversations are underway, the Iowa-Nigeria task force welcomes your continued support through monetary gifts and through active involvement. Money may be safely sent through your local United Methodist Church to the Iowa Conference Treasurer marked: INP, #230.