Nigerians must ensure a peaceful election with an eye on the future

Chall Emmanuel is our TEN3 correspondent in Jos, Nigeria. He submitted this piece recently on the upcoming national elections in Nigeria. The presidential and National Assembly elections are Feb. 14 The Governorship and state’s House of Assembly elections are Feb. 28.

The Encarta Dictionary defines politicizing as to make somebody politically aware, or active, or to introduce a political element to something. The topic of politicizing the pulpits is a picture of how political issues are wrongly articulated on the pulpit. If the pulpit is a raised platform in the church — the household of God that is supposed to be treated with all sense of decorum and responsibility and purity in our act and speech — so do our hearts deserve the same treatment.

Albert Einstein once said, “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant.” Hence, the need for rationality in making speeches and articulating our opinions. In other words, the concept of pulpit does not only picture the physical pulpit, but our hearts are symbolically what God delights in as a raised platform where He can always stand and speak to our consciences. Our minds should be kept holy.

One predominant aspect anywhere democracy is peddled as a system of government is that individuals freely enjoy rights to speech and other fundamental human rights. Another trend is that clerics politicize the pulpit, relying on sentiments to give flavor to their reasoning, stifling the Holy Spirit and relying on their intellect in making their congregation aware of issues. It’s like twisting facts to suit theories and imposing their opinions, which affects the decision-making of the general masses within their jurisdiction. Like Karl Max would say, “Religion is the opium of the masses.”

Consequently, in some Churches, Pastors instead of shepherding the flock of God under their care are rather scattering and destroying them through diabolic soft tunes, instead of being committed to their charge.

Religious leaders ought to consider their people as the flock of God’s heritage and treat them accordingly, advising them on a positive path of righteousness. They are not theirs, to be lorded over at pleasure, but they are God’s people and should be treated with love and tenderness for the sake of Him to whom they belong.

In contrast, members of the church must learn to submit to religious leaders, to give due respect to their persons, and yield to their admonitions and reproof.

A street scene in Jos, Nigeria. Terrorists detonated bombs not far from this street in December, killing 30 people and injuring dozens.

A street scene in Jos, Nigeria. Terrorists detonated bombs not far from this street in December, killing 30 people and injuring dozens.

I was listening to the radio some weeks back and a chaplain commented that, “One thing Nigerians must know is Nigeria does not need a religious leader, but a God-fearing leader.” In other words, Nigerians must work hard in ensuring they consolidate more on this hard-earned democracy we are currently enjoying, ensuring a peaceful election and predicting better days to come. This includes ensuring stability even after the elections and charting a new course for our dear nation.

More so, as Nigerians prepare for the February general elections in a couple of weeks, Nigerians must be discerning on how to consolidate on the gains of democracy, while the incumbents are faced with a fierce oppositions at every level of aspiration.

In summary, our hearts — the pulpit — must be kept Holy. Our hearts should be guided by the spirit of God to enable us see beyond the next general election and for generations to come. The Church must also survive as we decide through the ballot boxes, ensuring massive participation by members through leaders who head the churches. Let peaceful and good brotherliness be our watchword during and after the February polls.

Finally, Thomas Campbell said, “Wisdom resides more in the heart and soul than the intellect.” So teach this triple truth to all: A generous heart, kind speech and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity. In the words of Martin Luther King Jr., “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality.”

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The Cost Of A Former Muslim’s Faith

Abubakar Yusuf (right) at Intensive Christian Training School in Nigeria

I met Abubakar Yusuf after a long journey by car across hot, dusty central Nigeria. Along with American missionary Eric Black, the two of us had traveled from Jos to Biliri — a journey of about 5 hours over rutted, narrow highways — with a pause for a brief lunch at an open-air “eatery” at a highway crossroads, where hungry little boys pounced on our leftovers of fish and rice we left at our tables. Our destination was a school started by Eric in Biliri called Intensive Christian Training School.

Eric is using Christ-centered Transformational Education Network (TEN3) curriculum as part of his school’s teaching regimen. Eric has done an amazing job with little resources in training up young men and women, giving them an in-depth, Christ-centered education as they learn practical computer skills.

Abubakar is a young man who had come from a Muslim family. He has essentially left everything behind to follow Jesus. The vast majority of good government jobs in the area are controlled by Muslims. Abubakar’s family had offered him one of those good jobs if he left the school and his Christian faith, but he refused.

Abubakar is a soft-spoken young man of 20 years with a quick, broad smile and an easy demeanor. Yet behind that smile and the quick laugh and beaming face is a young man who understands that faith, at least in his case, doesn’t come cheaply. There’s a cost to Abubakar’s faith — a good job, his family, basically everything he’s known. But the reward of eternity with Jesus is well worth it.

I am humbled by Abubakar’s faith. I’m honored to have met him. I’m thrilled for the young men and women like him at Eric’s school and other schools in Africa that use TEN3 curriculum and have seen young Muslim men and women come to faith in Jesus Christ.

Consider partnering with us financially. Our schools are open to anyone. In Nigeria, where the population in the northern states where we primarily are operating is a Muslim majority, that means students receive the gospel of Jesus Christ. In the schools we are working with the students are taught the Bible in addition to computer skills that help them get jobs, enter the workforce, start businesses and help their families financially. We’re seeing lives changed and a fruitful harvest.

Pray for us. Consider supporting us.

To see more of Abubakar’s story, go here: https://vimeo.com/116589234

To donate to the Transformational Education Network, go here: http://ten3.org/#donate

–Matt Sabo, TEN3 communications manager

`Waiting On The Protection Of The Lord From Ebola’

Sierra Leone Ebola orphans

In Sierra Leone, the recent Christmas and the New Year observances passed with a whimper. The traditional public celebrations were muted on orders of the government in the face of the Ebola crisis that has ravaged its residents.

An estimated 3,000 people of Sierra Leone have succumbed to the deadly disease out of a population of 6 million. By comparison, that would be the equivalent of 158,000 people in America dying of Ebola. That’s roughly the population of the city of Eugene, Oregon, home to the University of Oregon.

Imagine the terror that would strike this country if 158,000 people had died of Ebola, with the disease continuing to claim victims. The disease has left thousands of children orphaned, among them those pictured above in a Freetown neighborhood.

In the summer of 2014, we in the Transformational Education Network were partnering with Rev. Samuel Kargbo in operating a Christ-centered Computer Training Outreach school in Freetown, Sierra Leone. That abruptly came to a halt when the Ebola crisis brought the country to its knees and he had to close the school that was operating in his garage.

We have had sporadic contact with Rev. Kargbo since then, understandable given the horrifying circumstances he and his family are enduring in the West African country. In a recent email, Rev. Kargbo wrote that while in church on Dec. 14, 2014, two of their close neighbors died. Those left behind included four more orphans.

For a while this past summer, Rev. Kargbo’s community was holding 15 funerals a day for the victims of Ebola. Since the wave of Ebola deaths has taken its deadly toll on his community, Rev. Kargbo and his wife, Mary, have been tending to the orphans and widows of his neighborhood.

“My wife and I want to kick off an orphanage home but it will involve a lot of funding and has to be continued,” Rev. Kargbo wrote in a December email. “The sustainability is the problem we are envisioning. If we cannot get partners to start the orphanage, we will embark on providing some assistance in addressing their basic needs such as education, medical and food items.”

One the Ebola crisis passes and Rev. Kargbo is able to open the TEN3 school, he envisions some of the orphans from the upper secondary school enrolling in the computer training school.

“We could provide skills for the widows using my wife’s knitting, soap making, gara tie dye and literacy program,” Rev. Kargbo wrote. “We can assist the widowers with some form of training and capital for business. We can send some to various skills training programs.”

We believe Rev. Kargbo is a bright, compassionate light in a country of darkness. From his emails his faith remains resolute, his hope strong.

“We are just waiting on the protection of the Lord from the Ebola virus disease,” Rev. Kargbo wrote. “Our family gives God the glory but frankly speaking, things are very hard for us.”

We are working on partnering with the Wesleyan Denomination to provide assistance in the form of supplies such as food, chlorine, soap and buckets, and funds to assist Rev. Kargbo. Please keep in prayer Rev. Kargbo and the church leadership as they meet next week to consider assisting him in channeling resources through the Wesleyan Mission in Freetown.

If you feel led to help in some manner, please send an email to info@ten3.org for additional information.

–Matt Sabo, TEN3 communications manager

Computers, The Gospel And Africa

Computer classes

This year in central Nigerian communities, we in the Transformational Education Network are hoping to launch at least seven computer training outreaches. Partnering with ECWA International College of Technology, the computer training outreaches are key components of our plans to elevate lives through the spreading of the gospel and Christ-centered computer education.

So what’s a computer training outreach? Essentially it involves setting up computer classrooms, ideally of 20 to 25 computers to give students the essential hands-on work with the laptops. In many schools in Nigeria, students can acquire a certificate or diploma related to computer studies without ever touching a computer.

At our computer training outreach (CTO), the students learn God’s story from the beginning of creation and how it applies to their lives. They are given tools to help them study the Bible and strengthen their walk with Jesus long after they graduate.

They also learn how to operate computers, from basic keyboarding, to spreadsheets, to word processing and other uses. We teach them how to produce documents and presentations — creating graphics and manipulating photos are included in the instruction — and even simple websites.

As computers are always changing, we’ll teach the students what it takes to keep up with the changes that affect them. They also develop their own manuals on how to use the features of the common computers programs and they learn, for example, how to apply spreadsheets to real-life situations such as analyzing small businesses.

In going beyond knowing what keystrokes to use, we give the students the foundation of the computer to better understand how computer applications work. Along the way they are taught what are good and harmful aspects of computers and technology and the Internet so they can be discerning.

In addition to teaching them a thorough understanding of the power of computers, we give them hope to get jobs, start businesses, have an entrepreneurial mindset and even use computers to spread the gospel.

If you would like to partner with us to help launch the CTOs in Nigeria, go here: http://ten3.org/index.php/get-involved/financially

To see a short video about our work in Nigeria, go here: https://vimeo.com/113946746

The Nehemiah Method To Transform Culture

Nigeria.VillageOut-Ladies.CD.13-01

The Old Testament book of Nehemiah relates an interesting account of Israelite history when the survivors of the Babylonian captivity were allowed to return to their homeland. This remnant encountered the lingering devastation of war and poverty.

Nehemiah heard of the plight of his people and did something about it. He was a man of prayer and action (Nehemiah 4:9). It was miraculous how the people worked together and rebuilt the wall of Jerusalem stone by stone.

Each group repaired a designated section. Some moved the stones, some found timber for the gates. Others installed the gates while others fed the people. Many worked on the wall while guarding the city. They all worked until the wall was complete.

During the last century, the Lord has put it on the hearts of African governments to ask the churches to rebuild the educational system, very much like He put it on the heart of King Artaxerxes to allow Nehemiah to rebuild the wall.

As described in the “TEN3 Explained” video, TEN3’s desire is to take an approach like Nehemiah as we work together to help the African Christians build a transformational education system.

We are using Nehemiah’s Method to break our work into many small pieces — pieces that fit the talents and time people have available; pieces that involve people from different walks of life; pieces as varied as reading weekly email prayer items to praying to writing a scholarly piece for curriculum material.

TEN3 believes while each piece does its part, African churches will become prepared to continue developing the system and provide a Christian education for their children, sharing with society the freedom that only Jesus brings…one piece at a time.

Here’s the link to our Nehemiah Method video: http://vimeo.com/20626728

Turning The Tide In Africa

Boys at an African school.

The world sees Africa as a hopeless place. Rarely do the world’s perspective and God’s perspective agree. Throughout the Scripture we read of hopeless situations that God turned into hope for people of faith. The ultimate example is the cross, where God turned death into life for all that believe. Always God is calling us to a faith that changes hopelessness to everlasting hope.

Europe faced a situation similar to Africa’s in the middle of the last millennium. The Bubonic plague passed through and killed up to 80 percent of some villages. The world looked on in hopelessness, but God turned Europe totally around with the Renaissance and the Reformation. Both had roots stemming from the effects of the Bubonic plague, including the founding of all the universities of northwest Europe. God turned the lack of hope to blessing for the entire world.

The world once again declares the situation hopeless. The governments in Africa are turning to the churches for help, as half the adults will die in many locations. But the Body of Christ is never hopeless because Christ holds out eternal life to all. And, God has given us the ability to serve the Church to develop an educational system that will train the thousands of future leaders needed. These people of God will fill the holes being made in society by AIDS, and they will lead the African renaissance and reformation and be a blessing to the entire world. There are reports that where the Church is taking a stand and people are living morally, the statistics on AIDS are being turned back.

The Transformational Education Network is the result of African church leaders pursuing a better education for their people. We believe that God is calling African and international scholars to work with the Church in the next phase of educational development, one that can very rapidly be made available throughout Africa.

We have confidence as we move forward. But our confidence is not in technology, nor is it in our abilities. Rather, our confidence is in God’s characteristics. God does not change. He has always called for faithfulness from His people, and when they have been faithful God has worked through them to bless many. May we be found faithful.

The book of Esther is an exciting story of God making a young lady, who was a very unlikely candidate, into the queen in time to save His people. When she questioned whether she should step in for God’s people or not, her uncle stated, “And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?”

These words echo down through the ages to us, for we too can step in for God’s people. The question is, “Are you willing to use your talent and time to turn the tide in Africa, to bring the Good News to millions?”

This. This Is Kingdom Work.

Students at a missionary children boarding school in Nigeria.

Students at a missionary children boarding school in Nigeria.

The young students eyed me from a distance. I was at a boarding school in Jos, Nigeria, that’s home to 400 boys and girls. Their parents are missionaries in remote Nigerian villages. At least 43 are orphans, their mom and dad murdered by Muslim terrorists affiliated with Boko Haram.

Then I pulled out my iPhone. I started showing videos of my kids playing back home in Virginia. Racing around in a golf cart. Splashing around in a kiddie pool. Playing soccer. Smiles on their faces grew wide and they laughed and pointed.

WitIn minutes I had made hundreds of friends. I pulled out my Canon T5i and began snapping photos and then showing them the digital images of their grinning faces.

African boys in their boarding school dormitory.

African boys in their boarding school dormitory.

Their eyes lit up.

They smiled, laughed and followed me around the campus on my tour with school officials. For many, it was the first time they had seen their own face in a photo.

These faces are the future of Nigeria. The future of Africa.

When I think of the Transformational Education Network — TEN3 — and the work we are doing in Africa, I come back to these faces.

There’s hope in these eyes.

Our Christ-centered computer training schools are making a difference in a generation of young Africans. When I traveled to Africa and visited with students and graduates of schools who are learning TEN3 curriculum and training, I heard many testimonies of all that God is doing in their lives.

We in the Transformational Education Network have big plans in 2015. We are partnering with ECWA International College of Technology in Jos, Nigeria, to launch seven computer training outreach schools.

We need hundreds of computers and other materials to start the schools.

We are hoping to start a scholarship program for orphans like the ones at this school in the photo above. We need the money to help give these kids whose parents have given so much a quality, Biblically-based education and the skills to go and get jobs, start businesses, or follow their parents into work for the Kingdom.

A girl doing her wash at an African boarding school.

A girl doing her wash at an African boarding school.

We will be working to provide computers for schools in dire need of technology and equipment. We have many other initiatives we are working on.

We need partners.

To help us financially, go here: http://www.ten3.org/index.php/get-involved/financially

If you have a laptop you would like to donate to TEN3 that we can repurpose and ship to Africa for use in one of our schools we’re working with, email us at: info@ten3.org.

If you would like more information on how to get involved in working alongside us in TEN3 — from teaching, to writing curriculum, to designing websites, to financial administration and acquiring and shipping computers overseas — contact me at: communications@ten3.org.

Thank you and God bless you.

–Matt Sabo, TEN3