SIM returns to northern Nigeria

As Boko Haram’s influence declines, SIM is moving north again to help reestablish clinics and schools.

Ministering among the people of Nigeria’s northern states has been a focus of SIM since our founders first landed in the country in the 1890s. The 12 states that 50 million Muslims call home have long been an emphasis of SIM workers, with various levels of ministry success over the decades. It’s a region prone to unrest; SIM has had many challenges to recruit and place personnel in the area over the years. Most recently the threat of Boko Haram has dominated the region and made active ministries difficult.

But the prayer of SIM Nigeria is for this trend to change. As unrest is decreasing, SIM leaders are renewing their efforts in close partnership with ECWA (Evangelical Church Winning All), to return to Nigeria’s north.

New opportunities for Medical, education and service workers

While north east Nigeria is still a dangerous place, the government has been fighting back against Boko Haram. There are now many hopeful signs.  After years of persecution and violence, some of the 2 million Christians who were displaced are now returning to their northern homes. The challenges are evident; churches and houses have been destroyed and many people were killed. Counsellors have been providing trauma healing seminars, in which people are encouraged to share their stories, forgive their persecutors and leave their pain with the Lord Jesus. SIM workers are also providing food for refugees now living in Internally Displaced People camps or with others in the community.

Important new ministries will focus on discipleship, medical work and training, educational training, leadership development for local church pastors and vocational development and training.  Today there are few functioning clinics in the north, but SIM and ECWA plan to reopen their first new clinic there in 2018. This would act as a template for additional clinics in the region.

“We’re eagerly anticipating one of the dispensaries revived in the northeast, to minister to Christians who cannot access medical help and to minister to Muslim neighbours,” says Nigeria Director Tom Jessurun. A key component of this medical ministry is a tremendous need for community health workers to train new health workers.

Quality education options are also limited in the north, particularly for marginalised Christians. SIM plans to assist ECWA to establish schools throughout the northern states, to provide quality education for Christians and Muslims alike. SIM Nigeria is currently looking for teacher trainers to help new teachers in northern schools.

Other service opportunities are open, including theological training, veterinary care, English teaching, computer training, Sports Friends and youth ministries.

Ministering through sports

Though Adamu grew up a Muslim in the northeast Nigeria town of Potiskum, God revealed himself to Adamu, and he became a Christian. Thankfully, his father did not force him to revert to Islam. He became a professional athletic coach and always hoped to use his love of sports to share his faith.

With the decline of Boko Haram’s influence, as displaced people began returning, Adamu noticed that Muslims were coming to the church premises to join friendly games of football and volleyball. The church was wondering how to use sports to share the gospel with these Muslim neighbours.

At the same time that SIM Nigeria was praying about engaging with the northeast, knowing that sports would be a powerful avenue of ministry, Adamu was feeling led to full-time sports ministry. His church invited SIM’s Sports Friends to conduct a training on how to use sports as a means of evangelism and discipleship. Adamu was extremely excited to be a part of this. SIM Nigeria has since helped establish a Sports Friends discipleship centre in a northern town that was formerly in the grip of Boko Haram, with Adamu as the full-time coordinator.

SIM’s long-term plan is to see more Christian workers go into the north east and be witnesses for the Lord Jesus. The vision is to see a spiritual re-awakening; a re-awakening which halts the spread of Islam and sparks a Christian revival across Nigeria and neighbouring countries. It is a bold vision and a bold aim but we know, with God, all things are possible.

–Compiled from stories by SIM Nigeria and Tim Allan

Please pray
For God’s protection over the Christians returning to their communities.

  •     For God’s protection over the Christians returning to their communities.
  •     For more workers to be raised up willing to serve in the hard parts of Nigeria.
  •     For an end to the violence perpetrated by Boko Haram so that all may live in peace.