The following reflection was sent by Church of the Brethren mission coordinator for Nigeria, David Whitten, who lives in the central Nigerian city of Jos. The city suffered an outbreak of sectarian violence and rioting on the weekend of Nov. 28-30, in which hundreds of people were killed and many homes, businesses, churches, and mosques were burned. Jos is the site of congregations and administrative buildings of Ekklesiyar Yan'uwa a Nigeria (EYN--the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria).
Sunday, Dec. 7, 2008Source: 12/17/2008 Newsline
We were out of town when the crisis happened in Jos. We live and work in Jos, the capital of Plateau State in central Nigeria. We returned one week later.
It was strange indeed--that the day we arrived in Jos it rained. I immediately thought of God. It doesn't rain in Jos in December! It hadn't rained in Jos since the rainy season ended in the middle of October. But it rained anyway, a cool, soaking rain.
That was Friday, one week to the day that the crisis began. The city is different now. You can feel it. Less traffic, less noise, less people walking up and down. The people you see are quiet too. Nothing has been done about the burned out churches, mosques, homes, and cars. Black skeletons of a disastrous event.
On that particular Friday everyone was running for safety. Our compound, Boulder Hill, was safe. Our gardener came with his son that night seeking protection. He is a Muslim. His neighborhood was in a trouble spot. Along with his son, he had a Christian friend with him. My neighbor and colleague Pastor Anthony Ndamsai took them in against the wishes of some of his family and others in the compound. There is a general mistrust between Muslims and Christians, even with people you work with daily. Pastor Anthony said the night passed peacefully at our compound, though little sleep was had.
Today is Sunday a week later. We went to church today. The church was packed. During announcements, the secretary gave the statistics of the previous week when there was still killing going on. There were 140 worshipers present then. Today's service included the annual Thanksgiving Celebration. We danced down the aisles to the rhythm of the music, singing songs of gratitude. Prayers of thanksgiving were given, ranging from gratitude for restored health to escaping from the torches' fire.
Thanks was given for the rain. People were, like me, surprised it rained. The worshiper who stood and gave the congregational prayer wondered why God had allowed it to rain on Jos. Maybe, he said, it was to wash the sins away off the pavement.