The newly organized National Association of Adventist Corp (NAAC) members have led 40 persons to Jesus in the Island of Egbopuloama, Souther Ijaw Local Government Area in Bayelsa State, Nigeria.
NAAC is a chaplaincy ministry of the Seventh-day Adventist Church to reach members in the National Youth Service Corps Scheme, an initiative of the government of Nigeria to engage under-30 university graduates in national service before they proceed to work or further studies.
The one-year service scheme is preceded by a three-week orientation program during which participants are exposed to paramilitary and leadership training. Afterwards, Corps members are deployed as teachers in public schools, agricultural extension workers or medical service providers in public health facilities. They are also expected to carry out community development and service activities.
In a chat with this correspondent, pioneer national coordinator of NAAC, Mrs Victoria Hope Anama, noted that during the service year, Adventist Corps members deployed to communities with no Adventist Church presence leave the church for want of spiritual nurture and care throughout the year. Often they get absorbed into other denominations.
Miss Chanya Abbey who served in Akwa Ibom State almost suffered this fate, but moved by the Holy Spirit, she urged her elder sister Mrs Victoria Anama to begin a ministry for young Adventist professionals.
These sisters began contacting Seventh-day Adventist Corps members in Port Harcourt and the Eastern region, started a whatsapp group through which they reached out to Corps members across ENUC, opened their home to Corps members who were stranded and mobilised them for mission.
According to Mrs Anama, “one of the corps members who contacted us on the whatsapp group was Funmilayo Ogunleye, a geology graduate from Ekiti State University. Funmilayo was posted to a remote island, Egbopuloama in Bayelsa State. She could not worship for several months because from Egbopuloama to the nearest town where she could find an Adventist Church was about one and half hours by speed boat at N2000 round trip (approx. US$6),” a tall order for someone on a government stipend of less than N20,000 ($55) a month.
Anama mobilized about 20 Corps members to visit Funmi. On arrival, Corps member Funmi and Pastor Japhet Ogbugo, a global mission pioneer, through their impactful community service, had mobilized the local chiefs and community leaders to give the crew a royal welcome. They had an enriching Sabbath worship.
“After the first visit, we planned and executed a mission trip to Egbopuloama. A crew of four medical doctors, a medical laboratory scientist, a nurse, a pharmacist, a dentist and about 50 volunteer Corps members provided free medical care for over 150 persons from Egbopuloama and neighboring islands. We also distributed free clothes, mosquito nets and Christian literature,” Anama stated.
The crew also ran Vacation Bible School and Literacy Classes where the teachers among the Corps members taught children aged 5 to 15 how to read and write.
At the end of the one week gospel campaign and community service, 28 adults were baptised and a new church planted in Egbopuloama. Follow up activities by global mission pioneers have yielded 12 additional souls, including the deputy chief of the Island.
ENUC Evangelism and Global Mission Coordinator, Pastor Uzoma Nwosi, says there are about 500 islands like Egbopuloama that need to be penetrated with the everlasting gospel.
He urged that Egbopoluama needs a water treatment facility as the community drinks from a contaminated water source where they defecate, wash their clothes and have their bath. The community also needs a school and five mobile boat clinics that will serve Egbopoluama and the nearly 500 neighbouring Islands.
Pastor Nwosi is grateful to the Give Them the Key Initiative of the Youth Ministries Department of West-Central Africa Division for funding the mission to Egbopuloama. The fund also supported youth evangelistic missions to Ogoja and Uyo.
Pastor Chigozi Eti
Associate Director of Communication
Eastern Nigeria Union Conference