Friday, May 2, 2014

Dr. Pipa Ministers in Nigeria

By Dr. Joseph A. Pipa, Jr.
GPTS President

This past March 19-24 I had the privilege to return to Nigeria to minister at the NKST Yina congregation in Makurdi, Nigeria. The pastor of the church is Dr. Antiev Kurugh. Dr. Kurugh has been a friend of our family since the days he studied under me in California. 

Dr. Pipa with Pastor Kurugh and two of his daughters
at the NKST Boarding School for Girls
Dr. Pipa, Pastor Kurugh with teacher Joseph
at the secondary school
Makurdi is the capital of the state of Benue, which is in the southern part of the country. Nigeria, named for the Niger River, is the most populous country in Africa and the seventh most populous in the world. The NKST (Church of Christ in the Sudan among the TIV) was established in 1911 by the Reformed Church in South Africa. In 1960 the Christian Reformed Church of North America took oversight. Now the denomination is independent. It has primary and secondary schools, a teachers college, a university, and a seminary. 

Dr. Kurugh was installed at NKST Yina in 2009. When I visited in 2011, they had 600 members. Today they have over a thousand, with about fifty adult conversions in 2013. The congregation, however, is very poor. When I asked why they did not plant other congregations rather than hold services where almost half of the attendees sit outside, Dr. Kurugh told me they barely can afford one pastor. They are ministering to very poor people.

Rick Marcus, Pastor Kurugh with Church Session

In light of the poverty of the congregation, I wanted to begin to work on plans for economic development. A close friend, Mr. Rick Marcus, joined me on this trip in order to give advice on economic development. As a result of our suggestions, the session is appointing an Economic Development Committee that will not formally be part of the church, but will work alongside the office bearers in establishing economic opportunities. One small project is helping a lady establish a school in her home teaching home economics.  Some of the other projects we are considering are raising pigs, chickens, and goats; a plastic bottle recycling facility; and juice processing plant — Benue is the bread basket of Nigeria. But, for example, the citrus growers have to sell their produce to juice producers in other states at deflated prices and then the people pay higher prices for the processed juice. 

Rick Marcus
 If you or your congregation is interested in any of these projects please get in touch with me. Also there are good opportunities for mission trips to do construction work, as well as Vacation Bible School (English is the official language). One pressing need is for people to come to help build the expansion of the facility. Over half the congregation, as I said, sits outside.

Another project that I am working on with Dr. Kurugh is the development of a first-class Christian Primary and Secondary school. This will be a private school and not a church school. Dr. Kurugh has property on which to build the school. Sadly, the first-class schools in Makurdi are being built by the Roman Catholics.  We already are behind the curve.

Now to the ministry. I preached six times at the Yina congregation — each time to over a thousand people.  I got to baptize thirty infants and officiate at a communion service for about a thousand people. I also did two radio and one television programs that were broadcast to thousands of people. In addition, I gave a lecture at the seminary on pastoral visitation and preached on 2 Timothy 4:1-5 on preaching. The Lord graciously blessed the ministry according to the elders of the church. 

Communion Service

Seminary students
More seminary students

I was able to make this trip because some of our donors give to our missionary travel fund. What that fund does not cover, the seminary pays for out of my general travel fund. In addition to going to Nigeria, the fund enables me to travel yearly to Italy to work with our graduate Mike Cuneo, who is planting a church in Viterbo, Italy.