Photo by Julu Swen, UMNS
Some of the displaced Nigerians in the front yard of the Don Peter Dabale Memorial United Methodist Church in Nigeria.
By E. Julu Swen, United Methodist News Service
| ABUJA, Nigeria
A United Methodist congregation in Nigeria is providing refuge for some of the thousands escaping the Boko Haram war in northern Nigeria.
That assistance is happening despite the scarce resources of the Don Peter Dabale Memorial United Methodist Church in Abuja, which has been trying to complete a church building project since 2009.
According to the Rev. Matthew Daniel Dangombe, superintendent of the Abuja District, the refugees were living around the church in makeshift structures in desperate conditions, so the church decided to help them. “We considered helping these people as part of our Christian duty in this district,” he said.
The displaced Nigerians come from various religious backgrounds. The church is using its different ministries, such as teaching how to recycle waste papers, sewing skills and arts and crafts, to lower their fear and prepare them for career opportunities when they return to their home states.
“The young children are assisted with some school lessons from our friends from the American Embassy here in Abuja,” Dangombe said, adding that The United Methodist Church in Nigeria is already collaborating with other religious groups and will keep the doors open for those seeking refuge in its facility.
Dangombe said they did not considered hosting them a threat to the church, but an opportunity for the church to expand its ministry to the Nigerian people.
“There are more churches in Nigeria, especially where we are located, but few of them like us (United Methodist) will not worry about the cost (of hosting),” the clergyman said.
The displaced Nigerians are being cared for from the resources of the church, he noted, especially Sunday service offerings of the Don Peter Dabale Memorial United Methodist Church, which has more than 1,000 members.
Located in the suburb of Abuja called “Church Village,” the congregation is helping the displaced people get involved in small business be selling some of the items they make in their training sessions.
The church honors the memory of the late Bishop Don Peter Dabale, former bishop of The United Methodist Church in Nigeria, who died in 2006.