The partnership in the gospel between the Anglican Diocese of Jos, Nigeria, and the Anglican Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn, together with Anglican Aid, was relaunched on Saturday 10 September at the Diocesan Synod Dinner.
In January 2017, under Bishop Stuart Robinson’s leadership, a partnership was formally established between the Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn and the Diocese of Jos, led by Archbishop Ben Kwashi. This grew organically out of two mission visits Archbishop Kwashi made to Canberra in 2011 and 2015, assisted by a reciprocal visit to Jos made by Canon Patrick Cole to help map out priority needs and determine where the Canberra and Goulburn Diocese might assist.
In parallel, Anglican Aid was raising and sending funds to Jos to help brothers and sisters suffering horrifically violent persecution in Nigeria, and running an appeal to support those in the Canberra and Goulburn Diocese impacted by the devastating 2019/20 Summer bushfires.
When addressing the Synod Dinner the CEO of Anglican Aid, Canon Tim Swan, stated ‘Our Vision is to see the grace of God overflowing to a world in need … sometimes Nigeria; sometimes it’s in Narooma’.
Following the outpouring of generosity from churches and fellow Christians, Anglican Aid was able to give $286,000 to the Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn that was distributed to 16 ministry units and South Coast Anglican schools. The funds were used to provide trauma counselling, emergency accommodation assistance, urgent supplies, chaplains and pastoral care workers to support many people across the diocese – in places like Narooma – who had lost homes and were in distress.
At the same time, minority tribal groups and Christians were being brutally attacked by Islamic Fulani cattle herdsmen militia and Boko Haram Islamic terrorist groups in north-east Nigeria. It was estimated that over 5000 people were killed and over 300,000 were displaced in Jos last year. Anglican Aid provided funds to the Diocese of Jos for the distribution of emergency food relief to 12,500 people, zinc roofing sheets to provide shelter for about 7000 people, and irrigation water pumps and grinding machines for 27 households. Anglican Aid also upheld these brothers and sisters through prayer, advocacy and humanitarian assistance as part of its Persecuted Christians Support Program.
As Tim continued his presentation to Synod members he explained, ‘One of our principles at Anglican Aid is to give aid through churches and church agencies where possible. Because it’s Christians in churches who are on the ground, who have long term relationships with those in their communities, who are the face of Christ to those in need … Someone who will listen to them in their shock, who will walk alongside during the grief to come, someone to pray with them … As Christians, because Jesus loved us and walks alongside us, that’s what we do.’
At the Synod Dinner Bishop Mark Short officially relaunched the diocese-to-diocese partnership between Canberra and Goulburn and Jos – this time with Anglican Aid facilitating. Tim explained, ‘Anglican Aid will manage delivery of the projects, issue taxdeductible receipts for all this work, communicate back on progress, and support fundraising efforts, so that together we may show the love of Christ to those in the Diocese of Jos’.
Through this renewed partnership, the aid distributed by local churches in Jos will not only help meet the material needs of these brothers and sisters in Christ, but it will also remind them that they are part of God’s family and loved from afar. As Archbishop Ben Kwashi exclaimed in the video message concluding the presentation, ‘What a joy to see the church responding to biblical injunctions of loving one another’. He went on to share how he believes that the church in the persecuted areas he leads are ‘hanging on the wings of prayers’ of Australian Christians and that they are ‘not just surviving, they are thriving in their faith because of the prayers of people like you in Australia’.
He said he was ‘personally grateful for the friendship, for the fellowship’ and closed saying, ‘We thank you profoundly and profusely for all the support in the past and we urge you to do so even in the days ahead … God bless you and thank you very, very much. Be encouraged, pray for us, support us when you can and give your gifts to specific projects.’
For more information or to support this partnership and its projects visit www.anglicanaid.org.au/locations/ nigeria or contact Rev Canon Patrick Cole by phoning 0438 490 023 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
The Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn will be supporting four particular projects in Jos:
1. Assistance to the Christian Institute, Jos, which raises up Christian men and women in Plateau State and neighbouring regions, who go back to do ministry in their local area and also to be community leaders and provide primary health care. This assistance is to have two elements:
i) Bursaries for training – to cover the living and tuition costs. Anglican Aid has a well-developed structure to support similar training in various institutions in Africa and elsewhere
ii) Capital development of classroom and other facilities at the college.
2. Persecuted Christians – rebuilding structures and providing medical and other support for persecuted communities.
3. Assistance to Zambiri School – a school to cater for disadvantaged kids especially those that have been orphaned and adopted because of displacement and destruction accompanying persecution.
Submitted by Amy Touzell, Anglican Aid