25.04.16 | News

Nigerian Church Facing Defining Moment

Reverend Ephrahim Kadala, Peacemaking Coordinator for the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria (EYN), speaks to the Synod of the Protestant Church in Baden during its spring meeting
Ephrahim Kadala and Riley Edwards-Raudonat

Ephrahim Kadala (left) talks about Nigeria, Riley Edwards-Raudonat translates. (Photo: Wolfgang Krauss)

"We call our trauma workshops the 'Cathedral of Tears'," Kadala remarked to the Baden Synod. No doubt about it: when perpetrators and victims spend a day recounting their experiences, tears flow in abundance. Yet for Kadala, this is the core aspect of the trauma healing process. "We deliberately bring Christians and Muslims together for this process, persons who have cooperated with Boko Haram and those they victimized. When they confront each other in our workshops, it is very difficult," he says. "The victims, after all, have often not only lost house and home. Their loved ones were often brutally murdered before their eyes. The perpetrators confess to having done those things, but they insist that they had no choice. Otherwise, they themselves would have been murdered by Boko Haram."

With nine other members of his church Kadala travelled to Ruanda to see how trauma healing was done there. He firmly believes that such workshops are the way to achieve peace. "There is no alternative to peaceful coexistence with the Muslim community. This means that we have to work through our trauma together." At the same time, he considers the current crisis with Boko Haram to be the 'defining moment" in the 90-year history of his church. "Our youth does not always agree with the pacifist position of our church. We teach them to turn the other cheek. But these days, they remark in return: 'We turned the other cheek, but then Boko Haram cut off our heads. If we do not resist them, they will destroy us.'"

As Kadala related to the Baden Synod, he himself believes this to be a misunderstanding. "Turning the other cheek is not the same as living the life of a doormat. It is a way of strengthening our resilience. It is a flexible response to the rigidity of violence." In response to questions from the Synod delegates, Kadala remarked that "even though more than one million members of our church have been displaced, we believe that God has placed us here to resolve this crisis. We therefore have stayed in Nigeria or in the neighboring countries. We haven't tried to come to Europe as refugees. But we are in need, and the Nigerian government offers us no assistance. Thanks to Mission 21 in Basel and the Church of the Brethren in the United States, we have received material help - food and clothing, household supplies, building materials. But it is not enough to meet the demand. Please assist us as we seek to do the will of God in this difficult time."

EMS supports via Basel Mission - German Branch the project "Action Plan for Nigeria".

Riley Edwards-Raudonat

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