Seventh-day Adventist world and regional leaders stopped by two educational institutions managed by the church in Eastern Nigeria on the afternoon of November 2. The visit highlighted the meteoric growth of Adventist education in the region and the church’s commitment to support it.
Adventist leaders, including General Conference (GC) president Ted N. C. Wilson, visited the Adventist Secondary Technical School (ASTEC) in Owerrinta, Abia State, and the nearby Clifford University to meet with leaders, personnel, and students. Wilson was accompanied by GC treasurer Paul H. Douglas, associate treasurer George Egwakhe, and their respective wives. Leaders from the West-Central Africa Division (WAD) and the Eastern Nigeria Union Conference (ENUC) were also present. Their visit was part of the celebration to mark 100 years of the Adventist Church’s presence in the region.
Enter to Worship, Depart to Serve
ASTEC is a middle and secondary boarding school with around 1,000 students. Under the motto, “Enter to Worship, Depart to Serve,” the institution has reached many of its students, who are not Seventh-day Adventists, with the gospel of Jesus and Bible truth, ASTEC’s principal, Ahaoma Nwanma, reported.
Following its vision statement to become “a center of excellence founded in the name of God to restore the lost values for a better tomorrow,” the institution is committed to becoming a light in that area, its leaders said. It also serves as a feeder school for Clifford University.
Now the church is launching a building project for a church that would seat 3,000 people and is considering other improvements to its fast-growing campus, Nwangwa said. “We have other needs, as we need quality health care,” he said. “We want to become a center known in the area for its quality of education and care.”
Wilson told those present that as part of God’s family, they are valued and loved. “You are precious people … Don’t ever forget that your preparation here is for something extraordinary in the future,” Wilson said. “God has a plan for every one of your lives.” He also invited students to become part of the great proclamation before the second coming of Jesus, telling other people that God has a plan for each person and that He loves them dearly.
Wilson noted that ASTEC is committed to teaching students to develop their relationship with God, preparing them for higher education, and beyond that, for service to families, communities, the entire nation, and God.
Emphasizing the need to focus on all things that are “true, noble, and just” (see Phil. 4:8), Wilson also appealed to every member of the educational community to “go and serve with distinction because you are looking to Jesus to fulfill these characteristics in your life.”
Wilson promised school leaders that he would seek ways to make a modest contribution to support some of the school’s expansion plans.
From 56 to 1,400 in Six Years
Leaving ASTEC, Adventist leaders traveled a few minutes to the campus of Clifford University. The university was founded in 2013 and began classes in May 2017 with 56 students. Six and a half years later, the Adventist institution has 1,400 students in six schools and 32 accredited degree programs, its vice chancellor Chimezie Allwell Omeonu told visitors and students on November 2.
On its campus, several schools functioned for decades until in July 1967 a civil war broke out and all private hospitals and schools in Nigeria were taken over by the military administration without compensation. In May 1999, Nigeria returned to democratic governance and in 2012, the state government decided to hand missionary schools back to their original owners. “I know what Adventist education does,” then governor Theodore A. Orji said, according to Omeonu. “Let’s do all we can to make it work.” On June 1, 2020, the institution received a full operational license to operate as a private university in Nigeria.
Wilson, who returned to Clifford after nine years, said he felt deeply impressed. “It’s wonderful what God has made on this campus since I was here,” he told the hundreds who filled the university church for the ceremony. “Not only the campus has changed tremendously; you have also improved your academic offerings by leaps and bounds. This is a tribute to the very careful work of your faculty and staff. We praise God for what He is doing at Clifford University.”
He told the students to remember that they belong to a very special university. “I hope you don’t take it for granted,” Wilson said. “I hope you understand God has a very specific purpose for every one of you … God has a plan for you, and by God’s grace, He is working out His plan while you are here. You have a great opportunity to go from this place to help the great country of Nigeria in so many ways, but most of all, to point people to Jesus.”