Members of the newly organized National Association of Adventist Corps (NAAC) have led 40 persons to Jesus on the Island of Egbopuloama, in Southern Ijaw, Bayelsa State, Nigeria. NAAC is a chaplaincy ministry of the Seventh-day Adventist Church whose mission is to reach members following the National Youth Service Corps Scheme, an initiative of the government of Nigeria to engage university graduates under the age of 30 in national service before they enter the labor market or keep studying.
"She could not worship for several months because the nearest town with an Adventist Church was about one and half hours by speedboat"
The one-year service initiative is preceded by a three-week orientation program, where participants are exposed to paramilitary and leadership training. Afterwards, members are deployed as teachers in public schools, agricultural extension workers, or medical service providers in public health facilities, depending on their area of expertise. They are also expected to carry out community development and service activities.
Pioneer national coordinator of NAAC Victoria Hope Anama said that in the past, Adventist Corps members deployed to communities with no Adventist Church presence had often stopped attending church for lack of spiritual nurture and care.
Chanya Abbey, who served in Akwa Ibom State and said she almost suffered the same fate, said that moved by the Holy Spirit, she urged her elder sister Victoria Anama to launch a ministry for young Adventist professionals.
Abbey and Anama began contacting Seventh-day Adventist Corps members in Port Harcourt and the Eastern region, launched a WhatsApp group through which they reached out to Corps members across the region, opened their home to Corps members who were stranded, and mobilized them for mission.
“One of the corps members who contacted us on the WhatsApp group was Funmilayo Ogunleye, a geology graduate from Ekiti State University,” Anama said. “Ogunleye was posted to a remote island, Egbopuloama, in Bayelsa State. She could not worship for several months because the nearest town with an Adventist Church was about one and half hours by speedboat, and the trip was costly, a tall order for someone on a limited government stipend.”
“We also distributed free clothes, mosquito nets, and Christian literature.”
Anama mobilized about 20 Corps members to visit Ogunleye. On arrival, they found out Ogunleye and Global Mission pioneer Japhet Ogbugo, through their significant community service, had mobilized the local chiefs and community leaders to give the crew a royal welcome. They enjoyed an enriching Sabbath worship.
“After our first visit, we planned and executed a mission trip to Egbopuloama, as a crew of four medical doctors, a medical laboratory scientist, a nurse, a pharmacist, a dentist and about 50 volunteer Corps members provided free medical care for over 150 persons from Egbopuloama and neighboring islands,” said Anama. “We also distributed free clothes, mosquito nets, and Christian literature.”
The crew also ran Vacation Bible School and Literacy Classes for children aged 5 to 15.
At the end of the one-week gospel campaign and community service, 28 adults were baptized, and a new church planted in Egbopuloama. Follow-up activities by global mission pioneers have yielded 12 additional baptisms, including the island’s deputy chief.
Eastern Nigeria Union Conference Evangelism and Global Mission Coordinator Uzoma Nwosi said he is grateful the regional Adventist Church is sponsoring this and other projects. “I thank the Give Them the Key Initiative of the West-Central Africa Division Youth Ministries Department for providing the funding for the mission project to Egbopuloama. The fund is also supporting youth evangelistic missions to Ogoja and Uyo,” he said.
Nwosi reminded there are about 500 islands like Egbopuloama that need to be entered with the everlasting gospel and receive community support. According to Nwosi, Egbopoluama needs a water treatment facility, as the community usually drinks from the same contaminated water source where they defecate, wash their clothes, and have their bath. “The community also needs a school and five mobile boat clinics that will serve Egbopoluama and the neighboring islands,” he said.