General Conference (GC) president Ted N. C. Wilson and other world and regional Seventh-day Adventist leaders made several stops in Aba, Abia State, Nigeria, on November 2 that highlighted the church’s ongoing commitment to the ministry of health and education worldwide.
Leaders were in the region for a weeklong centennial celebration of the arrival of the Seventh-day Adventist message to Eastern Nigeria. Between the November 1 celebration at the birthplace of Adventism and a massive official celebration at a stadium on November 4, Adventist leaders spoke with health care administrators and professionals, educational leaders, and students about the state and the possibilities for improved service in that region and beyond.
New Health Centers
The day started with a visit to the Adventist Hospital in Aba. The hospital’s basic facilities have significantly benefited from the recent construction of a Mother and Child Center, funded by Adventist Nigerian expatriates living in New York, United States. The brand-new center, which still needs to be equipped, will provide cutting-edge care and will be a trailblazing institution in the region and the country, regional health care leaders said.
A group of Adventist Nigerians living across the U.S. and Canada is also raising funds for an adjacent diagnostic center. The foundation has now been completed, and construction is set to proceed as funds become available. Leaders expect both institutions will not only provide key health services but also give even greater visibility to the Adventist Church in the region. Abia State in Eastern Nigeria has the highest concentration of Seventh-day Adventists in West Africa, with more than 191,000 baptized members in the Eastern Nigeria Union Conference (ENUC).
Motherless Babies Home
Wilson and his wife, Nancy, accompanied by GC treasurer Paul H. Douglas, associate treasurer George Egwakhe, and their wives, also visited the Motherless Babies Home. The home currently houses 11 children who are either orphans or have been abandoned by their parents. Several of them have disabilities and would very likely be dead but for the loving ministry of their caregivers.
Wilson commended the dedicated labor of these Adventist caregivers. “The work you’re doing is of extreme importance,” Wilson said. “Only heaven will tell the impact of your service.”
Wilson called caregivers to understand that God is using them to provide support to those with nowhere else to turn. “I am so thankful that you are God’s hand and feet in this place. Don’t ever think that your job is not important,” Wilson said, also assuring caregivers that in consultation with other GC leaders, he would seek a way to make a modest contribution to support the facility’s mission.
At the end of the brief visit, Nancy Wilson prayed for the mission of the Motherless Babies Home, its personnel, and children. “Please help them know that you love each one of them,” she prayed, visibly moved. “That they may know that you have a plan for each one of them. Help them to know that they have a heavenly Father that cares for them. And help them so they might get to know Jesus.”
Adventist Technical School
Adventist leaders then visited the nearby Aba’s Adventist Technical School, a middle and secondary school that opened in 2014 with 121 students and now has about 820 students. Hundreds of students, donning green and white uniforms that echo the colors of the Nigerian flag, flanked the street leading to the school campus as the leaders from the GC, the West-Central Africa Division (WAD), and ENUC walked by, led by a Pathfinder fanfare band.
School principal Obioma Agharanya explained that the school is still in its developmental stages. The school has recently set the foundations to build a church on its campus, he said. “By God’s grace, we must complete this, so students can worship God in a chapel.” Right now, they meet at a nearby hall, Agharanya said.
Minutes later, WAD president Robert Ossei-Bonsu introduced Wilson, who expressed delight at visiting the institution and congratulated the students on their uniforms and respectful behavior. “You look really good,” Wilson told them. “And I really want to congratulate you on your discipline … I applaud you for that. May your life be always disciplined by the knowledge of Jesus Christ and His Word.”
He explained that the Christian life brings order to our existence. “It helps us to learn a better way of living,” Wilson said. “Every time you leave this place to go to your home or the community, you are special witnesses and missionaries for Jesus. I want you to never forget that, because we are counting on you to help prepare people for Jesus’ soon second coming.”
Wilson urged students to prepare for life but also for eternity. Quoting Ecclesiastes 12:1 in the Bible, he called them to “remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come.” “God calls you to remember Him because He knows you and has a special plan for each one of you,” he said.
At the Regional Headquarters
At a final stop at the ENUC headquarters, leaders participated in planting several commemorative trees before briefly meeting with the personnel. Wilson then read from Colossians 3:23, 24 as he reminded those working at the ENUC headquarters that whatever they do, they should “do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Wilson also called on those present to keep pressing on in commitment to mission. “I hope that by God’s grace, we will hear wonderful things happening as the centennial unfolds,” he said.