A visit to and special inauguration of a Seventh-day Adventist university in Nigeria highlighted the importance and impact of Adventist education in that nation and beyond.
The November 5 visit to Babcock University in Ilishan-Remo, Ogun State, included General Conference (GC) president Ted N. C. Wilson and treasurer Paul H. Douglas, as well as associate treasurer George Egwakhe and their wives. It also included leaders from the West-Central Africa Division (WAD), a church region that encompasses 22 African countries, and from the West Nigeria Union Conference.
After a welcome ceremony at the main campus entrance and by the university church, Adventist leaders briefly toured the local BUTH Cardiac Centre, cut ribbons for the new Academic Building, and joined a ceremony with faculty, staff, and students on campus.
“It’s a privilege to be back at Babcock University,” Wilson said. Decades ago, the Wilsons served at the WAD, based in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, for almost nine years. During that time, Wilson visited the institution, then known as the Adventist Seminary of West Africa, several times. He said he was happy to witness the progress the institution has made by leaps and bounds. “At that time, none of these big buildings were here; this was mostly open space with only a farm,” he said. “God has blessed Babcock University immensely.”
Now, the cardiac center on campus provides specialized heart surgeries, its leaders said, including bypass surgeries and valve replacement in two surgical theaters. The facilities also include a catheterization laboratory (cath lab), that helps to diagnose stenosis or other abnormalities before deciding what course of treatment to follow.
Leaders briefly toured the facilities, including its intensive care unit, where a 6-month-old baby girl was recovering from bilateral valve replacement and a 5-year-old boy was recovering from an open-heart surgery. Wilson prayed for the children, their caregivers, and the work of the center.
At walking distance from the BUTH Cardiac Centre is the new Academic Building, a state-of-the-art facility built in just nine months to serve the increasing needs of the institution, which when in full session includes 12,000 students. The multistory building includes classroom and academic offices. Wilson and other leaders cut the ribbon and unveiled a plaque commemorating the visit and the commissioning of the new facilities. Wilson reminded the Babcock educational community that a primary goal of Adventist education is for people “to be well-rounded and be of service to the country and God’s church,” and added, “May this building help to prepare young people for eternity.”
A Momentous Occasion
The ceremony with the educational community included a special message by Babcock University vice chancellor Ademola Tayo, who welcomed world and regional church leaders to the university’s campus. “Your visit to our campus is a testament to the strong bonds that tie our global church community together, and it reaffirms the importance of faith and fellowship in our lives,” Tayo said. He briefly reviewed the institution’s history, which began in 1959 with just seven students.
Tayo told Adventist leaders that the institution is deeply committed to the mission of the Adventist Church. Babcock University includes 33 ordained ministers as part of its personnel, including 19 full-time chaplains ministering in hospitals, workplaces, and students’ halls of residence, Tayo said.
In the last few years, the university opened the Babcock Center for Clinical Pastoral Education and Spiritual Care to provide specialized training in chaplaincy, and the Adventist African-Traditionalist Relations Centre to reach out to targeted populations across Africa, Tayo said. Babcock has also opened a Geoscience Research Institute branch office to help highlight the biblical teaching on creation, a media center that is reaching Nigeria and beyond, and an active prison ministry.
Responding to the General Conference Mission Refocus initiative, the university has adopted the East Sahel Union Mission by offering tuition-free scholarships to 15 pastors from Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, and northern Cote d’Ivoire. After they complete their studies, they will be deployed as frontline missionaries in unentered areas, Tayo said.
Tayo also shared that Babcock University has been establishing secondary schools in strategic places in southwest Nigeria, including Lagos. These schools not only support the world church’s Mission to the Cities initiative but also serve as feeders for the university.
Babcock University’s 40 degree programs are fully accredited, Tayo said. Health and business education are thriving. “Our cardiac center is one of the most successful in the country for attracting significant clients and patients,” he said. “We have a franchise with the Central Bank of Nigeria and multinational oil companies to handle their staff medical needs. We have carried out more than 1,000 successful heart surgeries. The success story is replicated in our orthopedic and ophthalmology departments.”
Amid so many success stories, Tayo remembered to give thanks to God. “We could not have achieved these without the help of our almighty God and the unflinching support of the church leadership, the oversight function provided by the committed Governing Council, tireless faculty, devoted staff, indefatigable students and loving parents,” Tayo said. “Thank you, everyone, for … [celebrating] this momentous occasion.”
Calling on God
Wilson commended Babcock University leaders for their commitment and focus on the mission of the Adventist Church and reminded his audience of where we stand as God’s people in the end of time. “We are heading towards our Promised Land, when Jesus will come very soon,” he said. “We are lifting up the soon coming of our Lord and Savior.”
He invited the educational community, especially its young members, to reflect on God’s plans for their lives. “Every one of you, no matter what you do, has a God-given plan for you,” Wilson told them. “[God] knows you better than you know yourselves. He has a plan; He has known you since you were born and before. Don’t get discouraged.”
Quoting Jeremiah 32:27, Wilson read, “I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?” “When you get discouraged … when you’re faced with unsolvable situations, turn to the One who says, ‘Is there anything too hard for Me?’” Wilson said. In Jeremiah 33:3, God gives us the answer, Wilson added. “‘Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know,’” he read. “Every time you feel you are in a tough situation, call on the Lord … and He will show you things you don’t know … May God use each of you in His service. Maranatha.”