Patton Taylor’s Ongoing Nigeria Ministry
First of all I would like to thank you all for the very significant support already given me over the last few years for my Nigeria ministry - including contributions given to help deserving young people in Nigeria and for hardship relief in these recent months of coronavirus and lockdown.
Because of coronavirus, my Nigeria ministry has moved into a new phase. I have not been able to travel to Nigeria during 2020 – but I have been keeping closely in touch with the two United Evangelical Church Colleges where I act as “visiting professor”. The Colleges have struggled with all the Covid-related restrictions and had to close down in the Spring – but both Colleges have now been able to reopen for the new academic session. The necessary technology is not yet available to the Colleges – but hopefully in the not too distant future it will become possible to give lectures or take classes on Zoom! The new Clinic at PACT College (which has been a major project for me) is now up and running – not just caring for the College community but also offering affordable basic care in the local (50% Muslim) community – carrying on the long tradition of Mission Africa medical mission. In addition to the two UEC Colleges, I also continue to support some PG / doctoral students in JETS College in Jos.
My main focus at the moment has been maintaining links with individual students, former students, and other young people with potential for leadership within the Nigerian Church. Smart phones are relatively cheap in Nigeria - and so communication (for example, by WhatsApp and Facebook) is relatively easy and inexpensive for them. In particular, there are a number of young people who have “adopted” me as a father figure and I have developed a significant “mentoring” role, most days spending quite a lot of time online on this correspondence.
Most of the College students get by on the most meagre resources and struggle both for their College fees and for their living essentials. Few of them are able to maintain any kind of “reserve” to cover (for example) an unforeseen medical bill (and even the most basic medical care or medicine may be beyond their affordability). An unforeseen medical bill or other setback may also mean that that wider family and friends are suddenly unable to give financial support that was promised. This already precarious way of life has been greatly compounded by the coronavirus situation. The price of food has rocketed as has the cost of medical care. Jobs have disappeared (no furlough schemes in Nigeria!) – and even government employees are often expected to keep on working without pay, for months or longer. Many earn their living from daily-paid work or trading farm produce in the market place – and the reality is that, if a Covid-related lockdown prevents them from getting to work today, then there is no money to buy food for the family tomorrow. And for those who have moved on from College to work as pastors in the towns and villages, the Church members, themselves hard-hit by the Covid situation, often just don’t have the money to enable even meagre salary payments.
So “hunger” is a regular theme in the communications I receive!
I have sent a lot of financial help! I don’t say this boastfully – since God has given me enough and to spare – and I have available funds which were set aside “for such a time as this”. Also friends and supporters have helped me significantly. I realise that I won’t be able to help everyone – but that is not a reason for helping no one. I realise also that occasionally someone may exaggerate their need or take advantage of me – but, again, this is not a reason for helping no one. I just pray for the necessary wisdom, discernment, guidance.
While emergency “handouts” are often essential (especially during this unprecedented Covid19 situation), I have become increasingly aware of the importance of enabling young people to earn and provide for themselves, rather than depending on handouts. I remember the old proverb: give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; give a man a fishing rod and you feed him for a lifetime. And so, I have channelled some bigger sums to a few individuals to help them set up in a “business” or trade. Let me give a few examples.
Chidi, at only 17 years of age, had lost both his parents, had only very limited wider family support, had dropped out of school himself for lack of finance, and now has the ongoing responsibility for several dependent younger siblings – with seemingly little option but to beg for money on the street. So I helped him towards the purchase of a “keke”. A keke is a covered motor-tricycle, with a front driving seat and a rear seat for several passengers to squeeze into. In most Nigerian towns, the keke is the main means of public transport. A second-hand keke can be purchased for under £1,000 – and so, with some support from me, some support from wider family, and with a small bank-loan, Chidi is now able to earn the money for food and essentials and for school fees for his younger siblings (no schooling is free of charge in Nigeria). This has so far worked well - though it will take some time for Chidi to build up a sufficiently stable reserve to allow (for example) for unforeseen keke repairs or medical bills.
Another young man, Tee Jay, has been helped to set up fish tanks in his back yard. He buys the fish (cat-fish) when tiny, feeds them, and will eventually sell them in the food market. A young pastor asked for help for his wife to acquire a display cabinet from which she can sell home baking and home-made soft drinks by the roadside (and so support the family when the congregation are unable to pay any salary).
I have a list of others whom I would like to support in this way as funds become available. If anyone would lie to contribute, my contact details are below and I would be glad of anything you can give (which could be gift-aided through Mission Africa or by JustGiving).
I would also mention one particular Church project, pioneered by a young man called Aniedi, who was brought up by a Mission Africa Missionary and her Nigerian husband (Aniedi’s uncle). In his local Church, the Youth Fellowship under his leadership have set up a most worthwhile programme, in which young Church members with employment skills (from carpentry, to tailoring, to IT, to baking, or whatever) volunteer to teach and share their skills with other young people who have had no opportunity to acquire such skills. The next phase of the programme will be to help “graduates” from the programme to set themselves up in business (with the necessary tools, equipment, premises, etc).
You will remember that last November I completed the initial 3-year commitment I had made to Mission Africa, to travel to Nigeria twice a year, primarily to teach in the two Theological Colleges. I had then intended to continue with a once-a-year visit to further the College work of College and to progress particular projects with which I had become involved. I did have flights booked to travel out last April – but of course Covid19 put a stop to this. I am however hoping that it will be possible for me to travel to Nigeria at some stage in 2021. I can certainly assure those of you who are contributing to my ongoing support through Mission Africa that your contributions will continue to be well used in the future.
With thanks once again for all your support - and God bless
694A Ravenhill Road,
JustGiving link https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/patton-taylor2