Jesse Zink continues to file thought-provoking dispatches on his travels in Africa. What he’s found in Yola, Nigeria infuriated him.
Bishop Marcus Ibrahim is young, smart, energetic, and educated in the U.S (and on Facebook). Yet not a penny of the money the diocese has spent in his six years as bishop has come from abroad. (Some of it comes from other Nigerian dioceses, including Owerri, however.) He has looked and looked for partnerships and had no luck. The reason? The divisions in the Anglican Communion. Mainline Americans (and others) are conditioned to think that Nigeria is closed territory to them. (It’s not, as my presence here demonstrates.)
But surely, you say, those conservative Episcopal/Anglicans in the U.S. and elsewhere that have made such a big deal of their support and concern for the “orthodox” church in places like Nigeria are helping out? Nope. GAFCON folks are nowhere to be found in Yola or any of these other dioceses that have serious needs. It seems like they confine themselves to the big cities, where the rich dioceses and senior bishops are.
The way in which artificial divisions among leaders are causing serious headaches – and creating serious obstacles to the mission of God – in a place like Yola infuriates me. Nigerian after Nigerian is telling me that while they disagree with me on some issues, there is no reason we cannot still work together. Yet that is not the narrative that is propagated at the highest levels of Anglicanism – and to which most people, unfortunately, seem to be listening.