Listening to our partners in Gusau.
The lines of communication are kept open between the AEP Board and our partners in Nigeria. We believe it is important for us to listen and learn from them and their experience. We have had extensive discussions with our partners, the building committee and the committee for Grace International School (GIS). The members of these committees are well informed in their respective fields and have a clear vision of what they want GIS to achieve. Discussions were conducted with parents and teachers to hear their concerns and wishes. We were able to experience the enthusiasm and confidence of the people first hand. Their generosity and gratitude towards our team was humbling and greatly appreciated. We were enriched by both the simplicity and difficulty of life in an emerging third world country. And while traveling to visit may not be for everyone, AEP can certainly benefit from support here at home. This project is a large one and funding is crucial to ensure its completion.
Working with all, regardless of religion and ethnicity.
Bishop John Danbinta, our partner, continues to work very hard to maintain the respect and solid working relationship with his Muslim neighbors. They are also excited about the prospect of the new school as construction continues. The school within Bishop John’s cathedral property is full to capacity, and now includes numerous Muslim children. The completion of the school classroom block 1 and the construction of an administration/science lab/media center building is critically important. In addition, a security wall needs to be constructed around the Graceland International School property.
Educating for peace- a letter from Bishop John
In his letter, Bishop says: “We need to improve the condition of our people by educating them and striving for fairness and justice in sharing and using the resources of the country for all its citizens. But because of endemic corruption it has never been done that way and thus we find ourselves in our current situation.
Because of our failure in dealing with injustice and corruption, we don’t have the kind of leaders our country deserves. Vested interests, due to their own greed, have stood by corrupt and unjust politicians creating barriers to achieving positive results for the nation.
“In my view” continues Bishop John, “I believe that it is vital to give people is quality education. An educated population, will have the understanding to be creative, patient, and mature citizens.
After the April 16, 2011 general elections, Northern Nigeria experienced a crisis of violence and destruction this crisis of violence was the handiwork of those corrupt politicians who lost in the free, fair, and credible election that we had. They exploited people, who because of illiteracy and lack of an adequate education were easily manipulated for the politicians corrupt purposes.
By exploiting existing differences and tensions in our society, politicians turned what was essentially a political issue into a religious one, pitting Muslims against Christians and different ethnic groups against each other. In reality Christians voted for Muslim candidates and Muslims for Christian candidates. Our goal therefore is to give our young people a sound quality education teaching critical thinking skills so that they can reason well. By educating young people from all backgrounds regardless of gender, religious and ethnic background we aim to develop mature young people who have been educated together in an open and accepting environment. The result will be the development of responsible Nigerian citizens, who will have Nigeria and her progress and unity at heart. Only then can people begin to see themselves not as Christians or Muslims, Hausas, Igbos or Yorubas but as Nigerians.”
Bishop John concludes his letter by asserting:
“For this reason Graceland International School will always admit students regardless of gender, ethnicity or religious affiliation.”
Bishop John’s Story
I was I was born on October 11, 1958. My family members were animists and they did not have a western education. They were farmers and they did not really value education. I pleaded with my father to be allowed to attend school, even though I was nearly 20 years old, I had never learned to read or write. Eventually he allowed me to go, but after a few months in the primary school, my father withdrew me. He said I was very obedient and hard-working and he wanted me to come back and work on the farm. I eventually persuaded my father to allow me to return to school, and I received a basic education.
After leaving school. I was able to attend St. Francis of Assisi Theological College Wusasa, Zaria, and sat for their exams to be trained as church worker. I passed and was admitted from 1982-1985. I trained as a Catechist and was posted to work in Kano diocese at St. Peter's Anglican Church. I went to the same school again in 1988 and graduated in 1991, with my degree in theology.
The Rt. Reverend Josiah Idowu Fearon ordained me. I then went to Jos ECWA Theological Seminary where I got my first degree in Missions and Evangelism. During 1999-2000, I was sent to London where I spent the year doing door to door Evangelism in Plaistow, London.
I came back to Nigeria to continue with my church work. I then went to Cape Town, South Africa to study for an Honors degree in Pauline Studies in 2004. On March 10, 2005, I was elected Bishop of Gusau. In September 2006, I went to the United States, where I got my postgraduate and Masters degrees in Christian-Muslim Relations. That is where I met the Dewberrys, the Ghostlaws, the Whites, and the Chagnons of the AEP board, as well as the Rev. Canon Tom Furrer and his wife, Maryjane.
Coupled with my upbringing and poor background in education, I feel the need to bring education to those who have also been born into poor families. I looked around me here and I discovered that there are children who are in a worse situation than I was then. That is why the Graceland International School is so important to me. I hope that you will join me in supporting this important project. During this season of blessings and generosity, I pray that you will join me in support of education to the marginalized populations with prayers and donations to sustain this effort.