Press Release: June 17, 2024

Visiting Nigeria

Visiting Nigeria: Strengthening Relationships & Encouraging Collaboration

Director of Field Programs, Paul Federwitz, recently returned from a visit to Nigeria. The importance of relationships, understanding, and collaboration in Bible translation and related work underscores the purpose of these collegial trips. Accompanied by Reverend Linus Otryoni, a  Lutheran Bible Translators international associate and country director for Nigeria, and a pastor with the Lutheran Church of Nigeria (LCN), Paul spent his time in Nigeria meeting key figures and fostering crucial partnerships in Bible translation and church relationships. 

Paul’s arrival in Joss, where he attended church with the Nigeria team, included Chuck and Karen Tessaro, and Reverend Kierien, pastor with the Lutheran Church of Nigeria (LBN) and Lutheran Bible Translators’ international associate, and his family. The day’s activities, filled with meetings and fellowship, set the tone for the mission’s focus on building and strengthening relationships. 

From left: Rev. Chuck and Karen Tessaro, Rev. Linus Otryoni, Paul Federwitz, Rev. Kierien and his wife.

Despite his extensive experience in West Africa, Paul noted that this trip provided fresh insights and a deeper understanding of the unique challenges and opportunities within Nigeria. The mission’s dual objectives were clear: to grasp the nuances of the local context and to show support and solidarity with the Nigerian Bible translation team. 

One of the pivotal moments of the trip was the interaction with Rev. Kierien, who is set to become the head of the Linguistics and Bible Translation Department at the Theological College of Northern Nigeria (TCNN). Rev. Kierien’s appointment is significant as it marks the first time a native Nigerian will lead the department. Paul’s visit emphasized Lutheran Bible Translator’s commitment to supporting local leadership and academic excellence in Bible translation. 

Throughout the trip, Paul engaged in numerous discussions with local and international partners. Meetings with the provost of TCNN, the director of the Nigerian Bible Translation Trust (NBTT), and representatives from various organizations such as SIL Nigeria and the Luke Initiative for Scripture Translation highlighted the collaborative efforts in the field. These interactions were not just about formalities but about building trust, sharing knowledge, and alignment for future projects. 

“Linus and I greeted the archbishop/president as well as the vice president and secretary of the Lutheran Church of Nigeria today.”

One of the key highlights of Paul’s trip was a visit to the headquarters of the Lutheran Church of Nigeria and a meeting with the archbishop. They were able to have important conversations that reinforced Lutheran Bible Translator’s approach to engaging international associates, ensuring that their roles strengthen the capacity of local churches rather than drawing resources away from them. Strengthening these relationships and alignment aims to build sustainable partnerships that respect and enhance local leadership and expertise. 

Paul’s trip sheds light on the strategic importance of relationships in mission work. He emphasized that his trip was not about making immediate changes or conducting high-level meetings but about fostering connections. These relationships are foundational for effective collaboration and support, ensuring that both the local and international teams feel valued, hear and respected throughout the Bible translation process. 

Paul’s visit to Nigeria highlights the power of relationships in missionary work. By prioritizing understanding, support, and collaboration, Lutheran Bible Translators continues to build bridges across cultures and communities, advancing the mission of Bible translation and fostering a global network of faith and fellowship. 

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