Nigeria is a goldmine of spiritual potential! With more than 160 million people, Nigeria is the most populous nation in Africa, and therefore has a leadership role among developing nations. The Christian church is growing rapidly and the people are passionate about their faith. Nigeria is blessed with oil reserves, good agricultural land and a population capable of enormous creativity and activity. Yet, it is also beset by serious obstacles and threats: corruption, insufficient/non-existent public infrastructure and poor public health conspire to keep many people stuck in a cycle of poverty. Security in the country is also not good: bombings, shootings and kidnappings by Islamist extremists in the north, and organized crime in the south make it difficult for outside NGOs to work and for citizens to go about their daily business.
In the church, as in the secular world, education is a key component of progress. Iowa's BTS Advisory Committee believes that investment in Banyam Theological Seminary is as important to the development of the Nigerian church as any other infrastructure project. The Nigerian church is growing 15% per year and Banyam Seminary is the only United Methodist Seminary in the country. If the church is to be adequately staffed to meet the current and future needs, more pastors must be trained. This, in fact, was the personal plea of Nigerian Bishop Johnwesley Johanna as he met with a group of Iowa education experts in the fall of 2012.