New Tiv Seminary About to Open

The 1970 Synod of the Christian Reformed Church was confronted with a unique opportunity to assist a young church in her desire to preserve and propagate the Reformed faith. The Church of Christ in the Sudan among the Tiv (N.K.S.T.) requested help in the establishment of a Reformed Seminary. The urgency of accepting this challenge was demonstrated by the manner in which it was presented.

The Tiv request was not new. The Christian Reformed Board of Foreign Missions and an earlier Synod of the Christian Reformed Church had dealt with the request. Their response had been one of disfavor and delay. The Tiv Church knew this and therefore when she met in Synod on April 22, 1970 she decided to send a delegation to the Synod of the Christian Reformed Church. To facilitate this decision N.K.S.T. proceeded to adopt the following minute: “Synod (N.K.S.T.) establishes May 17, 1970 as the day to collect all the money for this purpose. It is to be sent to the Treasurer quickly. Do not wait.” The open plate offering was taken in the Tiv Church on Pentecost Sunday and Pastor J. K. Manyam, Chairman of the Tiv Synod, came to America to present personally the request of his church for help in establishing a Reformed Seminary in Nigeria.

Pastor Manyam confronted our Synod with an urgent appeal for help. He said the desire for a Reformed Seminary arose out of their nurture in and love for the Reformed faith. To realize their desire the Tiv Church asked for two men to teach in the Seminary for a period of four years and for 25,000 pounds to construct a building.

The Christian Reformed Church in both 1959 and 1961 had expressed herself strongly in favor of a Reformed Seminary in Nigeria. Now the Christian Reformed Church was confronted with the challenge of giving immediate help to effectuate the establishment of such a seminary. Her negative response to this sincere request was disappointing. She answered by sending a letter to the Tiv Church. That letter said: “We know you want this help because you love the Reformed faith and want your leaders to be instructed in it. We are happy when we see your love for the Reformed faith. We do not believe that it is right for us to give you the 25,000 pounds for a new building now.”

Pastor Manyam and the Tiv Church were sorely disappointed by the decision of the Christian Reformed Synod. Their desire for a Reformed Seminary was too strong however to be thwarted by the denial of help from the Christian Reformed Church. N.K.S.T. held a church-wide conference on July 28, 1970. At this conference Pastor Manyam gave a report of his experiences at the Synod of the Christian Reformed Church. The answer of the Christian Reformed Church was also presented. The Conference in response adopted the following minute:

“Conference decides to go ahead with founding a Reformed Seminary. We will not turn back; God will help us.

“Conference chooses five men as a committee to arrange for the Reformed Seminary.

“The assignment of this committee is to look after those things which are necessary for the establishment of the school, as for example, finances and ways to seek help from others in meeting all the needs.

“As the committee completes its work, it will make recommendations to the Synodical Committee which will pass final judgment on these matters.”

This committee has completed its work and presented its report to the Synod of N.K.S.T. which met during the second week of November. The Synod of N.K.S.T. has established a Board of Governors and adopted the name “Reformed Theological College of Nigeria.” Two teachers, the Reverend P. Agba and Mr. J. Achinaku have been appointed. Plans call for the school to open in February, 1971 with an enrollment of twenty-five students. Some difficulty has been experienced in securing temporary building facilities. The search is continuing and it is hoped that a solution can soon be found. Pastor Manyam wrote in a recent letter: “We will never give up.”

The Tiv Church has demonstrated her faith by making the decision to establish her own Reformed Seminary. That faith has been put to work as plans have been made to open the Reformed Theological College of Nigeria early in 1971. Help must be received if her need for a permanent location is to be fulfilled. A treasurer has been appointed to receive gifts for this cause. Gifts made out to the Church of Christ in the Sudan among the Tiv may be sent by check drawn on any bank in America or by international money order or international certified check to:

Mr. Peter Ayaka Mkar P.A. via Gboko Benue-Plateau, Nigeria

N.K.S.T. has demonstrated her love for the Reformed faith and her desire to preserve and propagate that faith. Now there is an opportunity for us to rise up to the challenge of supporting her in this desire. May many do so!

Rev. Arthur Besteman is pastor of the Messiah Christian Reformed Church in Hudsonville, Michigan.