Voices from the Field Jeff & Sonya Kilmartin Get to know Jeff & Sonya

In the Teaching/Meeting Swing of Things…

Published on March 30, 2022

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Dear Friends,

Greetings from a small village on the Mambilla Plateau, Nigeria. I (Jeff) have been in Gembu, Nigeria, for the past several weeks, teaching in the Mambilla Baptist Theological Seminary down in the small village of Mbu. I have had no internet for the past while, so this newsletter is going to be handed in late (sorry!), but hopefully still in time to be sent out to all of you.

In Mbu at Mambilla Baptist Seminary.

The students did a lot of work for me, in four classes (Church History 1 & 2, Baptist History and Thought, and Systematic Theology). It was a lot of fun, to be sure, as the students were very engaged and quite enjoyable, but very demanding for all of us. In one of my assignments, I asked them to contrast and compare their testimonies with that of Martin Luther, and I confess I wept a bit when I read some of what they wrote. Such hardship for some of them, and they have come so far to be in this school.

Here in this small village, I feel like I am coming home; this was the first place I ever stayed with our Least-Reached People Group partners, and it is always a joy to come back here. They were all disappointed I did not have Sonya along with me, but Lord willing she’ll be able to come sometime in the next few months.

Sonya has continued her focus this year on the local CBC primary school in Banyo. She is not teaching full days, but is also helping with administration and is secretary on the school board. While she did not anticipate actually teaching Class 5 English all year, she says that walking a mile in the everyday shoes of the teachers here has given her a greater appreciation of the convoluted challenges to a good education. One of those challenges is fitting in all the interesting extra-curricular activities, like marching practice for the Youth Day march past. She says (for those of you who appreciate a good ‘step count’) that her average the last few weeks has been over 12,000 steps per day, and that with usually only one morning of badminton per week.

Speaking of badminton, Sonya has also briefly introduced the Class 4–6 students to badminton and is finalizing selection of a small four-man squad (two girls, two boys) to represent the school in the local FENASCO games. A few had learned some with her over the school break last year, but it has been a joy to her to introduce more students to one of her favorite pastimes. Since she has few opportunities to be in her aquatic ‘happy places,’ the badminton court is a reasonable second.

Our grass-roofed bukaarus and a tent hosted most of our guests.

I headed back to Banyo on Feb 7 by motorbike over those mountainous roads once more, and we are able to include some news of our visit with three of our NAB executives – Dr. Harry Kelm, Kerry Bender, and Stu Streeter, who have come to meet with the leaders of our Least-Reached People Group from both Cameroon and Nigeria. We were able to host almost all our 10 guests on our own compound for the two days/three nights, using our various bukaarus, our guest room, and one of the large tents that a few of our supporting churches helped get over here (via White Cross).

We had a marvelous time of connecting as brothers and sisters in Christ and discussing how we can glorify God together and see how His kingdom might come among these people. We look forward to more of you coming to visit and make these connections as well.

After these visits with our NAB leadership and our local partners, I will most likely be heading east with some of the leaders before coming back to Banyo to prepare some further teaching for the students in Mbu. Meanwhile, the Mambilla Baptist leadership have asked me to prepare a workshop on Baptist Distinctives, as well as one on understanding how the Spirit of God works in and among His people today. I am excited to present this material to about 300 pastors.

Sonya has left her class in the hands of the 5–6 teacher for a week or so as she is off to Yaoundé to apply for a Nigerian visa, with hopes of going in the next few months. Working in an English and French context this year at the school has stunted her Least-Reached People Group language development somewhat, so a trip to Nigeria will be a good immersion of sorts. In recent weeks, another molar with old fillings cracked, so she’s also off to the good folks at Etougebe hospital – dental department – likely for another crown. She was able to arrange this trip at a time the SIL helicopter is coming and going near Banyo, so they are able to bring her both ways, which makes the trip itself much less time-consuming and less stressful.

View of a traditional local compound from the SIL chopper. It’s very brown in dry season!

Folks have been asking how our son Robert is doing (they all know our children here, since we lived here in 2008–09), and I am happy to say he is doing well. He underwent a third procedure/surgery related to eradicating a cancer, and he says by all accounts it was successful and is hopefully the last one.

Finally, for me (Jeff), I will say that, unfortunately, the issue of persecution here is still alive and well. This is one reason you will not see the faces of any of our partners in these photos and why we have not posted on our blog of late. Sonya and I are not really in danger, but for our brothers and sisters among the Least-Reached People Group, the text we have chosen as one of our prayer passages is as relevant as ever it was: “And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not everyone has faith” (2 Thessalonians 3:2).

Jeff and Sonya Kilmartin