Dr. Larry Ashlock, Director of the D.Min. program, and Dr. Karen O’Dell Bullock, Director of the Ph.D. program at Carroll Institute, recently returned from Africa where they participated in a partnership with the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary and Nigerian Baptists. The project was under the auspices of The Baptist Center for Global Concerns. Dr. Ashlock serves as Executive Director of the Center, and Dr. Bullock is co-director along with Mr. William “Bill” O’Dell. The Baptist Center for Global Concerns, an ethics leadership non-profit, exists to ease human suffering and enhance human dignity by identifying and confronting the underlying spiritual, social, and political issues that lead to oppression, hopelessness and misery.
Through their contacts with Baptist World Alliance, through the Freedom and Justice Division, and the Ethics Commission’s work, The Center was invited to partner for five years to help the Seminary and Nigerian Baptists in a few projects with which they were needing some expertise. A team of eight people went in June 2015 for two weeks to do the following:
- Conduct agricultural consultations and demonstrations concerning developing sustainable commercial community gardens on three large properties owned by the Nigerian Baptist Convention;
- Conduct multiple-day Women’s Leadership Conferences in two cities;
- Teach an Ethics Seminar for physicians, nurses, midwives, and other hospital personnel at the Bowen University Teaching Hospital near the Seminary and participate in clinical rounds with doctors, interns, and medical students;
- Visit an orphanage, leprosarium, urban ministry sites;
- Teach electives at the master and doctoral levels at the Seminary: Drs. Ashlock and Bullock taught an Advanced Research and Writing seminar; also, Dr. Ashlock taught a Bio-Medical Ethics seminar, Dr. Bullock taught an interface seminar in Christian History and Missions, and Dr. Bill Bryan, a Resident Fellow at Carroll Institute, taught Preaching. More than 100 students participated in the seminars.
The Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary graduated more than 220 students just prior to the team’s arrival. It has two doctoral programs and celebrated its 100th year last year. The seminary is very well organized and accredited with several regional bodies. President Nihinlola, on behalf of the faculty and students, expressed gratitude for the doctoral-and master-level teaching, and has already proposed several seminars he hopes The Center can offer next year.
Other members of the team were involved in different projects. Mr. Bill O’Dell visited three farms and worked with Nigerian Baptist pastors to help farmers increase their crop yields and their incomes through sustainable farming, while at the same time sharing the gospel and making disciples of Christ.
Shawna Ashlock, Jo Ann Bridges, and Dianne Capper held women’s conferences for seminary student wives, local pastors’ wives, and WMU (Woman’s Missionary Union) leaders. The conferences were organized by Dr. Ruth Oyeniyi, the NBTS Director of the Women’s Training Center. The assigned topics included Christian growth, marriage enrichment, and encouragement to pastors’ wives. A tremendous need for these women is in the area of literacy and education as several languages and dialects are spoken. The women also need training in skills (such as sewing) to help to boost pastors’ families’ incomes.
Dr. David Capper, a physician in internal medicine in Fort Worth, Texas, was invited along with Dr. Larry Ashlock to lead three medical-ethical training seminars at the Bowen University Teaching Hospital in Ogbomoso. The hospital was established by Southern Baptist medical missionaries and recently was placed into the capable hands of Nigerian leadership. More than 120 hospital administrators, medical and nursing faculty members, and medical and nursing students attended these sessions. Dr. Capper also led a training seminar in hospice and palliative care.
The team’s work in Nigeria was even more significant due to the fact that it was accomplished in the midst of Islamic Ramadan, a month-long holy season for Muslims, and in a country that faces Islamic turmoil and violence. The Baptist Center for Global Concerns will continue to seek opportunities to share Christ’s peace, justice, and love as it is engaged locally and globally in humanitarian projects and training others through education and practical application.