An ecumenical organisation, the Fellowship of Churches of Christ in Nigeria, plans to establish small business and agricultural enterprises that will bring Christians and Muslims together in the troubled north-central part of Nigeria, which seen recent religious conflicts.
"We believe that projects jointly owned by Christians and Muslims cannot be destroyed because they belong to them ... and [would] bridge the relationship gap between them," Helen Philemon Haggai, co-ordinator of the fellowship's peace desk, told ENInews.
The projects, Haggai said, "will focus on establishment of farms that will provide employment opportunities for Christian and Muslim youths. These farms will enable them to produce crops like potatoes, tomatoes and vegetables like lotus and cabbages. This will provide food for their families and at the same time, provide them with incomes."
In addition, she said, water projects like boreholes can provide safe drinking water for Muslim and Christian communities. Furthermore, Haggai said, "a skills acquisition centre will be established for the training of both Christian and Muslim youths and widows."
The north-central area of Nigeria has in the past two decades been engulfed in religious violence, resulting in the destruction of places of worship and the killing of thousands of persons on both sides. Most recently, violence was ignited by the announcement in April of the results of the presidential election.
So far, Mrs. Haggai says the peace desk has brought 75 Muslims to meet in an interfaith dialogue with Christians in Jos, and the result has positively contributed to the peace building process in the city. "We have held four interfaith workshops between 2007 to 2009," she said, adding that "empowerment and trauma healing are also the focus of the projects so that positive relationships can be built." Muslim participants took part through the organisation Jama'atu Nasril Islam, while Christian participants came from the Christian Association of Nigeria.
Funding for the peace building process by the peace desk is provided by the EED of Germany, an association of Protestant churches, through the Lutheran World Federation. The Nigerian fellowship's member churches are members of the World Council of Churches.
[With acknowledgements to ENInews. ENInews, formerly Ecumenical News International, is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Communion of Reformed Churches and the Conference of European Churches.]