Archive for April, 2017

Boko Haram Conflict Cuts Nigeria Wheat Crop as Farmers Flee

Friday, April 21st, 2017

bobko haram map

  • Wheat imports estimated to be 4.1 million tons in 2016-17
  • Former biggest producer Borno state now producing no wheat

Wheat growers in Nigeria’s northeast have abandoned their farms under the onslaught of the Boko Haram Islamist insurgency, a setback for the country’s efforts to cut imports by boosting local production, a research agency said.

“Wheat production in the zone has declined to just 20 percent of what it used to be due to insurgency,” Oluwashina Olabanji, executive director of the Lake Chad Research Institute, said in an interview in the northeastern city of Maiduguri, the Borno state capital. Borno, which used to account for about a quarter of Nigeria’s production, currently grows no wheat, he said.

Nigeria produced an average of 80,000 metric tons of wheat a year for decades until the introduction of a new variety in the 2012-13 season that tripled the average yield to as much as 6 tons per hectare (2.47 acres), increasing output to 400,000 tons in 2015-16 as more areas were cultivated, according to the institute. This compares with the output of 3.3 million tons during the same period by Ethiopia, sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest producer.

This new variety hasn’t been introduced to Borno, with most of the wheat-growing areas under occupation or within reach of the Islamist militants, Olabanji said. Production is expected to be little changed in the current season because many farmers have fled their land, according to the agency.

Nigeria is expected to import 4.1 million tons of wheat in the 2016-17 season, compared with the 4.3 million tons imported in 2015-2016, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The country’s rain-fed wheat, typically planted in October and harvested in April, is grown in 13 states in the northeast and other highland areas.

Nigeria’s combined output of wheat, rice, corn and sorghum will probably decline to 16.3 million tons in 2017-18, from almost 16.5 million tons a year earlier, the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service said in a report this month.

Displaced Farmers

Borno faces an elevated risk of famine, with the number of people affected forecast to roughly double to 115,000 this year because the violence has forced people to flee their homes and farms, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization.

“The majority of the farmers who should’ve been trying out the new varieties are now at internally displaced camps depending solely on what is being provided for them,” Abubakar Gamandi, chairman of the Farmers Association in the region, said in a April 18 phone interview from Maiduguri.

Nigeria is battling an insurgency by Boko Haram to impose its version of Islamic rule on Africa’s most populous country of more than 180 million people. The conflict has spilled over to neighboring countries and tens of thousands of people have died in the group’s violent campaign. The militants have caused $9 billion of damage since the beginning of their insurgency in 2009, according to the United Nations.

Fannami Modu, who had a three-hectare wheat farm in the town of Marte, said his farm was burned when insurgents raided the place in 2012.

“I used to earn a lot from wheat,” he said. “It was devastating when they destroyed our crops.”

How can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead? – 1 Corinthians 15:12-19

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017

By Ted Schroder,
The atheist says, “There is no God, and therefore there is no life eternal.” The agnostic says, “I do not know if Jesus is God and therefore I do not know if he was raised from the dead.” The materialist says, “There is no reality except physical life, and therefore there is nothing beyond this mortal life.” The philosopher says, “There may be spiritual universals and therefore there may be some kind of immortality of the soul.” The secularist says, “I don’t care whether God exists and therefore any religion is irrelevant to me.” Jesus said, “A time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear God’s voice and come out — those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned”(John 5:28,29). The Bible teaches that there will be a general resurrection of the dead. “Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt” (Daniel 12:2).

St. Paul argues in 1 Corinthians 15 that the resurrection of the dead is essential to the Christian faith. He argues, first of all, from the premise that Jesus the Christ was seen by hundreds of people who are still living and can attest to their experience of him. He was seen, not as a ghost, but as a solid, bodily presence who could be touched and who could share a meal with them. When his disciples were startled and frightened thinking they saw a ghost, he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have” (Luke 24:38,39).

That Christ rose in bodily form is proof of the resurrection of the dead to those who believe in him. Down through the ages, beginning with St. Paul himself, countless people have experienced the presence of the risen Christ. If there is no resurrection of the dead then not even Christ has been raised and all these appearances are mere hallucinations.

Secondly, he argues that “if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead.” Central to the proclamation of the Gospel by the apostles, as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, is the resurrection. When Paul presented his defense to Governor Felix he declared that “there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.” In Athens he argued that God has given proof to all men of the last judgment by raising Jesus from the dead. Peter at Pentecost quoted David’s prophecy when “he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was no abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay. God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact.”

My New Testament professor, C. Kingsley Barrett, in his commentary on this passage wrote, “Take out the resurrection, and there is nothing left….If there is no resurrection, the Christian proclamation is a lie placed where it is likely to do most damage, in a statement about God… In other words, Christianity is completely destroyed: you might as well never have believed at all.”

Why would the apostles proclaim something that was false? What would be their motivation? They suffered and were persecuted for this belief. What had they to gain by perpetuating a lie? The Message translates these words, “If there’s no resurrection for Christ, everything we’ve told you is smoke and mirrors, and everything you’ve staked your life on is smoke and mirrors. Not only that, but we would be guilty of telling you a string of barefaced lies about God, all these affidavits we passed on to you verifying that God raised up Christ — sheer fabrications, if there’s no resurrection.”

You can’t have a Christianity that is sweet talk about ethical behavior, or an emotional spirituality, or social justice for the oppressed, or prophetic indignation, without the reality of the resurrection of Jesus. Christianity without the resurrection is worthless. Without the resurrection of Christ your faith is useless.

Thirdly, he argues that if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. In other words, there is no forgiveness, there is no salvation, there is no good news, no Gospel. Christianity is completely destroyed, you might as well never have believed at all. In many churches where the resurrection is not proclaimed the message is merely one of good thoughts and exhortations to good behavior. There is an attempt to provide comfort to those who suffer but there is no Gospel content or salvation message to transform human lives mired in sin. If there is no resurrection then death has won, there is no victory over the human condition of condemnation and alienation from God. If Christ is dead and buried there is no hope, no redemption. If Christ is dead what has he to give us? If Christ is dead then his promises to be the resurrection and the life, that those who believe in him will never die, are empty promises that cannot be fulfilled.

Lastly, he argues that if Christ has not been raised, then those who have fallen asleep in him are lost. They died under a delusion of a future life in Christ. They died hoping in Christ and resurrection. But that hope is in vain if Christ has not been raised. They thought that death was falling asleep in Christ — falling asleep in his arms of mercy and love, that the day of their death would see them in paradise with the Lord. They believed that they would wake up in his presence. We believed that we would one day be caught up together with them to meet the Lord and so we would be with the Lord forever (1 Thessalonians 4:17). But without the resurrection of Christ they are lost forever. We will never see them again. We ourselves have nothing to look forward to. Are the materialists right? Is there nothing beyond this physical life of space and time? Have we come from nothing and do we go to nothing? Do we perish like the grass which withers and the flowers fall? Is that the reality which we must face with courage and resignation? Is there no advantage in being a Christian? Is our hope a delusion? So Paul concludes, “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.” In other words, we would be putting our trust in something which is fraudulent, a Ponzi scheme of theology which deceives us and cannot deliver any rewards.

You can see how important the resurrection of Christ is to our faith and life here on earth. Without it we and all our loved ones are lost. When you or your loved ones face death what do you believe will happen? “What will become of you?” said a non-Christian, “Supposing there should be no resurrection?” “Well,” said the believer, “I like to have two strings to my bow. If there is no hereafter, I am as well off as you are; if there is I am infinitely better off. But where are you? If in this life there is, indeed, a hope of a life to come, then you shall be in the next life of all men most miserable for you will not be prepared. You will still be in your sins.”

Jesus said, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me. You will grieve, but your grief will be turned to joy” (John 16:16,20). “I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:3).

If you want to be forgiven, if you want to experience the salvation of God, if you want to enter into life eternal, life in all its fullness, if you want to walk in the Spirit of freedom, if you want to become mature, if you want to enter into the kingdom of God, if you want to know the love of God, then believe in the resurrection of Christ, put your trust in his grace, his gift of the true and living way that is everlasting.