Hello, my name is Helen Fisher. I am from Chesterfield in Derbyshire, and I have lived and worked in Nigeria for three years.

Helen (centre right) celebrating a birthday with three of her colleagues. Photo by SIL Nigeria*

I had previously visited Africa on two short-term trips and felt that I wanted to come for longer, and I came across Wycliffe on the internet. Before being in Nigeria I was a children’s Speech and Language Therapist working in the NHS, and so my initial thought when I applied to work with Wycliffe was that I could be a linguist. However, during the interview process, it was found that ‘Bible impact’ was a better fit, and now that I am here, I can see that this was the right decision for me.

Bible impact is about helping individuals and communities to engage with the translated Scriptures in ways that are relevant and best for them so that God’s word is life-transforming! In Nigeria, Bible impact is split into three sections – general Bible impact (or general Scripture Engagement as it is known in Nigeria); Ethno Arts, who help communities to use local arts to engage people with the Bible; and Vernacular Media Services, who produce audio Scriptures. I work in general Scripture Engagement. Our team (based in Jos) currently consists of six people (two men, four women), including two Nigerians, two British, one Irish and one American. There are a number of services that we can offer, and as we seek to be guided by God, our work is still developing and we continue to learn.

All of the SIL Nigeria staff and their families at a retreat. Photo by SIL Nigeria/ Ben Kuwitzky

My favourite activity that I do is a weekly Scripture Listening and Reading Group (SLRG) with the ladies at Jos prison. An SLRG is a Bible study in which the Bible passage is played on an audio player in the local language and then the group answers six questions about the passage, for instance, ‘What do we learn about God in what we heard?’ and ‘What is God saying to you personally in what we heard?’ These questions are designed to be used with any passage.

Participants at a recent Scripture Listening and Reading Group training. Photo by SIL Nigeria

Often in Nigerian Bible studies, the leader teaches and preaches the message and the group members listen. The SLRG is different in that it is interactive. Each group member can share what the Holy Spirit is saying to them and the leader doesn’t need to know all the answers. One of the ladies in the prison is the leader, asking the questions, and it is wonderful to hear the ladies share as we answer the questions together. Currently, we are looking at the lives of the five women in the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel, learning how God worked in the lives of, and used, these imperfect women, and that he can use us too!

Here are some of the ladies’ comments about the story of Rahab:

What struck you or touched your heart in what we heard?

  • Rahab was bold. She hid the men and she defied the king.
  • The spies were human and they kept their promise – so we can trust so much more that God will always keep his promises.

What do we learn about God?

  • If we come to God and confess to him, he can use us despite what we did in the past.
  • God can use anyone, including those who people might dismiss or overlook.

What is God saying to you personally?

  • God worked through Rahab and she was a prostitute. God can work through anyone. He can work through me.
  • I should concentrate on the future and not the past, and God can work through me.

Each week, I look forward to learning more about God with – and through – these ladies.

I like living in Nigeria. The Nigerian people are warm and welcoming and I have made some good friends among my colleagues – both Nigerian and from around the world. I feel like I am part of a family here, although I miss my family and friends in the UK. I enjoy the lifestyle that comes from living in a city; for me, living in a village setting would be more of a challenge. Jos is built on a plateau, which means that it doesn’t get as hot as other parts of Nigeria.

A view of Jos. Photo by Sunday Ude

One of the reasons I chose to work in Nigeria is because it is ‘English speaking’ and learning languages wasn’t a strength for me at school. The other reason was that I wanted to go somewhere where I would need to learn to trust God more. As my perception was that living in Nigeria would be quite unsafe, it seemed to fit the bill. However, my experience is that my perception of living here was wrong, and while, yes, we are sensible and take precautions and do look to God for our protection, I feel quite safe living here! Yet I believe that God led me to Nigeria to learn to trust him in other ways, and while I have been here, he has been working in my life and has been teaching me more about him and what it means to follow Jesus. And I am grateful that he continues to do that. So that is a very good reason to be in Nigeria!

Helen Fisher

*SIL Nigeria is one of Wycliffe’s partner organisations