Paul Chibuike Ananaba is an elder at the Maryland, Lagos SDA Church in Nigeria, in the West-Central Africa Division. This 1,200-member church is constantly growing and, due to its size, currently has 21 elders. The church’s growth rate has been high since 1990; for many years, it had the largest growth rate in the division. Elder Ananaba is privileged to be a trained lawyer, and he is presently the president of the Nigeria Association of Adventist Lawyers. He is a member of the Babcock University board, and he also serves on his church board. Elder Ananaba is married to his beautiful wife, Amarachi Ananaba.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A CHURCH ELDER?
Paul Chibuike Ananaba: Working as an elder has given me a deep spiritual experience and a closer walk with God. It is a special privilege to serve and minister to the church members. My ordination as an elder has been a major boost to my spiritual growth. The Bible says that ‘to whom much is given, much is expected’. As an elder, I need to meet the needs of the members. Members therefore develop the confidence in me to discuss their problems. I am responsible for nurturing and teaching the flock; therefore, I must depend on God.
DO YOU WORK CLOSELY WITH YOUR PASTOR?
PCA: Yes, indeed! Today, right before this interview, the pastor visited me in the office with his children. My pastor allows me to preach quite often, and we organize seminars and revivals together. We are in constant communication and prayer.
HAVE THERE BEEN ANY RECENT SEMINARS OR REVIVALS?
Yes, there have been many, as well as a lot of ministry development in the past couple of years in my church and district. Many special projects have been carried out in the church. These include:
• Purchasing the land next to our church building (this is a choice area in Lagos).
• Laying the foundation for our pastor’s house and children’s church.
• Conducting evangelistic campaigns where souls have been won.
• Purchasing an evangelistic bus for our Women’s Ministry group.
• Sending missionaries to other conferences.
CAN YOU SHARE YOUR CHURCH’S MISSION STATEMENT AND VISION?
Our mission is consistent with the global mission of the world church: to ensure that the everlasting gospel is preached to our members, our immediate environment, and beyond. Our vision is to empower our members spiritually, physically, and economically to share the everlasting gospel.
HOW HAS ELDER’S DIGEST BEEN HELPFUL IN YOUR MINISTRY?
The first time I ever picked up a copy of Elder’s Digest was in 2005, at the General Conference Session in Toronto. Since then, my elders and I have cherished every issue. One of the specific things I have learned from it is the positive effect of ordination and dedication of our elders.
WHAT ABOUT THE YOUTH OF YOUR CHURCH? HOW DO YOU HELP THEM?
The elders of my church have programs designed to prepare younger people in the church to grow so that they are equipped to replace us in the future. Many young people see us as role models, and we make every effort to reach them individually and in groups so that they may be of service to God and humanity. Many of the youth require just a little encouragement, and they will produce positive results that will stun you!
WHAT ELSE STUNS YOU AS YOU CARE FOR YOUR CHURCH FAMILY?
God’s grace! He helps to resolve, conciliate, and mediate issues in the church family. I cannot do this without Him! God has also used me several times to meet challenges in the church, for families and for individuals. Also, the elders of my church hold counseling sessions after Sabbath and on Sunday mornings. Our visitation to members is incisive and eye-opening, and we ultimately discover that many members come to church with new clothes on the outside, but on the inside and at home, they face many challenges. That’s where we, through God’s strength, step in!