Pastor Ron Tewson will hold a Christmas Eve collection to raise funds to rebuild a home that was burned down and in which half its occupants killed.
Ron Tewson, pastor of The Crossings Church in Winter Garden, was having a conversation with his longtime friend, Jeff King, about his desire to visit a refugee camp and spend two weeks with people who have nothing but what they carry on their back.
King, who is president of International Christian Concern, asked Tewson if he had heard about the destruction of one man’s house and family in a Christian community in Nigeria. What Tewson learned has given him a renewed passion to help Christians in other parts of the world.
King shared this story: Around midnight Oct. 14, a militia group entered the home of 32-year-old Danladi Boyi Yarri and his wife, killing his parents, two of the four Yarri children and a 2-year-old niece. The couple survived, as did their other two children and the toddler’s mother, who was hiding under the bed with her child strapped to her back.
After randomly shooting into the house, the killers torched the home, which burned to the ground. Other houses were burned down, as well, but Tewson doesn’t know if other people were killed.
“This is happening all the time,” he said.
Te’egbe is a small historic town in the Kogi State of Nigeria, West Africa. It is a typical village of about 20 homes. Yarri is a native of the area and holds regular church services in his home.
Tewson and King have been friends for two decades and talk often about Christian persecution. King tells stories of radical Islamist extremists going into Christian communities to destroy their homes, their families and their crops in an effort to wipe them out.
King’s organization travels to these areas to set up refugee camps if enough people have been affected. Workers buy seed for the residents. They rebuild homes.
Tewson has made it his mission to raise $5,000 to rebuild the Yarri home financially and physically. This is the average cost of a basic block home in this region.
There is no fundraising drive, he said. Instead, at the Christmas Eve service, he is calling it The Gift and is asking families to donate on that night.
“Generally, we think that Christmas is a time that God gave us a gift, Tewson said. “This year we’re saying, ‘We’re going to be the one to bring a gift.’ We’re actually going to have wise men on the stage, and people can come up with monetary gifts. We’re asking people to bring their wrapped gift and come up as a family.”
The pastor plans to spend a few weeks there in the spring but said his trip won’t be funded by the church because this isn’t a church-sponsored mission team. The money raised is going directly to construction costs.