Biography of Ben KwashiThursday 20 August 2009
Ben Kwashi is well known as a preacher and evangelist throughout Nigeria, Africa, England and the United States. Bishop Harold describes him as, "One of the most important and courageous Christian leaders of our generation".
Originally destined for a military career, in 1976 he received a clear call to go into the church's ministry. He was ordained in 1982 and 10 years later became Bishop of Jos. In January 2008 he was presented as the Archbishop of Jos Province in the Church of Nigeria.
His pastoral experience is wide and varied: he has worked in rural and urban churches, as a Polytechnic Chaplain, and at a Theological College. In 1987 his church and vicarage were totally burnt down in Christian-Muslim riots.
Archbishop Ben has held many national and international posts and is currently the International Chairman of SOMA (Sharing of Ministries Abroad). In 2003 he was conferred with the national honour of Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON).
He and his wife Gloria have six children.
Archbishop Ben has survived three attempts on his life. He can speak first hand of God's grace and power, experienced in the most difficult of situations.
The province of Jos covers North Eastern Nigeria which has had several outbreaks of religious violence when Christians have been targeted by Islamist militants. The Archbishop has been outspoken and openly critical of the press and the authorities whenever he has witnessed lies and injustice.
Such courage has come at a price, for Ben Kwashi has been personally targeted and his wife, Gloria, and son have been badly beaten. On that occasion Gloria was also dragged through the streets to the diocesan offices which they proceeded to ransack and rob. She was left blind until an operation in Texas restored her sight.
Almost 18 months later, as the family prepared to celebrate Gloria's recovery, four young men arrived to kill the Archbishop, who immediately fell to his knees to pray. "Man of God, we have come for you," they said. "This is not the time for prayer." They took him outside but stopped to negotiate the price of his life. One of them screamed. "I've changed my mind. Let's take him back inside and kill him there." It never happened. They took what money Gloria could find and disappeared into the night.
That's something of what contending for the faith has meant for Ben and Gloria Kwashi. What will it mean for us?