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UMTV: Pastor Leads Nigerian Women



Growing up in Nigeria's male-dominated society, Eunice Musa Iliya struggled to define herself as a woman. Her powerful faith and passion for ministry led her to encourage females in her conference and to become one of the first Nigerian women ordained in The United Methodist Church. Rev. Iliya dedicates herself to supporting young women, giving them the courage to live boldly and believe in themselves.

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The Rev. Eunice Musa Iliya:
"I have been born and brought up in The United Methodist Church. And I think I will die a United Methodist because I love The United Methodist Church so much."

"My name is Rev. Dr. Eunice Musa Iliya. I'm from Nigeria, actually from the northern part of Nigeria."

"I'm a clergywoman, ordained in 1999/2000."

"Actually, my dad, his involvement with the church, really had an impact on us because, you know, he worked in the church. It never crossed my mind that I would ever be a clergy in The United Methodist Church, especially as a woman."

"As I was growing up, I didn't even know who I am as a woman. I only listened to what people tell me."

"They tell me 'You are a mother, a wife of someone.'"

"And I said to God, I said, 'God if I become a leader my target group will be younger so that I will be able to kind of really help them see themselves as equally created in the image and likeness of God.'"

"And that has really helped me to kind of groom up some girls that I know of because I was fortunate to be one of the first to be ordained in the clergy."

(Speaking at conference)
"So we were able to break that wall, you know, in our conference as women, you know, to be pastors."

"And the areas that I know that what I did has really impacted many lives was when I became the principal of the Women Leadership Training Center in Zing. And that was the center that really was established to give women voice and to kind of equip them for leadership in ministry and also to kind of help them become self-reliant by teaching them skill training and also helping them to read and write, as most of them were illiterate. They did not have a good education. So my involvement in that, reaching them with Christ through skill training, has given me the opportunity to interact with young girls because most of our students are young girls."

"As a preacher, I know that most of the churches kind of invite me to preach because of my gift in that area. I have preached a lot in so many churches in Nigeria."

"And I have had lots of young girls that come up to me and said, 'We are thankful to God that you are here and we are thankful to God that God has given you the opportunity to speak to us...because we never ever believed that we can find a woman in our conference that will stand up in the whole congregation or during the conference, to speak or to preach, and to stand up, to do certain things that we ever never believed that a woman can do that.'"

"And I think that is very rewarding and very fulfilling. That has impacted many young girls' lives."

(Woman laughing): "Thank you, thank you!"


Read more about the Rev. Eunice Musa Iliya. And see a series about United Methodist Women Making History.

Posted: May 1, 2013