Eno Afon had heard of Perkins long before she relocated to the U.S. from Nigeria. When she landed in the Dallas area, enrolling at Perkins for her seminary education was an easy decision.
“There were so many attractive things about Perkins,” she said. “Perkins is endowed with a lot of prestigious professors, and the academic program and the internship program are both excellent.”
Now, as a first-year M.Div. student at Perkins, Afon also appreciates the flexibility that Perkins. She’s interested in youth ministry.
“With my training in Perkins, I’m not restricted to the pulpit,” she said. “Everyone is gifted differently. My interest is in helping youth, especially those affected by addiction, all kinds of addiction. I’m concerned about the over-dependence on technological gadgets. That’s a major source of destruction for the youth. I want to see if there’s a way I can help.”
Afon manages to juggle her full-time studies along with an already busy schedule. She is a licensed local pastor, serving at Wesley United Methodist Church, a predominantly African congregation in Arlington, Texas, where she’s an active volunteer, a member of the choir and assistant to the pastor.
A wife and mother, Afon also works full-time at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth as a patient safety assistant. At Perkins, she’s active in the International Students group; recently, she volunteered with the group at Genesis Women’s Shelter and visited the Stockyards in Fort Worth. She also volunteers when she can at Mission Arlington as a counselor.
“All this has been a challenge,” she said. “I would love to do more. The ministry is wide, so the giftedness is much, so I try to, as much as fitting where I know I can fit in.”
Afon is a lifelong Methodist. In Nigeria, she attended the Methodist Institute of Theology.
How does she stay grounded throughout all this? “Praise, prayer and studying the word of God,” Afon replies.
“When I wake up in the morning, because I get out of bed, I’m doing my prayers,” she said. “I read a daily devotion, usually one by Charles Stanley of In Touch Ministries.”
Every Wednesday, Afon partakes in fasting. “This is a self-discipline that helps me seek the face of God and to be able to intercede for others,” she said. “As a prayer leader in my church, this helps me when other people bring their problems to me. We take it to the Lord together in prayer.”
Her favorite Bible verse is John 8:32: “And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (NRSVUE)
“The truth does not change,” she said. “Even if you cover the truth, eventually it comes out. Jesus Christ is the truth. Stick to the truth, so you don’t have anything to fear. That passage keeps me going, keeps me focused, keeps me on the journey of my faith.”
Dreams also factor heavily in Afon’s spiritual life; a dream played a pivotal role in her call story.
Years ago, when she was working as a flight attendant for Bellview Airlines in Nigeria, she had a dream about an aircraft in trouble. She prayed over and over the dream. On October 21, 2005, Afon completed her shift; the next day, the same aircraft crashed on October 22. The Boeing 737-200 airliner nose-dived at high speed just a few minutes after take-off, killing all 117 people on board.
“Before, I had been careless in spiritual life,” she said. “I went into things I’m not supposed to do. That experience led me to stay focused on my journey with Christ. It brought me back to the way that God has a purpose for my life.”
When she’s not busy with school, work, family or church, Afon loves to cook. She loves making two Nigerian specialties: eba, a staple made from fried grated cassava flour, and egusi, a melon soup made with meat and seafood as well as akara (bean fritters), mushrooms, and greens.
“The most joyous hobby I have is feeding people with good food,” she said.