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President Boer in Abuja, Nigeria, with leadership of the Christian Reformed Church of Nigeria

Calvin University’s President Wiebe K. Boer had a unique upbringing that has helped shape his understanding of mission.

Just a Kid in Nigeria 

President Boer was born and raised in Nigeria where his parents served as missionaries with Resonate Global Mission (then Christian Reformed World Mission). His parents heard there was a need for missionaries in Nigeria and took the leap and moved to Jos.

Their initial plan of being in Nigeria for a few years ended up spanning almost their entire careers with Resonate. For Boer that meant he was able to grow up in one place, allowing him to truly connect with his home culture. 

For Boer, Jos, Nigeria was a magical place to grow up. It had mountains, rock formations, and city streets for him and his friends to explore.

He remembered how special the community was. “Whatever your religion was or background, it didn't matter. We were just kids in the middle of Nigeria,” he said.

The Start of a Heart for Mission

During Boer’s childhood, he was blessed with a community that fostered his faith and his passion for service. He was introduced to the intersection between missions and innovation. These childhood influences have played a huge role in his career path. 

Growing up alongside missionaries in Nigeria, Boer saw the unique ways individuals served their community. There were evangelists and church planters, but there were also missionaries like Boer’s father, who ran a Christian think tank in Nigeria, and others working in hospitals and schools.

You can be a missionary right where you are.

Boer observed intelligent and diverse people using their roles to impact the mission field. He continued his education with the intent to use his education and position to impact what mattered to him.

“I had a very strong tie to Africa—Nigeria in particular—but Africa in general. And I felt called to use the education—and frankly, the privilege—I had to go back and work to develop and help to reduce poverty in Africa,” said Boer.

Driven by Mission

A major thread throughout Boer's career focused on creating social impact primarily in Africa. The influence of his father’s work while he was growing up inspired him to be an innovator and use his knowledge to create and foster entrepreneurship in Africa.

Boer’s passions presented through his childhood can be seen in his work with the Tony Elumelu Foundation, an African-based and funded non-profit that focuses on providing the opportunity for entrepreneurship.

He also worked with Shell All On, a company that works to provide energy to those who are underserved in Nigeria. Boer led a project that focused on investing in early-stage business for renewable energy in Nigeria.

Now, as the President of Calvin University, he leads an institution that’s discipling students to approach their careers with a missional mindset—everything they do has an opportunity to impact the world for God’s kingdom.

Boer shares his advice when thinking about missions today: “You have to realize with humility that the church is not centered here, in America, anymore. That means the mission field is now more exciting because you can be a missionary right where you are. You can even be a missionary online. You can be a missionary in the virtual world.”

How can you use your gifts to help spread the gospel and renew all things?