Resonate Global Mission Celebrates the Life and Service of Nancy Chapel
Nancy Chapel, former missionary to Nigeria with Resonate Global Mission (then Christian Reformed World Missions), died on Sept. 14, 2018, at the age of 93.
Nancy was born as Nadia Chaplya in northern Ukraine on Dec. 31, 1924. Her family faced immense hardship during Communist rule.
Not only did they struggle from a severe famine organized by the government, but her father’s status as a political prisoner caused harsh persecution for Nancy, her mother, and her two siblings. Then Germany invaded the Ukraine and Nancy was taken as a prisoner of war to the German countryside to work on a family’s farm.
Through her childhood hardship, Nancy had no room in her heart for God. But the family she worked for were kind Christians who prayed and read the Bible together. It was on that farm and through that family that Nancy first came to believe.
In Out of the Darkness and into God’s Light, Nancy’s biography written by Dolores Bos, Nancy reflects that because “[God] had given her eternal life through Jesus Christ, she was determined to give back to the Lord as much of herself as she could. She didn’t know where or how this would happen, but she resolved to live a life of gratitude to God.”
She did not know at the time that her journey would bring her to Nigeria to serve as a missionary.
Following Jesus to Nigeria
Nancy received a sponsorship to emigrate to the United States. There, she landed in West Michigan and connected with the Christian Reformed Church.
She studied secondary education at Calvin College and, in 1959, was offered a job teaching young girls and bringing the gospel to the Tiv people in Uavande, Nigeria—where Resonate had already been serving for nearly 50 years.
In Nigeria, Nancy served for nearly 20 years in various teaching capacities, from young girls at primary school to entire families at Benue Bible Institute. Her last assignment in Nigeria before returning to the United States in 1978 was instructing young men and women at a teacher’s college in Mkar, so that missionaries could turn instruction of young people over to well-qualified Nigerian teachers.
In all her mission work, she was able to draw from her personal life experiences. She believed that what people meant for evil, God used for good.
“One thing I will surely tell them,” Nancy reflects in Out of the Darkness, “is that if God would bother to snatch an unbelieving Ukrainian girl out of the darkness ... and claim her for his own, he will certainly do the same in the heart of a Nigeria.”
James Tsegba from Gboko, Nigeria, remembers her service: “You lived for Christ and you left Tiv land with seeds you planted in Uavande and Mkar Teaching College schools. You have just gone to your creator to receive your rest from the toils of this world as a reward. ‘Til we meet at Jesus’ feet.”