Dear ITEM Prayer Partner,
I am resting here in Nigeria after taking a different route to get here. Normally I’d travel from home to Kenya. That route is two long flights, first to Netherlands, then to Kenya. Then I would spend a day in Kenya and then take the east to west flight to Nigeria. This time it was home, to the Netherlands, an immediate connection to Paris, another immediate connection to Nigeria, with a 90 minute layover in the country of Chad.
I arrived in Nigeria with a heavy rain coming down. They have a new international terminal. Unfortunately, the one who came to meet me was waiting for me at the old, adjacent, international terminal. By the time we found each other, we were pretty wet. Good thing I live in Oregon, I know how to survive standing around in the rain!
NIGERIA: IS CRITICALLY STRATEGIC!
According to one study, by the year 2060, Nigeria will have the third largest “Christian” population of any country in the world, following the US and Brazil. That’s the good news. The not-so-good news is that most of the large churches are extreme-Pentecostal churches that preach the health and wealth gospel, and emphasize signs, miracles, and wonders week after week in their churches. These churches are spreading their doctrine all over Africa and now the world. This is why Nigeria is so significant.
Strong, theologically sound, mature churches are needed to counter the spread of these unbiblical teachings and experiences. Expository preaching is a key to building spiritually mature churches. This is why ITEM is here and why we are unwilling to compromise when it comes to expository preaching.
I am going to spend my entire time here in Nigeria with pastors from the ECWA denomination. Next week, I will be speaking to about 90 of their pastors for three days.
This is a leading evangelical denomination in Nigeria. My special friend and assistant, Nathan Chiroma, and most of our Nigerian team are from this group. So, I thought I’d give you some details about ECWA. The following comes from Wikipedia:
The Evangelical Church Winning All, previously known as the Evangelical Church of West Africa, is one of the largest Christian denominations in Nigeria, with about ten million members. ECWA is a partner church of the international Christian mission organization, Serving In Mission (SIM), formerly Sudan Interior Mission. ECWA was founded in 1954 when the SIM-related churches (initially in Nigeria) came together to form an indigenous body. Since that time, mission stations, Bible Schools, academic schools, and medical programs have been transferred to ECWA leadership.
Throughout Nigeria, but especially in the central regions, ECWA churches are growing rapidly. Some churches have experienced as much as 400% growth in the last several years. Churches in the Northern (traditionally more Islamic) parts of the country are also growing. There are currently more than six thousand ECWA congregations with more than ten million members. ECWA has over ninety District Church Councils (DCC’s) hundreds of Local Church Councils (LCC’s), thousands of Local Churches (LCs) and hundreds of Prayer Houses (PHs).
Bingham University Karu was stated in 2005 as a way of meeting the soaring need for not only quality, secular education, but education that recognizes and integrates the moral and spiritual values on which the Christian faith is founded which fueled its establishment.
ECWA started three Theological Seminaries:
ECWA Theological Seminary, Igbaja that started as a School of Prophets in 1918, ECWA Theological Seminary, Kagoro was established in 1931, and
Jos ECWA Theological Seminary in 1982.
There are also eight Bible colleges and fifteen theological training institutes.
ECWA’s Medical Department coordinates a wide network which includes four hospitals, a Community Health Program with over 110 health clinics, a Central Pharmacy and the School of Nursing and Midwifery.
It is also involved in radio, publications for outreach and discipleship, rural development, urban ministries, and cross-cultural missions.
There are more than 1600 missionaries from ECWA churches who serve in Nigeria and other countries with the Evangelical Missionary Society (EMS), the missionary arm of ECWA.
TEAM MEETING FRIDAY
Tomorrow, Friday, I will be meeting with the ITEM team. The purpose is to get things moving here. Without an ITEM Associate to serve as our point man here, the ministry sits in neutral for long periods of time. They are willing and able but are waiting for direction. We’ll do some planning and try to get things moving.
NEW VISA APPLICATION PROCESS ADDS TO CHALLENGES
NOTE: Things are not getting easier here. Nigeria has changed their visa application process. First, they have “outsourced” the process. Second, to get a visa, you need to apply in person at one of a handful of offices around the US, unless you are 65 years old or older. This is going to make it difficult for anyone from the US who is younger than 65 who desires to help the ITEM team in Nigeria.
All for today.
Pray for the meeting Friday, that there will be good fellowship. This is the first time I’ve been here in over a year. Pray also for God’s leadership when we discuss the future.
By His grace,