Nigeria One More Time

Dear ITEM Partner,

I am finishing up my “day off” in Kenya and fly to Madagascar tomorrow, Sunday. I have been told so many things in the past two days it is going to be hard to remember everything. I’ll do my best.

NIGERIA TO ETHIOPIA TO KENYA

The trip from Nigeria to Kenya via Ethiopia was pretty much on schedule all day. Interestingly enough, I was sitting in the same row on the plane out of Ethiopia as “Callie,” a young lady from Portland, OR. I live in Forest Grove, about 25 miles west.

There were only two “bumps” in the proverbial road. In Ethiopia, our landing was delayed due to traffic over the airport, I think. The plane had to fly back and forth for 15-20 mins before landing so we were 15-20 mins late. I had to find food which is easy but finding a place to sit and eat it is an adventure. It’s not a good airport.

Then, going through the line to have your carry-on bags screened is a HUGE headache. (See picture I uploaded today.) It was like a Disneyland line weaving back and forth, back and forth, back and forth…etc. I was weaving for about 40 minutes.

SECURITY SCREENING LINE IN ETHIOPIA

The other “bump” was leaving my jacket on the plane upon deplaning. I had put it in the overhead bin. It slid back, out of sight. I didn’t think about it when I grabbed my luggage in Nairobi. By the time I remembered it was not on the plane any longer. Someone went to look and it was not there. This is the third jacket I’ve lost in Africa.

I arrived at 1:15am, by the time the search ended and I got to the guest house it was 3am Breakfast was at 8am. It is now almost 9pm and I’m tired!

DISCUSSIONS WITH WILLIAMS

Williams Burga, who set up the Jos Conference, and I talked upon arriving back in Abuja on Thursday. This past week increased his vision for ITEM’s ministry in Nigeria. He loves the idea of working heavily (not exclusively) with “evangelicals,” with the intent of preparing them to counter the strong “health and wealth, signs, miracles, wonders, faith healing doctrines swirling throughout Nigeria. He offered himself 100% to help us do that.

When he and I talked at dinner Thursday, he was distraught. He said that there was a lot of lip service given to serving God but very little reality. Nothing comes from many of the hearts. He also said that pastors are living in adultery and are not even troubled by it. Their conscience seems to be dead when it comes to convicting them for various forms of immorality. It is exactly what Isaiah said and how Jesus said to the religious leaders in Mark 7:6-7 “THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME. BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.’  This doesn’t speak for the entire Nigerian church but it does for much of it.

DISCUSSIONS WITH NATHAN

Nathan came by the guest house today and we pal-ed around for a couple of hours. He took me to a local market with resale jackets. Found one for $16. Asking price, to start with, $45! Lol! Nathan offered 1000 ($10). No. Then $15. No. So there was a tug of war on the price. They wouldn’t come down below about $20 (2000). I offered $16. They said NO. I walked off and started down the road. The said OK, $16. Walking away, Nathan told me they would have done $15 had I waited. 😊 Oh, well.

Nathan agreed with Williams about the lip-service comment. He also agreed with Williams’ statement that pastors live immoral lives and see no issues. I asked, “Are they even saved?” Nathan, responded, “That’s the big question!

Nathan teaches theology at a Christian university here in Nairobi. He told me that one of his students from Seychelles told him that Nigeria has exported their radical theology to Seychelles. This student did not know Nathan was Nigerian. This is an example of just how important Nigeria is to Africa and the world, for that matter.

Nathan and I talked about a strategy to better prepare the evangelical church in Nigeria to stand firm and even push back against the strong, radical Pentecostal wave that is crashing through the country. He said if we had the money, we could have huge conferences in three strategic locations in Nigeria for as many evangelical pastors as we wanted. 500? 1000? Whatever. Could we have enough mentors ready to follow up and do mentoring? Nathan thought we could. Whether we will be able to pull it off, due to current levels of income, we are going to at least start talking and praying it and even start taking some steps to see where they lead.

LEFT OVER QUESTIONS

Q: On the last day I was asked what Nigerian Christians should be doing to keep the same things that have happened to so many churches in Europe and the US from happening in Nigeria. (He was responding to my comments about how so many American churches are giving into the culture and becoming too much like the world.) ANS: I told him that my opinion it started in the U.S. in 1963 when daily prayers were removed from public schools by a Supreme Court vote. Then abortion was legalized in 1973 by the Supreme Court, which led to having sex without consequences. That plus contraception opened the door to “free sex,” anytime, anywhere, with anybody. Then in 1987 the Supreme Court ruled it was unconstitutional to teach creationism in the public schools because it promoted religion. Evolution, then stood along.

So slowly but surely, Supreme Court rulings have pushed God out of the public debate. Secularism has taken over.

I suggested that they keep God and God’s moral law in the public discussion.

Q: African cultures are known to be oral learning cultures. How does expository preaching fit into that? ANS: (Since I am not an expert on this, I had to assume some things.) I hear a lot of missionaries talk about using stories to tell the story of the Bible. But I’ve heard it mainly in the area of evangelism. I’ve asked missionaries, how do you teach Romans with stories? How do you teach the other epistles with stories? If God gave us the Bible. If it was intended to be used universally with all people groups and all cultures, then I must conclude that it is sufficient. I’ve been told by Africans that our approach at our seminars is very western but they’ve encouraged us to keep doing it. “It makes us think and we need to learn to think.” After all, Paul wrote in Rom 12:2, “Be transformed by the renewing of your MIND.” I told them to teach the principles in the Bible then use cultural stories to illustrate the principles.

THE WEEK AHEAD

Sunday, I fly to Madagascar. Monday, I meet with Julien to do more planning for Madagascar. Tuesday, ITEM is hosting a dinner for denominational and other evangelical leaders to introduce ITEM. On Wednesday, I’ll meet with the ITEM team to discuss the starting of mentoring. Then Thursday, it will be back here to Nairobi. Then I start for home next Saturday.

 

IMPORTANT PRAYER REQUESTS

Pray that the pastors who attended our conference this past week in Jos will not lose the “fire.”

Pray for us as we work to maintain the “fire” by setting up mentoring in Jos.

Pray for the important meeting on Tuesday with evangelical leaders in Madagascar, that God would open doors.

 

By His grace,

Steve

New pictures were added to the album today. A couple of interesting church signs are among them.

CLICK HERE FOR PHOTO ALBUM

 

 

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