Dear Friends of ITEM,
Nigeria is perhaps the most strategic country on the African continent when it comes to the spreading of the gospel. And as you might assume, that means that the challenges here are perhaps greater than those in other countries.
LONG BUT SMOOTH DAY OF TRANSITION
My trip from Kenya to Nigeria included two connecting flights and the first one launched at 5AM in Nairobi, Kenya (3AM in Nigeria). To get to the airport at a comfortable time to navigate through the health check station, bag screening, check-in, passport control, and more bag screening, I got up at 1:55AM (a few minutes before midnight here in Nigeria). The first flight was two hours to Ethiopia (Addis Ababa, the capital…. See picture in album). There was about a two-hour layover, which ended up being almost three since we sat on the plane an extra 45 mins before taking off.
The second fight was from there to Abuja, Nigeria. That flight was approximately 4.5 hours. We arrived at about 12:20PM in Abuja. By the time I cleared the chaotic health check station, passport control, and then waiting almost an hour for my luggage to appear, I cleared the airport about 2PM. Now I’m settled in the guest house where I’ve stayed many times with three days of ministry ahead of me before I head home.
NIGERIA: THE GOOD
A recent study by the Pew Foundation concluded that by the year 2060, 42% of the world’s Christian population (anyone claiming to be a Christian) will live in Africa, south of the Sahara. It also concluded that 6 of the 10 most Christian-populated countries will be here also. And the country with the third highest Christian population will be Nigeria.
I did some research, recently, and found that a large percentage Nigerian-Americans are advancing in education and high tech in the US. Many are becoming CEOs of tech companies.
Nigeria has the potential of greatly influencing the world for Christ in the next generation.
NIGERIA: THE BAD
There is little doubt that much of the false teaching, false apostles, and false prophets either come from here or are influenced by what they see and hear, here.
The prosperity gospel flows out of this country like a river flows out of its source. MORE GOOD… although, according to Nok, our coordinator here, the popularity of the prosperity gospel is losing its hold as people are seeing that the promises of health and wealth are hollow and only the propagator of this false doctrine is getting rich.
Even so, this false teaching is still prominent here. There are self-proclaimed prophets and apostles everywhere. Miracle and healing services are regularly held in churches and even in stadiums (see picture album).
Some of the wealthiest pastors, with net worths of $10million up to $150million (David Oyedepo, the founder of Winner’s Chapel with branches all over Africa).
One of the symbols of all of this is The Glory Dome (see The Glory Dome, Aubja, Nigeria).
And to add a competitive religion element to THE BAD, Nigeria has an aggressive Islamic population (we all have read about the Boko Haram but maybe not the Fulani tribesmen). Their goal is to eventually Islamicize all of Nigeria, one way or another.
The rampant false teaching is, of course, a huge challenge. The Muslim challenge, as well. But yet another challenge is the difficulty of getting a visa. If you are under 65 years of age, you have to appear in person to get a visa. Nigeria has basically outsourced their visa process to an organization that includes a biometric scan that requires an in-person visit at one of only a few places around the United States. I am still able to get a visa by mail.
Three year absence
Because of the visa issue, it makes it even more essential that we have a strong, active team here. The visa issue and Covid seems to have put ITEM’s ministry here in Nigeria on hold. I have not been with the team for almost three years; it was summer of 2019. Covid hit in 2020. I went other places in 2021, and now I’m here.
The mission this week
Tomorrow, Sunday, I will preach at the coordinator’s church. Monday, he has arranged a one day preaching seminar for me to conduct. I will obviously be promoting the expository method of preaching through entire books of the Bible, primarily the New Testament epistles. Then on Tuesday, I’ll meet with our team to get caught up on their lives, their families, and their ministries. I’ll fill them in on the transition taking place in the next 18 months in ITEM’s leadership and my new interest in bringing an apologetics element into ITEM’s ministry, primarily in a youth ministry. Also, on Tuesday, I get the Covid test I need to re-enter the US. OH BY THE WAY, both Kenya and Nigeria now only require you to prove you are “fully vaccinated” and then register online to acquire a QR code for entry.
WIND DOWN TIME
I’ve been up over 21 straight hours so I guess it’s time to turn off and get to bed.
Pray for the events of this week. Also, a worth request would be that God would raise up an ITEM Associate who would become our point man in Nigeria to work with the team here. It would be someone close to one of the locations around the US that grants Nigerian visas.
Thanks in advance for your prayers.
By His grace,
New pictures have been put into the album.