Travel Diary 12: Relationships Matter

Dear ITEM Partner,

I am at the end of Sunday and am nearing the end of this trip. Once I get to within a week of returning home, things seem to pick up speed. I think another factor is that I am in my last location. All of the traveling from one country to another is done. Next stop, HOME! Church was enjoyable and I felt like God was honored and the church was encouraged. READ MORE… 

ECWA MORE RESERVED

When I first came to Nigeria, ECWA stood for Evangelical Church of West Africa but now that they are an international denomination the letters mean Evangelical Church Winning All. ECWA is a more traditional, more reserved denomination. So, the service was the customary 2.5 hours, but it didn’t seem that long. There . ongoing “building project.” 

A Church Plant

Our coordinator, Dangana Nok is the pastor. ECWA seems to use him as a church planter. His most recent assignment saw the church grow from a small group to around 600. Now he is starting in another location, a growing part of the area. In the pictures you will see a lot of open area. It will be full of people in the next 5-10 years.

(Some) White Men Can Dance!

The final congregational singing was the most festive of the service. Most of the service was pretty quiet and reserved but just before I got up to preach, the congregation really came alive. They were singing loudly and dancing. Picture the men in the singing group, knees slightly bent, bent over at the waist, hips thrusted slightly backward, both hands around knee level, and the body bounding up and down and swaying side to side, matching the beat of the drums in the band. Now, imagine a 74-year-old great grandfather trying to imitate them for a few seconds! No, on second thought, do NOT imagine it! The congregation seemed to enjoy the attempt. What is the old saying? When in Nigeria, do as the Nigerians do.

Relationships First

When I was introduced by Pastor Nok, he reminded me that the culture wants to know all about you, your family, and your life before they hear your sermon. So, I started out the same way I start out every time I introduce myself now. “I will begin with the most important part about me….. my family!” They want to know about you wife, children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren (if you have some). I’ve come to realize just how important “family” is in God’s plan for the world and African’s seem to know that instinctively. We, in the west, must be reminded. After telling them about my family, I told them about ITEM.

Sticking to the Theme

As you know, ITEM puts a non-negotiable premium on expository preaching and especially going through books of the Bible chapter by chapter. ECWA gives their churches a yearly theme. That makes it all but impossible for their pastors to preach through books in the Bible. 

Sticking with their theme, “He is coming with the clouds” (or something like that), I preached on the signs of the second coming and the rapture of the church prior to the tribulation from 1 Thessalonians 5. It went well, I think. 

Their Elders Asked About America

After the service, Dangana (Nok) asked me to meet the elders of the church and asked if I had a word for them. I thanked them for serving and exhorted them to support the pastor but also to hold him accountable to be a spiritual example to the church. 

Then is was their turn to ask me questions and they seemed curious to know what was going on in America. So, I was as diplomatic as I could be but was also straight forward. I explained, from my point of view, what was happening politically and culturally and educationally. They were aware of what was happening on the surface but seemed appreciative to understand the dynamics that are driving what they see/read/hear about what is going on, on the surface.

I Asked About Nigeria

Nigeria is an important, influential nation. And they are beset with their own challenges. Their challenges are religious (Islamist Muslims want Nigeria to be a Muslim country) and tribal. One of the elders went into a lot of detail, explaining to me the danger that is posed by Boko Haram and the Fulani tribe. 

Nok told me that he would like to show me around but said it was too dangerous. They also told me that if I wanted to go back and visit the city of Jos, where their seminary and headquarters are, I would have to drive and would be in risk of being taken as hostage. I had been thinking about going their one more time before I stop coming here. But now that is in question.

MONDAY

Monday will be a full day preaching seminar. I will be giving four of our 9 preaching lectures and spending one session at the end of the day talking about sermon preparation.

That is all for now. It just passed 8:30pm and I’m waiting on dinner…. I have been for over 30 minutes.

Pray for the preaching seminar. What I will be talking about will be new to most or perhaps all of them. We will start at 1AM Pacific and finish at 7am Pacific on Monday. Pray for us on Sunday. 😊

Thanks for coming on this trip with me and thanks for your interest and prayers!

By His grace,
Steve

PICTURE ALBUM HERE

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