“Sir, your ministry has transformed my life so much last year that I attend this year. I could not be able to miss it. My ministry have changed so much. My prayer sir is that God will keep you alive for me and others and keep providing money for your ministry and your love for Africa mostly Nigeria.” – note from Nigerian pastor
How wonderful it is to be home after two weeks of one-bucket, cold-water baths! Thanks for your part in making my recent trip to Nigeria very fruitful. This was my fourth annual journey to Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation. Nigeria has been making international headlines lately for the sentencing of an adulterous woman to death by stoning. This sentencing has actually occurred in one of the northern Nigerian states which has adopted Islamic Sharia law as its civil law. Most southern Nigerians and all northern Nigerian Christians are vehemently opposed to Sharia, and are embarrassed by the negative impression that it gives to the world about their nation. If the recent sentencing is carried out, it will not be until after the woman’s baby is weaned in two years. She will then be buried up to her head and stoned to death. I wonder which Islamic holy men will throw the first stones? And in this case, just as in the familiar New Testament account, the impregnator has been set free on “lack of evidence.”
Our three pastors’ conferences were all very blessed. In Kaduna, where almost 1,000 Christians were killed by rioting Muslims in May of 2000, about 400 pastors attended, which was actually disappointing because last year at least 1,200 attended. (I was told the decrease was due to the lateness of the planning and advertising.) Nevertheless, we had a wonderful time of ministry. I shared on biblical stewardship, a topic desperately needed in a country that has embraced the worst of the American “prosperity gospel.” One Kadunan pastor wrote to me at the end of the conference: “Your coming to Kaduna last year and this time has been a great school for me as a pastor who has no opportunity of attending Bible College. What I have learned has been and will continue to be a great spiritual upliftment for me and my church. It is highly unbelievable America, that has so polluted the world with their evil and corruptive “prosperity” messages, still has some people exemplified by Servant to shine light to the whole world. Nigerians believe everything which comes from USA….May God continue to bless you and the people who support you.”
One interesting facet of Nigerian Christianity is that practically all Nigerian Christians, regardless of their church or denominational affiliation, act like they are Pentecostals. Our three conferences in Makurdi, Kaduna and Umahia were held in Anglican, Evangelical, and Presbyterian churches respectively, and were attended by pastors of many different church affiliations. Even many Catholics in Nigeria act like Pentecostals. In Kaduna, I lodged at a Catholic retreat center that, during my stay, was hosting an outdoor charismatic renewal conference. The worship and preaching that went on each evening until midnight was contemporary and fervent. Then it started up again at 5:30 each morning. It was so loud it was almost impossible to sleep. There are no laws in Nigeria concerning disturbing the peace.
All together, we gave at least 800 copies of The Great Gospel Deception to Nigerian pastors. Such books are beyond the financial reach of many, and Christian books are prized by them. I also had the blessing of meeting a number of Nigerian pastors who listen to our daily short-wave broadcast, and informed the rest of the times and frequencies.
Nigerian pastors submit many interesting questions for me to answer during the final session of our conferences. Three of the most interesting that I received on this trip were: (1.) “What is the fate of Christian men in Nigeria with more than one wife? Should they divorce their extra wives or should they hold on to them?” (2.) “Is putting on ear ring sin or punching of our ear for ear ring idolatry?” (3.) “Please, I require to know if it biblical to put on trousers. I mean women in the church. And is it proper for a woman to leave her hair open when ministering in church?” We have lots of fun during those question and answer sessions, as you can imagine.
A personal highlight of my time in Nigeria was an opportunity to spend some time getting to know Nigerian pastor Daniel Ekechukwu, who was killed in a car accident, declared dead by a doctor, partially embalmed by chemical injection, placed in a morgue, and resurrected two days later through the undying faith of his wife! You may have heard his testimony in a video recently released by German evangelist Reinhard Bonnke. The Lord helped me find him in a nation of 120 million people and in a city of 12 million people. I asked him many of the questions that were raised in my mind after watching that video, focusing mostly on his experience in visiting heaven and hell. I wrote down an account of what I learned from questioning pastor Ekechukwu and one other eye-witness to his death and resurrection. If you have doubts about this miracle, I encourage you to read my accounts.
Finally, I am leaving on October 4th for the Republic of Georgia, formerly part of the Soviet Union, to teach pastors from all over that country. This is a wonderful opportunity.
Thanks to everyone who is partnering with us with prayer and/or financial support. My trip to Nigeria once again opened my eyes to God’s blessing in our lives, in light of the almost unimaginable poverty that so many Africans endure. I am praying that God will enable Shepherd Serve to soon meet material as well as spiritual needs around the world. I would like to begin by establishing a special fund so that on every trip I take I no longer have to turn down so many crippled, maimed, blind, deaf and leprous adults and children who approach me for food money. Thank you again.