Summary: God opened the door for Angela and I to go to Benin City, Nigeria from June 24-July 2, 2019. During that time, I preached in 5 services, including a youth service and a service dedicated to area ministers.
MINISTRY IN NIGERIA, 2019
A. HUMOR: Giving to God
1. A third grade S.S. class teacher asked her seven 8 year-olds if they would give a $1,000,000 to the missionaries if they had it. “Yes!” they all screamed!
2. “If you had $1000 would you give it to the Lord?” Again, they shouted “YES!” How about if you had $100?” “Oh, yes we would!” they all agreed!
3. “Would you give a dollar to the Lord if you had it?” she asked. The boys exclaimed, “Yes!” just as before, except for Johnny.
4. “Johnny,” why didn’t you say ‘yes’ this time?” “Well,” the boy stammered, “I have a dollar!” There’s honesty!
1. I want to touch on what God is doing around the world in Christianity. Today is like a Missions service. That’s why we’re wearing these unusual clothes – of Nigerian make.
2. But what I’m talking to you about is bigger than a trip to Africa.
I. REVITALIZATION OF U.S. CHRISTIANITY
A. THE IMMIGRANT FACTOR
1. Everywhere in the press the last few years we’ve been hearing how Christianity in America is following the same trends as Europe – it’s dying and atheism is growing fast. But a new Harvard study found that Christianity is not only NOT DYING in America, but it’s THRIVING! [“Myth of the Dying Church,” June 18, 2019].
2. The key factor in the turn-around of U.S. Christianity is the influx of immigrants from countries we sent our missionaries to! Our obedience to sow the seed in other nations has resulted in our reaping that harvest in THIS country! Can you say “Praise the Lord?”
3. An article entitled “Where is Christianity headed? The view from 2019” (1/10/2019; Religious News Service), revealed that denominations that were open to multi-racial/ multi-ethnic members joining them, were the only ones actually growing in the United States. The Catholic Church and the Assemblies of God were singled out as two examples. The A/G white membership has declined slightly, but nonwhite membership has increased 43% in 10 years!
B. THE IMPORTANCE OF AFRICA
1. Crucial in the Christian immigrant picture are people from Africa. Immigration of Africans has increased from 35,000/year in 1960 to 1.5 million/year in 2010 (“Think Christianity is Dying?” Wash. Post, 5/20/15).
2. And the powerful form of Christianity in Africa which won 50 million to Christ last year alone -- bringing the total to 631 million (RNS art.) – also made Africa the most Christian continent in the world. And immigrants from Africa are bringing their powerful Christianity with them when they come here.
3. If Christianity were a disease, the most contagious & powerful form of it is that possessed by the Sub-Saharan Africans! They have spread the Gospel faster, against more violent and deadly opposition, than any other place in the world.
4. And Nigeria is by far the most populated African nation with 182 million, half of them being Muslims. By 2050 Nigeria will be the third largest country in the world, just after India and China, and Lagos will be the fourth largest city. That’s why it’s interesting that God directed our steps to that particular country.
II. OUR TRIP TO BENIN CITY, NIGERIA
A. HOW THIS MISSION ORIGINATED
1. God opened the door for Angela and I to go to Benin City, Nigeria from June 24-July 2, 2019, through our wonderful Evangelism Pastor, Stephen Akin-Olatunde.
2. Pastor Stephen kept telling me it was God’s will for me to minister in Nigeria and eventually God spoke to me to go. Stephen put us into contact with Pastor Isaac Itobiye, a district official with the Christian Pentecostal Mission Church and he invited us to come in 2018 and again this year.
3. I want to express my thanks to Pastor Itobiye for his wonderful diligence to safeguard us and to care for our every need. He, his wife, and a large entourage met us at the airport with flowers, church leaders, and photographers.
B. FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF NIGERIA
1. On arriving, one of the first things you notice is the large number of people who are trying to survive by hawking goods on the street. There aren’t very many jobs, so people try to make it any way they can. They are a very industrious people.
2. Most of the streets are mud streets; only the main arteries are paved and there are few stop lights (we only saw 4 or 5 in a city of 1.4 million).
3. Driving is a nail-biting experience, because there are little or no rules enforced on the roads. Everyone muscles their way through, blowing their horns and trying to bluff the other drivers into stopping. Our driver was Juliet, a most intimidating driver. She usually out-bluffed everyone else. We did a lot of praying in the cars!