Praise God for Dr Gideon Umukuro and the Servant Leadership Institute (SLI) in Akure, Nigeria. Gideon, who leads SLI in the training of West African Christian leaders, has a small staff of Nigerian support personnel and teachers to do this awesome work for God.
Three of us were recently privileged by invitation to help Gideon with the teaching. Papa Don, Papa Jeff and I (Papa Roland) each had 15 hours allotted for our teaching over 9 days. Topics were Church Discipline, Biblical Counseling, and the Book of Romans.
Gideon sets the curriculum so that after six two week sessions spanning three years the students will have been exposed to a thorough cross section of the Gospel and graduate with an “associate degree.” In most cases this is the only training these pastors and leaders receive, so it is invaluable for settling the Gospel in their hearts. Sadly, most of the students do not have adequate study resources, like commentaries, study bibles, and the Internet. And they have little or no fellowship with learned Christians. Gideon provides a small library on site, but since most of the students travel long distances to attend SLI, its use is very limited.
Seeing this and their love for the Lord, I departed Nigeria with absolute assurance that SLI is doing a great work for God. And we were truly blessed by participating with Gideon in this work. Most satisfying to me was the knowing that these truly dedicated and passionate Christians would carry the Word back to their small churches, putting the multiplier effect in motion.
Jeff, Don and I each preached at separate churches on Sunday that were pastored by SLI students. I was invited to preach at Pastor Obat’s very small church of 12 adults and 7 children. He founded the church just four months ago. The people praise and worship with passion as if they understood in their subconscious their “salvation is nearer now than we first believed” (Romans 13:11). They are hungry for the Word. SLI is feeding them.
The temperatures are in the high 90’s and there is no air conditioning. Most of the time the on site generator supplies power for fans and lights, but it would be a stretch to say we were comfortable. The comfort level being so low, it was truly a wonder that the students endured six or more hours of teaching every day without complaint. They even extended their days with questions. I dare say not many Americans would endure. We teachers were able to retreat to the comfort of our air conditioned hotel each night to refresh, but the students were not. This 24/7 Nigerian environment is the image that sticks in my mind as I am now back in the comfort of my Melbourne, FL, home.
Our new Nigerian friends in Christ are truly in love with the Lord and are motivated to share the Gospel. They need our help. They want our help. We can help. All it takes is a willingness to “send me.” So, I would encourage anyone who reads this to investigate SLI (http://slinigeria.com/) and get involved through prayer, financial assistance, and of course volunteering to go.