Dr. Dan Steere – For the first two weeks of my recently-completed mission trip to Nigeria, I had the privilege of ministering in two cities I had never taught in before. It was fascinating to see new areas of the country and a delight to make new friends among the brethren there. In both venues, I taught on Biblical Marriage – a topic that is greatly needed in Nigeria. By God’s grace and the faithful prayers of His people, the response was enthusiastic
I began in Abeokuta, the regional capital of Ogun State. This city is the site of the first Christian church in Nigeria. Henry Townsend, an Anglican missionary, brought the gospel to Abeokuta in the early 1830’s. From that humble beginning the Church of Jesus Christ has grown in Nigeria to the point that nearly 50% of the 300 million Nigerians claim to be followers of Christ. We are there because many church leaders have no Biblical training whatsoever and are infected by the false gospel of “health and wealth.”
Abeokuta means “under the rock,” and large piles of granite boulders are scattered all around the city. The church in which I taught is built on one of these boulder piles and we climbed a long steep stairway every evening to get to the conference. The 60-70 people who attended the conference started the week rather detached and perhaps suspicious of the oyeebo (“white man”) who was teaching them. But before long, God moved in their hearts and the questions began to come. The wives seemed particularly moved and had lots of questions about the realities of married life in Nigerian culture. Several leading couples in the church – including Pastor Chima and his wife – took the teaching the heart and committed themselves to following Biblical principles in their marriage. Praise God!
Jason Coffey joined me for the next week in Shagamu. He came to help me and to assist in the establishment of a Nigerian branch of Christian Business Men’s Connection (CBMC). As we drove to the church the first night, carefully negotiating the broken asphalt on the main streets and the muddy, rut-filled dirt side-streets, we both wondered what the venue would be like. But several buildings down from the local mosque, we walked into a large, clean church building. Once again, the 100-120 people attending were initially cautious, but they quickly gave us their hearts. We had a wonderful time of worship as we taught. Jason’s teaching on communication within marriage was especially appreciated and provoked lots of questions. Nigerian spouses often live almost totally separate lives, although within the same house. The capstone of this wonderful week was dinner at Pastor Sam Anuforo’s house – chicken and rice, of course!
For the final week, we were at the Servant Leadership Institute (SLI) in Akure with Gideon and Excel Umukoro. I taught an introduction to Leadership Coaching – teaching 30 leaders the skills of listening, asking open questions, setting goals and accountability. The leaders at SLI are old friends since I have been going there for years. Still, they were stunned to learn this “new” way of training and equipping leaders. Jason taught with me the first two days and then joined Alex Chisanga, CBMC’s Africa coordinator, in meeting with local business people to establish a new CBMC chapter.
God clearly blessed this trip. It confirmed that we are entering a new phase of our ministry in West Africa. God is opening new venues and bringing new leaders to hear Biblical teaching. In both Ghana and Nigeria, I am being asked to spend more time AND to bring Susan with me more frequently. Please join us in praying for God’s wisdom!