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!

Sam (left), Steere (center) Jason (right) with Sam’s family

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!

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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.

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