Iíve noticed that every country that I have visited has its own peculiar scent. When I was a boy, I loved adventure stories that told of exotic South Sea Islands where the breeze brought a scent of sandalwood in the air. I still donít know what sandalwood smells like, but it still sparks in my imagination a sense of sailing ships, pirates, and faraway places.
Nigeria has its own exotic scent, and after a while, you can smell it in the air and taste it in the food. Iím not saying that I donít like it, but after 40 days here, I wouldnít mind smelling a good olí Texas BBQ for a change.
Iíve noticed that the people here are tied to the soil in a very elemental way, almost as if they have come forth out of the earth. There is a very earthy aspect in their souls and in their way of life. Their bare feet are never very far from the ground, be it sandals, flip-flops, or skin. There is, on some primal level, a connection to Mother Earth that we in the Western world have severed. Itís as if we have lost something that they have still retained.
It is the same with their Faith. African hearts are uncomplicated, and as a result, much more open to God. It is easy for them to believe in what God has promised in His Word and to accept His miracles as naturally as watching the sun come up in the morning. Stuff happens here that doesnít happen in the States.
Thatís both good and bad. While they possess an innate natural faith, they are also susceptible to the powers of spiritual darkness. I have listened to intelligent, educated men explain in detail some of the bizarre paranormal things that happen here on a regular basis Ė things that, when related to us in the West, are dismissed as impossible reactions of over-imaginative, superstitious minds. But Iím telling you that after a while, it becomes harder and harder to dismiss so easily. There is some spooky stuff that goes on here.
Maybe thatís why the Spirit of the Lord flows so freely in their services.
I was invited to attend a Conference for pastors in the city of Minna. Nigeria has an endless parade of conferences and conventions. Posters are plastered everywhere hawking the next supernatural conference or convention that promises you endless showers of blessings, supernatural wisdom, and all sorts of magnified promises of power in God. The posters have the look and feel of a circus coming to town, but they also reflect the deep hunger of these people to receive something from God.
As one of the several ministers to speak at this conference, I was just the white guy in the back of the group. As I listened to the flow of positive, faith-building messages that brought the crowd to their feet with shouts of Hallelujah and Amen for all the wonderful things they were being told, I had to wonder if I was really supposed to be here or not. Iím the guy that has to bring the bad news that these promises of God are not free.
I was looking for the Exit door, but God shut it. There was no wiggling out of this.
As I stood up to speak to a crowd of people who had had their spiritual shopping bags stuffed full of all sorts of goodies from the other ministers who had spoken, I prayed to God that if He had really called me as a prophet, then send down the anointing of Elijah and manifest His true message to these people, ministers included. If I had to wade into this water, I wasnít going into it alone.
As I stepped up to the pulpit, the first thing I did was to correct my introduction as an evangelist missionary: ďI am not here as an evangelist; neither am I here as a missionary Ė I am a prophet of the Almighty holy living God, and what I am about to tell you shall surely come to pass and not one word that I speak to you shall fall to the ground.Ē
Well now. That got everybodyís attention! As I turned to the crowd, you could almost hear the switch turn on as the Spirit of the Lord lit up the entire place. The authority of God filled the church, and the tenor of the whole place had changed. Thirty minutes later, I sat down knowing that I had accomplished exactly what I had come here to do.
I have learned that if you will just tell people the truth, those who have ears to hear will answer the call. Nigeria is ripe for someone to stand up and strip away all the hoopla and call them to a place of repentance.
Itís great to feel good about your place in God, but feeling good about yourself will never bring a revival. There is something cold, clear, and refreshing about the reproof of the Word of God that snaps us out of the dream world that our Pied Piper preachers call us into, and people that are hungry for Truth will rejoice while those with itching ears will squirm. These people rejoiced; ministers included.
There is something very powerful about the Truth.