Man, Iím getting old. Howíd that happen, anyway? It was just yesterday, I was 18 and full of vitality, but now Iím 58 and I can feel every bone creak.
Before I go on these mission trips my chiropractor always gives me a free adjustment. Spending hours on your feet preaching in one church after another can wreak havoc on your spine, and right about now, this old back of mine is approaching its limit. I ache every time I have to stand up.
Forty days of eating rice is also dragging me down. They donít eat vegetables here Ė at least none that I have seen Ė and the lack of vitamins is wearing me out. I have 10 days to go, and this olí body will just about make it.
Nevertheless, there is a certain anointing that I can feel, just as if I have been riding on a wind that has been carrying me through this whole month. I just keep going and going like the Eveready Bunny.
Today I will spend the afternoon just sitting down making friends with the congregation of the church I preached to last night. It is one thing to preach to someone; it is another thing to come off the pulpit and show them how to do the things you preached about. We will read some Bible together, maybe pray over some folks, crack some jokes and tell stories, share some pictures of my girls (I show everybody my girls), and just hang out and make friends. I guarantee you that the results will be much deeper and fatter than anything that can be accomplished over the pulpit.
Nigerians are a handsome people with finely carved features. The ears are very small, even smaller than Will Smithís, but the features of their faces are well defined. The women are beautiful, and made more so by the gorgeous headwraps that they wear with a beautiful array of colorful fabrics. The men are accustomed to wearing what I can only describe as brightly colored pajamas (but at least they are well-tailored pajamas). They made me wear one of these suits at a service once, but I felt like I was walking around in my underwear and I couldnít wait to take it off. The whole effect you get is of a culture that is very distinct and highly developed in its own ways.
Kenya was different in many ways. While Kenya is given to poverty and immorality, Nigeria has a very strong moral base and a strong work ethic. Everyone works, and the poor are looked upon as being lazy. I have yet to hear a curse word from a Nigerian, saved or unsaved, and there is absolutely no pornography. You will not find anything lewd or even suggestive in the way any of the women dress.
There are other differences, however, that hint of deeper currents in their society. There is a look of intelligence in the faces here in Nigeria that I have not seen in Kenya, but Kenyans are more colorful and cheerful. In Kenya, someone was always smiling, colors were always bright, and there was always music in the background, but here in Nigeria, the colors are earthy and muted, the mood is always somber, and there is little music.
As hard working and intelligent as Nigerians show themselves to be, there is still a dark transparent cloud that hangs over them. They are not happy. I believe that this is that cloud that I saw in the vision before I left Texas. It hangs over them like a blanket of oppression and it dims everything you see. Iím sure it must be hard to see if youíve been living inside it for so long, but as an outsider, you can sense it as soon as you set foot on Nigerian soil, especially in Lagos.
It is that very cloud that I am here to break. They know it is hanging over them, but they donít know what to do about it. Itís as if hope has been weakened to a faint cry that can barely be heard, and they donít have the stamina to break the curse. It will take a strong message of repentance, but these people have hearts that are desperate for freedom and are ready to take the battle to the Throne of God. You should hear them pray.
You might ask, if they are aware of all this and are able to pray as hard as you say, why are they still laboring under this oppression? Because of the false prophets they have seen on TV from America that have directed them away from the Cross and toward the vanity of worldly success and prosperity. They believe that anything from America is good, so they have wholeheartedly embraced the doctrine of Prosperity, never realizing that it has only undermined their spiritual strength.
There are, however, pastors and strong men of God who see what is happening, but their cries are drowned out by the mirages of riches and glory on TV. When they see me, a white guy from America, preaching repentance, Holy Ghost conviction, the Fear of God, and brokenness at the Cross, they act like they just hit the Holy Ghost Jackpot. They believe that if they can just get me in front of their people, they will turn away from the mesmerizing Pied Pipers on TV.
There is a certain clarity about the truth that strips away the faÁade of vanity and shines light on the shadows that has had them captivated.
This is a battle for Nigeriaís soul, and it has to be fought one church at a time, one message at a time, one altar call at a time.