As I sit here, I wonder what to write about on this series of journals about Nigeria. I donít want to write a travelogue Ė you can get that from magazines and travel agents Ė but neither do I want to fill in the pages with a boring itinerary of the different churches I am visiting and the different messages that I have preached. I want to tell you something exciting and fascinating that peak your interest in what the Spirit of the Lord is doing Ė stuff that you have never seen or heard of -- but so far, I am full of promises, and short on miracles Ö so far.
I have come to Nigeria for one purpose: to spark a revival. I can see a picture of what God wants to do here and I am set and determined to carry out that vision. I will be here for six weeks Ė two in Lagos, one in the capital Abuja, and then three weeks up north in the rural areas where the Muslims hold sway and persecute the Christians. It is those last three weeks that will hold the heart of this mission.
These first two weeks in Lagos are just an introduction to the rest of the country. I have been scheduled to speak at several churches and at three Pastorsí Conferences. They even have posters with my picture on it. It sounds cool, but when you see these posters, itís like looking at either a celebrity or a circus act, Iím not sure which. But this is the way they do it here. There are posters plastered all over the place for all kinds of Christian meetings, conferences, crusades, or whatever is going on. With all these churches and crusades, youíd think that Lagos would be the Christian capital of the world, but itís far from it.
I am beginning to see that the infamy Nigeria is famous for has been well earned. I am told that it is so bad here that a tourist is not even allowed to get their own cab or go anywhere by themselves lest they wind up dead or stripped naked and robbed. While most folks here are just regular people, there is a small element that is really treacherous and is ruining the reputation of this country.
On the other hand, I just finished spending four days at one pastorís home and learned how total their idea of hospitality is. If you are a guest, they insist on taking care of every minute need that you could even imagine having. They will not let you buy a thing, do any chores, or want for even the slightest thing. It is a little bit difficult for Americans to be served hand and foot to this extent. They laugh that Americans are too self-reliant, but maybe weíre just short on manners.
Speaking of which, the corruption in government is so bad that it is holding Nigeria back from developing a decent, livable infrastructure. The country has plenty of money, but it doesnít trickle down to help the population. The electricity is never on for more than 22 hours a day, if at all and is constantly going off; the roads, in many places, look like Beirut after the war. The contractors have run off with the money awarded them, as is the case with all the other public services. The sewage and trash are so bad they are creating a health problem, the public water only works sometimes, and the list goes on. Slowly but surely, they say, they are progressing and getting better, but it takes a while to change old habits and root out the corruption that has rooted itself in the highest echelons of government.
But thatís not my problem. It does make this trip a bit Ö um Ö adventurous, shall we say, but it doesnít hamper the task that I have to accomplish. I am here to open the curtains so they can see the possibilities that are before them and encourage them to unleash a fire in their souls.
But itís coming. I can feel the movement of the Holy Ghost in each service, and I get a sense that it is beginning to roll and pick up speed. Iím not sure about a lot of things yet, but it seems like these people sense the presence of God and they have the anticipation of a revival here. Itís like going fishing and finding all the fish waiting for you at the bank of the river with their mouths wide open.
The pastors here are made of special stuff. The men and women I have met have built churches armed with nothing but a desire to win souls and a faith in the providence of God. In some cases, as soon as the church begins to prosper, they leave everything behind to go plant another church. This is not a professional career or a job for them like we see so often in America. They donít negotiate for salaries, or expect to be provided with a car and a house Ė they have nothing and ask for nothing except for the opportunity to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the lost.
I preached this morning in a church that meets under a tree that has been started by a man like that. He has planted several churches, and has left the last one two months ago without any finances or support from anyone to establish a church in the middle of this Muslim area. Not having a church to preach in didnít stop him Ė if you donít have a church, then start one under a tree!
The Muslims have run the last church out of here, but he has told them that if they didnít leave him alone, that many of them would end up getting saved. They havenít bothered him since.
I believe that in the ages to come, as we are walking down the streets of Heaven, we will look up at those mansions on the hilltops that have been prepared for such courageous men and women as these and be proud to say that we knew them here on Earth.