What a mess!
Right now we are flying down the highway back toward Lagos, but for a little while, it was touch and go.
It must have all started with what happened last night. I can always tell when there is going to be a big move of God or when I have been especially effective in a service. In both cases, the devil goes crazy and all hell breaks loose. Well, it’s been like that since two or three weeks before I ever left, and apparently it isn’t going to let up any time soon. I take that as a sign of victory. Satan is freaked out and screaming mad, and I sit back and smile with that quiet, knowing satisfaction that, once again, faith in God has overcome.
During the first leg of this journey, I preached four services at a church in Lagos, and it was okay -- that’s it; just okay. But at the end of the last service, the Holy Spirit filled the church and dealt deeply with the souls that were there. Wow, was it great! Once they realized that the altar was open for them to come up and pray, it was as if someone opened up the gates and let the Spirit of God come pouring in. We left clean, energized and changed. It wasn’t the breaking forth of revival that I am working toward, but it was God nonetheless, and that is enough for me.
When I came to Ibaden, I ministered to one church in the evenings and another church in the mornings. The evening church has a grip on a single vision – they are determined to be the agent for revival in this city. They not only believe in revival, they are set like steel to see it come to their city.
They have no problem believing that God has sent me to ignite this country because they see Nigeria as a country with a rich heritage in God, and they believe that God will use this country to affect the entire world. I am just confirmation of their expectations for revival in Nigeria. Talk about a ready audience! These are serious Christians who are braced for whatever challenges that God puts before them. They don’t want a soft, “feel good” message from me. They want a revival and are willing to pay whatever the price is to get one. Pretty cool, huh?
The other church is a small group of believers who meet under a tree in middle of a Muslim community. The Muslims ran the last group of Christians out of there, but this pastor is made of a different mettle. They have barged into his house to threaten him, but his answer to them is that they had better leave him alone if they don’t want some of their people to convert to Christianity. That backed them off. They can sense the power of God on this man – they don’t understand it, but they can feel it – and they are not sure what to do next.
A Christian has lent them an area under a tree to hold services, which just happens to be across from a Muslim school. They have threatened this man with all sorts of things, but he has stood his ground and has refused to ask this church to meet anywhere else. This may just sound like a neighborly quarrel to you, but here in Nigeria it can take on severe and bloody consequences, so this man’s refusal to budge is more courageous than you might think.
It began last night at the evening church. The message just poured out of me, and kept pouring and pouring like an endless supply of an intoxicating fountain. Everything flowed together, each word and phrase pulling the next one along with it. When it was over, I stood and looked into the open faces of people who were ready for whatever God wanted them to do. They were ready for revival. They were ready for anything!
I passed the service over to the pastor and went to my chair as he closed services. And then it started filtering in. You could feel it slipping in like a fog coming in through the windows and under the cracks of the doors. It was as if a cloud had entered and filled the room. There was a hush over the entire church. God was here … and stayed here.
No one left that service the same way they had come. And they will probably never be the same way again.
That was the first sign that God was beginning to move, but the morning service that took place under the tree was even more powerful. God gave me a message for these people about Abram inheriting the land of the Canaanites, just as they are in a land that is overrun with Muslims. You have to picture this – here I am outside in the dirt under a tree with less than a dozen humble people proclaiming the glories, the power, and the dominion of the Almighty God, reaching to the sky with the faith to claim this entire Muslim community for the Lord Jesus Christ. Man! I’m getting goose bumps just writing about it! To the outsider, we must have seemed ludicrous, but I could almost hear the echoes of cheers filtering down from the saints in Heaven.
The message just rolled – there’s no other way to describe it – and picked up power as it went on. By the end of the message you could feel the power of God flowing under that tree like a blaze of fire. I’ll bet even the Muslims all around us could feel the heat from the blaze, but I’m sure they were cringing, not celebrating.
Then it was time to pray, and as I prayed over one person after another, it became clear to me that God was preparing them for a battle. As I prayed over each one of them and looked into their face, it was as if I could look down into their souls and clearly see each one’s gift. One woman had the strength of steel and would stand as a tower of defense, another woman was someone God would use to give the others wisdom, one young man would be a strong sentry to protect the flock, and so on. -- each one had a special gift that God would use to protect and strengthen the others. I knew that once I left, Satan would attack this little church, but God had already made provision and would defend them through the Blood of Jesus. These were warriors for God who were tough, determined, and set for the defense of the Gospel no matter what came.
I wonder how many of us would be able to walk in their shoes, give up the comforts of this world to live in a one-room hut and face the obstacles and dangers they have so stoically stood against. I felt honored to even be considered worthy enough to stand in their midst, much less preach a word from God to them.
Anyway (back to the “mess”), with all this victory, power, and glory getting tossed about, I should have realized Satan would throw a tantrum. Sure enough, in no time at all, everything started going wrong as soon as we left services. First, we lost our ride to Lagos so we had to scramble to find someone to drive us, then my laundry was lost, then we had trouble finding our way to our next host, then I discovered my best shirts were not in the laundry that we did retrieve … (Sigh). Is it going to be like this for the next six weeks?
But after considerable trouble, every mess was straightened out, and soon we were zooming down the road to Lagos, heading to the next church, ready to turn the page to the next chapter of this journey.
By the way, as a footnote to the church under the tree, during the service I had stated that God would give them a church. Well, you don’t have to be a prophet to figure that one out, but the very next day – the next day! – someone donated all the building materials they needed to construct a building on a plot of land that someone else had given them. The next Sunday services were held under their very own roof. Talk about excited! To these simple people who depend so much on the providence of God for their very survival, this was a sign from God out of the mouth of a prophet that He was going to establish them and confirm the covenant of Abraham that we made under that tree.
You don’t get this kind of stuff in America.