I am sitting in the back seat of a car looking at a sea of mud before me. I have never in my life seen a road like this. Now when I say a sea of mud, that is complete with troughs of muddy water that is sometimes three feet deep and twenty feet across between waves of dirt 3’ to 4’ high. This is the road that leads to the church I am supposed to preach at this evening.
It wasn’t enough that the driver didn’t show up this morning, or that my pants ripped as I got in the car, or that we got lost coming here, or a myriad of other problems that keep happening to us everyday, but now we face a road that only a Sherman tank would love. There are some cars that have descended into these puddles and never came out, and here we are in some tiny compact car facing this stormy sea of mud. I feel like Lindbergh about to cross the Atlantic.
Every day is a battle here. Either things break, get lost, or don’t happen the way you have been told. Nothing is on time and everything is twice as hard as it is supposed to be. I don’t remember praying for patience, but if I did, I am truly sorry, God. Please forgive me, and cancel that prayer.
And now we have an impassable road in front of us. You know, I’m beginning to think that the devil doesn’t want me to come to church.
We negotiate this adventure as we have all the rest of them – step over it or through it and keep on going. The hilarious part is seeing this well-dressed, gray-haired elder of the church and a fat lady who is in charge of hospitality riding on the back of a couple of motorbikes, plowing ahead of us through the 3’ deep pools of muddy water as we gingerly follow after them in the car. You just gotta love it!
Once services started, however, I knew why we had so many obstacles thrown in our way -- the Spirit of the Lord was here and the whole church was energized! Dancing, singing, hands raised in the air – it was a great celebration. Everybody was so happy! And then, I had to get up to give them the news…
I have good news and bad news, I told them. They all cheer as I tell them the good news that God wants to bring a revival here, but they get real quiet when I tell them the bad news that He is going to make them pay for it. Everybody wants something for nothing, but my message has repeatedly been about the price that God requires for revival. All of them acknowledge that it is the word of the Lord, but not everybody has ears to hear the message. Money and miracles is what they are looking for. Even though they laugh when I tell them that I left my magic wand back in Texas, they still are looking for what blessing I will impart to them for coming here. “God has sent the prophet here to bless us!”
Sorry. That’s not what I came here to do.
Money and miracles; prosperity and magic. It is a sickness that has taken over Nigeria. They have bought into a welfare mentality that is destroying their ability to overcome things through the power of God. The Lord dealt with me yesterday that I am not here to do miracles; I am here to preach the Word of God. As long as they remain focused on the miracles and money, they will not hear the message. And if they cannot open their ears to hear what God is telling them, they cannot be healed. They are the Church of Ephesus in Revelations chapter 2, and if they do not repent, there will be no revival.
I am grinding this message out one church at a time -- sometimes two and three a day -- and the harder I preach it, the better they like it. They can feel the anointing of God when I arrive, and are so thankful that I have come that they treat me like I am royalty. They even break out into cheering when I pull into the parking lot. But if the message does not take root in their hearts to change their focus, it will all be in vain.
That’s what gets me – they can feel the power and anointing as soon as I walk into the church, they proclaim loudly that the Word has cut into their hearts and they know what I am telling them is true, they know that God has sent me for a special purpose and that this is not just another white man with a “feel good” message, and something very special happens to them in every service -- then why do I get the feeling that they just don’t get it? I am hammering as hard as I can, and at service after service, they come to the altar in tears and brokenhearted repentance, praising God that He has sent me to them, but I am worried that, within a few weeks they will lose their grip and will slide back into their old ways.
Only time will tell if the seeds that have been planted will grow.