I am being entertained today at an orphanage out in the bush country outside Lagos. This isnít the jungle that you see in Tarzan movies, but we are definitely out in the bush somewhere. The children line up and sing a whole series of songs that they have been rehearsing for my visit. You should see them Ė from budding young teenage girls about to enter the frightening world of adulthood to the little tiny babies banging mindlessly on sticks to the music. It just grabs your heart to hear them sing.
I reached deep into my pockets to donate some money to them but all I pull up is a paltry few hundred Nairas. 1,000 Naira is about 8 bucks. I want to do more, but I am broke until I can get some more money, so there isnít much I can do about it. They are just thankful that I have come to visit them.
The church out here is simple Ė a tin roof, dirt floor, and no walls. I guess it just never gets cold enough to need walls, and there isnít anything here to steal, so this serves just fine.
The crowd fills up quickly. Itís not everyday that a Oyebo (white man) comes to town to preach in your church, so you can imagine the anticipation they are filled with. They are excited just to see me, and to shake my hand is a great honor for them. When services start, every eye is wide open and every ear is tuned to every word. They are expecting a miracle.
Now, I know that I am just a regular guy Ė I put my pants on one leg at a time, shave in the shower, get mad, sad, and happy, and go through all the same stuff everybody else does Ė but here, I have to take a position before these people who are desperately hungry for something from God. I donít do miracles or tricks, and I donít perform great swelling acts of wonder -- I am just here to deliver a message that the Lord has commissioned me to bring to Nigeria -- but something special always happens during these services.
I donít claim to understand everything that is going on, and I canít say that I can feel all kinds of supernatural stuff happening, but they can. Service after service, there is something that pierces their hearts that cannot be described in words. God is doing something special with these people. Something is happening in the Spirit. I just wish Heíd include me in the loop, because I have no idea what is going on.
Before we have my last service in this area, I have to go meet the king. Yeah, thatís right, the king wants to meet me. Sounds pretty cool, doesnít it? I feel like Paul going before King Agrippa.
Every area in Nigeria has a king who is the cultural and traditional authority over that particular area. If you want to get something done, you have to have the support of the king.
The King is also the authority over all the demonic spirits in the area. This is a place of idol worshippers and serious demonic activity. Sacrifices and voodoo have real power here. This is not imaginary; there is real demonic power that makes supernatural things happen -- things that Americans would not believe.
In the middle of this dark power is the king. He reigns over all the cultural traditions of black magic, demonic sacrifices, and the primal fear of witch doctors. That stark awareness of the realities of spiritual darkness also makes these kings prime candidates for salvation. They know first-hand about spiritual war, and many recognize the power of the Gospel over the power of darkness, and give their lives to Christ, so I am very careful about what I am going to say and do when I go to meet this king.
The whole specter starts to dull however, as we arrive at the palace.
As we enter into the village where he is at, the alleys narrow and the conditions fall into a decrepit squalor. The palace is not much better. It is a very large building in the middle of this place, but it is a picture of broken and faded glory, like something you would find in a slum area that used to be a beautiful place once upon a time.
The king is a reflection of his palace. And old man in faded traditional gown with a crumpled old hat hobbles out to the front meeting area. At first I thought this old guy, who looked like some wino, came out to sweep the floor or something, but no, this is the king. Some young women scramble to set out some plastic chairs for us as we take our seats before his Highness (or whatever you call him), and we sit in mock homage to the old man.
They want me to go ahead and talk. What do you say to a king? Remember, he has authority over the whole area and can make or break the churches here. I figure that I just need to make friends, so I tell him about Texas, cowboys and Indians. Then, I slide into a witness about the power of the Holy Ghost and what the power of God can do. He has eyes that show the depth of years of experience Ė he is no slouch Ė and I get the impression that he is scrutinizing every word I say, contemplating it from every angle.
As I finish my witness, he indicates that he would like the Man of God to pray over him. Wow. So I scoot my plastic chair right up in front of him, take his hands in mine, and start praying like I was trying to wake up the dead Ö which I was.
Then he wants me to pray over an old blind man that has come in. Right next to him is a young man with Muslim hat on, but he is saying Amen to everything, so I ask him if he wants to get saved and I pray him through the Sinners Prayer right there in front of the king.
The king is pleased and we all sit for pictures with the king, and he is thrilled to see his image in the digital camera. We have subtly won a major victory here, and I feel comfortable that all will go well for the church here in the midst of this idol worshipping area.
We did another service at 5 am the next morning and a final one that night. The crowds from these villages have swelled the church and there is standing room only. They have come for their miracle from God. I canít describe the feeling you get when you stand in the midst of something like this, but it is worth everything it has cost to get here.
One last thing I have to tell you that almost broke my heart. Remember the orphanage where I could only help with a few hundred Naira? The lady in charge came up to me after services and slipped 500 Naira into my hand to bless me in the ministry. Thatís only $4.00 to us, but it is a small fortune to an orphanage like hers that has so little money.
How do you put the feeling you get from something like that in words?
You donít. You canít. You just straighten your shoulders a little higher, and set your determination even stronger that you will not fail in this mission, you will not let her down, you will fight every power of darkness that comes against you, and you will overcome by the Blood of the Lamb and the word of your testimony.