PRAYING FOR THE FUTURE
God has been gracious to us as we traveled and ministered alongside the leadership and members of Sovereign Grace Bible Church (SGBC) in Lagos, Nigeria this past week. The FirstLove team Joe Jacowitz, Austin Huggins, and Tom Smith arrived safely in Lagos on Tuesday morning, Oct 31. We were picked up by the brothers of the church and taken to our flat for rest and ministry planning. The next morning the team met with over 20 men who are in various stages of training for the ministry. The theme of this pre-conference event was titled “The Anatomy of The Man of God” – his head, heart, mouth and backbone. Pastor Ronald Kalifungwa (Lusaka Baptist Church, Zambia) joined us for the workshop. The response from the young men was encouraging. God is doing a great work in Lagos and the surrounding area, with new believers, especially young people, who are reaching out for help, desiring to hear the true Word of God, and desiring to plant Biblical churches in their towns and villages. There is a great need for pastors and church workers to plant new churches in the region.
Later that afternoon, we visited the site and observed construction work for a new building for the SGBC. We were greatly encouraged to see the foundation being constructed for a much needed new building, as the existing building is undersized and inadequate for the congregation. This has been a major answer to two decades of prayer.
The Lagos Bible Conference was held on Thursday – Saturday, with the theme Communion with God. We were joined by Pastor Murungi Igweta (Trinity Baptist Church, Kenya) for the three day conference. On average there were 500-600 in attendance at the conference, with up to 1000 watching the live stream. Pastor Kalifungwa, Pastor Igweta, Pastor Jacowitz, and Pastor Huggins delivered powerful messages on how we can have and maintain communion with God. Many in attendance were from the Word of Faith movement, and false doctrines and practices such as the Hyper-Grace movement, speaking in tongues, and Modelism needed to be addressed and refuted. Mrs. Sarah Kalifungwa also met in break-out sessions with the ladies in attendance, to teach on the role of women in the family and church, and to answer many of the questions from the ladies, some of whom had not heard this clear teaching from God’s Word.
On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evening we also did live radio broadcasts on a local Christian FM radio broadcast inviting listeners to the conference and addressing issues such as what is the gospel, the person and work of Christ, is tongues for today, and what is a biblical church.
The response to the preaching at the conference was astonishing and beyond our expectations. Many who came have never heard such clear teaching from the Word of God, and were convicted and encouraged. There were approximately 600 persons present and attending on the final day of the conference. Each day there was a question and answer period, and the questions asked were many, indicating the need for additional teaching and follow-up. FirstLove was able to print 1000 copies of several books, three of which were given to all the attendees of the conference. FirstLove Publications also provided 50 pastor packs of 5 additional books for the first 50 pastors who registered for the conference.
The days WERE long, with our morning starting at 7:00 am and returning from the radio ministry around 10:30 pm. Despite being tired, God has kept the team healthy and provided strength and help to continue to minister His Word. The members of SGBC have shown Christian love in taking care of us. We have observed the body of Christ working together to provide all the needed services to make the conference a great success.
With the conclusion of the Lagos Bible Conference and radio outreach behind us, only The Lord’s day remained on the schedule for this year’s mission itinerary. Pastor Austin was sent to preach at Grace Reformed Baptist Church in Abeokuta. Pastor Joe and Pastor Tom traveled together beginning at SGBC in Lagos. There, Pastor Joe gave a charge during the 21st anniversary of the church. Pastor Joe had not been to Nigeria in four and a half years due to his battle with Leukemia, so this was a special time for the saints. Afterward, Pastors Joe and Tom traveled to Christ Bible Church in Ipaja, where both men preached.
The end of the Lord’s day was punctuated by the convening together and fellowship of the saints. Pastors Austin, Osagie, and Otu returned from Abeokuta; Pastors Ruke, Joe, and, Tom returned from Ipaja; and Pastors Tony and Osinachi came from SGBC. Alongside these were many other saints from the various churches present who came to celebrate Pastor Tony Okoroh’s 79th year of life. Historically, it was Pastor Joe’s usual custom to surprise his older brother with a birthday cake and celebratory singing. After 4 years of missing this custom, Joe ensured Pastor Tony received his cake.
Our Great God has abounded to us in his loving kindness. We were able to bring over 5,000 books with us this year into Nigeria. We witnessed the largest conference attendance to date with 600 present. We had the joy of seeing the future location of Sovereign Grace Bible Church in Lagos. It was precious to have Pastor Joe alive and present with us once again.
Also, with many young people coming to faith and asking questions, with students of various universities coming to find sound oversight, with new churches being planted, and fellowship groups being started, it is exciting to consider what The Lord has prepared for the future. Please continue to pray with us for the future of the work in this land. Pray for her churches and her ministers. Pray for The Gospel of Christ to have free course throughout Nigeria and all of West Africa.
Written by: Missions VP | Tom Smith
Edited by: Executive VP | Austin Huggins