Mission work in the nation of Nigeria presents unique challenges when compared to some of the other countries that FirstLove has the privilege of ministering to. Some of these challenges may be encountered as early as the visa application process which is required for entry. Praise The Lord, however, for He gives more grace. Even before the FirstLove Missions team had physically arrived at the airport for the departure to Nigeria, The Lord had already been mightily at work opening every door that was needed.
Almost a week after each of the mission team members had originally sent off their passport to the Nigerian embassy for visa approval, we were met with the news that because the embassy had run out of stickers, they were not approving visa requests at that time. As you can imagine, with tickets and flights already paid for and booked, we began to pray. Thursday morning, the day of our departure, the team stopped by the postal office to pick up the recently arrived, visa approved passports with two hours to spare, on their way to catch their flights. Praise God.
Approximately 24 hours later, after two layovers, FirstLove Missions arrived in Lagos, Nigeria on Friday 8:30pm local time with 500lbs of literature for free distribution. Upon arrival, as the team was moving through customs and the other checkpoints, a gentlemen nearby introduced himself as Pastor Jeffrey. Pastor Jeffrey shepherds a Nigerian Church in Denmark. Apparently, he had seen us during our layover in Paris; more specifically, he had noticed the word ‘Christ’ and the scripture verse emblazoned on Brother Gerard’s jacket. We were able to gift him a few of our FirstLove materials, as well as pamphlets containing our ministry overview as we exchanged contact information. We hope to hear from each other soon.
Pastor Tony Okoroh showed up just in the nick of time at the airport. Just before, and just after encountering Bro. Jeffrey, the team had been solicited multiple times for bribes. One at the shot card checkpoint, once at the baggage claim, and then again at the final checkpoint before exiting. The Lord was gracious, however, both in the fact that we were able to give away some tracts and books to these people, and that Pastor Tony arrived when he did.
Along with Pastor Tony, (The Branch Leader of FirstLove in Nigeria) several members of his church (Sovereign Grace Bible Church – www.sgbc.org.ng) met us and escorted us through the crowds outside the airport to the vehicles. They joined themselves to us and watched us closely as they moved our luggage down the crowded walkway and led us to the church van. It was an amazing experience to see the care and love of the these believers. As we transitioned, the team was able to witness to and give gospel tracts to about 20 people or so. Once the team made it to the accommodations provided by the local church, after enjoying a very short time of fellowship, they soon retired for rest as it was already late in the evening.
The next day began early. Brother Gerard and Brother Eric went with some of the indigenous brethren to an area on Victoria Island, with the intent to witness and evangelize. The area was chosen due to its proximity to another work that is being planted locally in that area by the members of SGBC. Both Gerard and Eric engaged these people with a biblical gospel that confronted much of the health, wealth, and prosperity teachings that are so mainstream and prevalent in Nigeria.
After returning from Victoria Island, the team rejoined the rest of the group back at the apartments. Many of the members of the church had showed up for fellowship, including Brother Tunde, a Deacon at the Metropolitan Tabernacle of London. Saturday was to be a day of rest and fellowship between the members of SGBC and the FLM Team, as everyone caught up with one another and many new introductions were made.
Sunday morning would be a celebratory occasion commemorating the 15th anniversary of the official planting and organization of Sovereign Grace Bible Church in Lagos, Nigeria. There were about a hundred believers in attendance as Pastor Joe Jacowitz gave the morning sermon on the subject of “A Spiritual Vision for the Local Church”. He reminded the church to persevere and to overcome the temptations that would have the church lose their zeal and life in the expanding enterprise of church planting in Nigeria. The morning service was then concluded with a fellowship meal and group photo on the church property.
That same evening, the FLM Team arrived at a large radio broadcasting station. Part of FLM’s usual ministry in Nigeria includes radio evangelism. Since the radio station is a main avenue for news and information disbursal for many tens of millions of Nigerian people within a short area, it lends itself as a primary platform to engage the populace with the Gospel, and to address false teachings. During the broadcast listeners were also invited to come and join the upcoming conference on Wednesday through Thursday where literature would be distributed free of charge to those in attendance. Several people called in engaging the hosts with pertinent questions relating to the Gospel. The radio program will last a total of three days airing each evening through Tuesday.
Thus far, with-in the first couple days of having arrived in Nigeria, there is a sense of the great need here for biblical doctrine to be taught and for the true Gospel to be preached. The people are languishing under false teachings, superstitious beliefs, unfulfilled promises of prosperity, and abuses of spiritual con-men who promise much and deliver little. The Gospel of Christ is all but smothered, hidden, and forgotten beneath the avalanche of covetous sensationalism. The need is so great that our hope and our prayer is to be able to send a container of 20k books to Nigeria every six months. Pray with us for God to fulfill that need and to provide for His people.