My journey began Tuesday, January 2, 2018 as I boarded a plane for Frankfurt, Germany that after a layover would transport me to Lagos, Nigeria. Nigeria boasts Africa’s largest population and plentiful natural resources. Southern Nigeria welcomes Christian teaching while Muslim practices dominates Nigeria’s North (90% Muslim). Christianity’s explosive growth has especially occurred amongst charismatic congregations. Christian Endeavor truly holds a non-denominational position in Nigeria as pastors from various backgrounds follow C.E. because of its biblical platform. Currently about sixty churches connect with C.E. and a whole new region is opening that could greatly expand this work in Nigeria and a few churches over the border in the Republic of Benin.
I was greeted at the airport by Bishop Rev. Dr. Joseph O. Adeosun, C.E. Nigeria’s President as well as Dr. Toyin, VP for Nigeria. Bishop Adeosun has been the catalyst with the C.E. Nigeria efforts. The first C.E. Leadership Academy started on the evening of January 4. About one hundred and fifty people filled the church hall as Dr. Adeosun and I both offered welcome messages in between interpretive dances and praise worship choruses. After three hours together we all retired for the evening. The next morning approximately sixty people gathered to start the training. This number grew to about eighty by mid-morning. A format including lecture as well as small group interactive discussion was used. A longer break was taken at lunch but we covered significant material from morning until ending the day with dinner. The teachers included Bishop Adeosun, VP Modou Kanteh, and me.
Attendance was light at the start of the next day. We were confused that only fifteen people were present. We learned 98% of the Nigerian churches hold weekly prayer and worship services from 11PM to 4AM. Yes, you read that correctly! By 11AM most of the group had returned. Our day concluded at dinner time again. The sessions we planned seemed to truly impact the participants. In talking with VP for Africa Momodou Kanteh, he plans to identify several key leaders from the group and follow up with them to continue processing the material. We are hopeful that this will help them to further reinforce the messages with their people. I am receiving messages from participants that God used the training in a powerful manner.
Long range planning- developing parts of the world are starving for this level of training, however, they barely have the resources to pay for transport to the event. Considering lodging, food, and training materials makes this kind of event financially out of reach. An offering was taken one night and it amounted to $12! Recognize the average worker makes $50 per month here. We are called by God to make disciples of ALL nations. We are also called to Consider the Cost. Please pray with me as we live in the tension of carrying out C.E.’s purpose while living in the reality that we are a tremendously underfunded ministry. This event took place mostly because of a scholarship gift. Events beyond the Feb/Mar event in India and Lebanon may need to have funding from various donors to take place.
On Sunday we visited two C.E. churches. One was in Nigeria and the other was in the Republic of Benin. Both churches welcomed us with song and dance. Next we drove sixty kilometers to a new Nigerian C.E. “Zone”. This drive took over two hours. The roads have virtually fallen apart. Riding in the van can be compared with white water rafting. One person drives while others look for the rocks and pot holes that could break your axle like many other cars alongside the road. When we arrived there was a great ceremony. We were introduced to the regional King who was a pastor before taking on his monarchical role. He concluded our time together by explaining he has a plot of land to use for educating children and youth. Since twenty churches have closed in the area he sees young people not being trained for Christ. Then he asked us to think about receiving this land to start an education project. This was a generous offer. Unfortunately it is outside the scope of what we currently are able to do. We must covenant to pray about this need, however, because a Christian school in this region would touch numerous lives for Christ.
To close the Nigerian experience, it was humbling in many ways. When an airport guard asked for a bribe to allow the training manuals to clear immigration, I was humbled when a female police officer rescued me just in time. I was humbled to ride in the middle of the van for the safety of myself and the other passengers because spotting me could cause us to be targeted by criminals. I was humbled to sleep in a hotel room with rolling power outages where I needed to lock and bolt the door answering only for my contact as criminal activity and kidnapping are rampant. Finally, I was humbled by watching ten Nigerian children play soccer on a small church concrete pad with a tennis ball. The game continued with both sides displaying incredible skill until the ball split in half. The children ran away to find another game. I walked over to the “ball” only to discover it was actually an unripe orange that had fallen from a tree. Finally, I was humbled to meet so many wonderful servants of God involved with C.E. Nigeria. Dr. Adeosun and his son-in-law took special care to ensure my safety and the safety of those involved with the event.
Egypt’s one hundred million people mostly connect to Muslim teaching. Prayer chants rang out three times a day from the local Mosque’s loud speakers reminding me of the country’s vast spiritual need. The majority of Christians are Coptic which is a very traditional group resembling Catholicism. Coptic Christians have little emphasis on outreach.
I landed in Cairo and was transported three hours to Alexandria. I had productive meetings with my contact there during the next two days. The first day focused on explaining C.E. in great detail. The entire C.E. process was described so he could understand how it works in the local church. I had gone through the process with him with a ZOOM connection (online tool) but the personal connection allowed much more to be understood by him. He will be sharing about C.E. with his church but he thinks C.E. could assist refugees across the Mediterranean rim and across Europe because no one is giving refugees discipleship method assistance. Egyptian churches are slow to think about “OUT” as an important function of their ministry so C.E. could be slower to grow in Egypt.
The following day we focused on his ministry. He has a significant ministry with refugees in Turkey that speak Arabic. I have not mentioned his name for his protection as he makes several trips per year into a region that is 90% Muslim. His travel name is Joseph so we will use this to describe him. One of his functions is networking people who are doing refugee ministry. So I plan to connect him with Raffi Messerlianand, C.E. President in Lebanon, as well as some people in Germany who are reaching out to refugees through their local youth ministries. My time in Egypt was very short but the relational connection was well worth it. Joseph has also agreed to translate the Quick Start Manual into Arabic which means we will have an Arabic description of the C.E. Principles (Up, In, With, Out) and the pledge/promise in Arabic as well. This will not have the iPledge and TEAM Work Manual documents translated, but I am thrilled that the first step will be taken by translating the Quick Start.
Observing Christians in Nigeria and Egypt that face daily persecution brings deeper perspective to Christian commitment. Praise God for all the saints God has reached and connected with C.E. so together we can take steps to make God’s name great among the nations. Peace!
Dr. Dave Coryell