I didn’t want to leave Nigeria. I got to spend three weeks back in my favorite West African country (and the only one I’ve actually been to) in April and it was one of the most powerful experiences of my life.
You might be thinking, “Wasn’t she JUST in Nigeria?” I sure was, and it was during that first trip that I got connected with Hillcrest School in Jos, who asked me to return to lead worship for their spring Spiritual Emphasis Week! The first trip to Nigeria was all about taking it in – I was a sponge. The second was all about being present in the moments and being available for whatever God wanted to do. Turns out He wanted to do a LOT.
Below are some photos and stories – I hope you enjoy seeing Nigeria through my eyes! Also, click here to check out my video interview with Shepherd Project Ministries about my adventures in Nigeria!
I arrived in Nigeria with just enough time to toss my luggage into my room at the guest house, throw on a beautiful bridesmaid’s dress and book it to my friend Martha’s wedding! It was beautiful – what an honor to be a part of her day! I was guided through all the particulars of the ceremony by my fellow bridesmaids (above), who were very patient with me. Especially during the dancing part.
I got to worship with the students (K-12), share my story and remind them of God’s incredible promises! God did some heart surgery and healing among us throughout the week – His presence was evident! I had the opportunity to do some one-on-one counseling and pray for many of the students.
This is one of my favorites – I was ambushed by a bunch of 2nd graders on my way from the chapel. They wanted a photo, so I whipped out my camera and told them to squeeze in close. I thought they’d get BEHIND me… 🙂
I got to see one of the first rains of the season. In Nigeria there are only two seasons: dry and rainy. Here, when the first rain of the season falls, the teachers stop class and all the students go play in the rain. By the way, all that rain was the result of only a 10-minute downpour!
Someone’s home in Bukuru. In March, this neighborhood was attacked by a group of men who set these houses on fire in the middle of the night, then killed people as they fled their homes. Hundreds died.
Sharing songs and worshiping with a little bush church! This was the same church that gave Holly and I the chicken – they were upset they didn’t know I was visiting again so soon and didn’t have time to prepare a welcome gift! Such sweet, generous people.
Encouraging the believers at a tiny bush church in a predominately Muslim village. In this village, like many others, the Christians are not allowed to live in the village – they are pushed out by their Muslim neighbors and live on the outskirts. These people sang “My Worship” with me, even though most of them don’t speak English! My friend Mustafa translated as I shared with them what the song meant, then they jumped right in!
This woman, maybe the only English speaker at the church, pulled me aside after the service and said, “Please don’t forget us. We are small and we live among unbelievers. It is very hard. Please pray for us and don’t forget us.”
Sharing stories from the Bible in another village – we played a cassette tape that told the story and I turned the page when I heard the chime. The kids stuck around for the whole story, creation to Jesus, with the chief and a crowd of men listening in.
I’m guessing some of these kids may have never met a white person before. Some of them mustered up their courage to give me a handshake while some of them just batted at my hand – they couldn’t resist touching me, as long as it involved as little actual physical contact as possible!
The man standing next to Frank here asked me to take this photo. They’re standing behind a hand-dug, 285-foot well that has become their only source of water while they wait for the rain. Their hands are uplifted to show that they are praying for rain.
This woman is a sweet Christian lady and an amazing artist! I bought a gorgeous table cloth from her like the one she’s holding. She hand dyes all her fabrics and makes the designs using wax. We got to pray for her and listen to her story of how the Lord protected her and her family during several crises – incredible.
Unfortunately, for several reasons, I can’t share ALL my stories here, even though I’d love to. So until I can share the rest in person, these will have to do. 🙂
Just one more thing:
Psalm 138 (NIV)
I will praise you, O LORD, with all my heart;
before the “gods” I will sing your praise.
I will bow down toward your holy temple
and will praise your name
for your love and your faithfulness,
for you have exalted above all things
your name and your word.
When I called, you answered me;
you made me bold and stouthearted.
May all the kings of the earth praise you, O LORD,
when they hear the words of your mouth.
May they sing of the ways of the LORD,
for the glory of the LORD is great.
Though the LORD is on high, he looks upon the lowly,
but the proud he knows from afar.
Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
you preserve my life;
you stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes,
with your right hand you save me.
The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me;
your love, O LORD, endures forever—
do not abandon the works of your hands.
Two weeks before I left, God led me to this psalm. When I read it, my jaw hit the floor – here in this psalm were all the prayers I was lifting up for myself and the people in Nigeria. I adopted it for the trip and starting that day I hand-copied this passage on a daily basis, to get it into my head and my heart. Before long, I had it memorized. I carried it with me everywhere and watched in total amazement as God answered every prayer:
For me to worship God, no matter who is watching (vs 1)
For God’s name and Word to be exalted above all things (vs 2)
For boldness and strength (vs 3)
For the people of Nigeria to be moved to worship God when they hear His Word and see Him at work (vs 3-4)
For protection for me and the Nigerian people from Satan and those who would take advantage of them (vs 7)
For the Lord to continue moving mightily in Nigeria, showing his faithful love to those people and drawing them to Himself! (vs 8)
God answered each and every one of these prayers in ways I can see and, I believe, in ways I can’t. What a faithful God. Thank you, Lord, for what you are doing in West Africa! Please do not forsake the work of Your hands.
PS: Here is what happens when I make friends with an African Grey parrot…