Nigeria is a country of contrasts. It is vibrant with life and activity, and yet shows enormous differences in lifestyle.
In the cities begging and corruption exist alongside splendid buildings (usually mosques).
Many are being reached, but there are still whole tribes who have not heard the gospel of Christ. People flock to the churches, but there is much superficial ceremony and a great need for sound Bible teaching.
Three of us from the UK landed in Abuja on 28 June and stayed with a Christian family over the weekend. We preached at churches in Abuja and conducted Creation meetings.
On the Sunday afternoon we made a 3-hour trip north to Kagoro Theological College, where we spent most of the remaining three weeks.
Kagoro is reached by a dirt road straight up the Jos Plateau escarpment — hair-raising stuff in a 1950s Land Rover!
During the first two weeks in Kagoro we lectured to the students. David Harding’s class on the Gospels grew over the two weeks; many appreciated the teaching and told others.
I gave a course of 15 lectures on Science and the Bible, surveying issues like apologetics and Creation. Paul Priest spoke on health matters to the School of Health.
Malaria kills 3000 people a day in sub-Saharan Africa. He also spoke on AIDS, and the importance of a balanced nutrition.
On the remaining weekends we visited Kaduna (2 hours north) and Jos, capital of Plateau State (1 hour east). These visits were fascinating.
We ministered in churches of the Evangelical Church of West Africa (ECWA), a denomination that is numerically strong but tends to emphasise the outward trappings rather than the substance of the truth. ECWA has 60 churches in Jos alone.
Other significant denominations in northern Nigeria include the Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN) and the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria (EYN).
David preached at Kaduna and I spoke on Creation at Jos. While at Jos, at the ECWA church pastored by Adamu Maga (who had organised our visit), we were invited to speak at nearby Miango.
The Miango visit was memorable. The meeting started with a 100 people and grew to about 150. The expertise of the Hausa interpreter made all the difference.
A young woman medical student professed conversion. She had previously held back from believing because she could not reconcile Genesis with what she had been taught at college. We were grateful to the Lord for his blessing on that day.
During the third week there was a well-attended pastors’ conference at Kagoro. The attendees expressed appreciation, and a desire for such teaching in their own cities.
The Christian churches are still influential in society, but other, harmful influences from the West are eroding their witness.
There is a growing emphasis on ‘health and wealth’ teaching in all the denominations, and pastors need to get their flocks back to straightforward Bible teaching.
I often had to point out that the dangers arising from wealth and materialism can be a greater threat than Islam.
To fellowship with these African people was an immense blessing. Their generosity was humbling. The kindness of Adamu, and Bulus and Samuel (our assistants during the three weeks) was exemplary.
Life in Nigeria
I was impressed by the development of the Nigeria infrastructure since my last visit 11 years ago. But immense difficulties still confront its 120 million population.
Corrupt officials live in large homes, while the poor live in mud huts and scrape a living off the land or resort to begging.
Normal life can be dangerous. We met a pastor called Micah, who officiated at a wedding we attended. Five days later Micah was killed by lightning in his rice field when he put up an umbrella in the rain. Please pray for his widow.
Pressure from Islam is evident across the north of Nigeria. Two years ago Kaduna suffered religiously motivated rioting, as did Jos last year. Fresh reports of trouble came in while we were there.
Nigeria’s wildlife is fascinating — remarkable lizards, beautiful yellow weaver birds, and a small red finch in Kaduna that proved exceedingly difficult to photograph!
Kaduna is renowned for its crocodiles, and we were told to beware of snakes in the undergrowth.
Perhaps the most spectacular natural phenomenon were the stars at night — the Southern Cross pointing down to the South Pole below the horizon; the North Star visible in the north; and the Scorpio constellation clearly visible overhead.
What a glorious Creator is our God! He sent his Son into the world to redeem sinners from every nation under the heavens, including Nigeria