Month of Missions Devotional – Thursday, February 29

Topic: Passion for working in Unity and Love

Text: Ephesians 4:11-13

Scientists discovered that human body is made up of several systems. Each of these systems is made up of several organs. Each organ comprises of tissues and each tissue is made up of several cells. Obviously, this is wisdom displayed by the Greatest Scientist – the Almighty God. God made each of these systems to function effectively and efficiently with each organ performing their unique but important functions. With the absence of the small intestine in the digestive system, the system cannot perform its function. God did it that way deliberately. This order has never changed since creation. All the organs of a system are unique and important to the overall achievement of every system.

One of the greatest systems that God created is the Church. The Church is a system designed and established by God for a special purpose – to make His name known among the nations so that He might receive glory from the nations (1 Peter 2:9). This system called the Church is made up of some organs as mentioned in the scripture under consideration – Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers. These are not just nomenclatures but assignments, ministries and responsibilities. All of these are members of the same Church and have the following as their common factors (1 Cor. 12:12-27).

  1. Mutual respect. The Church would be able to function effectively and efficiently, only when there is mutual respect among the members. The apostle should respect the evangelist, and the pastor should be respected by the prophet, for each other’s peculiarities. The mouth cannot function as the esophagus and vice versa. Without the former or the latter, or their equivalents in the digestive system, the system cannot work. The evangelist needs the pastor and vice versa for the system (the Church) to fulfill her purpose. The prophet needs the uniqueness of the teacher in the system. The absence of any of the organs creates deficiency in the system and affects the effectiveness of all other organs that made up the system.
  2. Mutual commitment. The weakness of one organ affects the strength of the other. When a man has heart failure, the life of all other organs is at stake. Each of these organs of the Church must be committed to one another’s wellbeing. The pastor should see the wellbeing of the teacher and the evangelist as his responsibility. The teacher and the prophet must know that the sickness of the pastor is their sickness – 1 Peter 3:8.
  3. Mutual support. There is no one organ that can function as a system. Even though it is generally believed that the apostle has the capacity to perform the functions of all others, his system can never be as effective and efficient as the collective effort of all the other ministries. Everyone is responsible for the support of each other. There must be mutual support as the case may be, among the various ministries that constitute the Church – Hebrew 10:24

The list of the common factors is inexhaustive. Nonetheless, the highest common factor of all these ministries; the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, is love. God’s kind of love must be resident in the Church system. This is the only way the Church can distinguish herself from the world – 1 John 3:11. This agape love compels each of the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers to be committed to one another, respect and support each other. When love is absent in the system among these ministries, it does not matter what we think we are doing for the Lord, it will be unacceptable to the Master who has commanded us to love one another (1 John 3:23, 4:7). No love, no ministry (1 Cor. 13). We will be more fruitful and fulfilled when love and respect characterize our ministries.

Prayer:

  • Pray that there will be mutual love and respect among the various organs of the Church.
  • Pray that the Lord will heal every suffering part of His Church and that the body of Christ may fulfill her divine mandate.

Azeez A. Oladapo

God’s Own Evangelistic Discipleship Ministry (GOEDM), Jalingo, Taraba State.

Month of Missions Devotional – Wednesday, February 28

Topic: Heart of Forbearance and Forgiveness in Love

Text: Colossians 3:12-14

 

Working together as a group is God’s strategy for the success of the gospel enterprise. No one ministry, agency or an individual can get the job done. Paul compares the church to the human body with different members working together to accomplish the same goal. Working together means coming together.

 

In today’s passage, Paul spoke to the Colossians about the state of their heart as the elect of God, saved by His grace and now together in fellowship and service of the Lord. He mentioned that for them to enjoy continuous fellowship and experience accelerated progress in their service to the Lord, they are to carry the right heart.

 

Paul mentioned bearing with one another and forgiving one another. This is so important for us today as we relate and work together. We know that it is not possible for us as humans to work together without stepping on one another’s toes, consciously or unconsciously. We are to be ready to patiently bear with each other and forgive each other when there is an offence. It is Christlike to forgive (Eph 4:32), and forgiveness opens the heart to the fullness of the love of God.

 

As believers we know that the regenerated heart chokes and suffers seriously when offence is retained in it. The flow of the Holy Spirit is hindered as the heart is weighed down by the load of offence. We get our liberty and healing when we forgive and let the offender go free. Forbearing and forgiving one another is more for our personal spiritual health and the healthiness of the group. We can perform maximally as individual or group if we are healthy and not sick at heart. The Apostle admonished the Colossian Christians to put on love above all. This is the most important of the Christian virtues, and it is like a “girdle” that ties all the other virtues together.

 

All of the spiritual qualities Paul has mentioned are aspects of true Christian love, as we see in 1 Cor 13. Love is the first of the fruit of the Spirit and the other virtues follow. Love expressing itself in bearing with and forgiving the offences of others is an indispensable quality in sustaining unity, relationship and collaboration that will yield accelerated success. We should, therefore, be ready and very willing to walk in forbearance and forgiveness so that we can see the results we long for; this year and the years ahead.

 

Prayer:

  • Ask the love of Christ to manifest in our lives in increasing measure.
  • Pray that we would bring God delight by living in love.

Pastor Dr. John Dolor

Zonal Chairman, South-South NEMA & General Overseer, Harvest-Time Christian Assembly Int’l, Warri

Month of Missions Devotional – Tuesday, February 27

Topic: The Challenge Before Us

Text: 2 Corinthians 13:1-14

Paul has done all he can to lead the false teachers, the critics, and those who are in sin to repent and turn back to the Lord. His final words as recorded in 2Cor. 13:1-14 include a warning, a prayer, a challenge, and a blessing.

Verse 11 carries the challenge which we will ponder upon.

Finally, brothers, good-bye. Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you” (NIV)

 

Aim for perfection: Paul says; restore, reform, correct, mend yourselves and your ways. Stop your sinning, criticism, divisiveness and immorality. The goal must be to be like Christ, our perfect example.

Grow into maturity in Christ: As we aim for perfection, we must be intentional about growing. Anything that refuses to grow, simply dies.

Listen to my appeal: Be assured, consoled, and helped by repenting and turning back to God. In this month of mission, the Lord has been appealing to us to take on his heart for the harvest. Open your heart to the Lord.

Be of one mind in faith, belief, purpose, mission, and ministry. We are co-labourers. We are not competitors. A heart for the harvest is a harvest that is willing to work with others. The harvest is vast and so we must work with others to reap it.

Live in peace.  Love, care, forebear, be long-suffering and concerned for each other.  Have nothing to do with criticism, divisiveness, snobbishness, pride-or feeling superior. These are attitudes that distract us from doing the needful. Reaping the harvest demands our concentration and serious. Living in peace and being agents of God’s peace will accelerate bringing in the harvest.

Prayer:

  • Ask the Lord to help you aim for perfection.
  • Receive the grace of the Lord to shun every distraction as you commit to be a worthy reaper of the end-time harvest.
  • Ask the Lord’s peace to fill your heart and that you may be an agent of His peace.

Rev David Kanda

National Chairman, NEMA

Month of Missions Devotional – Monday, February 26

Topic: Obey the Command

Text: By this shall all men know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another. (John 13: 35).

The love of Christ for His Church is what united Him and His church together. Christianity is meaningless without love. Love in the body of Christ is a command. It is not optional. You cannot be a true Christian without love for one another. The fragrance of love in the body of Christ is a message to the unreached people in the world. We must take practical steps of love within the body of Christ as Churches, agencies and fellowship to take the Gospel to the unreached people. We must show love by encouraging one another in praying together, forming an outreach team in our area, supporting missionaries and strategically reaching the unreached.

Practically show the love of Christ during this year’s month of Mission. Team up with others to show the love of Christ. The gospel is about the Good News of the love of Christ for the world. So, it is a command to make the love of Christ in us known to the world.

See 1 John 2: 5

Prayer:

  • Pray for Nigerian Churches to be motivated in the love of Christ for the unreached.
  • Pray for Nigerian Churches to experience the revival of God’s love.
  • Ask the Lord to make His love find expression through you to the dejected and the lost.

Pastor James Enemakwu Ajeka

Bible Translations Program Coordinator, NEMA

Month of Missions Devotional – Sunday, February 25

Topic: Joy in Soul Winning

TextII Corinthians 13:11

 Joy is a great reward especially to he who has done the expected. The aim of every believer is to be at the camp of those that will finally be rejoicing in the presence of the Master. Meanwhile, while here on earth it is expected that every believer inculcate the attitude of rejoicing especially when it involves the following:

  1. Restoration of Souls to Christ:- The harvest is truly plentiful as indicated by the Master (Matt. 9:37). As such there is need for more hands and effort geared towards the restoration of these lives to the Savior while it is yet day. This task should be done diligently and with the attitude of rejoicing as souls are brought to Christ.
  2. Comforting and Agreeing with One Another:- Considering the time and happenings of today in fulfillment of II Tim. 3. The church should be the safest place to both believers and unbelievers. The church should be a place of comfort and agreement. A place where sinners can run to and witness the love of God. Let us be found comforting one another as well as agreeing in reaching out to the lost joyfully.
  3. Living in Peace:- As tribulations, war and crime increase, the Church should be an example of peace through negotiations, teachings and living an exemplary peaceful life. Chaos should not be found in the church for we are the light of the world (Matt. 5:14)

As we go about doing these things; there will be progress in bringing many to God’s kingdom because His love and peace will abound in our lives always.

Prayer:

  • Ask the Lord to eliminate barriers and differences in the church that have caused setbacks in bringing many to the knowledge of God and His Christ.
  • Use John 17:22 to pray for unity in the church as we carry out the Great Commission.

Rev Dr. Salem Baba Lile

Missions Director, UMCA

Month of Missions Devotional – Saturday, February 24

Topic: Paying the price for winning the lost: The Value of a soul

Text: Mark 5:11-15

On many occasions we have heard from churches and denominations that they cannot afford cross cultural missions because it’s too expensive. I have been a witness to the withdrawal of missionaries from both local and international fields because the local assembly and ministry sponsoring the missionaries felt the amount of money going into the venture is huge and cannot be sustained. While I am a strong advocate of creative initiatives for generating income to sustain missionaries on the field by missionaries themselves, I want to state categorically that it has never been cheap to save lost souls anywhere at any time.

In our text today, if you take extra time to read from chapter four especially from verse 35, Jesus instructed his disciples to cross over with him to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, he had to send away the crowd to enable him step out to cross the sea. He was so tired working all day that he slept in the lower chamber of the ship almost immediately, then came the storm, which I personally believe Jesus knew was going to come but he still took the risk for the soul of the mad man of Gadara. There is so much to unpack in the entire story, but for lack of time and space in this devotion we will focus on verse 11-15 of Chapter 5. Jesus “wasted” 2000 pigs to offload one man of destructive demons and bring him to the knowledge of salvation in the Savior Jesus. In one of my engagements in Eastern Nigeria where pork meat is a delicacy, I asked what the price of an average pig is, and they said it is between 100 and 150 thousand Naira. If we just take the lowest, 100 thousand Naira and multiply by the 2000 pigs, that’s 200 million Naira on one soul.  I asked in another Church if they will still go ahead and spend N200 million on a crusade or gospel outreach if the Lord has revealed that it is only one soul that will be saved by that adventure. A prominent women leader in the assembly said “God forbid”. In Mark chapter 8 verse 36, Jesus asked a question, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” Jesus equated the entire world with the soul of one man and still said the whole world is not worth the soul of a man.

What is your personal, family, local church and denomination’s budget for cross cultural missions? How many cross-cultural missionaries are on your church’s payroll? Some of the major missions outreaches by missionaries from Europe to Africa in the first missions era was funded not only by churches but Christian owned businesses. I was told that one man single-handedly donated the ship that brought the Presbyterian missionary team of Hope Masterton Waddell to Calabar from Scotland in 1846. He kept sending about 100 pounds monthly for the maintenance of the same ship for further use by the mission team for many years. The hope of saving the lost is dependent on the love and sacrifice for finding them by the saved.

Prayer:

  • Ask the Lord to fill the church with men and women with love for the lost and unlimited sacrifice for their salvation.
  • Pray for God to prosper the businesses and investments of the believers who have the heart for the harvest for the purpose of expanding his kingdom.
  • Pray for more Christian professionals to use their skills and platforms to reach others.

Pastor Victor Idakwoji

Director of Mobilization and Networking, NEMA

Month of Mission Devotional – Friday, February 23

Topic: The Readiness of the Harvest

Text: “You know the saying, ‘Four months between planting and harvest.’ But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest” John 4:35 [NLT]

 

Jesus directs the gaze of His disciples to the fields, declaring, “…But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest.” Picture a field where grain, once green, has undergone a transformative journey from yellow to a light color, almost white in the sunlight. In the agricultural language of the time, a “white” field signified readiness for harvest – a moment when every delay could mean lost opportunity.

The issue is not that the fields are not ripe, or the souls unprepared. Rather, the problem lies in the reluctance of the laborers to venture into the fields and gather the harvest. Many have found every reason to delay and hesitant to respond to the call. A seasoned farmer will affirm that the harvest does not wait. When the time arrives, you either reap or risk losing the crops. Jesus, with a sense of urgency, addresses His disciples, “Men, we don’t have months to stall and wait for the harvest. The harvest is here, and it is ready for us.”

A genuine heart for the harvest means understanding the immediacy of the call. It involves looking at the lost world around us and recognizing the urgency to share the gospel. The harvest is ready, and the time to act is now. Let us embrace the responsibility of laborers in the fields of Soul. The fields are white, the souls are ready, and the call is urgent. May our hearts align with the directive of the Master, compelling us to go into the fields and gather the harvest that awaits. The readiness is apparent; the harvest is ready – it beckons for us to respond promptly.

Prayer:

  • Ask the Lord to cause you to see the harvest even as He does.
  • Ask the Lord to make your heart genuine and willing to serve His eternal purpose.
  • Pray that the burden to reach the lost will overwhelm our Churches.

Samuel Ocheje,

Finance Manager, NEMA

The Nigerian Church and Global Missions

Summary: The Nigerian church has been engaged in cross-border and cross-cultural missions for more than 150 years. Since then, it has played an important and growing part of the global missions movement. And Nigerians are eager to play a bigger role in collaboration with global partners.

By Adeoluwa Felix Olanrewaju

Nigeria’s first contact with the gospel happened around the fourteenth to fifteenth century through Portuguese merchants in the present-day South-south region of the country. At that time, African Traditional Religion was prevalent, as was Islam, which arrived as far back as the eleventh and twelfth centuries. But it wasn’t until later that real gospel seeds would be planted and watered, and Africans played a major role.

As Rueben Ezemadu asserts, “Right from the cradle of Christianity in Nigeria, an indigene had played a pioneering role in the spread of the gospel.”[i] Almost every mission pioneering effort in Nigeria and within Africa had significant involvement from Nigerians or people of African descent.

The Beginning

The first was Thomas Birch Freeman, a missionary with the Methodist Missionary Society. He arrived in Badagry, Southwest Nigeria on September 24, 1842. While Freeman grew up in England, his father was an African freedman from the West Indies, and his mother was English.

As an adult, Freeman was compelled to answer God’s call to go to West Africa. After a first and then a second wife died, Freeman married Rebecca Morgan, an early Fante convert from Ghana. She became a “true helpmate … a woman of education and intelligence, a deeply committed Christian and a loyal church worker.”[ii] William de Graft followed Freeman continuing mission work in Badagry. De Graft trained John Martin, a Fante man from Ghana, who traveled east to pioneer mission work in Lagos, Nigeria.

Another early Nigerian pioneer was Samuel Ajayi Crowther. When he was around 12 years old, he was captured by slave raiders, but the British Royal Navy intercepted the ship where he had been taken. He was resettled in Sierra Leon. It was there he became a Christian and then later a missionary with the Church Missionary Society (CMS).

In 1841, he started his participation in the CMS Niger Expedition, exploring possibilities to use agriculture as an access ministry for mission in West Africa. It resulted in mission work beginning in both Niger and Nigeria. After settling in Nigeria, he translated the Bible into Yoruba and became the first African bishop of the Anglican church.

Another notable Nigerian is John C. Taylor. He began his ministry in Onitsha, (in present day Anambra State, Southeast Nigeria) in 1857 and eventually took the gospel to Bathurst (which is now Banjul, the capital of The Gambia in West Africa). At Taylor’s farewell service in Bathurst, an elder said, “Thank God! Is this word true, that our children, too, can go out like white men and preach the gospel? Lord send plenty of our children more.”[iii]

Pastors and clergy in Nigeria were not the only ones engaged in missions. For example, ordinary men and women led the Baptist Mission to the northern part of Nigeria. While exploring trade and commerce opportunities in the Muslim north, they spread the gospel and established churches.

Nigerians have also collaborated in mission with people from other places. In the Northern part of Nigeria, western mission organisation, like the Soudan Interior Mission (now Serving in Mission – SIM) and Sudan United Mission (SUM), depended on local Nigerian people to reach the Muslim north. This partnership was so effective that when certain Western missionaries left during the First World War, it had little or no impact on SUM’s mission in the northern Nigeria.

Lowry Maxwell comments that the SUM believed that “a consecrated African can reach his own people as no European can.”[iv] Additionally, he mentions “special efforts were made to encourage the native Christians to give their testimony and to conduct meetings … to make them less dependent on the foreign missionary.”[v]

The 1970s Revival

In the 1970s, God brought revival to Nigeria, especially among young men and women on university campuses. This gave birth to student fellowships such as the Christian Union, the Scripture Union, and the formation of the Christian Youth Corpers in 1973 (which later became Nigeria Christian Corpers’ Fellowship).

They focused on Bible study, prayer, and hospital ministry, and were involved in various evangelistic outreaches. Their activities brought more people to Christ. The National Youth Service Corps opened the channel for these vibrant and young graduates to spread the Christian faith in their various locations. They formed charismatic groups and those who traveled abroad took along their newfound faith.[vi]

This movement gave birth to indigenous missions organisations. Founded in 1975, Calvary Ministries (CAPRO) became the first indigenous non-denominational mission agency in Nigeria. Then the Christian Missionary Foundation (CMF) formed in 1982.

Both organizations trace their beginnings to the campus revival connected to the Christian Youth Corps. Over the last forty years, most mission organisations have drawn the bulk of their missionary recruits from students, graduates, and youth corps members.

Isaac Oyebamiji explains, “… Christian Youth Corps members to Kaduna State (Northwest Nigeria) conducted the Zaria City crusade of 25th December 1974. Bayo Famonure, then a Youth Corps member himself, was the unappointed leader of the team. CAPRO was to start a few months later.”[vii]

Many more nondenominational missions organisations that were established were significantly influenced by CAPRO and CMF especially in their commitment to faith missions. Nigerians were ready to both give and go for the gospel to reach everywhere.

It must also be noted that before nondenominational missions organizations existed, indigenous denominational missionary structures had already been founded, such as the Evangelical Missionary Society (EMS) of ECWA[viii] which began in 1948 and the Home and Foreign Missions Board (now Global Mission Board) of the Nigerian Baptist Convention established in 1953.

The Birth of a National Missions Network

As indigenous mission efforts progressed, the need to build synergy increased. This led to the formation of Africa’s first and largest national missions network in 1982: the Nigeria Evangelical Missions Association (NEMA). The idea of Africans in missions was not popular at that time, so the aim was to collaborate to mobilize the church in Nigeria to promote missionary efforts.[ix] This brought together indigenous denominational and non-denominational mission structures to maximize the advance of the church and emergence of indigenous missionary efforts towards finishing the task.

Responding to the rapid growth of the majority world church, the founders of NEMA wanted to see Nigerians to play an even more active role in global mission. In 1985, NEMA hosted the first World Evangelical Fellowship Missions Commission Consultation tagged in Jos, Nigeria (ICOM ’85).[x] Around 80 people attended representing countries including Ghana, Cameroon, Uganda, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, India, and a few countries in Latin America. The theme of the consultation was “Mobilising Indigenous Missions for the Final Harvest.”

At the event, Panya Baba, the founding chairman of NEMA, shared, “An era of new dimension in missions is evident in the 1980s. Never before has such a consultation been held in Africa. There is no doubt that ICOM has become a new chapter in African history of missions. It is a milestone towards what we expect to accomplish through missions in Africa in the future.”[xi] Baba continued, “If the whole world would be evangelised, then missionaries must be sent from every country to every corner of the world. The idea of sending countries and receiving countries is long over-due for a change.”[xii]

The whole Nigerian missions movement remains convinced that God is raising up missionaries from different places, including Nigeria, who should go everywhere. And while need remains in Nigeria, we understand and embrace the commitment to God’s global purpose.

At the same time, progress in sharing the gospel continues at home in tandem with increased global engagement. During ICOM ’85, there were 74 known unreached and unengaged peoples in Nigeria identified. Mission leaders responded to the challenge. In 2017, NEMA reviewed the 1985 list and found that 65% of the then identified unreached peoples not only exited the list, many of the converts from these groups are now a part of the Nigerian missions force. At the same time, our updated research revealed that 72 unreached peoples and 8 unengaged people groups still exist in Nigeria.

NEMA organized a national consultation and these groups were allotted to different denominations and mission agencies. The 8 unengaged groups were re-engaged within a year.  Moreover, the confirmed list of unreached and least evangelized peoples in Nigeria is now down to 43.[xiii]

Several initiatives have also been taking in mobilizing the Nigerian church for the remaining harvest. For instance, Mission Awareness Conferences (MAC) were held in some strategic cities with hundreds and thousands of people in attendance. GOFEST is another of such initiatives targeted at mobilizing students and campus. The 1998 edition had a record of 10,300 students in attendance. Many of the fruits of these meetings are now serving on the frontiers or in mission support roles.

Vision 50:15

Realizing the huge Evangelical strength and advantage of Nigeria amongst countries in the 10 – 40 window, the leadership of NEMA launched the Vision 50:15 initiative in 2005. The vision was to mobilize 50,000 great commission workers. 15,000 of them would be trained, sent and supported go to 34 mostly Islamic countries beginning in the North of Nigeria to the Sahel region of Africa, the Horn of Africa, North Africa, Arabian Peninsula, and finally to the region around Jerusalem.

By 2020, 4,000 Nigerian missionaries were placed in 31 countries of the 34 targeted countries. Since the target has not yet been met, the initiative continues in what is now called Vision 50:15 Plus. This has taken place in the midst of sacrifices, persecution, martyrdom, all forms of hardships, obstacles, and oppositions. Nevertheless, we do not believe the Nigerian missions movement has yet fully expressed its mission potential.

Nigeria has around 105 million Christians. About half are Evangelicals. In relation to this, the 15,600 missionaries from NEMA’s 159 registered member agencies less than 0.03% percentage of evangelicals. We want to see 10% of Nigeria’s Evangelical population sent as missionaries. And as we see the continued rapid growth of the Nigerian church, we feel a burden to take more active leadership in the forefront of global mission.

Yet we also see that Nigerians can be found literally everywhere. This voluntary and involuntary going is another way God’s way of scattering his people for his global purpose. The Nigerian diaspora can also be mobilized for missions. As NEMA has considered strategies for the Vision 50:15 Plus initiative, we’ve determined that our goals can be better met by mobilizing Nigerian Christians in the diaspora who are already resident in the target countries.

Nigerian Missionary Advantages

Philip Jenkins rightly predicted that “The era of Western Christianity has passed within our lifetimes, and the day of Southern Christianity is dawning.”[xiv] Global South peoples in countries like Nigeria are sincerely seeking God, and not just religiosity.

It is quite ungracious and very insensitive to describe Nigerian, nay, African spirituality as a mile wide and an inch deep. That may be true of some individuals as it is on every continent. Yet Africa also has a significant movement of people who are committed to biblical discipleship with strong devotion to the study of the Word, prayer, fasting as well as engaging in spiritual warfare. Africa’s Christian population includes a vast number of Evangelicals. The Nigerian church, alone, has the largest number of Christians and Evangelicals in Africa and in the larger 10/40 window. This is already being leveraged for strategic missions mobilization and deployment.

People across Africa, including in Nigeria, also have advantages in culture and language acquisition. For instance, Nigerian missionaries can easily adapt in the Vision 50:15 Plus countries (10/40 window) because they often do not need to cross too many cultural barriers. The collectivist nature of Nigerian society also helps as many unreached and unengaged people groups have similar cultural contexts.

Because Nigerians live in a country with an even distribution of adherents to Christianity and Islam, and a number of followers of traditional religion, it is easier for them to build bridges with people of other faiths. Being multilingual also helps Nigerians to learn new languages.

Finally, Nigerian culture fosters a can do spirit that unleashes amazing creativity and flexibility to overcome challenges. When faced with a difficulty, a typical Nigerian response is “No problem.” In missions, this helps Nigerian missionaries adapt quickly, cope with uncertainties, access difficult terrain, and survive with minimal support.

Collaboration is the Future

Already, the Nigerian commitment to mission is influencing missional praxis, inspiring mission engagement, and significantly contributing to the growth of global Christianity. The Nigeria Evangelical Missions Association wants to maximize the potential within the Nigerian church as well as working alongside African (and global) national networks. For this to be effective, healthy partnerships need to be prioritized and honored.

Dean Carlson says, “healthy partnering requires a humility of heart that is more concerned with kingdom advance than organizational accolades.”[xv] Thus, doing missions polycentrically requires effective collaboration. The world can be transformed in Christ’s power when we unreservedly commit to working together in the spirit of mutual respect and unified purpose.

Old notions of Western church superiority and majority world church inferiority must be cast aside, so that we can learn from one another as peers. As commendable as the intercultural intelligence of Nigerian missionaries might be, we still need to be progressively incarnational both in cross-culture engagement as well as in relating with other mission networks.

The Nigerian church and missions movement has much to learn from other global mission participants. At the same time, it has much to share. When global mission partners respectfully ask for our help, this increases our commitment to participate. While the partnership of resources from the Western church is appreciated, this is a secondary need. What is most desired is a sincere invitation and welcome to participate as an equal collaborative partner.

As Nigerian missionaries take the gospel to the priority unreached and unengaged and to the West, they need the support of the existing church in mutual learning. We need to create a collaborative environment that is not subservient. Moreover, doing missions in a polycentric context means paths would frequently cross between the church of the global north and the global south. Therefore, taking positions of preferring one another as we collaborate will bring more sheaves and honor to the Lord of the harvest.


Adeoluwa Felix Olanrewaju (oadeoluwafelix@gmail.com) has a PhD in intercultural studies. He has been involved in cross-cultural church planting, discipleship, research, training, mobilization, and missions leadership in Nigeria, Benin, and Niger. He has served as the dean of academics at the Nigeria Evangelical Missionary Institute (NEMI) in Jos, Nigeria. He is currently the director of administration at the Nigeria Evangelical Missions Association (NEMA). He is married and blessed with children.

 

 


[i] Rueben Ezemadu, “Missionary Efforts in Africa: The Nigeria Case Study,” in Contemporary Issues in African Missions: Papers in Honour of Rev Dr Reuben E. Ezemadu, ed. Kayode Owojori (Ibadan: ACCLAIM, 2020), 60.

[ii] John Ferguson, Some Nigerian Church Founders (Ibadan: Daystar, 1971), 4.

[iii] Ezemadu, “Missionary Efforts,” 61.

[iv] J. Lowry Maxwell, Half a Century of Grace: A Jubilee History of the Sudan United Mission (London:1954), 216.

[v] Maxwell, Half a Century, 232.

[vi] Selome Igbekele Kuponu, “The Living Faith Church (Winners Chapel) Nigeria: Pentecostalism, Prosperity Gospel and Social Change in Nigeria,” a PhD Dissertation Submitted to the University of Bayreuth (July, 2007), 6.

[vii] Isaac Oyebamiji, Travail and Triumph: The Story of CAPRO (Jos: Tishbeth Publishers, 2012), 35–36.

[viii] Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) is a denomination founded when churches closely associated with SIM came together.

[ix] Peter Boma, Dotun Adeboye, Victor Idakwoji, Adeoluwa Olanrewaju and Musa Gaiya, eds., Nigeria Evangelical Missions Association (Jos: NEMA, 2022), 8.

[x] The International Missions Conference (ICOM ’85).

[xi] Panya Baba, introduction to The Final Harvest, ed. Niyi Gbade(Jos: NEMA, 1988), 1.

[xii] Baba, The Final Harvest, 1.

[xiii] This information is as provided by the Monitoring, Evaluation, Learning and Research Department of the Nigeria Evangelical Missions Association.

[xiv] Philip Jenkins, The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity (Oxford University Press, 2002), 3

[xv] Dean Carlson, “Cultivating Global Collaboration to Ehnance African Mission Efforts” in Contemporary Issues in African Missions: Papers in Honour of Rev Dr Reuben E. Ezemadu, ed. Kayode Owojori (Ibadan: ACCLAIM, 2020), 139.

Month of Mission Devotional – Thursday, February 22

Topic: Come over to Macedonia and help us!

Text: Acts 16:9, Isaiah 6:8

Nigeria currently has a population of 217.9 Million, 51.6% of which identify with Christianity. Approximately 26% of the Christian Population in Nigeria is Evangelical. Meaning there are over 54.5 million Bible believing, great commission obedient Christ followers in Nigeria. If we give Just 1% of that population as cross-cultural Missionaries, Nigeria should have 545,000 cross cultural missionaries serving among the unreached across the nations of the world. Current statistics show there are only about 15,400 cross cultural missionaries of Nigeria origin from the over 180 NEMA Member agencies serving across 197 countries of the world.

Vision 5015 Plus of NEMA is a project commissioned in July 2022 at NEMA’S 40TH Anniversary to build on the gains of Vision 5015 project, which facilitated the mobilization of over 4000 cross cultural missionaries to 34 mostly Islamic dominated countries in the 10/40 window between 2005 and 2020.

In July 2023, there was a National Missions Mobilization Conference, declaring the Vision 5015 plus project as a deliberate attempt to increase the number of cross-cultural missionaries from Nigeria by at least 4000 targeting the core north of Nigeria, the Sahel nations and North Africa within 5 years, that is from 2024 to 2028. This is taking a major bite off the larger chunk and to keep expanding the coverage with time. Be a major stake holder in this project, publicize this historic pursuit in your circle of influence. Mobilize Church leaders, Christian youths of all denominations to pray, give, go and serve as senders. Pray for many to be recruited into the Caleb’s generation and kingdom army taking the risk to bring the blessing of Abraham to Muslim nations. This is the Macedonia call to the Church in Nigeria.

Prayer:

  • NEMA is 42 years today. Bless the Lord for the life, obedience and commitment of NEMA’s founding fathers. Ask the Lord to preserve the godly heritage that NEMA is.
  • Pray that NEMA’s relevance be preserved. Ask the Lord to cause the association to effectively mobilise the Nigerian Church towards fulfilling her prophetic mandate of reaching the nations.
  • Pray that Vision5015+ will be a reality.

Month of Missions Devotional- Wednesday, February 21

Topic: Finishing the Task of the Master

Text: John 4:34; 9:4

The passages under consideration for today are very apt. Jesus expresses His unflinching commitment to His Father’s business. It is about what brings delight to the Father. It is about finishing the task. Winning the lost must become to us as food. Until we feel it as a pang, we would not understand the pain in the Father’s heart and neither are we going to take it serious.

Moreover, we must understand timing. The task of winning the lost would not be forever. There is a time allotted for that. The reality is that we are fast approaching the night and by then, no one would be able to work. A sense of urgency must dawn on us. We can no longer be lethargic. The motivation is that the Lord has gone ahead of us to make the souls of men hungry. Ours is to be willing, ready and available.

As we mark another Month of Missions, it is a timely reminder for us to recommit to the urgency of the task. There must be a fresh commitment of our heart to arise. Would you be willing to say like Jesus that your food is to see the lost saved? Will you be likewise persuaded that the work must be done while it is day? We must repent of every excuses and be reliable harvest-hands of the Master.

Prayer:

  • Lord, cause me to have a sense of urgency as regards finishing the task.
  • Find in me a vessel that you can depend upon for finishing the task.

Rev Musa Kasuwa

Principal, Nigeria Evangelical Missionary Institute (NEMI)