That is where I am writing from, having left Kaduna on Saturday morning.
Jos is a place that does not hold fond memories for my family. The first time Bob and I were here, in 2008, Bob ended up being medically evacuated to Italy, causing significant stress for our family (unnecessarily as it turned out). The second time he was here, in March of 2010, he passed away two days after returning from Jos. We have often wondered whether the cause of death was related to something that happened when he was here. We also had ministry and leadership challenges that were rather painful here as well.
So driving to Jos filled me with conflicting emotions. And I know for my children, Hannah and Noah, that simply being in Nigeria is enough to make them nervous.
But I'm reminded about how we are called to live outside of our comfort zones. We are called to trust that "greater is He that is in me, than he that is in the world."
This past week, I found myself out of my comfort zone a few times:
- On the way to Kaduna from Abuja, I noted that there were police vehicles every two kilometers or so. Upon asking why, I was told that there had been a number of kidnappings for ransom recently, so the police were there to try to prevent that. About 36 hours after that conversation, in the middle of the night, we found the place where we were sleeping suddenly filled with loud and many male voices, who apparently had no idea that we were there. They tried to get in our rooms, and in peeking out through the window, we saw them carrying things out of the rooms. Assuming they were looting the place, we tried to reach people who could help, but were not about to rouse anyone. I was told to "get in my bathroom, lock the door, and not come out." As I sat there, I pondered what clothes I would want to be wearing if kidnapped for a long time...as well as other thoughts about loved ones. It brought back a lot of memories from the numerous times we faced danger in Liberia with our house and yard being broken into. After a couple of hours, we came to learn that they were campers from a youth group, and so all was well. But for a couple of hours, I was definitely out of my comfort zone.
- Being without running water and electricity was frustrating for most of the students and faculty who came to facilities for the ECWA Seminary classes this past week. I too was frustrated at first, and then I remembered that I am privileged to be able to leave after some time. The people who live here struggle with this day in and day out. [I also quickly remembered how to live this way, having lived 3.5 years in Liberia without running water or electricity.]
- The Integrity and Finance students that I taught this past week to Masters students told me numerous stories about how creative people (in the church and outside the church) can be in deceitfulness and dishonesty. At one point, a student told me that the people in the US are better than "we, Africans" as Americans tend to be much more honest, whether or not they are Christian. I reminded them that the sin of Sodom (Ezekiel 16:49) was being arrogant, overfed, and unconcerned, which certainly could be applied to the US. These conversations, while I enjoy them and they are so very important, take me out of my comfort zone, as I don't want to be part of the problem and I want to speak the truth in love.
- One story in particular bothered me. A missionary in the class shared about a man who converted from Islam to Christianity. The church that he joined had connections to North America, and they ended up taking his picture and telling his story over and over. Several churches in North America were touched by this story and ended up sending money monthly to support him as he made this transition, which included setting up a new life outside of his Muslim family. Unfortunately, that money has never come to him as the church has used it for other purposes. He is now saying that he is thinking of going back to Islam if this is the way Christians behave. This missionary beseeched us to pray for this man.
As the work of Discipling Marketplace Leaders in Nigeria increases, in Kaduna, Jos, Abuja, Lagos, and now possibly Ibadan, we are going to have to get used to my traveling here. In 2018, I plan to travel to Nigeria three times.
May God give all of us the strength and courage to go where He is calling us to go, trusting that He will equip us with what we need when we get there.
On Tuesday, I drive to Abuja, fly to Lagos, then home. Upon arriving at home on Wednesday afternoon, I will be picked up at the airport and then Michael, Hannah, and I will drive straight to Canada to spend American Thanksgiving at my mom's place. Noah and his Hannah are flying in to Toronto, as we all have a family wedding to attend on Saturday in Oshawa. So excited to have some family time! May God give us thankful hearts for the grace and mercy that we experience in our lives.