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Thoughts from a Layman in Nigeria, by Richard Smith
FRIDAY, JULY 28, 2017
Posted by: Grace Community International | more..
750+ views | 50+ clicks
Thoughts from a Layman in Nigeria, by Richard Smith
I just returned, literally, from my recent GCI mission trip to Lagos, Nigeria. It was a privilege and joy to co-labor with John Mahon and Mike Daily. My travel included over 30 hours in the air, covered more than 15,000 roundtrip miles that touched three continents. I experienced peace knowing that many friends prayed for my safety, health, protection and favor with officials; and God graciously answered all of those prayers. But aside from these informational facts, what stands out? I go to serve in a different culture but since the Holy Spirit is still working in my life, molding my mind and heart and mind to think and act more like Jesus, I typical learn more than I even realize.
First, I learned something about eternal security and myself. I had prepared to teach on the doctrine of eternal security for the believer in Christ. As a young Christian I had questions on this matter, but eventually developed a better understanding of my position in Christ, through the teaching of godly pastors. The more I studied it for myself the more excited I became. I gained new insights into preaching the gospel of grace and why it is called the “unsearchable riches of Christ” (Ephesians 3:8). It is clearer than ever why our salvation cannot be earned before, during or after the point of receiving Christ. This doctrine is profitable for equipping us to grow more mature and to become laborers in His kingdom. It needs to be taught in Africa to counter false/poor teaching about the role of works for the Christian. It needs to be taught in America for the same reason. This brings me to a more personal lesson. It was pointed out that when teaching on this doctrine I had sent a mixed signal by using language such as “it seems to be saying…” I was lovingly coached to be bolder on the clear teaching of sound doctrine. This type of language may have been necessary in my career as an engineer when speaking to customers about their expectations. But I need and desire to learn how to be both bold and clear when teaching the Word of God.
Secondly, I was impressed about the need for the church and the para-church to accept their roles and to work together. I heard John say that a para-church that does not ‘para’ (to come along beside) to help the local church, or encourage its people to be a part of a local church is a “para-nothing” organization. I watched at how the Nigerian Navigators worked closely with pastors of local churches. They respect one another. Two of the three conferences we taught at were actually church events, coordinated with the help of the Navigators. I appreciate the fact that GCI strongly encourages and teaches such a partnership. This is something that both the church and para-church in America has neglected, to the detriment of both. The churches in Nigeria are full and growing. There is no way one pastor can meet the needs of his flock without training them to become equipped disciples. The GCI ministry of reaching heads of households has helped the Navigators by opening doors to pastors and their churches—a worthwhile objective that I was thankful to observe and to be a participant. Lagos is the largest city in Nigeria, which is the most populous city in Africa. The potential to raise laborers to all of Africa and the world is unlimited.
Thirdly, I am still amazed at the simplicity and power of preaching Jesus and His Gospel. My teammate, Mike, led several people to receive Christ on the trip. John preached a message called “Where is Jesus?” that continues to challenge me personally. There were posters everywhere in Lagos for church meetings that promised to “deliver”, to “conquer”, to “empower”, to “heal”; but no Jesus mentioned. How we need Jesus in our churches…how I need to keep Him at the center of my life and witness. I had a good talk with Jesus about this. And the Lord gave me a young man on the flight home to spend over an hour talking about Jesus. It is easier to talk about Jesus on a mission trip; but it is just as important to surrender my availability to be His witness in my neighborhood and everywhere I go. I pray and trust Him for the heart to see the harvest here.

Category:  Cameroon - 2016

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