Our time here continues to be amazing. On our 2nd Sunday here Neal was invited to preach in Faith Arena. What an incredible privilege that was. Yet another dream come true. And if anyone thinks church isn’t fun – think again.
The choir was amazing – and also fun for Neal to see as he used to be a member of that very choir. Even saw some of his choir friends – still singing. The choir is on the right.
Neal began by greeting the people in Pidgin English. The people came unglued – to see this big white guy speaking like that…
For those who would like to hear a white guy speaking Pidgin…here’s a video. It’s about 1 minute long. He starts out by saying “I just dey happy for my belly oh.” He’s greeting people in the choir, talking about how he’s grown (I now get body), and at the end says “I got married I get wife now oh.” That’s me. =)
One thing I noticed while taking pictures of Neal preaching is that he’s always in motion. Hard to get a clear shot! Here’s a few.
Video screens and lots of fans.
Tobi seriously enjoying the service.
We were so impressed with the service and how so many people were involved it. From announcements to worship everything flowed. And after the service, so many greetings.
This is Brother Henry. He was the choir leader when Neal was in the choir.
This is Abies Garuba, a good friend of Neal’s Mom. She was so happy to see Neal.
Rev. Okhuoya and Rev. Akioya. What a joy!
More friends. Everyone wanting pictures!
Everyone was asking about Neal’s parents – Ron & Jerry Childs. They left a mark that could be seen and heard. And so many commented on how much Tobi was like his Grandpa.
This lady we remember from the last time we were here and she came to greet us.
It was a great, memorable and fruitful Sunday. We’re continually amazed and God’s favor and blessing on us.
It wasn’t all about being in church and bible school though. We had some time around the house getting to know some the other guests and the staff here. Here Neal is chatting with Haruna – one of the staff members at the house. He’s from the North and speaks Hausa, so that was fun.
Each Saturday Tobi played soccer with his new bro’s Osasu and Osagie and some of the other guys around the house.
Tobi and Osasu
Tobi and Osagie
We’ve also had opportunity to visit friends. This man, Rev. Dr. Omobude is a long time family friend and now President of PFN – the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria.
Such a gracious man and even though he was obviously very busy, had an office packed with people waiting to see him and was traveling to the U.S. the following day, he made time to visit with us. Years ago Neal was assigned to his church and did some of his first preaching there.
Before we left he gave us this incredible gift basket. Again – blessed!
Another blessing was rain. Beautiful rain. Something we haven’t seen in months. In case you’ve forgotten, we live in the desert. So when we heard thunder, then the smell of rain, we of course stopped everything and ran outside to see it. And feel it. Gotta say I’m loving the tropics! This was our Valentines Day.
We’re feeling pretty blessed!
Next entry will be about our amazing weekend to the ‘bush’.
For quite some time now Neal has had a desire to spend some time in Nigeria – his home – and be a part of what is happening in Church of God Mission International, (CGMI) the ministry founded by the late Archbishop Benson Idahosa.
Neal and his family moved to Nigeria in 1977 and were part of this ministry for many years. He’s always dreamed of preaching in Miracle Center and Faith Arena – the two churches he attended. He also has had a passion to teach in the Bible School that his Dad was the principal and director of for many years. That dream has now become reality.
Tobi has been wanting to visit Nigeria for years. Hard to believe but he’s never been. He’s having a blast…
As for me, It’s been good to spend some extended time in my husband’s homeland. The first time I met him we were at Oral Roberts University more than 24 years ago. He struck me as a bush boy. One could easily make that assumption when a tall, skinny white guy is heard speaking a language that has some English words in it, but doesn’t sound like English at all. And when that same skinny guy is oohing and ahhhing over the sheer size of what was downtown Tulsa in 1989 as if it were New York City. That bush boy intrigued me. I have been to Nigeria before and I have since learned many things about the people and things that have influenced Neal and made him the amazing person he is today. But it’s been fun to spend some extended time here and to see him fit right back into this niche – even as an adult.
We have felt the Lord leading us to do more teaching on missions and church planting – and recently he’s been opening some doors for us. This has been a great place to begin!
We arrived on Thursday, January 31st and got settled in. Friday morning we did things like get SIM cards for our phones, get internet working, and get Neal’s teaching / preaching schedule nailed down.
Miracle Center is the church that Neal attended the most when he lived here. He also lived on this compound. The church is the building on the right.
Here he’s showing Tobi where he lived. The 2nd floor apartment.
Neal was invited to preach at Miracle Center on our first Sunday. So fun!
Here’s the choir. They were great!
And the congregation. They were great too.
Neal doing one of the things he loves doing most – preaching!
Great message. Great response.
Lot’s of greeting after the service. This is Bishop Imafidan. He was the Principal of the secondary school that Neal’s Dad taught in when they first arrived in Nigeria in 1977.
Bishop Imafidan is explaining to Tobi that he is the one that took his dad to the bush when they first arrived in Nigeria. So sweet.
Here’s Tobi and I after the service.
Next on the schedule was the Bible School. Neal is privileged to teach in several classes while here. He’s teaching in the English class of course using English, the Hausa class using Hausa, the French class using an interpreter, and he’s also teaching in the evening school and the degree class. Those are in English. He’s teaching missions/church planting to them all. Tobi and I went with Neal on one of the days to meet and greet the students. Here Tobi is greeting the Hausa class – in Hausa of course!
My prayer has been that our time here would not be just about bringing inspiration, but that true revelation about God’s heart for the unreached would take root and produce fruit.
Neal in the Hausa class.
We LOVED the chapel service. Here the choir is singing.
This is the song the choir sang. No, those aren’t typos. This is Pidgin English. Love it!
Wish everyone could experience this worship.
We showed our 5 minute video and the students really seemed to enjoy it – but their favorite parts were definitely those of Tobi dancing. Here I am introducing the video.
More of Neal preaching – Passion for His Purpose. An amazing building to preach in.
The section in front is the French section. On the other side is the Hausa section. They are getting interpretation.
Neal asked for those who were ready to GO – to be passionate for His purposes- to come forward.
God was speaking to hearts and we were rejoicing!
This is Rev. Andrew Daniels who is the current director of All Nations For Christ Bible Institute International (ANFCBII). Here he is praying for the students.
With Rev. Andrew and Jenny Daniels. They’re from the U.K. and came to Nigeria around the same time as Neal and his family.
After chapel we joined the Daniel’s at their house for lunch.
They’ve been in this same apartment for 30+ years. Neal’s family lived above them and the layout is exactly the same. This was Neal’s room – a floor below.
That same evening, Tobi and I went to the evening class with Neal and greeted the students there too. They love it when Neal speaks Pidgin English!
The evening class takes place in the original building at the Miracle Center Compound. The building above where chapel is held is in another location on the Benson Idahosa University compound. That’s also where the English class (the largest class with several hundred students) is taught.
More evening class…
What a day it’s been.
I’m going to end for now but before I do, I want to say a few words about the impact this ministry and bible school has had across Africa and literally around the world. Neal’s parents, Ron & Jerry Childs, were an integral part of the Bible School here. Anywhere you go in West Africa you will find ANFCBII graduates. And dare I say you will likely find All Nations graduates and ministry leaders from all of Africa and many other parts of the world. And if you find grads of this school and you mention Rev. Ron Childs (said very fast), you will likely hear – ‘he was my principal in Bible school’. The other day we met a pastor that was here visiting from Lagos, Nigeria. When he found out who we were, he began telling us some specific things he learned from ‘Rev. Ron Childs’ that he uses in his ministry and marriage today. Generation to Generation.
These pictures are up in the lobby of Faith Arena, showing the history of the ministry. You can see Neal’s Dad in the middle of the bottom photo, standing to the left of Archbishop Idahosa. Tobi was pretty proud.
Here Neal is pointing to himself in this ancient picture – he wasn’t much older than Tobi is now. His Mom and sister are in the picture too.
Next post will be more about our experiences while here.
So. Thursday. We were thankful to have arrived at our hotel in Abuja and after an attempt to get fuel we decided to wait until morning – the lines were unbelievable. I was more than ready to get out of a sitting position. What I wanted was to be in a horizontal position. We had to unload everything as it’s just not a good idea to leave things inside a vehicle overnight lest anyone think we left it there for the taking. We tucked in for the night and enjoyed dinner at the hotel. On the menu for Neal and Tobi was pounded yam and vegetable soup with goat. Now I’m sure when I say ‘vegetable soup’ one might think fresh (well probably canned) veggies chopped up in a beef broth with leftover pot roast. Or something along those lines. Au contraire mon ami. Nigerian vegetable soup consists of what might be described as greens – lots of them – chopped up and cooked in oil and spices. Very spicy spices. And a few other things. Just the way we like it. The thing you gotta love about Nigerians is they don’t even question whether you want it spicy or not. Not even if you’re a kid. It just comes that way. They are proud of the way they eat and you should be too. Neal and Tobi were in heaven! I opted for rice and a similar spicy red stew. Also got a side of eggs for some protein – which were of course cooked with freshly chopped habanero peppers. Steam was coming out of my ears and we were all sniffling.
Tobi had his own room and enjoyed it – wasn’t sure what he’d think at first. But he warmed up to the idea and then decided it was pretty cool. Usually when we travel and stay in a hotel, we all cram into one room. This time a friend of ours made the reservations for us – AND paid for the rooms. We are blessed! Not only did he pay for the rooms, he put down credit for us to eat. He wanted us to eat well so he gave way more than we could eat at dinner and breakfast combined. He’s a Nigerian that learned of our ministry when we were living in Diffa and would send support up from time to time to Diffa — to the church there. We’ve been in touch with him since and he’s been such a blessing to us.
We asked for breakfast to be ready at 7am and were pleasantly surprised when they called our room at 6:55 to say it was ready. We, surprise surprise, had spicy, spicy eggs and tea for breakfast. I created a bit of a scene when I inhaled one of the peppers and it went down ‘the wrong pipe’ as they say. Wrong is right! Unbelievably painful. Neal and Tobi could do nothing but sit there and watch me writhe and choke for about 10 minutes. Fortunately no one else was eating breakfast…
We learned the night before that it would be wise to ask our taxi man to come back and lead us out of the city. The ‘hiccup’ could be whether he would come on time or not. We were thinking (based on experience) that ‘on time’ would mean 30 or more minutes late. We asked him to be there by 7:30. We (by we I mean Neal and Tobi) packed the car before breakfast so after I finished choking we went outside and to our surprise Mr. Taxi Man was there waiting for us. Gosh, we are just being blessed all over the place! We explained to him that we needed to get fuel, knowing he would lead us to the best place to do that.
Not being used to lines for gas, this is where we got in the cue. There were 6 lines I think.
We waited for about 15 minutes. You can see the gate like structures near the road. They go down the road in one of the lanes for several hundred feet. That’s where you line up for your fuel.
Neal was talking with the gas man about the cue and was told that this was in fact no cue at all – but a bit later and in the afternoon it would be backed up for a mile or more. Once again, we were counting our blessings!
Thought this was a cool tree as we were driving through the city.
This is about where Taxi man left us. It was a very well spent $12 and on top of that, we made his day! Fortunately we were leaving the city while the traffic backed up in the other direction for some serious rush hour. Pretty impressive road systems though!
Cool building – probably a mosque.
Now there’s something familiar…
Not too long before we were once again down to 2 lanes. But pretty decent roads! The challenge was getting by truck after truck.
Hard boiled eggs – snack time! One can find a variety of items for sale on the side of the road.
Riding can wear one out!
Another familiar site… Those cows probably came from Niger.
A mosque on almost every corner….
But the churches are built on The Rock!
There were so many crashed vehicles on the side of the road.
At least every 5 – 10 miles.
I just got photos of a few.
I’m convinced they were left there as a warning…
Lunch in the city of Auchi at Mr. Biggs. Mr. Biggs serves Nigerian Fast Food. It is quite yummy. Except for the chicken sandwich. That’s not Nigerian and it’s not yummy. Tobi and I both got one and had to go back and get the spicy chicken. Now that’s more like it! We are loving not having to travel with all our food and water for an entire journey, knowing there will be food to eat along the way. Good food!
Even more tropical! Lovin’ all the green!!
They have quite an impressive compound.
Palm grove. Gorgeous! And so foreign for us desert dwellers.
Those are some serious logs! Wasn’t real comfortable hanging behind him for too long!
Benin City! We have arrived!
We arrived in the outskirts of the city at about 3:00. Even though things had grown and changed drastically, Neal could find his way to the Miracle Center Compound where he lived and where the Bible School used to be. We couldn’t quite make our way to Faith Arena or to where we were staying but Bishop Feb & Laurie Idahosa had made arrangements for us and we were soon settled in to our home for the next 3 weeks. Which is where I’m writing from now.
Next post will be about our time here thus far. It’s been great and has brought back so many wonderful memories for Neal.