Dear CBC Saints,
Greetings in the name of Him who, "having loved His own...loved them to the end."
As I write this update from Victoria Island, Lagos, I'm struck with a sense of the faithfulness and tender mercies of the Lord. Since our arrival 7 days ago every need of every team member has been provided by the Lord. God has been constantly protecting us, encouraging us, renewing our strength, healing our bodies, and pushing us forward. . . .
What a great God we have!! When He commands us to "go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature" and to "make disciples of all the nations," He also supplies the strength, and wisdom needed to accomplish what He commands. Not one time has He failed to keep His promise to those who look to Him alone for all that is needed to perform His will His way - including CBC's mission team in Nigeria. "No one who trusts in Him will be confounded."
I ended my update last Sunday morning, by saying that we were about to leave for church. Well, all 8 of us headed to our respective ministry assignments that morning. Harry, Gerard, Eddie, Brian, and George all preached at various churches in Lagos. The five churches are diverse in their denominational affiliation but were mostly Baptist and Pentecostal. Two or three of the men preached twice and, besides preaching, Gerard answered questions in a Q and A session. The pastors of these churches and the brethren from SGBC who accompanied the team members reported that the men preached excellent sermons and were very edifying and eye-opening. It was an extraordinary opportunity for the men and they returned praising God for the unction and liberty given them to preach the word of God to the profit of the hearers. Pastor Joe delivered a message to SGBC on Sunday morning on the occasion of their 11th anniversary. The message was titled, "How to Survive in Evil Times." Much liberty and strength was supplied to expound on this vital subject to a standing room only crowd. Two overflow areas held many others who seemed deeply interested in and hungry for the word of God. Pastor Joe preached a second message to a Reformed assembly, Crown Bible Church, Sunday afternoon. The meeting place was packed and Pastor Joe held a one hour Q and A session following the sermon. An assortment of questions were asked including: Are the gifts of tongues, prophesies and miracles still in effect today? A detailed exposition of 1 Cor. 13:7-12 was given in response.
The weather has been hot daily. Up till now all the team members struggled somewhat to recover from jet lag and to adjust to the heat and humidity. Dani and Eddie has sore throats for a couple of days, and a few of us had trouble sleeping. Eddie had diarrhea and stomach issues from food he ate yesterday. Sandra struggled somewhat with stomach problems from some of the food but has been lately avoiding anything spicy or potentially upsetting to her stomach. But all of these medical, food, and sleep problems have gone away and it seems that today all the team members have recovered from their various maladies and are adjusting to the heat.
Monday began a schedule that included seminars on Pastoral Theology delivered to pastors, seminary students, and pastor candidates. The seminars are held Monday - Thursday from 10:00am until 2:00pm. Each day's seminar includes two lectures followed by a Q and A session. Some of the men of the missions team sat in on the lectures. About 40 pastors and seminary students were crammed into SGBC's sanctuary sitting behind folding tables set up for note taking. Two of the four days of lectures have gone by (I write this update Tuesday night) and the best way I can describe the response of the men is shock, humiliation, and emancipation. Most of the attendees are deeply entrenched in the word of faith and prosperity teaching. This is the only teaching most have known and they have never heard any other views. They are bombarded from every direction with the health and wealth teaching and it's nothing less than scandalous and shameful in its terrible effect upon the evangelical churches of Nigeria over the last 20-25 years. Many of the attendees were asking what they could do to help reverse the tide of the apostasy. They were advised to pray, make sure their new convictions were deep enough to withstand future pressures to compromise, and to begin sharing what they learned with their churches, fellow pastors, and in small group studies. All seemed united in this effort.
On Monday and Tuesday at the conclusion of the seminars all the team members (except Sandra for safety reasons) took to the streets for tract distribution and witnessing. Today we all walked to a nearby street (located only one block from the church building) that serves as a main thoroughfare for tens of thousands of people who use this street to access various kinds of public transportation that brings them to work. A group of 15 of us, including 7 members of CBC's team, distributed tracts to people as we walked along on the side of the road. As cars stopped for traffic we would hand tracts through the windows into the grateful hands of the passengers. Almost every passerby reached out a hand with curiosity and interest in receiving the tracts. Once we arrived at the main street the tracts went quickly. George Tate and a member of SGBC named Emmanuel accompanied me on one side of the street. No sooner had we started passing out tracts we were mobbed by people. I couldn't pass them out fast enough. As we continued walking I saw Brian and Harry parallel with us on the other side of the street distributing tracts at a fast pace and stopping frequently to answer questions of people who asked why we were here? and what we were doing? It felt so liberating and wonderful to share the gospel and pass out tracts to people who really wanted to hear it and receive it - unlike the United States and other places in the West that are hardened to the gospel. I know this welcome reception is short lived but we are thoroughly enjoying it while we can.
After about one hour of distribution, George, Emmanuel and I ran out of tracts. Between us we must have passed out about 2,000-3,000. As we started walking back to the church building we met up with Pastor Tony, Dani, Gerard, and Eddie. Most of their tracts were gone as well. Eddie brought a chair with him just in case an opportunity for street preaching arose. One of SGBC's members found a suitable spot for Eddie who jumped on the chair and began preaching the gospel. After about five minutes a small crowd began to gather which grew larger and larger. Pastor Tony, Dani, and a few others supported Eddie by passing out tracts to the crowd and answering questions of many who wanted to know the location of Sovereign Grace Bible Church and the times of the Sunday services. When we were done thousands of eager people had been given tracts, many had been witnessed to, the gospel had been preached, and many in the street were left wanting to know more. All of us in the team had returned safely to the church and rejoiced in the goodness and mercy of God for the privilege of being ambassadors for Christ.
I couldn't help but think that Christ Bible Church and others had been praying for us and that God answered these prayers.
1. For God's blessing on the next two days of seminars, street evangelism, and tract distribution.
2. For the unction and power of the Holy Spirit in the preaching of the gospel. Pastor Joe will deliver a gospel sermon to student journalists at a university in Lagos on Wednesday, and possibly more street preaching will take place on Wednesday and Thursday as well.
3. Protection and safety.
4. Traveling mercies for our return home this Friday.
Brethren pray for us.
Yours in Christ,
Pastor Joe Jacowitz