BY JOHN IDOKO
Churches can take advantage of the displacement caused by the Boko Haram crisis to bring the migrants to the Lord. The displacement caused by Boko Haram and the response of the military in Nigeria is in three ways. There is the displacement of Christian workers, the harvest (the Muslims themselves), and the terrorists.
MIGRANTS TURN TO THE LORD
The displacement has brought the migrants to the neighbourhood of the Church. For example, we went for evangelism in a city in Eastern Nigeria where we met the Hausa speaking migrants in their camps. Some of the young men from Bornu State we engaged said they were tired of killing people, and they were in hiding. In the course of sharing the Gospel with them, they confessed their sins and came to Christ.
We go to their settlement in their communities and do one-on-one evangelism. One time, I went to a car wash and met a Fulani man shining shoes. I bought food for both of us, and we sat down to eat together. I then turned on my handset and began to show him an evangelistic film in Hausa. The film was about a missionary in a village showing the Jesus Film in a clip, and the whole village came to watch. In the process, the Seriki (Chief) became convicted in his heart and accepted Jesus. This brought a transformation in his life.
When the man finished watching one segment of the film, I began to explain it to him. I said, “See this Senki, he was so wicked. In the same way, people are so wicked today – the Fulani terrorizing, destroying and killing people.” As I explained, he saw himself in the whole episode, and then asked me, “Are you in Lagos?” “No,”| replied, He continued, “I met someone like you in Lagos who was telling me the same thing.”
I made him understand that for him to be hearing the same thing someone else had told him in Lagos means God wants him to accept Jesus so that his life can be changed. He did not accept Jesus but the good thing was that a seed was sown in his life.
Many people right now fear Fulani men. Once you talk about Fulani, people get scared. People who watched us were wondering, how I could be talking to him in this manner. The woman selling roasted yam and plantain in the place had lived in Northern Nigeria, and Hausa migrants go there to eat. I told her, “You do not know why God has given this business platform. It is to help you use it as a point of reaching the people from the North.”
Another time, in the same woman’s place, l engaged about six Fulani young men and one other Muslim. All the others left us at a point, but one of them stayed and was converted to Christ. He was educated and could read Hausa very well. I would open the Bible and he would read, and I would give him the interpretation and application. He followed through until he accepted Jesus. While I was talking to him, he said he came to that city in Eastern Nigeria six days earlier. You could still see the mark of a Muslim prayer on his forehead. You could see someone who had come with a mission, but God met him.
AWARENESS TO THE CHURCH
Instead of feeling threatened by the Muslims around us, we must see their closeness to us as opportunities and rise to engage them with prayer.
For example, the pastor of a church can look at ten kilometres around him, take the census of Muslims or mosques, and begin to have a vigil of prayer every Friday night to possess them. After praying for them on Friday, the church can begin to engage them through evangelism on Saturday. If they continue to do this from January to December, even if they are stones God will melt their hearts, and bring them to salvation.
If churches are committed to this, there will be a great earthquake in the spiritual realm and many of them will experience Christ. The report will reach their Sultan in Sokoto that some of the young people they sent to the Eastern Nigeria are now becoming Christians. We have created problem for them. They thought they were sending them to Islamize the Igbo people but the opposite is the case. They will begin to withdraw them, and stop sending more people. We have now put them on the defensive. If churches in Southern Nigeria realize this and put them under pressure with this strategic prayer and evangelistic programme, and continue in it for six months, the harvest will be great. As a Mission, we have planted a few Hausa churches to prove it.
We also realize that we cannot do it alone, so we began to train churches to also plant Hausa speaking churches. We went into partnership with a church and that partnership has led to the planting of a Hausa speaking church which was handed over to them. We are making efforts to let other churches know so that we can plant churches for the Northern people. We experimented that with one other denomination, and they went on their own to establish a Hausa speaking church.
One day, we were in a particular denominational church, and a Muslim came, and gave a testimony that what brought him to church that day was the life of a member of the church that lives in their Hausa community. He said the life of that disciple from the church has affected and changed them, and they came to church to give their lives to Christ. The quest to planting Hausa speaking churches created that platform for them to come in.
Sometimes last year, we had a Crusade in partnership with some brethren from a Chapel in Northern Nigeria. They come every year to do this crusade with us, and also do one-on-one evangelism. One night during the crusade, they made an altar call, a Fulani young man was among those who came out to give their lives to Christ. When the team asked him, “Do you know what you have done?” He replied, “Yes,” I know. “Are you ready to follow Christ?,” we asked, “Who will hinder me from coming to church?” he replied. That was Friday. By Sunday, he was in church. If he were in the North, he would not be able to do this. But because he was out of that place he had the opportunity to hear the Gospel and responded to it.
So, the Church globally should wake up to this strategic mission of reaching the children of Ishmael in Diaspora. It is cost-effective unlike when you send an average team of fourteen people to Sokoto in Northern Nigeria.