Tuesday was a great day. It’s hard to explain all that we did in any kind of comprehensible way. I say that because what we did is what we experienced and I’m not sure I can translate it to the written word effectively but I will try.
First, we went to the office to meet the staff and spend time with them. It was pretty amazing. They are wonderful people. Obviously the director, Issa is a tremendous man. His testimony is moving to say the least. Reading the Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis is what really got him to reading the Bible and ultimately brought him to the Lord. He has his undergrad degree in English literature and planned to go for a doctorate and then teach at the University. After getting his masters the Lord changed his direction and sent him to Bible college and into the ministry.
The staff are also extremely dedicated and wonderful men. I’m sure I will not spell their names correctly but there were several that stood out to me. There was Abdou who is the Project Philip Coordinator for Niger. His spirit of gracious love and kindness is a real blessing. And there is Felix who is fun and funny. There are several others but I wont take the time to try to describe each of them. Suffice it to say that I was blessed by their fellowship and spirit.
While we were sharing they each shared their testimony and then we did the same. They then asked to be able to ask some questions. Certainly we allowed and had the blessing of doing some teaching. One of the things I shared with them was the illustration of flying north and meeting south but flying west you never meet east to illustrate how far God has separated our sin from us. They were blessed by it and it was really cool to see the light bulb come on as they contemplated it.
We went by to visit the MBM (Southern Baptist Compound and Guest House) to see if it’s suitable for the trip back in a few weeks. It was and we decided that’s where they will stay.
In the afternoon we went back to the office to meet with about 20 people who have been trained as Philips. Let me stop here and tell you what a Philip is in case some of you don’t know. At Bible League one of the things we do is to provide a Bible study program that we call Project Philip. It comes from Acts 8 where Philip is called away from Samaria to go out to the desert where he encounters the Ethiopian Eunuch. He asks the Eunuch if he understand what he is reading from Isaiah? The Eunuch says, “How can I unless someone explains it to me.” So, we provide the training in how to use the Bible and the Bible study material to lead people in a Bible study that is intended to lead people into an understanding of their need for a savior and help them come to accept Jesus as their savior. There are three more studies that are discipleship in nature. One of the things someone said to me today was that “churches mature when they use the Project Philip material.” It’s true. It gives them a tremendous base of knowledge to work from.
Anyway, these 20 people that had been trained along with the national director for Campus Crusade and the national director from Prison Fellowship were with us. Several shared testimonies and again they asked if they could ask questions. We said yes and had a wonderful time of fellowship but then the most wonderful thing happened. They asked if they could pray for us. Wow! Generally these people on these trips are so interested in what we can do for them that it was almost overwhelming that they would want to pray for us. So, they asked us to kneel which we did and then they began to pray. It was a high spiritual moment as they ALL prayed out loud. The noise was so loud at it’s pinnacle that it hurt my ears. Then they would die down and someone would pray something that would start them all over again. It was amazing. They prayed for a while, not sure how long, but every second was sweet.
Then Issa’s wife’s sister had prepared a meal for everyone and it was served. I had a lot of fun singing and talking with them as they ate.
One of the things I did was before Issa came in I taught all of the people to say, “you da man” when he came in. So, as he came in they stood and pointed at him and in a very loud voice said, “You da Man!!!!” It was a fun thing for them to do it and they loved it.
In Niger there is a saying for someone you are close to. It has to do with a traditional food, locust. If you are really close to someone and share things with them it is said that “You share the same locust.” While there Issa had fun picking on me about eating locust. So, when we left I told him that “if I ate locust, I would want to share locust with him.” He is an amazing man and I have deep respect and regard for him.
Thank God for the time we had with Issa and the others in Niamey.