You have heard the expression, “things are not what they use to be.” This certainly is true of mission work today. This week we came across some friends whose parents were missionaries in Nigeria for several decades. Our friends said that their parents had to take everything from the UK to Nigeria to last for 3 years. They had to take three years’ worth of Christmas and birthday presents. They had to take all types and sizes of clothing and shoes because they did not know how fast the children would grow. They did not know whether the letters they sent reached home; when they did, there were several months before they received any replies. Medical care was almost nonexistent … ; and the list goes on and on. So what has changed?Mission work, at least for us, is very different now. We live in a modern age when communication is instant; we are able to communicate by mobile phone, email, Facebook and even by Skype with family and friends. We can keep in touch with our church folks, albeit depending on electricity supply and internet connections. Medical care may not be great, but it does exist. We are able to buy a variety of food, birthday cards and presents.
Our work here in Jos, Nigeria, is probably very different from that of the pioneering missionaries, who were usually very isolated and who sacrificed their own lives for the sake of the Gospel. Although there is unrest in Jos, we do not feel personally threatened or persecuted as missionaries we are welcomed by many. We are able to build relationships with many local people. As “short-termers” can share and reflect the love of God in various ways, not only to the local people but also as encouragers to other missionaries and Nigerian staff who are working in various mission stations locally and in other states. Our work here is enjoyable as well as frustrating.
Working in a different culture and in a different country, with different values, languages, tribes, work practices, resources, expectations and various other differences creates its own difficulties and frustrations, as one can imagine. As I write this, we have not had electricity for more than 48 hours, the freezer is defrosting, there are queues to get petrol due to a strike, no one turns up on time for any meetings, our water levels are very low because water cannot be pumped up without power, we had cold showers this morning due to no electricity, and so on. This is reality—you have to cope with it irrespective of the time of day or night. All the things you planned to do the following day just falls apart. No two days are the same. Either you feel frustrated or you could say, “this is Nigeria;” It is entirely up to you.
Though I have listed some of the frustrations, life here is also great. Everyone always has time to greet you, usually with a smile. They do not get easily ruffled when things do not go to plan. We are enjoying our work in sharing the good news of the Gospel. There is tremendous need here, especially amongst the children. You see them wandering about on the street with no place to go. This is the work that City Ministry is involved with, where Madan has been involved in reviewing the children’s services. Brenda has been working in a special school for children with disabilities where her input into the school has been invaluable. Lisa is very busy with her involvement in the school at Gyero for these abandoned or rejected children. We recognise that our time here is very short, but even that short time can make a significant difference in people’s lives. This is our way of sharing the Gospel with others by reflecting the love of God to others. A small contribution can make a major difference when it is blessed by God.
Having been here for the last three months, with another month to go, we look to God and seek His for guidance for the future. Let us also take the opportunity to thank you for all your prayers without which we would not be here or our life here would be intolerable and very insecure.
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