I left the States a week ago today. I have not yet spent a full week in Nigeria, as the trip itself consumed all of Monday night and most of Tuesday but it has been seven days since I slept at home. Since I arrived, it has been like riding a whirlwind. Almost everyday we have spent more than three hours in the car, traveling from city to city.
This morning we were able to travel with Congresswoman Martha Bodunrin, who took us to the scene of the 2010 Dogo Nahawa Massacre which killed at least 500 people.
As a side note, Congresswoman Martha Bodunrin is a faithful and exemplary representative of her constituents. When notified of the attack, she immediately flew from the capitol of Nigeria to Jos, but by the time she arrived the Massacre had already taken place. She was only able to witness the awful aftermath of the attack.
Even now, 2 years after the Massacre, the scene haunted the Congresswoman, and she was able to recall casualties in gruesome detail, without any prompting from the locals. We were unable to meet with the pastor, but I talked to several women who had lost their husbands to this violence.
Yet through the lingering horror God’s grace shown a beautiful ray of hope. One of the women gave birth to a child on the day of the massacre. In another place and culture such a child might have been hated as a reminder of the grief and loss. But if I have learned anything about Nigerian it is that they treasure and protect their children. This child was loved God’s constant reminder that there is beauty and life and joy, despite the agony of this dark world. It was a good reminder for me as well.
I thank you for the gift of life. For reminding me that your grace triumphs over adversity. That all the lies and all the hate and all the violence that comes against your people cannot quench your love and does not shake your faithfulness.
Lord thank you for signs. Thank you for that precious promise child, growing up with the all the love that the wounded community can muster. Lord I pray that you would strengthen that village. Let it grow strong and bright once again. Let that child grow up in a place where hope shines brightly.
Lord I thank You for Christians who have the humility to recognize where they are most needed and best applied. Lord I thank you for PhDs who are willing to teach children their ABCs because that is where they are needed most in the community that You have placed them. Lord I thank you for generosity of Christians to give and the stewardship of Christians to see that gifts are well used. And Lord God I praise You for appointing me to be there as a witness to see Your handiwork. I marvel a pattern that is so much bigger than any one person or organization.
Lord I praise you for the sense of “place” that you have given to Nigerians, the recognition of the ties to the land and the sense of belonging. Lord I know that that sense of place will only be finally fulfilled and justified in heaven, but as I watch these Nigerians I think that many of us in America have forgotten what we should long for!
Lord I pray that you would give me wisdom as I work. Thankfully I know that there is no solution in my hands and I am not called to save Nigeria. But Lord as I see these people in the light of faith and grow to love them, I desperately want to help them. To build up based on a strong foundation, not tear down or worse, build something that must be torn down because it does more harm.
Lord smarter people than I have failed, caught in cultural currents and internal politics that they were unprepared to face. I do not pretend to be better than they. I cannot outsmart all the players, I cannot see all the angles and manipulate everyone. And even if I could, what would it profit?
Lord I ask that you would make me your instrument, that you would use me and this trip as one small part of the work your are doing in Nigeria. Clear the way, and make the way clear before me so that I might not stumble.
Lord preserve Your people.