Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Fantastic Trip to Nigeria!

Leslie/Todd: We had the tremendous privilege of traveling with five other PEER Servants associates to Nigeria from January 29 through February 14 to serve (and be served by) Good Seed Enterprise Development, our microfinance partner in the very troubled city of Jos. It was a fantastic trip for many reasons.

Nigerians Are Amazing People: Les and I were convinced long ago that Nigerians are some of the most amazing people on the planet - now we have some trip mates who are also singing that tune! The people of Nigeria have been rated by objective researchers as some of the world's happiest people. What makes them so happy? Despite having relatively little materially, they live in community and have a deep and vibrant faith. We have lots to learn from them of what it means to live in community and have to be totally dependent on God.

Nigerian Are Great Entrepreneurs: We met some amazing entrepreneurs -- not just in the businesses they have established, but more so what they are doing with the businesses they have established. You may have heard of some of them already. Comfort and Bamidele Padonu use their chicken breeding business to allow almost 100 widows each week to earn an income as they distribute the eggs. The Padonus are making great progress on building a ministry center for widows and orphans as they live very simply and pour the profits of their business into this ministry. There there is Kikielomo Oluwasegun, another chicken breeder and now fish farmer who directs the profits of her business to make the cost of Diamond Private School affordable to 100+ school children. What a beautiful sight it was to visit this school and see all of these bright young children receiving a top notch education. There are many more stories to tell of impressive micro-entrepreneurs whom we met on this trip.

Nigeria Needs Our Prayers: Jos, the city we visited, had experienced the most recent Muslim-Christian conflict less than two weeks before our arrival. 300-500 people were killed and many homes and businesses were burned. Some of Good Seed's clients had their businesses burned to the ground. Our Christian brothers and sisters are requesting that we pray for God's wisdom as to what they should do. This is the third major crisis in the last 9 years. Muslims have been moving into this predominantly Christian area and are attempting to force conversion to Islam, using all means, including violence, to do so. Very committed Christians are asking "what would Jesus do?" There are no easy answers to questions like that, but let's pray for wisdom and protection over them.

We thank God that we can partner with Good Seed Enterprise Development as they serve the materially poor of central Nigeria in the name of Jesus. Our team was able to assist them in better marketing their program, providing training based on the successes of our microfinance partner in the Philippines, and helping GSED identify new ways to raise much needed funds to fuel their growth. God used our Nigerian brethren and the events in Jos to really strengthen us in our understanding of what it means to follow Jesus. As a result, this is a trip we will not soon forget.