Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Soaring with the Super Eagles

Leslie/Todd:  We returned a couple weeks back from Nigeria, one of our favorite places to visit!  Our Nigerian brothers and sisters in Christ are nothing short of amazing.  They live in turbulent times with ongoing Muslim-Christian conflict, yet they are so quick to love as Jesus loved and beautifully bold in their Christian witness.  We have so much to learn from them!

Todd with Reverend Panya Baba, the person who introduced Leslie and Todd, and one who has discipled both of them in more of what it means to follow Jesus.  Reverend Baba's wife brought Todd his favorite Nigerian snack.
We were pleased to see a semblance of peace return to Nigeria's Plateau.  In our previous visit, hundreds had been killed just days before our arrival and hundreds more were killed days after our arrival.  We were on a 6 pm to 6 am curfew then.  People were quite tense.  There remain smaller skirmishes to this day where a person or two are killed here or there, but in general, peace has returned for a season on the Plateau.  The peaceful Nigeria we had known for decades was back, and so beautiful.

Except for one night.  You see, if there is one thing than can bring peace to all of Nigeria other than Jesus, it's football, or soccer as we call it in these parts.  And while we were there, a great thing happened.  Nigeria's football team, the Super Eagles, won the Africa Cup of Nations - Africa's football championship.  As the 95th minute of their championship match with Burkina Faso ticked away and the Super Eagles claimed their victory, all of Nigeria broke out in celebration.  We didn't mind saying goodbye to peace for a night.

We need to be praying for our Nigerian microfinance partner.  This trip focused on discussing with them the way forward in the midst of these turbulent times.  Their microfinance program has been hit hard as markets have been burned down and many put out of business.  Management and governance of the program suffers in times like this.  What was once the strongest of our African microfinance partners was really struggling.  They have great resolve to turn things around.  Let's pray that they can do that, because there has never been a time when Nigeria needs a strong Christian microfinance program like now.

Les with members of a fantastic Nigerian organization doing urban ministry.
As you might suspect, in Nigeria Todd is "Mr. Leslie".  Les lived almost 17 years in Nigeria, so our visit was packed with visits from people we love dearly - those whom Les raised as literal babes are now taking their university exams.  Les has maintained ties with an urban ministry in Nigeria and they had some great meetings  while we were there.  We even found time to make some new Nigerian friends, and we can see how God may use their ties to further extend His kingdom from heaven to earth in the years ahead.