Five years ago, I had the privilege of spending a month and a half in Jos, Nigeria. Jos is a city located north east of the capital Abuja and what would normally be about a two hour drive. However, with multiple checkpoints, bumpy terrain, and traffic, this is every bit of a 4 hour trek to the plateau of Jos. I went with an organization based out of Cincinnati, Ohio called Back2Back. They partner with local children’s homes (orphanages) and help to support those already engaged in the work of caring for the orphan child.
While I was there, I had the opportunity to live with a missionary family and a few other interns from the U.S. Our days would usually consist of playing, helping with homework, and learning from the sweet kiddos at the homes and in a nearby village. One of my highlights from my time was planning a sleepover for the teenager girls at one of the children’s homes. We made cookies, did bible study, watched movies, and painted nails. It was a night, allowed by God, for these young girls to be loved and free of the responsibilities of caring for the younger children at the home.
Like many, I had a desire to go to Africa from a young age. So much of Nigeria is absolutely
breathtaking, but the poverty outside of the capital city is very real and striking. However,the
people have great faith in Jesus. In reading my journal from my time there, this particular
thought stuck with me;
“I’m learning that what you have isn’t so important-it’s about the love you give.”
The people of Nigeria are joyful, and they give away what little they have. Mark 12 tells the story of the widow who gave all she had out of her poverty and this story came to life for me while I was in Nigeria. When offering is taken at church, parishioners dance and sing down to isles to give their offerings to the Lord. When is the last time we rejoiced in giving our resources to the Lord?
It’s difficult to describe all the ways in which my time in Nigeria impacted me, but as I was
looking through journals of my time there, I realized how much I relied on the Lord. How I looked to HIm with my daily needs and confessed sin to HIm. When we are stripped away of our family, comforts, and routines, we are able to lean into God and His promises in a new way. While I was in Jos, 2 of my relatives back home passed away and a bomb went off in the local city market. I remember being tempted to jump on the first plane home. However, the Lord provided such clarity in my need to stay where I was. When we lean on the Lord, He provides us with wisdom, understanding, and an incomparable joy.
There is much we have to learn about how to be effective missionaries both home and abroad and what it looks like to equip and empower local people to be catalysts in their communities. However, I think the first step is being willing to be used by the Lord and going, learning, and loving on God’s people.