It was just a few short months ago that God placed my name on Pastor Joshua Amaezechi’s heart as a possible USA administrator for the LEMA Institute in Nigeria. I had been asking God for a couple of years to show me where He would like me to serve Him after my retirement in 2019. He answered my prayers by presenting this opportunity. After seeking God’s wisdom, it became clear that this was His will for me. My wife Jane and I joined the LEMA Institute in May of 2018 as Director of Administration and Administrative Assistant.
I felt it imperative that if I were to be responsible for raising support for this mission, it would be best if I visited the site to see and feel exactly what this ministry is all about. So, on 9/25/18, I left the USA and flew to Lagos, Nigeria, and then inland to Owerri, where I met up with Pastor Joshua. Navigating through the Lagos airport was a challenge, but lessons were learned for use in future visits.
One of my first impressions of Nigeria was how kind and respectful the Igbo people are. I was treated with great dignity. It was wonderful to meet Joshua’s mother (everyone calls her mama), as well as aunts, uncles, and cousins.
At that time of the year, Nigeria is experiencing their rainy season, so we had rain three or four days for a little while each day. The air was quite warm (high 80’s) and humid all of the time. Electricity is provided by a generator set, so during the day we had lights and fans in the rooms we were in. The generator was shut off at night to conserve gasoline, so sleeping could be a bit of a challenge. God provided me the rest I needed however. There were a couple of mornings that I woke up to the sound of mama singing praises to God in her native language, showing how deep her love for her Lord truly is. It was very inspiring.
My first full day was used to acclimate myself to my surroundings, and preparing to teach the next day. The topic of teaching on Friday was “the Nuts & Bolts of Christian Leadership,” which included the roles of Elder and Deacons in the church, as well as Pastoral Care. It was attended by 27 students and pastors. My Midwestern accent was a bit troubling for the students at first, but as the day went on, they were able to understand me. It was a good day, and the students were most polite and attentive.
This was the day of the graduation ceremony, where 29 students received their Certificate of Christian Leadership. Many of their family members and friends were there to celebrate the occasion with them. It was the inaugural class of graduates for the Institute, and was truly a blessed day.
The Sabbath. A day of worship at a local church, and rest from our labors. We spent our idle time hearing some of Ruth Veltkamp’s experiences from her 40+ years of missionary work in Nigeria.
On this day, we installed ceramic tile on the floor in two of the offices. In the afternoon, I had the honor of officially commissioning the water well project, which has been a true blessing; not only to the Institute itself, but also to the neighboring villages, as there are four water faucets on the outside wall for their use.
Pastor Joshua and I left the Institute in the morning to head back home. It was bittersweet, as I had found a true love for the people there, and the wonderful work the Lord is doing in Nigeria. We parted ways in Lagos, as our return flights headed in different directions. We both arrived home the following day, slightly jet lagged, but with joyous hearts.
I feel blessed and honored to serve God at the LEMA Institute, and am anxious to see how He will grow this ministry in the future. This experience was eye-opening, and I have no doubt that this was God’s will in my life. I look forward to revisiting the Institute in the future.
First and foremost, I want to thank the Lord for His protection and safety during this voyage. And thank you to all of our sponsors and donors. Without you, none of this would be possible.
May God’s blessings surround you as we do His work together.
LEMA exists to train and equip Christian leaders in Africa with resources necessary for a biblical, financially independent ministry. At LEMA, you would learn both the theology and practice of ministry as well as such courses as Christian Leadership, Christian Worldview, Bible Survey, Biblical Interpretation, Preaching, Christian Education, Seminars, workshops, and conferences. Our Tent Making Program enables our students to combine theological ministry education with preparation for self-employment and bi-vocational ministry. Our unique curriculum is meant to prepare students for flourishing and God honoring ministries in their communities.
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