Now is the turn of Nigerians to ‘export’ Christianity’
• ‘This Has Put Nigeria On The Spotlight With Commendations Coming From Those Nations’
• ‘Nigerian Pastors Diligently Take The Church To Europe, America And The Rest Of The World
Early last century, missionaries were all over Africa preaching the gospel, and trying to convert Africans from ‘Paganism’ to Christianity. Religion became a potent instrument Europeans used to win the hearts of Africans, as they established churches and schools, wherever they went. Thus, many Africans, including Nigerians, became educated and knowledgeable in the ways of the Christian God. Ironically, Christianity appears to be fading away in Europe, as religion is completely relegated to the background and churches over there are mainly patronised by African residents. Here in Nigeria, Christianity still holds sway, as religious activities are thriving and churches are located in every nook and cranny of the country. Religion has become a tourist attraction, responsible for the inflow of a large number of foreigners to the country. So now, the table has been turned. Nigerian pastors are now the ones ‘exporting’ the gospel to Europe and other countries of the world. They have succeeded in establishing popular mega-churches, which are highly reckoned with in their host countries. And it could easily be argued that these churches are generating more revenue than oil, which is presently at its lowest ebb. Crude oil has been replaced with the gospel. Is this a positive development for Nigeria and Christianity? What are the challenges experienced by these pastors, as they busy themselves with ‘planting’ churches outside Nigerian shores? CHRIS IREKAMBA reports.
‘We Place Higher Premium On Salvation Of People Than Monetary Gains’
(Archbishop John Adebayo Osa-Oni, Presiding Archbishop, Vineyard Christian Ministries, Worldwide, Osolo Way, Ajao Estate, Lagos)
WE’VE taken the gospel to the United States of America and the United Kingdom and have established and are still establishing the fear of God in the hearts of our hearers. We are trusting God that the people are doing well. Personally, we didn’t encounter any challenges, while establishing our church abroad because most of our people are citizens of these countries. They are either Nigerians or British/American citizens. We have pioneered a work in Houston Texas, as well as establish so many other fellowships. So people are getting saved.
Although this cannot be described in monetary terms, but the fact that people are getting saved, healed and discovering God, is a major point in my view. This way of life has changed and reshaped people’s mindset, enabling them to know it pays to be law-abiding citizens wherever they are. Note that a spiritually strong country will also be economically strong. Basically, that is what we are doing, impacting lives all over the world in obedience to God’s injunction that we should spread the gospel to the remotest part of the world. The whole world is our constituency and we are moving. We also work with other African-American churches in the United States. So, I believe there are a lot of great things happening in the world, as a result of church planting.
We are using our people who were here with us before they travelled outside the country. Some of them had either won the American visa lottery or were born in Britain. They are the ones pastoring these churches. They know our principles, beliefs and ideology. So, we’ve never had any problem. The gospel is the same and can’t be changed for any culture. God’s word and the Bible cannot be diluted. It is the same kind of holiness, same standard of prosperity and prayer all over the world. People are in need all over the world and so, they are responding positively to the gospel. When one problem is solved today, another crops up tomorrow. So, people need God all over the world. And Christianity is a gospel of peace, and not a gospel of hate, violence or do-or-die. So, based on that ideology of Christ, wherever there is peace, there is also progress and success.
When trying to establish a church outside the country, one is required to have the right people with proper documents in the foreign country, or you can officially apply to the embassy of that country, stating your reasons for starting the mission work. Secondly, you must have a strong financial base in Nigeria to be able to support the pastor being sent abroad, because you don’t start making demands, when you have not really established the church. Some people kill the church because of that. Finally, accommodation must be acquired for the church and pastors. It is only when they are comfortable and can stand on their that you should expect something from them. Otherwise, you are exposing that pastor to danger of compromise, as he could become a nuisance, if things are not properly organised. And most embassies are gracious enough to grant Religious Visa. If the pastors are citizens of that country, all you need do is register with the Charity Organisation. Different countries have their rules and you have to obey them. The young church has to be supported until it can stand on its own. After this, the church pastors or leaders know their responsibility towards the church headquarters.
‘Nigeria Has Done Well In This Regard, Especially RCCG’
(Pastor Mike Chuks Nwanegbo, Provincial Pastor/National Coordinator of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) Mission in Belgium)
RECORD has it that Nigeria is now the highest sending missionary nation in the world. All over the world, Nigerian churches are impacting their societies from Alaska to South Africa. In most countries, Nigerian Pastors have some of the biggest churches. The Redeemed Christian Church of God has perfected this act greatly and spends millions of dollars per month on missionaries. In the UK alone, RCCG has over 500 churches; in Central Europe, over 300 churches and there are less than 10 countries in the world, where we do not have an RCCG parish.
I just planted a church in Liechtenstein last month. In August, I will be planting another in Azerbaijan. Within 13 years in Belgium, we have planted 15 churches. This is a land, where people claim that churches do not grow, but we have proved them wrong. The challenges we encounter are cultural and racial. It takes time to win one European into the church. One soul in Europe is equivalent to winning 100 souls in Nigeria.
There is also the challenge of cost. It costs a lot to rent a place of worship and offerings are usually low because the Europeans are not used to giving good offering and gifts to the church, because government sponsors their traditional churches. Their buildings are maintained and the priests’ salaries paid by the government. So, most of our churches have to rely on money from the Mother church and other sponsors in Nigeria. The high exchange rate has really affected the churches that still receive support from home.
Another challenge is the issue of resident permit and finding mission-minded pastors. Some of our pastors have no resident permit, which greatly affects the work. Sometimes our inability to find a trained pastor to pastor a parish means that we use whatever is available. There are no financial gains in setting up these parishes, as most of them rely on the Mother church in Nigeria for over five years or more. When they become weaned, they spend over 70 percent of their income on rents. It is true that the RCCG churches make remittances to a central purse in the mission head office of each region, but to the best of my knowledge, these remittances are used to help struggling churches and to run programmes and never remitted to Nigeria. The RCCG church never benefits financially from its foreign mission churches. I personally know that Pastor E. A. Adeboye spends lots of his personal money to help mission churches buy church properties. He spends hundreds of thousands of personal money to sponsor programmes such as the Festival of life in the UK at the early stage.
Conclusively, I can say that the mission churches are spiritual investments to fulfil the great commission. Nigeria has done well in this regard, especially RCCG and that is why I know that God will bless our nation greatly with time. Things will change.
‘A Nigerian Cleric Has A Large Congregation In Ukraine’
(Rev. Francis Ejiroghene Waive, General Overseer, Fresh Anointing Missionary Ministries Inc./Senior Pastor, Church of the Anointing, Warri, Delta State)
IN the great commission, our Lord Jesus enjoined the church to take the gospel to the entire world. This command is what informs missionary activities since the days of the apostles. Missionaries from Europe and North America brought the gospel to us in Africa, and the results are outstanding, as they brought more than Western civilization. We also got the miracle of changed lives with many turning from idolatry to serve the living God. The church in Nigeria has become so strong that at the last count, the nation has well over 6, 000 missionaries and church planters around the world. Some have established ‘mega’ churches in several parts of the globe.
However, it is challenging to do missionary work abroad. First is the issue of procuring legal stay status in the host country. Many travel as professionals, while some arrive abroad in search of the proverbial greener pastures. Depending on the religious climate of the country, a lot of wisdom is required. It is also important that the laws of the land are obeyed. Cultural challenges also exist, which many times, makes churches planted by Africans to become dominated by Africans to the exclusion of nationals of the host country. To God’s glory, many have broken through and the churches they have planted can now survive, even when the ‘foreigners’ leave the nation.
The story of Nigerians planting churches abroad will not be complete without the testimony of Pastor Adelaja, who ministers in the Ukraine. Somehow, our missionaries abroad are getting over the problems that the image of our country throws at them. Nations have been affected and hundreds of thousands, if not millions of souls saved to God’s Kingdom. But the Nigerians to celebrate are the over 6, 000 serving quietly in difficult countries around the world. There is no country in the world with low Christian population, where Nigerian missionaries are not presently serving the people and the Lord Jesus. Like the early missionaries to Africa, these brethren provide healthcare, educational opportunities and social services among others to the people in their mission field. Many of these missionaries suffer untold hardships and persecution. They need the prayer and financial support of the larger Nigerian churches.
‘I Don’t Have Any Extraordinary Challenge’
(Rev Ladi Thompson, General Overseer, The Living Waters Unlimited Church (LWUC), Lagos)
THERE are different types of ministries. I have an apostolic ministry. I was recently in Rwanda and will be returning there. I was also in Ghana sometimes ago. The gospel is the same no matter the country it is preached, but I think one of my challenges is that Africa is my own backyard. The bottom-line is that it is the same gospel in Nigeria, Ghana and all over the world. If God allows us to be able to send Nigerians to other nations, it is good. So long it is a gospel that kills corruption and establishes righteousness, there is no problem at all. I don’t have any extraordinary challenge, if you ask me.
I think presently, the whole world is going through terrible challenges. It’s just that some countries like Nigeria are under this depreciation, where the value to human life is very low. For instance, Rwanda, Southern Africa, Burundi and some other African countries need help and we should ensure that devaluation doesn’t happen in those nations. We need to help them so that they will value their lives. It is different thing, when you go Europe or America and so on. Many of the abuses and challenges we spoke about cannot happen in those countries, because a good foundation has been laid in such a way that there is respect for human life. This doesn’t mean they don’t have their peculiar challenges.
But either way, I’m proud to say that Nigeria is a great country. It is a country with great potentials. I’d like to put it this way: we have an appointment with destiny and from Nigeria other African nations will take seat of dignity on the table of equals. We will get there.
‘Some Of The Challenges Include Financial Costs, Stringent Laws’
(Pastor Mike Onyeka, Senior Pastor, Victorious People Assembly Intl. Inc. (House of Praise), Aba, Abia State)
WE have planted four churches outside Nigeria, two in Accra, Ghana and two in New Delhi, India. In our case, we did not just decide that we wanted to go international and then sent missionaries to foreign nations. Considering our age and finances, what we wanted to do was concentrate in Nigeria, with its 36 states and Abuja, which is quite a handful. But we received specific instruction from God, the Owner of the church, to go and plant those churches where we did. In fact, our church in Adenta, Accra, Ghana was our second branch church, after the headquarters, which even to us was unusual.
From our experience, some of the challenges include financial costs, which are not helped by the exchange rate; complying with relevant laws some of which are quite stringent once you mention the church. These differ from country to country. There is also misplaced antagonism toward Nigerians from some foreign nationals, who erroneously believe most or all Nigerians are fraudulent. Of course, I should also mention spiritual opposition. Apostle Paul once said: “For a great and effective door (of ministry) has opened to me, and there are many adversaries”. (1 Corinthians 16:9) But Jesus had said: “I will build my church and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it” (Mathew 16:18).
The gain of international evangelism is primarily obeying the Great Commission and making the heavens rejoice, as souls are brought into the Kingdom. The fields in many countries of the world now are in more danger of decaying than in Nigeria. Many countries of the world today need to hear about Jesus more than Nigeria. Some work has been done in Nigeria even though more work needs to be done here also. But the full Commission is: “And you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the outermost part of the earth.”(Acts 1:8) Besides, many churches and different servants of God in Nigeria are on specific instructions from God concerning soul winning in specific areas of the world. For such, it is not about any material benefit even though God has promised to bless His servants that obey Him.
I do not doubt that it is possible for someone to establish churches abroad for motives other than Biblical. The good news, however, is: “Nevertheless, the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal, the Lord knows those who are His…” (2 Timothy 2:19)
‘We’ve Done Literally What The Apostles Did’
(Apostle Ofor Nzimiro, Vision Coordinator of Throneroom Trust Ministries, Kafanchan, Kaduna State)
FIRSTLY, preaching the gospel to nations of the earth is a command. It is not negotiable. It is part of the commission for those that are called by God. Having said that by implication the gospel is not preached for gain in that sense. The gain is in winning men’s souls. It is also in disciplining nations and their kings, bringing their conscience, especially in this wicked world to the knowledge of God. However, Throneroom Ministry is not a church. This means we don’t meet every Sunday, as it is a watchman prayer ministry. When the Lord gave our Visioner, Apostle Emmanuel Kure the vision, He also gave him the burden for missions. Peculiar to us is that our mission work is targeted at unreached areas, where others have not been able to make a breakthrough. A typical example is Toutori tribe in northern Cameroon. Years ago, when the Lord commanded us to do so, we sent our missionaries there and they spent a lot of time in the capital Maruwa, praying for that land.
Our first set of missionaries was forced to sleep at the shrine. The people’s belief was that if they could survive it, then they would be allowed to enter Toutori land. Others that slept in that shrine died, and didn’t come out alive. But to God’s glory, our missionaries survived. That opened the door, prompting both the chief and the people to give their lives to Christ in Tchentchen. We have over 47 churches presently. God’s work has expanded so much that we are going into Chad.
The challenges are numerous. In Toutori area, for instance, the people were naked, and there were no schools. So, we started educating them. Indirectly, we brought civilization there. These things are financially consuming and it wasn’t easy for us because ours is not a church. When they first started, it was under the trees and later we had to build a church that cost us between N2 to N2.5million. We have sunk boreholes in these places. Also in Niger Republic and going beyond Maradi area, we also have a mission field. We’ve done literally what the apostles did by going to nations and influencing them politically and socially. We are actively involved in transforming the society. Ably assisted by myself, Apostle Kure has been to nations, particularly Zambia. He has greatly influenced the political direction of Zambia by his counsel to president, and prayers that brought change to their nation.
Ministering in other nations in that manner comes with its own hazards. Sometimes the message that God gives you for a nation may not be kind to the political class of that country. We have also been called names in countries like that, but eventually God vindicates His servant by bringing to pass what the servant had spoken concerning the nation.
‘We Have Established Our Presence In 27 Nations’
(Pastor Lazarus Muoka, General Overseer, The Lord’s Chosen Charismatic Revival Ministries, Worldwide)
I WANT to commend the missionaries, who helped to bring the good tidings of the Lord to this part of the world. Unfortunately, however, present generation of the Western world that brought the gospel to us could not sustain the tempo of revival of their older generation, because they are now beclouded with the things of the world. In fact, the population of unbelievers vis-à-vis genuine believers is so wide to the extent that churches in Europe or America are like adult classes or ceremonial events. The number of unbelievers is daily increasing because there is now little or no life in some churches. Which is why we have what I may call reverse missionary. This new trend of missionary work is giving impetus to African pastors to take fresh evangelical renewal to a continent that is fast losing its Christian roots and values. The biblical discipleship is almost dead in Western world and Christianity is grounded only when disciples are made. For the gospel cannot be sustained or bear fruits, if there is no disciple. Thus, African evangelists, who are enjoying the euphoria of the ongoing revival in their continent, are moving en-masse to the Western world to revive the consciousness of heaven among the believers.
By God’s grace, our ministry was majorly established to address general lukewarm and unenthusiastic Christian attitude all over the world. That is why our vision is premised on threefold revelation and mandate: Grassroots’ revival all over the world; that is, to turn people all over the world from the power of darkness to the power of the living God, from the kingdom of Satan to the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ. And because it is a grassroots operation, God is taking us all over the world so that all the sinners and backslidden Christian will be recovered and be saved; Revival of the Apostolic Christian experiences among the body of Christ: God has given us special grace through this vision to revive among the body of Christ the apostolic Christian experiences such as love, unity, sanctification, Holy Ghost baptism, all the fruits and gifts of the Spirit, etc. so that as many that are children of God will have the privilege to have genuine salvation, restored to faith and experience the blessing of God; Before the emergence of our ministry, most churches were mainly preaching prosperity and things of this world, as if that is the hope of Christians. But our emergence brought about believers refocusing on the reality of heaven.
Above all, God gave us a 10-billion-soul mandate for the Kingdom of Heaven. This vision and mandate are the driving force of our ministry, which is taking us all over the world. Our presence is in almost all the countries of the world, for example, in North America, USA, Canada, and Mexico with a total of 67 branches. Also in South America — Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela, Argentina, Paraguay, Chile, Columbia and Bolivia. We have established our presence in 27 nations out of 59 countries of Europe with a total of 108 branches and a continental headquarters in central district, London. Africa, which is our home, we have about 4,200 branches. In the Middle East, our branches are spread across the following countries: South Korea, Malaysia, Japan, Singapore, UAE, India, Indonesia, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Pakistan, Nepal and Philippine.
The challenges of church planting are enormous and varied according to nations, but the most challenging of all are government restriction and regulation, followed by scarcity of funds and shortage of manpower. But the fulfilment lies in seeing the expansion of the kingdom of God, souls being saved and evil being overtaken by good. This is in accordance with the great commission (Mk. 16:15) “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”
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