There are places in the world where divisions are so entrenched, and where positions are so unappeasable, that “truth” becomes meaningless – grievance distorts everything. Northen Nigeria has been a hotspot for ethnic and religious conflict for some time creating divisions so deep – and so devoid of compassion and understanding – they threaten the unity of Africa’s most populous nation. The solution is Jesus, and the church must be positioned to have an impact in this region.
For those who are passionate about the Great Commission, we must consider the strategic priority of the training of pastors for the work of ministry. At Global Advance, we believe that pastoral health effects church health and church health affects societal health. This is why training Frontline pastors is strategically critical for the advancement of the Gospel.
For over 28 years, Global Advance has been strengthening indigenous Frontline Pastors who are working to fulfill the Great Commission. We believe that investing in these hidden heroes has a great return on the investment. These under-served and isolated pastors are committed for the long term, and they are greatly relevant to their contexts. Because of your generous investment in the work of Global Advance, several things are accomplished:
- Churches are protected from the spiritual health disaster that otherwise awaits them.
- Hell is depopulated from the highest numbers of people in an earthly situation and facing an eternal destiny without Christ.
- Theological and cultural misperceptions of Christianity are corrected, helping local believers permeate their social spheres.
- The future leadership of the faith multiplies and sustains.
There is a tremendous need for pastoral training in Nigeria. This month, our Global Ambassadors trained Frontline Nigerian Pastors from the northern states of Nigeria representing 6 different mainline denominations. This is remarkable for a maiden conference of this kind in Nigeria, where denominational lines are rarely crossed. Among those who attended our conference were highly placed Bishops, Cannons and Venerable from the Anglican Communion. We spoke with ministers from about 7 states of the country who expressed gratitude to Global Advance for coming to encourage and equip them with vision and tools needed to strengthen the church in its mission to advance the Gospel and fulfill the Great Commission.
The persecution of Christians is strong in Northern Nigeria. Many of the pastors we spoke with expressed to us that Christians face challenges even where they constitute a significant percentage of the population, in states like Adamawa, Bauchi, Gombe, Kaduna, Kogi, for example. The faithful suffer discrimination, and the church is struggling to advance. Experts agree that the persecution of Christians is based on four key points:
• To intimidate and slow down the growth and spread of Christianity in the Nigeria’s northern states
• The perception that Christians represent Western interests which are considered to be hostile to Islam
• The need to protect northern interests, perceived to be endangered by the burgeoning influence of southern Christians flexing their economic muscle.
• The need to protect the culture, identity, and religion of the north—that is, Islam as a platform for power.
Christian churches were the first targets of Boko Haram’s terror. In Nigeria’s northeast, Christians have suffered a disproportionate share of the violence. Boko Haram, in some respect, is just the tip of the iceberg, to the extreme manifestation of years of indoctrination from negative propaganda against Christians and Christianity; however, the truth is that the presence of Christ ushers in peace, and when the church thrives and grows, the peace of God fills the land. Well-trained and equipped pastors can help heal the division, and when the church is spiritually healthy, it perseveres under the stress and burden of persecution.
Please continue to pray for Nigeria and for a church planting strategy to emerge for Northern Nigeria. Please consider partnering with Global Advance to see more training for pastors in Nigeria. Together we can make a difference for the spread of the Gospel across the Islamic rim of Northern Africa.
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