To be honest, our discovery of the attitude of Nigerian churches toward children left all of us weeping and broken yesterday. Today, the Lord restored our hope.
There is a large group of pastors in America who participate in training national pastors. One of the biggest needs in the developing world is sound theological training provided locally for pastors. Equiping Leaders Intertional is doing a great job of training pastors and laymen all over the world. Because of their faithful ministry in Nigeria over the past 5 years, there is a group of well trained people here that are interested in childrens ministries.
When we arrived this morning at the Servant Leadership Institute (our base for ministry in Nigerica), they were holding a marriage seminar. There was a room full of pastors, representing many different churches. I asked if I could have ten minutes to talk about the children and they graciously agreed.
I asked the Father to put His words in my mouth. It was without doubt the strongest talk I had ever delivered. God answered prayer. I began by simply stating, "I speak for the children." I talked honestly with them about their practice of hitting and threatening children in the church, the use of sticks and whips. I shared my testimony of coming to faith as a little five year old girl, challenging some who believe that a child cannot come to Jesus. I talked about how desperately I needed Jesus and how He enabled me to walk through the hurt of child sexual abuse from a teacher. I held nothing back. I told them that many of their children had my story and needed Jesus. I challenged them to see the children, to change their churches, or stand condemned before Almighty God for faiing the little ones the King of Heaven welcomed.
I believe they truly listened and they are the nucleus of the change that will make the Nigerian churches a shelter, a safe place for children. I know that it was nothing I said, but simply God pouring His Holy Spirit on my poor words. Please ask the Lord to make these men strong and courageous. Like our new Nigerian puppet team, they must stand against their own culture. Because I have seen God so faithfully convict and change my own hard heart, I know He will help them.
Joshua, David, Testimony, and God Is Love are the names of some of the village children who stood in a field today under a stormy sky to hear about Jesus. We met others on the side of a busy road under a tent. Many listened from the street to a story about Jesus and the wonderful words He spoke. They were so hungry to hear that they stood in the full sun. Another group of little ones met us with their mothers in a dirt floored church building in a really poor area. Every show was different and precious. So many, many children and adults called on Jesus to rescue them. Hold them all in your prayers and ask God to give them deep faith. Today was children’s day in Nigeria. We celebrated well!
We have a very busy day tomorrow, Wednesday. There are 5 shows scheduled, so we wil be using a shorter program so that we can tell an ocean of children that Jesus cares and how he alone can change their hearts.
Please pray for Paige. She tripped and sprained her ankle today. No crutches were available so I had the idea of converting a mop into a crutch. It is a mild sprain and our invention is working very well. She named it shaggy.
Linda for Heather, Mykayla, and Paige