Tuesday, May 22, 2007


As I continue my reflections on the process of transitioning from an alien, I have come to realize that a significant part of this process of finding my purpose necessarily required that I experience all of the highs and the lows that I experienced in South Bend, IN. There were lessons learned, too numerous to detail here, that, unknown to me were preparing me for my destiny. I know. I know. It sounds almost cliché to say that God was working character in me through suffering. However, as cliché as it may sound, this is clearly how God has chosen to deal with His own. Evidently we’re not smart enough to get it simply by reading about other people’s experiences, because if we were, the Bible would be all that we needed to learn to trust God and take Him at His word. As it stands, even personal experience sometimes has to be repeated before we get the picture. Why, even the mighty David didn’t figure out that Saul had a vendetta against him until after the sixth attempt on his life (and he was a man after God’s own heart)!

It became crystallized in me over the course of my time in Indiana, that I had this burning passion to “surf” in some really “dangerous” waters. Psalm 2: 8 had continued to reverberate around my head and my heart. “Ask, and I will give you the nations as your inheritance, and the ends of the earth as your possession.” The more I read it, the more I pondered the potency of this verse. Has anyone ever taken this verse literally, I wondered? What will it cost me to ask for the nations? Do you have to have special training and insight to be able to ask such a huge thing? Whatever the answers to those questions (I’m still finding them out); I took the plunge and asked. I prayed fervently that I wanted my life to make a difference not just in the lives of people in my immediate sphere of influence, but in the nations of the world. Further more, I wanted to be the first Nigerian (that I know of) to pastor a life-giving, life-changing church in the USA that was truly multicultural and multigenerational. Apparently I had no idea what I was asking.

I like what Mark Batterson says in his book, In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day.

“At some point in our spiritual journeys, we run into something called reality. And it usually happens when we’re driving sixty miles per hour with no seat belt on! The result is spiritual whiplash. Simple answers don’t suffice, and God doesn’t fit into the nice, neat boxes He used to fit into…We experience psychological conflict resulting from incongruous beliefs. In other words, something happens that doesn’t jibe with what we believe.
Dissonance comes in two primary flavors: unanswerable questions and unexplainable experiences. And I have tasted lots of both flavors.”

Well written Mark. I couldn’t have said it any clearer in application to my life and circumstances. Either I had really made God mad by asking what I had asked, or the learning curve that I had to walk was significant, before I would be ready to begin this journey. Whatever the case, I was bombarded on every side. Here are just a couple of memories:

Many of the students at my Bible College, including me, went to church in places other than the church the school was affiliated with. At some point, someone in the hierarchy decided that that was not such a good idea and determined that everyone who went to school there was obligated to also go to church there. Many of us protested, explaining that we were already involved in ministry at the churches we attended. Leadership considered this response and then decided that it made sense for people who were indigenous students, but as for the rest of us, we hadn’t lived in the States long enough to make that kind of commitment to a local church and so the “decree” would stand.

I refused to comply, citing the fact that I was the one who got to choose where my family worshiped and no one else had the right to usurp that right. I was promptly kicked out of school pending the time I could pay the balance of my tuition, even though the original arrangement for me, as it was for everyone else, allowed me to pay my tuition in installments. Kicked out of Bible College? Who gets kicked out of Bible College? Eventually I graduated but had the dubious distinction of being the only one in my graduating class that was not licensed by the ministry. I was called all kinds of uncomplimentary names and assured that I wouldn’t amount to much in ministry anyway. And this was the place where I was receiving my spiritual preparation for ministry!

Shortly after graduation, I started a ministry with the stated purpose of networking and building bridges between churches and indeed between other ministries in other nations. I felt called to host an event for the local churches tagged, Unity Celebration of Praise and jumped in at the deep end by investing what little finances we had. As I approached different church leaders and explained the vision, many jumped on board, while just as many questioned my motives. I was even asked by one pastor, who I thought I was, and what gave me the right to be organizing such an event since I wasn’t the recognized apostolic leader of the city? I simply explained that even Samuel was used by God to anoint David as king even though he was not in the direct line of succession for the Levitical priesthood. He reluctantly agreed to participate in the event. On the day of the event, the Saint Mary’s College auditorium (across the street from the University of Notre Dame) was filled to its capacity. We incredibly had twenty churches participate in the worship experience, including the church that had chosen not to license me. The event had cost us over $15,000.00 and we had hoped to recoup that expense from taking up an offering, but when the offering was counted we had raised $800.00.

Talk about the flavors of “unanswerable questions and unexplainable experiences.” I was gutted. These experiences were mere microcosms of much of my ministry in South Bend, IN. Yet there was and is a purpose to it all. My friend, Dino Rizzo of Healing Place Church in Baton Rouge, LA says that, as we surf the waves of ministry which God prepares for us, there are certain key things to remember. He quotes Rick Warren as saying, “You can’t make waves, God sends them. He just wants us to learn how to ride them.” He further opines that we must be willing to paddle out a distance from the shore so that we can find the “big un-ridden waves.” He suggests that some of the biggest thrills won’t show up at our doors so we have to be willing to paddle out and find them. Finally, Dino reminds us that we will, on occasion, wipe-out. We will hit the reef of rejection no matter how much you do right, so never surf alone.