One of the things we like to teach is that we don’t have problems, we have opportunities. God has given us the potential by being made in His image, as well as through the resources of this world and through the body of Christ, to take these opportunities and find ways through them.
Nigeria is currently the 7th largest country in the world by population. The largest are (in descending order) China, India, USA, Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan, and then Nigeria. By 2050, they predict that Nigeria will have passed the USA to be the third most populous country in the world. Problem or opportunity?
Lagos is a city of 22 million. It passed Cairo to be the most populous city in Africa in 2013. By 2050, 72% of Nigeria will live in urban centers. Problem or opportunity?
Nigeria has 28 million businesses. Twenty-two million of those business have no employees (microbusinesses). In high-income countries, small and medium entrepreneurs (SMEs) who have between 5-500 employees provide 60-80% of the jobs. There is a significant lack of SMEs in Nigeria and therefore a significant challenge with employment. Problem or opportunity?
Nigeria just passed India to have the highest number of people live in extreme poverty. While much of the world reduced the number of people in poverty in the last twenty years, Nigeria increased. It is reported that 2/3rds of the population in Lagos lives in slums. Problem or opportunity?
We believe that the Biblical perspective is that people are not the problem – they are the solution. Made in the image of God, people are creative, have been created to work, and are problem-solvers. The slums may have a depth of richness because of the people there, that is greater than the oil reserves. But they need the capacity to grow and learn, and they need the opportunity to work as God has intended. Perspective is so important.
While in Lagos, we heard testimonies from pastors who have implemented Thirty Days in the Marketplace in their church. They reported:
- Total paradigm shift by the church as work was recognized as a act of worship and business was recognized as a calling.
- One pastor shared how much he personally was changed by the process of teaching this as it relates to his perspective of why we were created and how essential it is to disciple people in the workplace.
- Bible studies were held regularly on how to do our business as a mission.
- New accountability is taking place in relationships relating to how we do business.
- As prayer walks were done by the church in the communities, strongholds were identified and prayed over.
- New souls have been won as a result of this ministry.
- Some pastors reported an increase in giving as a result.
- Business members have been anointed and commissioned by their pastors.
We are encouraged by this. When people begin to see their work as worship, it changes so much. From Lagos, we moved to Ibadan for the first time to do a two-day workshop for pastors and church leaders, as well as a workshop for business people. Yesterday (Sunday) we moved to Abuja where we will teach at the ECWA seminary until Saturday and then have a DML workshop with the Lutheran Church where one of our students serves as the Bishop.
Following this, Dr. Walker with our partner Dr. Gaga, will move to Kaduna to do another two-day workshop for pastors, with an expected 100 pastors in attendance. I am to go to Jos to do a two-day microbusiness training for one of the churches who has completed the Thirty Days in the Marketplace. However, Jos has had a significant amount of violence with over 200 killed, demonstrations, and a curfew has been put in place. We are hoping that things will calm down in the next few days, otherwise I am being advised by our partners not to take the risk, as the roads into and out of Jos are a key trouble spot. Please pray for peace!
And while you are praying, please also pray for Cameroon. We are to go there after Nigeria and news reports are that Cameroon is moving towards a civil war between the English-speakers and French-speakers. Our trip there in January was postponed for that reason and it had appeared things were improving. Where we are going is quiet and peaceful, so we will still go, but some of the leaders will be coming from that area. Please pray for their safety and for the Church to rise up in this time to be promoters of peace and helpful solutions. There are opportunities in this too if we have the courage, compassion, capacity, and competence to find them!