I know Nigeria has been in the news often lately. All of us missionaries who live here have seen the news and we have all had e-mails and/or phone calls from well meaning family and friends asking us why we are staying here and at what point we will leave. I have tried not to post too many articles or comment on articles about Nigeria, because we have wanted to not look like we are criticizing the government of our host country or post anything that might be offensive to our Muslim friends. I also did not want to scare new missionaries who are heading here or the families of those missionaries. But, I have been praying long and hard about how to explain to everyone back home about what is going on here and why we choose to stay.
When we first decided to come to Nigeria, I knew this place was dangerous. But, at that time, the biggest threat to missionaries was armed robberies. The Robberies were common and since white missionaries are thought of as rich here, we are an easy target. As I started hearing stories of missionaries who had been robbed at gunpoint, many of whom had been shot or had witnessed horrible brutality during the robberies, I grew more and more fearful of Nigeria. God had already made clear to me that I was supposed to move to Nigeria, but I told God “no” and refused to proceed with the process because I feared for my 4 children.
Then God dealt with me. I am embarrassed to admit it now, but I actually tried to reason with God by telling Him that I thought it would be better for me to serve Him in America for 50 years than for Him to send me to Nigeria to die with my kids after just a short time. As I went on with this ridiculous reasoning, God used one of my favorite songs to convict me. The song “Better is one day in your courts in thousands elsewhere” came on the radio and I was instantly convicted to the point of tears. I confessed all of my fears and then promised to step out in faith to trust Him with my life and the even more valuable lives of our children. I then begged Him to remove my fear.
As you all know, I did obey God and came to Nigeria. What you might not know, is that He gave me the desire of my heart which was to be free of the debilitating fear. I believe it was always His will to remove my fear, He was just waiting for me to trust Him. There is a cure for fear, the Spirit of God. “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 2 Tim 1:7.
Over the last five years we have lived in Jos, the dangers have changed. The crisis fighting has brought in a lot more soldiers, so the fear of armed robberies has actually decreased. But fighting between Muslims and Christians in Jos have brought different threats and now the group Boko Haram has brought even newer and different threats. But, the promises of God have not changed. God has not changed. I whole heartedly believed that I and my children are invincible until God is ready to take us home, and on that day, nothing can stop our departure from this world. I have learned to live in the midst of chaos with a peace that passes all understanding, and in that peace, I have found the secret to true joy and freedom.
I am not saying that we will never leave, I do not know what the future holds. I do know that I have no reason to fear the future.