September 30, 2015

An open door in Nigeria

Written by  Linda Moffett
The Bisichi Computer Centre is run in an old mosque, left, with the new mosque on the right. The Bisichi Computer Centre is run in an old mosque, left, with the new mosque on the right. Photo by Ezekial Aiso.

Yusuf was the leader of a terrorist group in Nigeria. He not only hated Christians; he attacked and killed them. Guns weren’t even enough for Yusuf. Late at night, he would go to the cemetery and sacrifice human body parts in a witchcraft ceremony. He was bent on getting all the powers he could get so he could kill more Christians.

But one day, Yusuf had a vision. He saw the cross of Jesus in the sky and the words in Arabic: “Jesus is Lord.” A door opened in the cross and people were going inside to eternal life. Three times, Yusuf had this vision.

“It took Yusuf about a year before the Spirit of God came into his life,” Kent Hodge, co­founder of Christian Faith Ministries (CFI) in Jos, Nigeria, said. “He was totally changed; totally saved. He now loves Christians and loves Muslims and wants to reach them with the love of Jesus and plant churches.”

“There are a number of students like Yusuf at our school. Some planted and ran Qur’anic schools that were very radical and strong,” Kent said. “Others were active terrorists who used to kill people. God has been revealing Himself to Muslims in northern Nigeria through dreams and open visions. A lot of the students in the college have been saved this way.”

Students attending CFI come from all denominations although up to half are converts from Islam.

Amnesty International estimates that 17,000 have been killed in and around northeastern Nigeria. “There are some very challenging happenings in Nigeria at this time,” Ruth Hodge, co­founder of CFI said. “Each day in our office we talk to those who have fled the area where Boko Haram continues to cause such devastation. A number of children orphaned through their destruction are with us here and there are many more. There is not just the ongoing loss of life but the devastation of the countryside. In most of Borno State no crops have been planted this rainy season. What will the survivors eat?”

CFI has mission stations in remote areas of Nigeria including a new one in the far northeast of Nigeria to serve areas devastated by Boko Haram. Pastors spread the gospel in nearby villages and the stations become a support for new converts. The stations are linked with “safe houses” where new believers can be protected and nurtured in the faith and skills for life.

Jonathan Bornman of EMM’s Christian Muslim Relations Team visited CFI at their invitation this summer. He taught a couple of classes at the school and spoke at a local church.

“Through their relational networks, the students at CFI have access to Muslim communities and leaders all across north Nigeria,” Jonathan said. “CFI leaders and students feel there is an open door for using the ‘People of God’ study course.”

The “People of God” is a four-­booklet study designed for a Muslim audience. The study focuses on stories and events that the Qur’an alludes to such as Noah and the Flood. The books of Moses, the prophets, the life of Jesus, and the life of the Church are covered. The course concludes with an invitation for the reader to accept the gift of salvation offered through Iso Masih (Jesus the Messiah).

Paul Shettima, a leader at CFI, worked through the four booklets and found that students at CFI were being transformed by the invitational and Muslim-­friendly approach. “It’s a simple and effective tool to reach the Islamic people,” Paul said. “We have worked through it with groups of people. It will be very helpful.”

“The ‘People of God’ study presents the gospel sensitively to Islamic people groups,” Ruth said. “This series is enthusiastically received by our students who are believers from a Muslim background. They are keen to use it to introduce their Muslim friends to God, as seen in Jesus Christ.”

“We are using a team of translators in Jos to translate the ‘People of God’ series into Hausa (a trade language used in parts of Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon, and other countries) reviewing it until there is consensus that the translation is good,” Ruth said. “With all the trouble we have been through in this country, we have it deeply impressed in our hearts that the harvest is ripe, both for the church to begin to move with respect into the Islamic community, and for the Islamic community to respond to the gospel. We believe the “People of God” series is a vital tool at this time.”