life on the fields
by kelechi ajoku
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LIFE ON THE FIELD
Finally we had arrived our destination: “kwantakwomana”. I hope I got the name right. It’s a jawbreaker of a word. The people were once called the “maguzawas”, which literally means “the one who runs”. Legend has it that the people initially rejected Islam during the jihad of Usman Dan Fodio, which led to the islamization of what, is now known as northern Nigeria. In the ancient times the people of northern Nigeria were animists and idolaters, until the sword of Usman Dan Fodio subdued them. The maguzawas ran away and for a long while held unto traditional practices. However slowly Islam crept into the lifestyle of the people.
They ran from a lot all their lives; Islam, modernization and civilization. But they could not run for long from the power of the gospel. Missionaries from CAPRO ministries had come here 11 years ago and established a mission field in the center of one of Islam’s strongholds in northern Nigeria.
I longed to visit the fields in the north of Nigeria. I’ve lived all my life in the south, but the Lord was stirring my heart up to go and see the fields. So once the opportunity came my way, off I went with a team from CAPRO. It was a bumpy ride from Port Harcourt in the south of Nigeria to Katsina. We journeyed through countless police check points, bumpy roads, pot holes, a night over in a Kaduna a northern town, a ruptured tire; before we finally arrived kwantakowama. .
The crew I journeyed with would be spending a few days before, moving on to another field. But I sensed that God wanted me here for two weeks.
Thus I braced myself for the unknown. For two weeks, I’ll sit amongst a people whose culture is strange to me. for two weeks a mud house without electricity would be my home. The food and water I’ll have to take with barely a mustard seed of faith. For two weeks I’ll be all things to different folks, howbeit I may win some for the sake of the gospel. For two weeks I’ll be “likita”(doctor) to the community; “mallam”(teacher) in the missions primary school and almost a missionary. For two weeks I’ll see the world differently; I’ll see the world through the eyes of strangers who have demonstrated the transforming power of the gospel before my very eyes. I’m talking about a power that can transform even the most remote communities on earth.
I see the passion of the village church folks and although I don’t understand the language I marvel at the songs they sing and the sermon they preach, when it’s translated into a language I understand. They sing and preach of God’s love and the love we must have each other. They talk about courage we must have in the face of temptations and trials. Who understands courage better than folks who have been locked up for the faith they profess? Their lives have been threatened; family has disowned them, they’ve faced death and the threat of death, but they tell me who has seen little of nothing to have courage.
Then there are the children. I look at them and my heart leaps with joy.
“ Maybe this is the generation… ” I say to myself “…that will evangelize the north of Nigeria, the generation that will pull down the alters of Islam and the walls of sharia.” As I look at them my heart is filled with hope for the Muslim north of Nigeria and Africa. Under the light of the full moon they dance and sing praises to Jehovah and not Allah. In Katsina state one of the core Muslim strongholds the name of our God is exalted.
But as I look on I’m humbled by one thing, the people God has used to do what my eyes see. The men and women who gave up what we value to be used by God to reach an “unreached” people with the light of the gospel. I thank God for them. They must be heaven’s heroes because they touch the very heart of God.
As we drew closer to our destination I looked at the streets of the far north of Nigeria. I saw coca-cola depots, I saw Nigerian movies video shops; I saw young men playing soccer and proudly donning poor imitations of Thierry Henry’s arsenal jersey. I saw all these, in parts of a region where I could not find a church.
But the gospel must get into such terrain. It’s the responsibility God has given our generation. If we cannot go with our legs then we must support the brethren who have gone. They need our prayers as they step into dark regions unknown to face an enemy who won’t fold his hands. They also need our giving. The work must be funded. Finances will spread the kingdom’s influence. Into the hither lands of the “unreached”.
Now I understand why I’m here. I must support missions in anyway I can. It’s a responsibility we must carry on our shoulder and together we will reach the “unreached” world.
The apostle Paul had a passion. He said:
‘And so I have made it my aim to preach the gospel nit where Christ was named, lest I should build on another man’s foundation.” Romans 15:20 NKJV
Please make missions a part of your life. Our generation will have no excuse before Gods if we fail to carry out heaven’s commission…
Tiny gentle feet interrupt my writing. I look up…. It’s shy little Saratu. “Mallam, we’re waiting fort you..” she says. Oh boy! It’s time for class. I’ll see you later; my class is waiting for me.
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I can only imagine how rewarding missions must be... The spiritual rewards and the personal changes must far exceed the trials of "the field."