Some final thoughts on being in Nigeria by Jim Mitchell
Usually I am full of words to share and have regarded myself as a wordsmith in composing letters and reports and such. Yet I now find myself struggling to come up with words to express the depth and breadth of what I have experienced and received in my call to and mission in Nigeria. The one thing I do very much want to say first, is, how honored and grateful I am to have been a representative and spiritual presence for the Church of the Brethren here in Nigeria. The support, encouragement, and prayers from abroad for EYN and the people here is touching the hearts of so many and changing countless lives through the various distributions, purchases of land, new homes, trauma healing workshops and seminar, crisis counseling, and other responses. To see, hear, and experience the joy, hope, life, and love return in the lives of the people here is priceless and strongly affirms the presence and working of God through the Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus Christ. Truly, we are one body in Christ Jesus. So much more could be said regarding the tears and thanksgivings I have witnessed in my journey here regarding this new partnership between CoB and EYN.
Personally, I thought I knew what I was getting myself into in coming; but I really didn’t. All of my personal and spiritual preparation really didn’t prepare me for what I initially was confronted with and being here. The ongoing challenges and adaptations to the hard life in Nigeria truly tested my faith beyond what I have been tested before and I am humbly and truly grateful for all of it.
Spiritually speaking, it has led me into a deeper and more intimate relationship with God, a closer walk with Jesus, and a greater reliance upon the Holy Spirit in my daily interactions and encounters with what is present and not present regarding life in Nigeria and the ministry I heard and saw needed and in which I participated. I sense now that I have a surer sense of peace, joy, hope, and compassion that was freely and blessedly present and shared in my recent trip to Jalingo and Yola.
I am also very thankful for the wide variety of opportunities that came my way to be of ministry in Nigeria (crisis counseling, spiritual support of EYN staff, Trauma Healing Workshops, helping out at a relief distribution, the one-on-one time with EYN Staff for crisis counseling, preaching at a New Church Opening Service, being the Acting General Secretary, the Trauma Healing Seminar for Displaced Pastors and others.) These and other moments and happenings have by God’s grace enriched and changed me in ways that I could have never imagined.
I feel as though I leave Nigeria with so much more (spiritual blessings) than what I came with, for what I came with was not as sufficient as I thought. Granted, my training, many years of experience, skill base, and spiritual gifts served me well. Yet it was entering into totally new and uncharted territories that I realized that I needed to acutely seek out God’s will and purpose and learn all the more to surrender to and rely upon God’s presence to reveal and guide me in my ministry with others. Therefore, I have had the ride of my life (not referring to the roads and highways of Nigeria) in being here as a missionary and I have had fun in being about God’s work of salvation with the people and staff of EYN in the ways God has utilized me and my presence. I continually praise and glorify God for all of the goodness and greatness I have received in participating in the life and coming of the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth in Nigeria. As I continue to say, “It is all about God, not about me.”
Again, words don’t come close to describing the feelings and emotions I have from God uniting me with the sufferings of the people and staff of EYN and in their prayers and desires not only for recovery, but also for expanded the presence of EYN to be about the Kingdom in new and challenging ways. I have made so many new friends, brothers and sisters in Christ here in Nigeria and I will continue to pray for them as they pray for wisdom, guidance, direction, and strength to discern God’s will and obey it.
In the future, I hope to be able to go out and give presentations on the “Crisis in Nigeria” and share about a) the tremendous response of the Church of the Brethren b) EYN’s overwhelming sense of gratitude for what has happen so far in what it has meant for the leaders and people of EYN c) the long-term needs that are still present and needing to be attended to on down the road.
Peace, Hope, and Joy, Jim