Posts tagged churches

IVCU 2018 Village Outreach; My perspective in a summary.

Hello everyone. Quite a number of times, I’ve been asked about my silence over here. My mind has been here but my daily actions haven’t aligned. I apologize.
But by my stats, I see you keep coming and you encourage my heart. 💙💙
I’m back. Where do I start from?
What I really want to do is give you a little gist of one of the events I’ve had in the period I’ve been away.
I guess I’ve never stated it explicitly on here, even though I’ve done so indirectly a number of times: I’m a 500level law student of the university of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria and I worship at a campus fellowship: Ibadan varsity Christian Union -NIFES.
My fellowship is under both the auspices of Christian union and NIFES(Nigerian fellowship of evangelical students).
We are very evangelical.
We embarked on a village outreach recently. The village where we had our camp base was Jarija. We’ve visited the surrounding villages in that location for outreaches for quite sometime.
Village outreach take off is always on a Thursday and we stay there till Sunday.
Thursday found me at House no 12, Kurunmi road. It’s a residential area for university senior staff, and this one belongs to one of our patrons in fellowship. A number of us were there cooking; mainly sorting out the fishes to be used for the entire outreach, cooking dinner for that evening + other basics. Someone told me of how the abundance of fish we sorted and cooked, triggered his memory of the Jesus(documentary) film where two fishes became an abundance for all. I know!
Here’s a photo grid of pictures from that thursday:

Everyone had a scheduled takeoff time for the village. Mine was 2:30pm and so at that time, I took off for the chapel within school. At the chapel, we got seated in a bus, the bus was loaded with extra bags of water and we took off.
I led the prayer as the bus took off. I had a book with me which I intended to read the whole journey. However, I couldn’t stop praying once I started. 😀 I kept praying personally.
P.S: why do people always sleep when travelling, even for short trips? I don’t get it. Virtually everyone on the bus slept.
We got to the base, Jarija, circa 4:16pm. We met a team praying on ground, as is always the case. We joined and then we prayed, prayed and prayed. And still we prayed. Later in the late evening, we stopped to rest for a while. Before long, we gathered again, and prayed and prayed. That’s the way thursdays go in the village – pray it through.
The final buses were yet to arrive from school. Eventually, the bus bringing the food arrived really late, I didn’t take note of the time but I guess it was around 12am already. We ate white rice, then had a camp briefing by the Evangelism secretary and off to sleep.
Oh wait, my unit – prayerband, – had a brief meeting where we were counselled to join the entire prayer chain for the night.
We always have a prayer chain during the outreach. Everyone has an hour prayer slot when they’re woken up at night to pray. That way there’s always a group praying all night till dawn. You can always stay for more than your time slot. As prayer band members we were adviced to stay the whole night praying. Erhm, however, after my duly assigned chain of 12-1am, I strolled back to the hostel like a cartoon character, and there I slept.
The next morning, the camp commandants were at it. It was an experience with these commandants. I’ve been in village outreaches before and had commandants but these ones were indefatigable 😁. They wore neon coloured orange vests over their clothes. You wouldn’t imagine how annoying their shouts could get in the mornings but I appreciate their dedication to the work( I’m just being polite). Its exhausting having so much noise around you for the most of the day, and a greater amount of it when you’re just waking up!
I had my personal devotion, then we gathered for general devotion. There was time for us to fetch water and have our bathe – all these, under strict time slot accompanied with loud claps, bells and shouts from these commandants. *Sighs*
We had an exhaustive in-house bible study time. Then we ate our brunch.
Each person falls into an axis as per the norm. We had three axes (OBV, a blog reader pointed out the plural of axis to me; Axes not Axises); A, B, C.
Each axis had about four or five villages underneath it. I was allocated Ladele village but for friday, I was among the group that stayed back to pray through out – remember, prayer band member? We prayed till Axis A members got back from the house-to-house evangelism in the early evening.
The camp base was in Axis A. The format goes thus: after house-to-house evangelism in the villages, the villagers are told about the crusade to hold in a chosen village for each axis. So of the four or five villages in axis B, Omu-Aran was chosen, of the five in C, Akindele was chosen. Ofcourse for A, our camp base, Jarija, was chosen.
At the time we prayer band members paused praying briefly, we quickly broke our fast then gathered to pray again for the crusade about to start.
I soon left the prayers to join those organizing the village children. P.S Flashback – Thursday night after I arrived and we had that mini break inbetween the long hours of prayer, I sat outside with a book (I’m the fresh air + book type of girl). I beckoned to one of the village girls and she came to stay with me. That gave a host of them boldness to draw near me too. But I kept mute mostly because I was a little tired, and more because my yoruba was all over the place. These children spoke expert yoruba, I heard them clearly. I was a little skeptical about speaking the yoruba I tend to speak. I never went to a church where interpretation was made from English to yoruba language so when it comes to words like redemption, repentance, other bible words and general lingua flow, I always stutter. I can however speak household yoruba.
Last year’s outreach, I was going to ask a woman which religion she believed in. Religion in yoruba is ‘Esin’. My people, lo and behold, I asked which ‘aisan’ she worshipped. ‘Aisan’ means illness. That did it. It just did it. Yourubas can be very superstitious. How do I go about explaining that error. Did I mean her harm?
now you get my reluctance to speak yoruba in the face of the expert yoruba these children threw about.

So back to Friday when I joined those organizing the children, I made sure I played the firm aunty’s role. I was telling them I won’t tolerate any noise at all, I made them shout and repeat the memory verses I taught them etc. All theses were done with what we’ll call “bold face*“. When it came to teaching the word though, I gallantly left it to the better yoruba speakers. And yes, I taught them some beautiful songs, I hope they still remember.
The pictures below aren’t capturing even half of them.

P.p.p.s: The children were not as gentle as they appear in the pictures. Take my word for it!
After we were through with teaching the children and giving them gift packs, we helped at the crusade ground where the preaching was going on. We prayed with the villagers that accepted Christ, prayed for their specific needs, and jotted down their address details for follow-up. After that, those from the other axes began to arrive having done same where they were. We had dinner. Then prayer chain began all over.
This night, I couldn’t walk to my hostel like a cartoon character after my 12-1 am prayer chain slot. Why? We prayer and members were no longer adviced to stay all through, but mandated to stay the whole prayer chain so I did. 😀😀. It was amazing. We however had continuous rain showers. Not drizzle. Rain that drenched and soaked us. Rain that caused me to shiver. The involuntary shake shake shiver. But still we prayed prayed inspite of the shake shake shivers.
Saturday went pretty much the same way with routine. By 5pm, the children we had at hand were more in number. The commandants’ claps got louder still, their voices louder. It was almost incredulous.
One thing I always look forward to in our village outreaches is the bible study. We always have lots of time to study under the open heavens. It was a beautiful time again. The only issue was that we had an abundance of sunlight. I mean abundance. Guys, I had sunburn. I’m still recovering from that sunburn(well…, I’ve done really well over these two weeks now). Sunburn so evident, it has been the subject of discussion for almost everyone who’s seen me since then. Like I laughed it off with a friend, the bible doesn’t promise beautiful faces for those who preach, it’s beautiful feet (Isaiah 52:7). But wait, Daniel 12: 3 says those who turn many to righteous shall shine like stars forever more. 😇
Another notable fact: on Saturday, I went for house-to-house evangelism and the prayer band members who did so on Friday were the ones who then stayed back to pray all through the day.
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Saturday night, after the crusades in each axis, and everyone had arrived, each axis leader gave a report on the souls won, challenges faced etc. Then we had thanksgiving praises to God for all the souls that had been won. We danced till day break.
We woke up and had devotion time. Then thorough cleanup of the environment began. We cleared the kitchen equipments, cleared out our hostels which happened to be the primary school for the villagers. I spent time picking charcoal from the ground and underneath my fingernails looked very blessed with black coal.
Then, the photo gallery sessions began, as people filed out of the village in different batches.
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I doubt I did justice to the experience in this narration, but this is an attempt to encourage someone else who is otherwise very skeptical every time they hear of a village outreach. It is beautiful to serve. And no, no witches will eat your head off if you’re in Christ Jesus.
Added point: It’s a great time doing what Jesus did while he was here on earth. Try it.
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Urhm, even though they won’t read this, this post is dedicated to those whose names are still carved in my heart from the village experience. To: Idris, Smart, Aminat, Iya wasiu and that loud woman whose husband has packed out. I’m praying for you.
Ivcu 2018 village outreach: Glad tidings of great joy.
Ever been on a village outreach? What was your experience?
*Bold face means false bravado.

Love,
Debby

BOOK REVIEW–And the Shofar Blew

The first time I picked up this book to read, it was an e-book version. I dove into the first chapter, and when I had cause to put it down, I didn’t miss it.
When my baby sister decided to buy me a book as my birthday gift and we didn’t locate the title by Karen Kingsbury which she was determined to buy for me, we settled for this, after all its a Francine Rivers’ book (and I’m a Francine girl). I had no clue it was the same book I had started to read once.

New ride people, new ride.

Author: Francine Rivers
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Publisher/publication date: Tyndale house publishers inc/ 2003
Pages: 435 pages(my paperback copy)
ISBN: 978-0-8423-6583-3

Blurb
As Paul and those around him struggle to discern what it truly means to live out their faith, they must ultimately choose between their own will and God’s plan. The story of a dynamic young preacher, committed to building his church–but at what cost?
Paul Hudson seemed like the perfect pastor to lead Centerville Christian Church and Eunice was the perfect pastor’s wife. When Paul accepted the call to pastor the struggling church, he had no idea what to expect. But it didn’t take long for Paul to turn Centerville Christian Church around. Attendance is up, way up, and everything is going so well. If only his wife could see it that way. Still, he tries not to let her quiet presence distract him. But Eunice knows that something isn’t right and it hasn’t been for a long time… Eunice closed the bedroom door quietly and knelt beside her bed. I am drowning, God. I’ve never felt so alone. Who can I turn to but you, Lord? Where else does a pastor’s wife go for help when her marriage is failing and her life is out of control? Who can I trust with my anguish, Lord? Who but you? Grasping her pillow, she pressed it tightly to her mouth so that her sobs would not be heard.
 Related: Read a review of Francine River’s Redeeming love here

Review

The title didn’t suggest much to me as I began. I was focused on getting past the start of the book which I found rather boring.
This isn’t the best book I’ve read by Francine Rivers, literature wise. I appreciate this book in it’s Christian capacity. I appreciate the cogent lessons it draws out for a Christian and for the church at large. But as a piece of art, it didn’t hook me much. Not even the blurb!
Paul Hudson and his wife, Eunice appear as the cutest couple around. They have a son, Tim, and together they’re on fire for God.
A call comes to pastor a once-vibrant, now dying church in California- Centerville Christian Centre.
He shakes up the church with the zeal burning in him. One old elder tells his wife at home:

He’s trying to raise the dead”
Good” she sipped her decaf laced with cream and sugar. “You’re pleased, aren’t you?
“Yep.”
“What about the others?”
“He shook ’em up”.
“We all need a little shaking up now and then

Samuel chuckled. ” I don’t think it’s going to be a matter of now and then, Abby, but a matter of from now on

With the onset of more liberty in a church of his own, Paul’s fire soon needs encampment. He disregards those who brought him the invite to pastor, he gets zealous and dreams big.
His dreams are working. The church is growing.
But his relationship with his wife and son take a decline.
We encounter how the life of a pastor can radically affect the life of every other person.
We’re left to juxtapose the building God wants us to do to the church (his body) with the building we do to the church ( the structure).
Related: read a review of Francine River’s Atonment child here
Some of the major characters are Paul, Eunice, Stephen, David Hudson, Lois Hudson, Abby, Samuel.
Some of the central themes include: The vast impact of fatherhood on the lives of children; The balance of family life and the ministry call; Love gone sour; Hearing the voice of God.
We have a few beautiful sentences in the book:

Why don’t you gentlemen go out on the patio and enjoy the last bit of sunsine while I clean up the kitchen? Its hot enough in here without you two adding your steam.”
Samuel chuckled. “What do you say, Stephen? You think it’ll be cooler outside?”
Abby turned at the sink. ” you can always turn on the sprinklers.”
Samuel opened the screen door, inviting their guest to follow. “Never argue with a lady, Stephen. If you win, you just end up feeling guilty”. The younger man laughed as he pushed his chair up to the kitchen table”

“We all have besetting sins, Stephen. They’re the trouble that bring us to our knees and keeps us depending on the Lord for strength”

” he intended to woo her not just in the way he had in the early days of their courtship, with flowers and love letters, soft music and dimmed lights, but with the right decisions. Walking the walk, one step at a time. Keeping the faith with her, safeguarding their marriage”

She looked fragile and broken. “You know what hurts most, Euny? I can’t seem to hear the Lord’s voice anymore. It used to be so clear that it was like a trumpet call-like the shofar of ancient Israel. But I can’t hear him anymore. Not even the still, small voice. And I want that more than anything.” She took Eunice’s hand, her eyes filled with anguish. ” Don’t Let it happen to you, honey. Please don’t let it happen”.

The characters are credible and understandable although a lot of times, I was annoyed by the patience the majority of them demonstrated ( I cover my face in shame remorse).
My favourite character is Lois, Eunice’s step mother. My love for her grew in bounds when she had cause to go to a pub. All her responses were lit. She appeared bold and brazen for the gospel, she’d only become subdued by the man she was married to. I was glad she heeded God’s wake up call through Eunice to see what she’d been doing all along. I apologize for the little spoilers.
I highly recommend this book to Christians especially Christian leaders in any capacity.
This is also good for anyone who wants a perspective into what it takes to build a home and a church too. Of course, if you’re a fan of Rivers, you shouldn’t miss out on it!

What are your thoughts? Have you read this book before? Are you interested? Feedback!