Dear Prayer Partners,
Wow!! 2018 has been filled with major personal setbacks and unexpected showers of blessings from God. On this first day of August and as I reflect on the past few months I am excited for what God has in store! This past weekend I had one of the my most memorable opportunities of an itinerant bible teacher! The Lord opened the door for to speak to a Chinese-American youth ministry in Naperville, Illinois from July 26th-July 29th 2018. Based on my past cross cultural experiences in other ministry context, I was extremely honored but not initially super excited to serve at a Chinese American atmosphere…(pray for me).
I never would have guessed how touched and welcomed I would feel at this summer retreat. The teenagers at Living Water Evangelical Church were not like the typical youth groups that I encounter. These middle school and high school students were refreshing to my spirit, because I could tell how hungry they were for the Word of God! Not once was there an interruption to my presentation. Their willingness to drink deep from God’s word and take notes was unmatched by even some adult audiences. The worship team...Wow!!
I have never felt more respected and treasured as a guest pastor than by the students on this retreat. I have spoken to thousands of youth across my 20 years in ministry and although many retreats and camps have youth that enjoy my messages, the desire for the Word was striking with this particular group. Many students went out of their way to start conversation with me and during one of the lunch breaks a group of teenage boys and their leader invited me over for a Q&A! I enjoyed answering their well thoughtful and inquisitive questions about full time ministry work. It kept my personal morale very high as I worked through 6 different talks while feeling like a volcano was happening in my head and a tsunami was going on in my blood veins.
After the first night I had a terrible drawback by catching the flu. I was aching, shivering, and had pounding headaches. With some of my energy effected and of course being visibly sick, I wasn’t sure how that would affect the response from the audience. To my surprise the students did not let my sickness all weekend hinder them from getting God’s Word! I was blessed by a parent who overwhelmed me with the kindness she had to bring me medication after hearing I was ill. The graciousness of everyone I encountered truly made my experience as a whole better than I could have imagined.
After this awesome ministry experience here are three reflections:
- Jesus Christ is bigger than cultural boundaries and our foolish fears ! It is not everyday that a Nigerian American is asked to speak at a Chinese American Church. The fact that I was asked to speak at this event shows that God’s Word is for everyone and I am so glad that it unites us! I saw a handful of students make decisions that I personally believe will effect them forever. Students of all ages and genders commented to me that they appreciated the points from my sermons and I know that they saw me as a vessel in use of the Lord and not just my skin color. When students would give me compliments I could feel the genuine connections we made. I am grateful to have met Pastor Geoff who was so gracious to invite me and his hospitality showcased the need for us as leaders to invest in cross cultural relationships.
- The Word of God is powerful! I love that when the word is taught in different forums it always has the same impact. Even though my health was falling apart it did not cause a distraction or hesitation from the students because they already had set in their spirits that they were going to draw near to God’s Word regardless! They had a willingness to listen critically and they kept their hearts open to self reflection. I could see facial expressions change when I gave personal anecdotes from my life. Any gender or cultural barriers had no chance of surviving the mighty truth of the Bible! I love the bible because it never fails to change lives. I'm glad that it is a core value of my ministry to keep the bible at the center. I know that God purposed it to change lives and produce transformation. That is why I continually strive to always to teach the Bible with simplicity and depth.