With six hours to go until the first Gospel meeting would start, we were in trouble. Muslim leaders had been complaining for several days that our Campaign was to be held on a field less than 200 meters from the city’s largest mosque. The city offered us another stadium, however, that in effect cancelled our Gospel Festival, and everyone knew it. It was a tactical move to shut us down. You see, to change venue with just a few hours to go is easier said than done. A big crane would have to be brought in from another city to hoist our generators. Dismantling the platform and loudspeakers, moving lights and digging up cables that had been laid underground would take at least two days.
Some Muslim leaders suggested violence would break out if we didn’t concede. This was not a vain threat. Fifteen years ago a Gospel Crusade held one hour away was cancelled resulting in violence that killed five hundred. The evangelist at that time had made an unwise statement that “God is going to tear down Islam”, and the local Muslims did not respond well. Since that time there have been no large Gospel events in this area. As recent as last year, in another region two hours away, three hundred were killed in clashes between Christians and Muslims.
Well, welcome to campaigning on the front-line. Ikara, in northern Nigeria, is an area that has been Islamic for a thousand years.
With just one hour to go, God had given us favor with the Regional Chairman of Ikara, and he arranged a meeting between myself and 31 imams, Muslim scholars and some politicians. Again God gave us favor, and the meeting ended with an official welcome to myself and our team. Once everyone understood my approach of an uncompromising Gospel, but with friendship and respect, their attitude change.
Then it was off to the first meeting. Only a few thousand were present as word had spread that our Gospel Campaign was cancelled. But at the time of the salvation call, virtually everyone responded. By the second night the attendance had at least tripled. When I prayed for the blind it was almost chaotic as the platform filled with people who had been healed, and most had been blind from between one to twenty years. It was quite spectacular. In every service virtually 100% wanted to receive salvation provided by Jesus’ death and resurrection.
By the fifth day the area was being shaken. No Gospel outreach like this has ever been held in the region. The attendance multiplied again several times over by the last night, and many outstanding healings happened.
No one, not the politicians or the few Christians, expected a response like this. When I lead in the prayer of repentance and faith in Christ it sounded like the mighty thunder of many thousands of voices.
One day I visited some local villages. The people live in mud huts with grass roofs. Even in the town most houses are built with mud, but they have metal roofs. The villagers received us warmly. The people, especially in the villages, practice a form of Islam mixed with spirit and ancestral worship. Africa has large cities, but the majority still live in small villages. That’s why our Pastors Seminars are so important, as we mobilize believers to reach everyone.
There are few, if any, things as rewarding to me personally as to present Jesus to people who have never heard of Him. That’s what made the Ikara Campaign so special. Our goal is clear; further north to the most Muslim areas in Nigeria.
I met the Emir (king) of Kaduna state to secure his support as we aim for the huge Muslim city of Kano. From the Emir’s 600 year old palace we continued to a meeting with Governor Mohammed Nabadi Sambo, and again we were warmly received. My purpose was to also secure his support for our goal of reaching
Kano, and Governor Mohammed promised to brief the Governor of Kano on our ministry.
Kano is one of Africa’s largest cities. The campaign 15 years ago effectively put an end to Gospel advancement in northern Nigeria. Nigeria is well known for awesome revivals with huge crowds, but almost all of these are in the southern half. Yet the northern frontier remains to be taken for the Gospel. The campaign we just concluded was only one hour from Kano. Once we are successful in Kano State, there are still further northern states that also must hear the Gospel. I say, like Paul, “And so I have made it my aim to preach the Gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build on another man’s foundation, but as it is written: to whom He was not announced, they shall see; and those who have not heard shall understand.”
Thank you for your partnership in the Gospel. Together we are advancing the Gospel to the unreached parts of the earth.