Zaria, Nigeria is a city with that has been officially Islamic for almost 1,000 years. It is a city under Sharia Law. Zaria is a city that has never hosted a foreign preacher to conduct a citywide meeting in an open area. Such an event was unheard of, and until recent, not possible.
Only by God’s divine favor did this Festival take place for Peter Youngren and World Impact Ministries. In November 2007 Peter and his team met with the Governor of Kaduna State, Governor Arch Mohammed Namadi Sambo, at the Governor’s request. The Governor had heard of the friendship approach Peter took towards other religions and officially welcomed Peter and World Impact Ministries to Northern Nigeria. This invitation paved the way for preparations in Zaria, Nigeria.
“Through this divine favor from the Lord, doors, previously closed for at least a thousand years, were opened wide.“
Peter was able to meet the top Islamic leader for Zaria, the Emir of Zaria, in his palace. That same day Peter met with religious leaders from both the Christian and Islamic faith at a Friendship Dinner. The Islamic leaders welcomed Peter to the city with open arms having heard of the incredible favor he had also received November 2007 from the political and religious leaders in Kaduna, Nigeria.
At each meeting with both religious and political leaders Peter was strong in both his message of friendship as well as his faith. Peter clearly outlined the similarities and differences between Islam and Christianity (read Peter’s book, “My Muslim Friends” for details). However, he highlighted the need for common respect and friendship as fellow human beings, while at the same time recognizing there are differences. God’s hand of favor was on Peter as he shared. Both Christian and Islamic leaders welcomed the message with great enthusiasm. Religious tensions and violence had previously plagued this region of Northern Nigeria, and the approach of peace and friendship was a welcome respite.
The Zaria Friendship Festival was a four-day event held on a massive polo field at the center of the city. The Festival was combined with a three day Pastors and Leaders Seminar. The Festival was incredibly well intended (see photo report), and leaders claimed it was the single largest gathering in the recorded history of Zaria. The Festival was carried on local radio throughout the entire region. This was a first for the city of Zaria. Only God’s favor can explain how and why these events all took place.
Each evening of the Festival hundreds were healed in their bodies. The very first miracle to come on stage the first night was a 30-year old man deaf since birth. His ears were opened, and he could hear. Every night the field was filled with more testimonies that could possibly be interviewed. The local leaders were in amazement as many Muslim friends were healed each night of the Festival. Some leaders commented that there were perhaps more Muslim friends healed that even Christian. Such was the incredible favor of God present on this Festival. Friendship follow up material was distributed to over 60,000 people during the Festival.
The Pastors and Leaders Seminar saw Baptist, Pentecostal, Catholic and Anglican pastors and leaders join together to receive teaching from Peter and the team of pastors he brought with him from Finland to minister. Pastor Samuel Kujiyat, a pastor for over 30 years, commented after the Seminar concluded that this was the message he had been search for his whole life. He was not alone in his enthusiastic comments.
Northern Nigeria has been known as a place where preachers are unwelcome, but God’s hand of favor is changing history. God’s message of love and peace is resonating with unmistakable clarity.