A report from Howard Barnes on his latest mission to Benin and Nigeria (Thurs Aug 12th – Mon 30th 2010)
I want to begin this brief report by thanking you all for your continual prayers and intercessions on my behalf.
The difficulty I experienced in obtaining a visa for Nigeria this time caused me to fly to the Benin Republic first, before entering Nigeria, but this was all a part of His plan as I was soon to find out.
Being in Benin the first long weekend and then again after I returned from the Nigerian Mission, I was able to meet several of the nation’s Church leaders like my friends Pastor Christophe Dewanou, and leading intercessors Basille and Veronique Houinato and to spend precious time with Colonel Amousou Coucouvi, a wonderful humble man of God who is Chief of Security to the President and a trusted voice in the nation.
I was to learn that relationships between the various networks or confederations of churches in Benin has broken down and the national church has become even more fragmented and sick, but Col Amoussou and these other godly people mentioned here have just formed a new national movement, a network, for the restoration and renewal of the Church in Benin. Isn’t that wonderful?
Its objectives are to bring healing to the much divided and broken Body of Christ in the land and to see her restored as a beautiful and mission effective Bride. What a joy to work together with these people, since this is, as you know, exactly our focus too. The last night in Benin was a precious experience because before I left for the airport and the flight home, they took me on a tour of the brand new building which was their headquarters. and I was privileged to encourage them and to pray for them.
Earlier that same day, Sunday, I preached at Mt. Moriah Assemblies of God Church in Cotonou. This recently built church and one where Col Amoussou is a deacon, is really beautiful being completely covered inside with glazed red, blue and cream tiles. The church seats several thousands and has a wonderful worship band. We were in worhip for most of the service.
Eventually I was asked to preach and I challenged the church to understand the times and seasons we are in and to accept a radical seperation from the world and its systems……to ‘Come out of Babylon My people!’ Afterwards I sensed the Holy Spirit’s leadng me to go down from the platform and to pray for people as He directed and invited others to leave or stay as they could. Over 400 people stayed on for about two hours as the Holy Spirit filled them and dealt with them. Many many were ‘slain in the Spirit’.
The Nigeria mission was equally as blessed. I was there for two weeks and had been invited to speak at three conferences each in different areas around Lagos. For the first two days we held a crusade in Ogijo nearby to Ikorodu where we were based. I was privileged to be presented to the local king and although himself a Muslim, he welcomed us warmly into his kingdom and blesed the work we were doing. It was strange to meet a king who was living in an ordinary house amongst his neighbours, but whe represented a past age in African culture. Yet, athough he has no official authority, he has a powerful influence in his community and it was an honour to meet him. It was also a great opportunity for me and I will keep in touch with him and see where this relationship leads. Please pray that we can lead him to Christ.
The Crusade was blessed but didn’t attract great crowds and I wondered why since much advertising and personal contact with people had been made during the build up. However, it was wonderful to see Muslims coming to Christ and see the Lord heal broken bodies. A deaf and dumb boy was healed and many other sick people too. We give Him all the Glory!
Later I discovered why the attendance at the Crusade was small considering the thousands of people that live in Ogijo. What I learnt, to my horror, was that there are over 2000 different churches in this small densely populated area which were mostly independent and highly competitive and that unless they were paid to sensitize their people, they simply didn’t give their support. Larger global ministries which I refuse to name, spend huge amounts of money on advertising and much of that goes as expenses etc to local pastors to sensitize the people. The local Pastors themselves told me that often that money goes into the Pastor’s own pocket and he simply brings along his congregation who are already saved, resulting in a vast number of re-dedications at the crusades and not first time conversions. Whether this is true or not I don’t know but those who told me are on the ground and ought to know. Certainly, if this is the case then the Church is sick and it horrifies me and breaks the Lord’s heart. There is much healing needed in the church of Ogijo and throughout Nigeria too..
However we thank God for those who did find salvation at the crusade!
The conference that followed for the next two days was organised by Aquilla and Priscilla Ministry and was hosted by Pastor Gboyega and Patricia Oyeneye the ministry directors and ‘Friends’ of TOM. The pastors and leaders recieved the message well and are continuing to pray and work together for unity in their area. Pastor Gboyega really has a heart to see this work advance. I was blessed to be staying with them. On the Saturday after the Conference we had a great day of fellowship and feasting as we celebrated the third Anniversary of the Prayer Breakfast Ministry which is an important aspect of the work that Aquilla and Priscilla Ministry do.
The following Monday I moved to Rev David Ojelade’s home (Director of Dunamis Global Mission) in another part of Lagos where he had organised another conference. Again the message of Unity and of the Bride was well received. Many were touched by the Holy Spirit and the last night almost everybody was ‘slain in the Spirit’. There was a mighty outpouring! Several young christian boys of about 8 years of age were prayed for and were ‘out in the spirit’ for several hours. There was such rejoicing amongst His people!
And so on to the last assignment. This was with Apostle Priscilla Otuya from yet another part of Lagos.. She is director of Global Partnership for Change which seeks to see the Church restored and renewed by the effective restoration to the Church of the Fivefold Ministry (Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor, Teacher) of the Ascended Lord Jesus and the renewal of the Holy Spirit. We had a powerful time together and I was so blessed by the testimonies after the conference. There were many experiences of healings and visions.
Just before I left to return to Benin, I was privileged to experience a traditional African wedding….the wedding of Priscialla’s younger sister.,…..and even more privileged to be asked to marry them. The happiness, the joy, the colour, the traditional clothes, the private family bartering for the dowry price inside the family home before the ceremony and the traditional speeches according this custom, the energy in the dancing, the feasting……was all absolutely amazing!
It was a great finale to a great two weeks in Nigeria!
Then…….. back to Benin and home! Mission completed!
Tricia joins me in thanking you for your prayers for her while I was away too.
Howard Barnes is Co-Director of Time Out Mission. For more information go to www.timeoutmission.org