By Frank Tweheyo: Feb 5th, 2012, found Phobice and me with our good friends Pastor Francis and Dorothy in Kigali, Rwanda. Francis is also our Empower contact in Rwanda. We preached for him that Sunday, having been dropped by Ben (a British missionary to our church) at the Katuna border that morning. After Sunday service we relaxed with Francis and family, who dropped us at the Kigali Airport early Monday morning.
Rwanda Air flew us to Lagos, Nigeria. We were met by Pastor Leo, a friend of Rev. Joses Hizkiah, our Lagos contact. He helped us get to the airport for local flights where we caught the last plane for the day to Benin City.
Our good friend, Rev. Godwin Chika was at the airport to meet us. Rev. Chika has been interested in Empower since 2008, and was our chief host in Nigeria.
Lo and behold, RAIN ! After two months without rain in Kabale, a welcoming rain was very refreshing and also prophetic for fruitful time in Nigeria. As we finished saying our last prayers at the end of that week, it rained again. We believe it was God’s welcome and stamp of approval!
Rev. Chika helped us find a good hotel, Doris Dey (which I recommend for future Empower teams) and we had a good deserved rest. Nigeria is generally hot and so the hotel rooms have fans and AC and a powerful generator to cure the great Nigerian disease of power (electricity) cuts.
Rev. Chika had arranged for us to speak at a gathering of pastors (the United Pastors Prayer Association, which has about 200 members) which we did Tuesday morning. We introduced Empower, gave an overview sermon, shared from the Word of God and distributed Empower brochures. There was scramble for the brochures since we had few. We also shared our program for the rest of the week with them. Some of these pastors joined us Thursday to Saturday as well as some from Pastor Chika’s ministry, God’s Family Bible Church(es).
Thursday 9th to 11th were very exciting days. By Saturday we had nearly 50 pastors and leaders at the seminar, some of whom had just attended only on Saturday because they are workers.
I want to thank God for Apostle Chika. He is a great man of God and a great mobilizer. He made sure everything was in place and on time.
The first day of the training we put people in groups as they came and they began the introductory discussion questions, as follows:
1. What are the challenges of Christian marriage
Some of the responses: Lack of love in the couple, marriage based on infatuation, immaturity leading to early divorce, comparing partners with other people, lack of forgiveness, sexual denial leading to extra-marital sexual affairs (rampant in the society), lack of communication, favoring some children above others, usually boys over girls…the list goes on and on.
2. What customs interfere with Christian marriage today?
Some responses: Traditional beliefs persist even when one turns Christian, men given prominence, woman a work donkey, in-law demands on the wife, like doing work for them even when pregnant or sick, no welcome in family meetings with the woman regarded as a foreigner.
3. How is modernity and western Influence affecting marriages
This generated the greatest concern and debate. People thought the results of western influence on marriage are more negative than positive. The list is too long but few examples are: dressing code changed, with a lot of immodest dress, especially by women; economic translocations, with men going to work in far places including abroad leaving wife to fend for family; pornography; homosexuality; contract marriages; divorce; e-marriages; carefree life in parents and children…list goes on and on.
4. What are the burdens of women in our customary culture?
Women have no voice, position or inheritance. Widow neglect and property confiscation at the demise of a husband; delay in marriage due to dowry; cohabiting rampant. In some cultures women can’t eat certain parts of a cow except the bottom part (call it the anus)!! Woman is a slave, a. work machine. She works for money and the husband takes it for his pleasure. If you can’t produce a boy you are not a woman. And in some churches, women are not recognized in ministry.
For the next three days, pastors kept coming and more were added every day.
People were so interested in our small group approach, as they discussed issues in depth. All could participate and teach it there and then.
The most surprises (as usual) were about Gen 1, 2, and 3: Man and woman created equal, Adam and Eve (man and woman) being together as woman was being tempted, the debate on who or what was cursed and who or what was not – this all generated a lot of debate and the AHA AHA!!! phenomenon that has now become a signature tune for Empower trainings.
At the end of three days, there was excitement among pastors. They convened a meeting without my input and decided to meet in March and lay strategies of taking this message to all churches. Pastor Chika said he will teach it to the church systematically. Rev. Robinson who owns a bible school would like us to give him permission to add the New Man, New Woman, New Life manual to his curriculum.
We got invitations to take this teaching to towns like Ekpoma (we had one delegate, Pastor Dabala , from there) and to different states where Rev. Chika has churches.
We preached in God’s Family Bible Church on Sunday 12th Feb attired in Ugandan traditional attire and really enjoyed the typical Nigerian dance. The week ended with a sumptuous meal of Egusi (melon) soup and foo foo, a wonderful bread made of cassava and yam. It was truly a refreshing week!
The next day, Monday 13th Feb, we traveled back to Lagos by bus and enjoyed the country side. We were received by Pastor Leo, who had received us the previous Monday from Mutala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos. We next met Rev. Joses Hizkiah and his wonderful wife Love, who gave us a great lunch. We were also received by Rev. Simeon Folorunsho who together with Rev. Joses and Pastor Leo united to become our hosts for that week.
Keep watching for the next part of our report.