The day was filled with travel and we were truly on a mission! We visited with 7 groups of people, sharing stories, the message, and laughs along the way! We were constantly on the go and pretty tired by the end of the day, but really interacted with those here! On our van rides we always joke around and look at all the beauty here.
Our driver this trip is Sam, who, if you remember Amos from the first blog post who picked us up at the airport with a smile, Sam is his son. He probably thinks we are crazy by now but laughs and goes along with all our shenanigans. In Nigeria, your last name is your father’s first name, so Sam’s name is Sam Amos. Pastor Marc sits in the front seat next to Sam usually and joked around saying his Nigerian name was wisdom because the more gray hairs you have, the wiser you are considered in Nigeria. All the stress arranging the visas and covid tests to get us on this trip gave him grays…or, in this case, made him wiser? We question that… lol
We started out visiting one of the missions centers where we got a tour of the staff and all the offices, the clinic where 400 people a week get their meds for free, a small school for boys found on the streets, the boy’s rooms where they stayed, a room where they made shoes, and a room with sewing machines where they would teach the trades. We collected in a main room where the disabled were gathering. Pastor John, who does an amazing job in the heart of the city, arranged for 11 disabled to receive wheelchairs. Some of them had been propelling themselves on skateboards with flip flops on their hands for years. Most of them never rode in a wheelchair before. We had an opportunity to speak encouragement and about Jesus to those who were there to receive the wheelchairs. After we shared with them, they got to choose which wheelchair they wanted, they climbed onto it, and we laid hands and prayed with them. They slowly learned how to use their new transportation and we cheered for them as they petaled.
The brothel was right around the corner from the missions place, so Ruth, one of the leaders of the brothel/women’s ministries, led us to speak encouragement to the ladies there. Pastor Marc actually went to the brothel to minister to the guys there, which he said wasn’t too bad. All of us ladies went to “Mama’s house” who owned the brothel, where the ladies all met us. We shared encouragement with the ladies letting them know they are loved by God. We also prayed over dinne of the ladies. Mama’s son escaped from prison and needed prayers that they would find him so he wouldn’t be killed. Mama was taking care of his kids while he was in prison, which was another prayer request that they would find Jesus even though they were surrounded by the atmosphere of the brothel. Another women there had a son who was married and they were trying to have kids but couldn’t yet, so we also prayed with her about that as well. It was a special time.
At this time, we went back to the mission where we would meet the street boys. They sang songs for us and quoted scripture they memorized by heart- all 16 verses! We also spoke words of encouragement to the boys and praising them. Their faces lit up the more we built them up. We spoke of Jesus and the boys were all ears. We had some time to get some time with the bous in groups. One of the boys was flexing his muscles so then all the boys wanted to show their muscles too lol A lot of them liked pasta for their favorite food. I asked them if they knew what squirrels were and one of them said they lived in bushes lol Another kid said they were horrified of them. We prayed with the boys and gave them snacks.
A few of the disabled came late because they had a flat tire while traveling to the center. So we prayed over them with their wheelchairs to send them off with blessings!
Our ministry wasn’t finished yet though! We had 3 more places to visit. Next on the agenda, was visiting the recovery center. Those who were there decided to follow Jesus and desired to leave their old ways behind to get clean. The guys went with the guys and the girls stayed with the 2 women in the facility. The recovery center just started to reach women so they were a newer addition.
The 2 women there were Joy and Sarah. I recognized Sarah from the brothel when we came a few years ago so it was neat to see her choosing to get out and choose to change. Joy was in her room and the leader wasn’t sure if she was willing to come to our sharing time, but she did. It was so good she came because she shared her story with us. She got addicted to pain pills while she was working at a university and lost her family of 4 kids due to that addiction. On top of that, she also had cycle cell in her leg that had eaten through her leg so deep you could see her femoral bone. She started crying, but shared she knew Jesus and wasnt going to give up. Julie and Cathy were awesome sharing their testimony. Cathy really shared from her heart with the women and Joy was eating up every word. You could tell they were moved. The leader shared that after hearing the testimonies, her view of Americans changed for the better.
We loaded up and moved it out towards the hub of the drug jungle where Josh was going to show us around to visit the guys there. Josh is very passionate about reaching people struggling with addictions. He ended up finding this 3 story building located right in the middle of the drug jungle. The first floor was a music production area that was neat looking with some rooms and offices. The second floor was getting renovated to become a study area, library, and the main teaching area. The top floor was so cool! The view was spectacular overlooking the whole drug jungle. It had a roof, but the sides were all open. It will be used as another teaching area but also a place to hold worship, which would be such a neat experience because worship music would travel throughout the whole drug jungle.
Most of the drug jungle focuses on the men, but it’s starting to reach women as well. There were 2 women who shared their testimony about being Muslim, converting to Christianity, and overcoming their addictions. Now they are being discipled to lead the women’s sections of the drug jungle. We ran out of time so then we were off to the last location of the day.
Sam drove us up the steep, narrow bumpy road up to these little sinder block houses. The van got a little shredded but Sam did well. He ended up parking the van and Patience, our host, guided us to the house we were going to in the drug jungle for a Bible study with the women facing addiction. We had to walk up a steep road to get to the house and at one point our leaders were probably getting nervous. Here we are in the drug jungle and I’m petting a dog, Cathy is about to get run over by a wild motorcycle, and Julie is taking a photo of a bunch of kids. Sam is probably thinking what in the world are these people doing. He calmly tells me the dogs arnt probably the friendliest around there, calls out to Cathy to watch out for traffic, and tells Julie to come. Patience is up with the girls in the team, Madison and Becca, who are perfectly following her like we are supposed to be doing.
We make it up the big stair into a little dark room where the teaching leader, Ester is teaching about the purpose driven life. She talks elegantly and really shares some good thoughts and asks us all, “what drives you?” Are we chasing after material things or God. The one girl said that she would go to the fancy houses with the fancy parties because she liked fancy things. In order to be invited back to the fancy house with the fancy things, you had to join in the drinking and drugs. She wanted to be invited again, so that’s what she did to be included. That led to addiction. But she found God and is now getting discipled within the drug jungle ministry. We ended the session with introductions and handed out “biskets” and pop.
Either Sam was bored and wanted to conquer the hill, or didnt wanna deal with corralling us back to the van, because he decided to pull the van right up for us so we didnt have to walk to the van this time. At this point, it’s starting to rain and we are waiting for Pastor Marc to climb in our van. He hung out with Josh and the guys while we were with the women. He came and we made it down the street filled with the boulder obstacles. We are bouncing like mad and sounded like parts of the van were flinging off, but must not have been too important because we made it back.
The day was completely PACKED. We shared as a team that night and I was falling asleep until that second wind hit and Julie and I were up till 2am…again. we can never get to bed on time/early.
Seeing God during the drive was unexpected. Madison, Becca, and I would wave to people walking, sitting on curbs, or mending their flocks. Doesnt seem like much to us. We were bored and thought of a way to interact with people on our way to people. When the kids and people would see us wave, their faces lit up like crazy as they waved back. Like their whole face would be fully scrunched up in happiness when they saw us notice and wave at them. An older guy was sitting on a curb staring and looking depressed. We waved and his whole expression transformed into complete, ecstatic joy! It was like we were famous and they were meeting a celebrity! It’s crazy how much of an impact noticing someone can really make in others’ lives. Both adults, young adults, teens, and kids all responded the same, and rarly did they not wave back to us. Very rare. In the US, I can attest, you never really get anyone to wave back. You get a bunch of confused, judgmental looks rather than joy. Those here have complete, pure JOY and it doesn’t even take much to make them happy. Many of them lost so much, dealt with so many deaths in their lives, and dont have much, but you can tell it doesnt bother them because they truly value PEOPLE rather than stuff.