A Nigerian Pastor on the Challenges of Sharing the Gospel with the Unreached
Oscar Amaechina, the president of Afri-Mission and Evangelism Network in Abuja, Nigeria, will never forget the day he thought his life would end.
“I remember there was a particular mission field where we served people, and some people came to kill us,” Amaechina told the Christian Post. “They confessed that they were there to kill us. We saw them with their machetes, we saw them with their swords and we thought it was our last breath. We thought we were going to take our last breath and leave.
While staring death in the face, Amaechina and her fellow missionaries decided to offer one last act of kindness to their persecutors.
“We gave them rice, spaghetti, cream and soup…and they walked away from us,” he recalls. “They came back and one of their leaders spoke to us through an interpreter and said, ‘We were here to kill you. As we are poor, no one has ever given us gifts, but because of these gifts, we want to become Christians.’ »
The attackers’ instantaneous turnaround, Amaechina said, both shocked and amazed him.
“I couldn’t believe it,” he shared. “And we led them to Christ. It was wonderful, it was awesome and it opened my eyes. Since that day, we have never resisted benevolence. There is power in kindness and love. And that’s what we believe in the ministry.
This mentality has driven Afri-Mission and Evangelism Network since its inception in 2007. The non-profit organization is made up of a consortium of mission-oriented churches and faith-based Christian organizations that seek to advance the Kingdom of God by reaching unreached people groups in Northern Nigeria with the Gospel.
The association focuses on two major interventions: evangelical intervention, which involves conventional mission, diaspora mission and ecclesiastical mission, and humanitarian intervention. The latter includes several programs, including the Feed the Hungry Program, the Clothe the Naked Program, the Clean Water Program, the Orphans and Vulnerable Children Program, the Medical Mission, the Education Program, and the Acquisition Program. of skills.
“We reached so many communities with our conventional mission when we realized it was not just about preaching the gospel,” Amaechina said. “We looked at the environment and we saw the degraded nature of the people around the environment. The women are walking around naked, the children are starving, the water they drink is so toxic… there is no hospital… people are degraded, they live like wild animals.
Preaching the gospel and sharing about a “good” God, the pastor explained, became a challenge because “I saw no goodness around these people.”
“I didn’t know what to say,” he said. “What I did was go home and pray to God, ‘What are we going to do to bring this knowledge of Christ?’ And this is how we have developed several forms of intervention… and the more we do, the more we discover that there is a lot to be done.
Currently, there are 19 missionaries in the conventional missionary project and 56 missionaries in the diaspora missionary project. In the coming year, the organization hopes to increase that total to 160 or 170 – but due to risks from Islamic extremist groups and radical Fulani herders, “the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few”, Amaechina said.
“We are constantly harassed, threatened and beaten, our minds are truly willing but our flesh is weakening day by day,” he wrote in the organization’s annual report.
Yet the missionaries saw the fruits of their labor. For example, in 2021, 231 people came to Christ through the efforts of the Diaspora Mission Project, while dozens participated in the ministry’s discipleship program.
“We want to develop a multiplier effect; it’s a chain reaction,” said Amaechina. “We impact you and expect you to impact others during discipleship.
A former pastor, Amaechina, told CP that many groups of people in Nigeria have never heard the gospel – or even the name of Jesus Christ, even though the country is the most prosperous in Africa. He estimated that around 65,897,000 Nigerians have not heard of Jesus – and most of them live in remote areas where they are “trapped in darkness”.
Amaechina called this unfortunate reality “the failure of the Nigerian Church”. Many professing Nigerian Christians do not want to travel to unreached places due to the physical risks, he said, while others see no incentive to plant churches in poverty stricken areas.
“The Church in Niger has abandoned the mandate of the Great Commission,” he said. “The comfort of Christians has made it difficult for people to make sacrifices…there are forgotten communities where there is not a single church in existence. Everyone is grouped around major metropolitan areas…because they can collect bigger deals. It is a serious element. »
Other times, he said, African Christians are deceived into embracing the prosperity gospel, which in part teaches that believers are entitled to the blessings of health and wealth. Such blessings can be obtained through positive confessions of faith and the “sowing of seeds” through the faithful payment of tithes and offerings.
Poor African Christians, Amaechina explained, are drawn to this false teaching because it offers a solution to poverty.
“Western missionaries brought the gospel to us, and what we are doing now – we are marketing the gospel. The gospel is not for sale, but especially in Nigeria, the gospel is for sale,” he said. he said, “It’s a serious problem. People are making money selling the gospel and unfortunately people are bewitched.”
“You are not interested in salvation, you are interested in prosperity,” he continued. “Most of the unreached are naked; they have no clothes to wear. So most of the churches don’t go there to plant, because there’s nothing to harvest.
Over the coming year, Afri-Mission and Evangelism Network has a number of specific goals to advance the gospel. These include mobilizing and training more missionaries; provide drinking water to two specific communities; build classrooms in a target community where not a single person has gone to school and provide transportation for missionaries.
“When we distribute everything we have, we don’t discriminate,” Amaechina said. “We don’t give just because we want to convert you. We give because we love you. We will work with you because we want to show you love whether you are converted or not.
He added: “There are people who are secret admirers of Christ. I’ve met so many…they love Christ, but they can’t openly declare their love for him. So when we show kindness, we show kindness to everyone, whether you are a Muslim, whether you are a pagan… our kindness is to all mankind with intent with the belief that through the goodness of God, we touch them…and if possible, bring to the saving knowledge of Christ.
Amaechina thanked Western Christians for their prayers, stressing the importance of “people who will lift their heads when they have fallen”.
“I have to admit… most of the time we feel like quitting. It’s difficult. Our life is at stake. The resources are not there. You have good plans, but the plans fall apart because you have no one to back you up,” he shared.
“Nigerian Christians are not interested in mission; they care about the money…what we do is settle it on our knees. We pray, ask God to help us. We trust that God will be able to do it.
Leah M. Klett is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be contacted at: [email protected]