NOTE: Mike continues his report on how God worked in him and the students of the Fourth Evangelism Forum in Nigeria in May. Go here to read the first part of Mike’s report post last week.
“If my friends come to Christ then I will also!”–You know what happens next, right!
In another part of the Jos slum, John, evangelist, pastor and Forum student noticed a group of young men listening intently to the message of Christ during the Forum’s street outreach. A message at odds with their surroundings. This slum was so dangerous, riddled with crime, drugs, prostitution, alcoholism, and murders on an almost daily basis that even local police would refuse to enter out of fear of being mobbed, beaten and chased out.
This group was essentially a street gang. Their leader was a man named Friday. Nigerians call Friday, his friends and young men like them the “wild boys.” These “wild boys” roam the streets selling drugs, drinking, abusing women and stealing.
Friday’s main crew is a group of five young men in their late 20’s and early 30’s. As John spent focused, special attention to them, Friday shared, “If my friends come to Christ then I will also.” Thatevening, Friday witnessed his friends and fellow gang members Isaac and Aremo come to the Lord. He promised to return the next night with two other friends. Sure enough, Friday returned with his other friends, Daniel and Binkom. John, noticing them, immediately went to them to say hello and share Christ with them. Daniel, Binkom and Friday all gave their hearts to Jesus!
While I traveled back to the States, members of New Life for All, spent a week discipling these young men. They brought them to the NLFA headquarters and from 9 to 5 each day, fed them, allowed them to bathe and clean up, taught them and gave them Bibles. These young men are now growing into leaders for good and Christ in a slum where police fear to tread. Friday has even shared that he believes God wants him to be a preacher in that very slum. Wow – Praise the Lord for transforming lives!
“Lost, Found, and Named”
At the conclusion of the second May street evangelism outing, Mary, one of the Forum evangelists, noticed a man who stood just outside a group of those who had responded to the Gospel and had come forward for counsel. So, she went to him, and began to speak with him. He was in tears. As Mary spoke with him she learned his name was Jonathon. He revealed he had been a drug addict for years. Further, Jonathon admitted he does not know his age or birth date, he does not know who his father is, and because of this, he has no last name.
Mary shared with Jonathon that God sees, hears, knows his pain, and calls him by name – a name God, through Christ, gives him along with a heavenly Father. Jonathon, believed to be is in his early 40’s, broken and ashamed, with no identity discovered he was “lost, found, and named” as he responded to forgiveness, hope and grace in Christ Jesus. He is now learning in follow-up classes about his new family in Christ and realizing he is not alone. This is a huge breakthrough because in African culture, to have a name and family is a major cultural positive. Without such, you are considered nothing. Love so amazing!
Follow up report- A Library for Wild Boys
In closing I want to return to the “wild boys”. Two years ago, Tim and I were teaching the second Nigeria Forum to students in Jos. We partnered with New Life for All and Forum students for a local street evangelism outreach. This two-day event has since become a key element of our Forum sessions, offering a different model of evangelism and engagement for the students.
During the street outreach two years ago, we first became aware of the “wild boys.” These young men, ranging in ages from their late teens to early thirties, live on the streets, involved with crime, drugs, prostitution, and shunned by their families for their behaviors.
In working with NLFA and a local church, this outreach was held by a tunnel and dry river bed near where the “wild boys” live. It was not a safe place, as this area averaged two or more murders a week. Even so, several of the “wild boys” responded to the gospel. At that point, NLFA members began to minister and disciple these young men. Once a quarter for about a year they brought them to their headquarters for a week of intensive discipling while also providing them with food and shelter.
Fast forward to today. Most of these young are still serving the Lord and occasionally help NLFA with small errands and earn money for their work. In fact, several have been restored to their families and have returned home—wild boys no more!
Another inspiring story to come out of this slum is that of Lengdung. While not a ‘wild boy’ himself, Lengdung also struggled to survive in an area overrun by crime, drugs and violence.
During our street ministry two years ago, he too accepted the Lord. He soon felt the Lord call him to start a library and book club for the neighborhood. He approached NLFA senior staff who blessed this idea and jumped in to help. Today, as you read this, Lengdung is now a college student and his library has been up and running for almost a year, offering books of faith, including many classics, that local residents can read and discuss. A spot of hope in a neighborhood where hope is in short supply. God is good!