Childless Couple Lifted Up While Lifting Up Christ
Renascent Education Ministries Int’l, Nigeria, West Africa
by Mary’s husband
It is Sabbath morning! However, Mary cannot find any joy anywhere in distant Idah town in Igala land where there is no Seventh-day Adventist church. And I, her husband? I am somewhere in Asia tending to some business affairs.
Many thoughts run through Mary’s mind. “Why did I have to come this far for an education? There are better schools than this around Aba, Eastern Nigeria, where I come from. My church and matrimonial families are there too, and I miss them so much. Oh I miss my mother-in-law and her heartfelt prayers for me in this my condition. Sometimes I wonder why God will be so kind to give me such a wonderful mother-in-law and yet give me not even one child. I’m here because I AM CHILDLESS.”
Mary’s thought deluge doesn’t abate.
“This is a social asylum from the harsh world around my husband and me. But it’s not a spiritual one at all. I haven’t attended any church activity this week for lack of Seventh-day Adventist church fellowship in Idah. Will my faith be risked for my childlessness? God forbid! I won’t let go. So the only way out is to go home. But no, the doctor said we should be a little far from home and each other so as to miss each other. But wait; don’t the Igala people need Jesus as much as I do? What if it is for this reason that He has both kept me childless and brought me to do my tertiary education here?”
So, Mary brainstorms on how to reach a people whose local language she cannot speak. Then the inspiration came that she should go with her Bible and study guide under a cashew tree in an open place and do her worship. Alone under the cashew tree Mary sang her songs of worship, mainly children’s songs. Sing she did, and children started coming to her one by one to hear the melodious children’s songs she was singing. She would then welcome each one and teach them Bible stories which would be retold, to their parents’ utmost chagrin.
Her church family was being formed but alas, it was not to last. These children were kids of conservative Muslim parents, and so must not be mesmerized by anybody to leave their faith. Therefore, they stopped Mary from preaching and worshipping with these precious children. Would her heart be broken? Yes. But, would her faith be daunted? No, never. Being deprived of fellowship with her children-friends, she moved into the school area and could be found under another cashew tree doing her worship. Can we say she was lonely? Yes. But it was not to last for long, as God’s plans for her were soon to be revealed.
Like Elijah, Mary was not the only one who had not bowed the knee to Baal. Bunmi was somewhere in the same Igala land longing for a church family. In her quest, Bunmi had to go to far away Makurdi city, which is a two-hour drive north. How Bunmi and Mary found each other can just be said to be providential.
In the meantime, Mary is not making as much progress as would satisfy her at populating her church family. She writes me about the issue she can’t handle alone. I too feel I cannot handle it alone. So, I talk to my local conference president, the late Pastor J.A. Achilihu. We were impressed that an evangelistic series in Idah would be the best idea. We rallied the Nigeria Association of Adventist Students and our then Conference evangelist, the late Pastor Henry Anukam, who went with Pastor James Aromeh and me to cultivate together the ground Mary had prepared. That evangelism yielded 29 souls to the glory of God! He had provided a huge Adventist family for Mary and Bunmi.
But Mary’s joys were not complete.
Antonia, a bosom friend she had made at school, comes from a devout Protestant home. Antonia’s uncles, upon whom she relied for school fees and her daily bread, were even knights of that Protestant faith. Antonia felt that she couldn’t accept this Seventh-day Adventist faith as she thought it would mean ending her academic career. Also, how could she do away with her expensive jewelry just because of a new belief? But my wonderful wife, Mary, would not cease to pray fervently for Antonia and attempt to share her the truth with her. But sometimes a straw will break the camel’s back, and God was fixing that up.
A lecturer of theirs scheduled a quiz for a Sabbath morning, spurning all the pleas from my wife and some of her classmates who wished to help her. But Antonia began to prepare for the Sabbath quiz. Friday night Antonia burned the midnight candle, and Sabbath morning she thought she was good to go. But how good was she? Everyone who wrote that quiz failed. In fact, the highest score was 13.3%, and Antonia scored 1.67%.
This Sabbath test was to be 40% of the class’s total grade, so my wife was left with only 60%. When her cumulative result came out, she had 53%! We believe her lecturer faced the same fate as Pharaoh when he let the Israelites go. This is because he finally came back to his senses and opted for a review of her scores by the school’s senate. When her script (which he had beforehand turned in to them, as is the requirement in Nigeria) was retrieved and scored before the senate, the score increased to 56%! Antonia was convinced without doubt this time that Mary was on the rightest track there could be. She opted for baptism and was baptized into the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
As was expected, the winds of persecution began to blow. Antonia’s uncles disowned her, and she lost that source of livelihood. However, God had already prepared a way of escape for her. Some good Adventists took up the responsibility with joy, and ‘no hair of her head’ was tampered with. Today, to God’s glory, she is now married to a Seventh-day Adventist pastor.
Mary’s little yearning for a church family has grown into not just a church, but a district: the Ibaji District. God is so good.
Our missionary thirst took Mary and me and the evangelism team God raised with us to not a few university campuses and communities. At Isu Njaba we felt moved to ask the people to bring their sick that God would heal them. Sincerely, this was a sheer step of faith, as we knew nothing that we could do and none of us was medically inclined. However, God healed the people with the ‘cups of water’ we offered.
But this opened our eyes to our need for medical missionary training. That need, when satisfied, brought us into the medical missionary training and health food ministry in which we now are involved.
In 2010, we visited the U.S. to gain some better ideas about this work. Our visit brought us to Wildwood and Uchee Pines Institutes, and finally into the blessed ASI family. Through the ASI link, we were given bakery equipment, including an industrial oven by Harbert Hill Academy. The big issue now was how to carry it from Savannah Tennessee, to New York for shipment. As we shared this need with the brethren at Uchee Pines, they graciously donated a Ford truck to us for the haulage. By God’s grace we were headed for Savannah and then NY!
Yet another hurdle remained. It was how to ship the blessings of the Lord home to Nigeria. The Lord used Uchee Pines Institute and other missionary-minded brethren to raise these funds. He is a great God! Today our bakery equipment is awaiting a bakery building. We are hoping on the Lord for funds to build one, as funds have been unusually slim.
Today, our ministry, the Renascent Education Ministries International, runs and hosts medical missionary training schools with LIGHT (Lay Institute for Global Health Training). The issue in Nigeria is that those willing to undergo the training have not the means to pay their way through school. Therefore, most LIGHT training sessions in Southern Nigeria, either full or part, are run on a scholarship basis from the little means the Lord gives us through my wife’s little nursery and primary school and our small bakery. Some Paul somewhere is most welcome to come over to Macedonia and help us.
I’m out of regular business and fully into this ministry ever since my medical missionary training. My wife is the greatest human support any medical missionary can have. The kids are coming up with this same zeal. We are now blessed with two boys and two girls. I believe Matthew 6:33 more than you do, trust me. God is adding ‘all these things’ to us. Mary is not childless anymore, but a happy medical missionary lifting Jesus higher and joyfully watching as He draws all men unto Himself.