This Tuesday our Barnabas group met with our second "elder" to receive wisdom and spiritual guidance. Emmanuel Akanet is a Ph.D. student from Nigeria and is a member of the Evangelical Church of West Africa. He has a ministry to disabled people in Nigeria.
Emmanuel started our meeting by telling us to open to Matthew 28:16-20. Starting from this command of our Lord, Emmanuel began his story by telling of the missionaries who had come to Nigeria to bring the gospel to the Muslims in the north. He said that the Muslims were stubborn and not open to the gospel so these missionaries went to the non-Muslims who readily received the gospel. Emmanuel emphasized that his people had been evangelized by Muslims and had refused to convert but they had accepted Christ. His father was an evangelist to the Muslims in Nigeria.
Emmanuel next told us, "I am giving you my testimony so everytime you see me you will know that God is God." His mother died when he was two weeks old and his father died when he was four. Emmanuel presented his survival under these circumstances as miraculous. As Americans it may not seem miraculous but I think the conditions in Nigeria might make his survival quite miraculous.
As he grew up, Emmanuel felt a strong desire to serve the Lord. He was the head of his class in a large high school but with two years left he lost interest in all of his books other than the Bible. He went into the ministry after high school and two years later went to a Bible college. Emmanuel's second miraculous experience was God's providence in allowing him to come to the US. He told us of his prayer life and how people would unexpectedly come forward with money to support him.
Emmanuel warned that there will be many trials that a person who is going into ministry will have to go through. He said that some of the deepest wounds will come from other "Christians." He said, "We should be available like Philip and God will tell us to do what we have not planned to. God will tell us to do what does not make sense to us." He also said, "It took God miracles to keep me alive. It took God miracles to bring me here. It took God miracles to keep me here."
On the subject of spiritual warfare, Emmanuel gave us some sound advice. He said that some can cast out demons very easily and some can heal people easily by the power of God. He said that we should not desire to be like that minister - It is up to God whether we will cast out demons and heal people. In our personal lives, when it comes to spiritual warfare, he said that we simply need to focus on our relationship with God and give our life to God. The way in which we check our relationship with God is by asking: "Am I praying?" "Am I in the word?" "Am I portraying the love of Christ?"
It was a blessing to hear our brother from Nigeria speak. He was a prime example of the vital and committed Christianity we hear about in the global south.