Last time I meant to share about my experience of Nigeria since becoming part of this fellowship ‘Fusion International’, but I ended up sharing about my childhood and the last time I saw Dad… there are reasons for that which I may share another time.
My organization has an annual conference every September , it’s a special time and we are about to start this year’s one on Saturday. At conference we have a special service during which we welcome those who, after prayer, consideration and confirmation, have chosen to become staff members. It’s a solemn, prayerful occasion where we make promises to each other before God to encourage and support one another and serve Christ together in fellowship. It is these vows to God and each other that undergird our fellowship with one another.
As a staff member you can be asked to consider any placement anywhere – long or short term; the commitment is to be open to and seriously consider any such request before God and in fellowship with others. In either 2004 or 2005 I knew that for the first time since my parents split up, I was open to consider traveling to Nigeria on ministry business if God so wished. That was when I knew I was ready to become staff.
So when, in 2007 I was on the training team for the course that was to launch our work on the ground in Kaduna, Nigeria, it was no small thing. Aside from two ‘western’ girls navigating Lagos traffic and taxi system between the international and domestic airports, and then traveling one of the most dangerous roads on the CIA’s travel advise sheets, I had a mountain of attitudes and memories to climb over. But it was an amazing time! We had about 30 people and the work in the country was brought to life. I learnt a lot about transferring authority as I worked with Mal and he set me up to teach some of the senior small group sessions! Then six weeks later I made the trip on my own from the UK and spent another 10 days with the team doing some extra training with them. It was during this second trip that I got in touch with my Dad and told him I was in the country.
I haven’t been back since then, but I have travelled in other ways with the Nigerian team as they have grown and the work has developed. Initially we had Dave and Jo, an Ausie couple, on the ground in Kaduna working with the young team, and I had the privilege of connecting with them (from the UK) each week. In January 2008 Ghana hosted the African Cup of Nations, so we turned it into an opportunity for the Nigerian and Ghanaian Fusion teams to pilgrimage together. I flew over to Ghana and Dave and Jo along with 19 of their team made the three day road trip down Nigeria, across Toga and Benin, then up Ghana to Yendi in the north. Having the two teams work together to build the work in Ghana was an incredible experience. Since then the Ghanaians have headed across to Nigeria for a similar mission and a strong connection is building between the teams. In June that year I was asked to run an 8 week intensive internship course in Europe, 4 of the Nigerian team were interns. Six months later, in 2009, I was in South Africa and two of the four interns came and joined the team for nearly 18 months.
When I think of our Nigerian team, I think of young men and women who love God and come alive when they are sharing that love with others and seeing God’s will being done in and through them. They love to sing, preferably with others, and seem to have an innate ability for harmony and rhythm and simple celebration. I am grateful to these guys for the part they have played in enabling me to welcome home an important part of my history and to begin discovering the redemptive narrative that God has been writing through my life all along.