INTERVIEW WITH THE DIRECTOR OF GLOBAL MISSIONS BOARD OF THE NIGERIAN BAPTIST CONVENTION
D: Thank God for the opportunity to share and interact. Thus far God has been so good and merciful and he has used all of us; for which we are very grateful. We are close to two years and specifically we have spent twenty one months in the office by the grace of God.
M: We are aware that the Mission goals for 2012 were published as a booklet and distributed to thousands of people. How far have you gone in fulfilling the mandate? What are some of the mission achievements recorded in the last two years?
D: God has helped us so tremendously like I said. In the last report to the Board and to the EC of the Convention, there was a score sheet which was made comparing the goals and the achievement thus far; and the summary of that score sheet is that by the grace of God, for the goals of 2012, as at December 2012, we had achieved 70%; in terms of outreach to people, discipleship, church planting, mission infrastructure, mission equipment like vehicle and so on. In some places, we can say that we have outweighed our projections. For example, we projected six vehicles for 2012, God gave us nine. We got more than we anticipated, to God be the glory. Generally, we can say that God helped us. In the last two years or twenty-one months, I can say that in terms of outreach, we have been able to reach out to more than three hundred thousand (300, 000) persons on the frontiers, both at home and abroad and also by the grace of God about twenty-two churches have been planted; in 2011, we had six and in 2012, we had about sixteen churches; that’s in church planting. And by God’s grace, some mission houses that were started by my predecessor have been completed. For example, the Ilaje mission house, the Biliri mission house, the mission house in Dukawa Home mission field and some church buildings were also done, for example the church building in Freetown, capital of Sierra Leone was completed, the church building also in Agouna in the Republic of Benin was completed, and the church building in Tchetti also in the Republic of Benin is nearing completion. So we thank God that God has helped us to achieve that. In training, the Lord has also helped us to complete the block of three classrooms in Oke-bola near Ogbomoso, and also a block of three classrooms in Gidan-Ahmadu, Dan-jaji. A lot of structures are going on but my most important joy is that people are coming to know the Lord. There are several baptisms in thousands and several people are being discipled. By God’s grace also, we have been able to invite more people to join us in ministry; in other words, new staff have been recruited, and also there is a missions handbook that spells GMB policies, guidelines and projections; therefore we can say that God has enabled us to break new frontiers in the last twenty-one months by His grace.
M: It was publicly announced before the Baptist people at last year’s NBC annual session in Lagos that GMB will penetrate South Sudan by the end of April, 2012. What are the steps being taken to achieve this goal? Are there challenges?
D: By the grace of God, the GMB is partnering with Victory Baptist Church, Ajah in Lagos and as a result of that partnership, God has helped us to deploy a missionary to South Sudan in September of 2012. He is doing very well now; the membership of the new church planted in Juba, the capital of South Sudan has gone close to forty (40) and the NBC is also planning on sending another missionary couple to South Sudan. The challenge that we can say we are facing now is that of fund. South Sudan is expensive to live in; it’s a poor country but they are influenced by the other rich countries surrounding them. Therefore we need a lot of fund to continue to sustain our missionary in that place; particularly, the salary of our missionary in South Sudan should be more than what we have as salary for other missionaries in other parts of Africa because of the condition of living in that place. So we are praying and believing that the Lord will provide for us to be able to do that. Coupled with that is the challenge of accommodation and like I said, life is expensive in South Sudan but we are trusting that God will provide.
M: Baptist people love missions and are always eager to do something for the Lord. Are there pressing needs that mission lovers, churches, associations and conventions can help the Board handle?
D: Yes, when you look at our goal, we intend to aggressively plant churches in the cities using Paul’s strategy of starting from cities and then going to the hinterland. We intend to bombard every major city in Nigeria with a standard Baptist church, a decent Baptist church that is capable of growing within two to three years so that church will be able to also plant other churches both in Nigeria and abroad; and this is expensive. In some places you would need three million naira (N3, 000, 000) to buy one plot especially in Eastern Nigeria so the 20% of 20% that we receive from our cooperate funding is hardly enough to even do something like that. We need special donations from mission loving Baptist churches, individuals and organizations for us to be able to realize this. And then we also have a need of professionals who are Baptists, who will help project our vision of planting churches in every nation in Africa that is not reached. In many of those places, traditional evangelism of carrying a big Bible is not acceptable so we need professionals like doctors, veterinary doctors, agricultural experts, engineers or young men and women who will go and who will use their skill to plant churches and then propagate the real gospel. We need that and we need our people to partner more with us in terms of giving us good information of what they are doing on the frontiers so we can partner together. So apart from fund which has been a perennial problem, we need people now. We need people to go in the name of Jesus Christ using their professional skills that they have acquired.
M: Thanks a lot for your time. Do you have any other thing to share with the Baptist people?
D: Number one, I’ll like us to cooperate. We love missions so much but I will like us to leave individual, skeletal, separate mission endeavour so that we can all come together and move forward faster. We remember that it was because each church could not go as fast it could that the Convention came together in 1914 to harness resources together so we could reach more people. So I want to appeal to Baptist churches, Baptist groups and individuals that we should not be doing missions skeletally and separately. Let us all come together and forge ahead so that in that unity, there will be strength. Let me give a little example. In a particular mission field on the international frontier, there are more than thirty Baptist churches that are working on that field and they are working independently; only a few of them are working with the NBC missionary that is there. These Pastors of the mission churches in this country receive instruction from their mother churches here in Nigeria. So it looks like there are 30 conventions in one mission field, where the NBC already has a missionary who should coordinate and synthesize the work that are done there. One church will be working on the foundation of a building, another church is also laying the foundation of a building; one church started a school, another church started a school; four schools are not completed, three foundations are there but if we had come together, we would have said instead of having projects that are not completed, let’s harness resources together, you lay the foundation, we build another church roof and we can now say Convention has a church structure here, but as it is things are skeletal so there is need to come together. When the people go to the mission field, let them let us know so that we can, together, take a decision on what each church could do for the corporate good of the Baptist people and for world evangelization. And secondly, I’ll like to thank all Nigerian Baptists for the support they have given this administration since we came; it has been unprecedented. I have received letters, phone calls, fund designated to several places, and I believe the people have continued to pray, we have raised more than 60, 000 prayer partners since we came; recorded and documented. That shows that many people are praying for missions and that’s enough to move ahead. So that’s my appeal; appeal to come together to cooperate, appeal to give us information when they go the field, and thanksgiving for their support thus far. I believe that together, we will achieve the goal of reaching the whole world for Christ. Amen.