echnology is amazing, and to the best of my ability I have used it to enhance the assignment I believe God gave me on earth. Along with my brother/friend Chuck Odili, many have read articles online, which in many cases turned into an invitation and subsequently a seminar/conference/workshop. When facebook surfaced, I embraced that as well, seeing it purely as a tool for my assignment, and maximizing its potential within my-own ethical standards (you all would not believe the crap I get daily from demonic girls Phishing online - I pray daily).
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Patience Baffour is one of those young people who appreciates God through my writings (not sure if she reads Nigeriaworld or Facebook). We have never met, nor did she ever introduce herself to me (many I have not met, have introduced themselves). One day, she saw that the name of our organization is Christian Couples Fellowship Int'l and she in-boxed me about a similar organization in Botswana, that her Dad is involved with.
Patience connected her Dad in Botswana with me, and I inquired about their organization, after being satisfied with what they are doing, I put together a pack of materials (Books, DVD and CDs) and sent them to Francistown. My connecting with Bro. Smart Kachipare, led to a two year plan to visit for a conference.
While putting the trip together, it would be an in-law suicide (or else they'll have me refinance my bride price!) to go that far and not visit my wife's close cousin in JoBurg so I scheduled to stop JoBurg, I thought i'll get a friend i've known for over 30 years, now a full time RCCG pastor. Couple of weeks before my trip, I got an online inquiry about visiting JoBorg for a conference, I proceeded to let the pastor know that I will actually be visiting in weeks and would be spending the night, as tired as I would be, I would not mind speaking to a small group that night. It turns out, the person making the inquiry is a pastor as well, who works with my cousin-in-law and also pastor in the same denomination as my friend. We ended up all meeting for lunch on my way out.
The welcome party in Francistown, was kind-of overwhelming at first, I later figured out why. I was very well received - as usual (happens to me all the time) folks were surprised at my stature (and I was dressed down) when they saw me, I hope they recovered quickly. I was introduced to everyone, and we drove in a convoy to where Iíll be staying. After 5 days in their home, i've come to love Richmond and Mavis (both Ghanaians but have lived in Botswana for decades).
My schedule was packed the next day; the morning was a one-on-one meeting with many of the folks who organized the conference. I found out later that, the CCFB (Christian Couples Fellowship Botswana) could not organize the conference, so Mr. Kachipare, a very energetic (seriously charismatic, sometimes to a fault) and well known person in Francistown, put together a team of "influential and blessed" people in the community.
Getting to know everyone personally and sharing with them was very good for me. When I met the pastor of the church, where I spoke on Sunday, I was skeptical, but all my skepticism disappeared by Sunday (very good and humble young man - will keep in touch with him - Shoufer Prophetic Ministry, Tati, Botswana). I got to meet a woman (one of the organizers), whose story mirrored mine growing up, and she had me balling (I might need some therapy with all this crying lately), later got to meet her husband, and I thank God for what He alone did.
The gentleman who was by me most of the time, owned and run a CPA firm in multiple cities, and took the time out to simply drive me around, he has a beautiful wife, and their daughter captivated me with throughout the trip (thank God, Ola was not with me on the trip?). Meeting, MaKhaci (as she is called Ė Mrs. Kachipare), I immediately saw a wise woman, soft spoken but full have an amazing confidence in whom she is a story about her captivated me the most. She took care of her dying father-in-law in his later years, and when he (the father-in-law) was dying (away from home), he instructed his son (her husband) to take his dead body (or at least drive it by) past her daughter's (really daughter-in-law) house, in appreciation - nothing speaks more about an individual more than that.
I spoke with a group of pastors the first night on prioritizing as leaders, their personal relationship with God, their home (spouse and children) and then ministry, we went into real life examples of what that looks like. The next day, a Saturday we had an all-day conference, while the conference room was 80% full, the Chief (more like a first class chief in Nigeria) was being installed, then Saturday mornings is usually funeral time in Botswana (nobody could tell me why, just a tradition that has stuck, and nobody is willing to buck it!). However, I met an interesting man, considered to be one of the richest men in the city (he actually said so himself), who upfront told me he did not believe in Christ! So we engaged each other in about 20 minutes of "intellectual" Christianity, when he felt his questions were being answered he changed the topic, we promised to meet before I left but time would not permit (praying for his soul - very dogged and determined person, would be amazingly useful in the kingdom of heaven).
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The topics we cover that Saturday were conflict resolutions - with emphasis on communication, the pattern of conflict - with emphasis on personalities, and we spent a lot of time on sex, it seemed I was from another planet - I noticed that as vocal as the participant were not one of them mentioned the male or female sexual organ, they'll use words like "you know", anyway it was fun - a participant told me it was like you were in our bedroom (bad imagination). From what I gathered, Co-habitation is a serious problem (actually epidemic level), and it seems the government is at loss for what to do, I also learnt that the national government is cracking down on excesses of pastors (they recently instituted taxes, and refused to renew visas for many foreign pastors). Boy of boy, TB Joshua is very popular in this country, at least in Francistown.
Church on Sunday was great, I had my antenna out for the doctrines of the church, and I must confess that while I fellowshipped with them, there were no out-of-whack that stood out, instead I noticed the emphasis on bible. I left home prepared to speak on a topic but ended up, speaking on another, which I was told was important for them in that season.
After church, we (the team that invited me) went to a game reserve and planned to have picnic for dinner, but that plan was thwarted, we ended up driving through the reserve looking for games till closing time, anyway, we went to the home of one of the team members and had sandwich dinner. I stayed over at the coupleís residence to chat and got to know them more.
Chris (the accounting firm exec.) who by now was very close to me, did not like the game reserve we went on Sunday, so he offered to take me to another one on Monday.
Monday was packed; we visited a village that housed the dam that fed North-East Botswana with good water, and as custom demands, we visited the chief of the village (before proceeding) and presented gifts. North Botswana is experiencing some drought at the moment, so the water level was low, even the animals at the game reserve are feeling it (Lord, they could use some rain).
We came back to the city and visited with the Mayor and deputy Mayor of Francistown, then Chris and I went to the larger game reserve were we saw more animals and got close to few of them. I actually learnt a lesson watching the animals, when alone and we approach whatever animal it is ran like crazy, but when they are in a flock, they tend to run slightly then wait after a few yards watching your next move - confidence in numbers. On Monday night we had another session focusing on changing cultural norms that negate scripture, it was a very interesting discussion.
I was blessed by all of my new friends for coming to the airport to see me off - thank you thank you thank you, and I thank God for counting me worthy to be a vessel He works through; I pray that homes in Francistown would never be the same again.
The flight from Johannesburg to Lagos took 6 hours, and landing in Lagos was different in a kind of usual way, the good news is that the line for Nigerians moved very well but the line for foreign passport got stuck while people who know people moved ahead and many of us remain on the line, eventually the line started to move.
My first night was spent with my parents and the next night with my in-laws, I then spent the next three nights and four days with RCCG, The Lords Chapel Gbagada, Lagos.
It was a kind of re-union with Pastor and Pastor Mrs. Ade Omokorede, they were part of the 50 pastoral couples under Pastor Brown Oyitso, that went to Whispering Palms in Badagry, Lagos about 10 years ago (1993 to be exact) and they had twin kids after the retreat, it was also a pleasure seeing Pastor Brown again (and meeting Pastor Helen, his wife for the first time).
The first night was for everyone, in zone 7, LP 23 of the RCCG - we spoke on Marital Conflicts, the second night was for Singles in the zone, and in my estimate it was well attended and the topic was "selecting a Godly spouse". We had two sessions on Saturday, the first was for ministers in the zone and we talked about prioritizing as ministers, balancing ministry and our home (marriage and family). I felt this was a topic that we could have dealt more with, as I felt many in leadership did not want to ruffle feathers; I spoke with a few people after.
The second session of Saturday, was on sex and it came about during the question and answer time on Thursday. The talk was very frank and straight forward, and I could see the reluctance of folks in even mentioning names of human body or sexual anatomy. As usual when such issues are dealt with, there were questions and Iíve received many in-boxes already for inquiries.
The church decided to have a combined service (instead of two services) on Sunday, and I believe God was glorified. After service, I quickly went across the street (RCCG Maranatha) to say hello to Pastor Brown, after which the leadership of the church took me to lunch at the Chinese restaurant at the OPIC village (beside Ikeja Sheraton hotel). That Sunday, evening was spent with my family (parents, siblings, nephew and nieces).
Couple of days back in the US, Iíve received many testimonies from the whole trip already (I promise to get back to everybody), my prayer is that the Lamb that was slain would receive the reward of His suffering on behalf of this trip. I pray that what God has started, he will complete till the day of Jesus the Christ.
Pray along with me for my next mission (I define mission as when CCFI funds and plan the trip Ė not church or organization request invitation) trip in February 2014.
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