Day 1 (Sunday) – In the Beginning
Today, New Covenant Church (NCC) Epe started with 17 people in Pilgrims in Transit hotel. This was a land breaking service. Pastor Bruce preached at NCC, Apapa. While Mummy Kate who had an entourage of 6 leading ladies was at NCC Ajah.
Around 3pm, the Lagos team and our advance party checked into their hotel aptly named De Rock Hotel. (It might have been named after the beds and pillows). By 4pm, Mummy Kate was ready for a walk so she asked her driver (brother & bodyguard) to accompany her. She was unaware that during the previous week 4 people had been kidnapped from the town. Walking down the roads, she was having a merry time greeting everyone as they sat enjoying the evening sun on their verandas. She suddenly realised that everyone was staring at her. Looking back, lo and behold, she discovered that not only did she have Bro Solomon as her escort but a fully armed, uniformed police man. Suddenly, she became a VIP! Everyone was eager to greet the white missionary walking down their street. So lots of opportunities arose for her to share her love for Jesus and explain the mission.
The conversations and interactions with the people attracted the attention of her armed escort. He was a Moslem. Would he like to become a Christian? She asked. He had seen the love of Christ ooze out of this remarkable woman. Yes, was his empathetic response. So they sat down and she explained the way of salvation. Mr Olatunde prayed to receive Christ. He became her interpreter. By the end of the week when he felt her converts had not understood her weird English, he took over as the preacher. What a lovely guy. We will miss him! He introduced his fiancée to us. They will get married in February, perhaps in our new church.
Not too much sleep on De Rock. It was stiff necks all around. Pastor Wole began suggesting emphatically that they move to another hotel. He is such a wise man.
While the services were going on in Apapa, Ajah and Epe, we attended NCC Ilupeju. It is wonderful to visit each year our Ilupeju family. After church, we went to “The Place” at Ikeja Mall for lunch. According to Gbenga, our group consisted of four New Covenant Church members, and one non New Covenant Church member who happened to be our host. Left of me he would fast or sing “o yomu yomu” in alto while we ate the fresh Nigeria delicacies. But Uncle Sam is a true gentleman. His sins were forgiven. After a bowl of pounded yam, egusi soup and asun meat, I got home and slept for 4 hours. Please pray for me for the days ahead.
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Day 2 (Monday) – A day of fun
While I was lazing around in Lagos, our advance party consisting of Mummy Kate, Pastor Bruce and the Lagos leaders were having fun.
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Pastor Wole decided that the team should speak to the stall holders in the fish market. Fishing is a main source of income in Epe.
Pastor Bruce was in his element. He quickly discovered that not only were freshly-caught fish on sale, there were snakes, armadillos, rats and monkeys – all well dead. What really got his attention was a huge tank full of crocodiles and alligators very much alive and kicking. In his excitement, he failed to notice that one of the crocodiles had escaped and was making for his ankles. What a blessed meal the animal would have consumed.
Meanwhile, the rest of the group were going from stall to stall telling the vendors that it was because of the amazing love of God that they were here. They shared the love of Jesus with them. Soon the traders were queuing up for prayer.
More fun in the afternoon. 250, mostly youthful, volunteers arrived. A tour of Epe commenced. The group following an ancient lorry packed with exuberant youths and a loud hailer. Operating the very loud hailer was Pastor Emmanuel from Badagry. He really went for it for two good hours. Meanwhile Pastor Bruce and many others were on foot greeting everyone they met with offers they could not refuse, of free medical checks, eye surgeries, dentistry and business empowerment. Handbills were distributed left, right and centre.
In the midst of all the fervour, bonhomie and laughter, Mummy Kate’s heart became heavier and heavier as she observed the plethora of mosques great and small. Some were three storey’s tall. The lack of churches and the gross darkness oppressing the town became obvious. The town was 90% Muslim but heavily, heavily into the occult. The Lord had told us that we were to bring His LIGHT and now we knew why.
To their great relief, Pastor Wole decided that the Lagos team should decamp to Pilgrims in Transit Hotel. Bye bye De Rock Hotel. De Rock Hotel was solid in many areas, especially the beds and pillows which were like concrete pillars. They were safely ensconced in Pilgrims. The team ate well, prayed exuberantly and hit the sack. Sweet dreams.
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Day 3 (Tuesday) – God messed up our plans for something better
I woke up to the noise of my host’s neighbour’s generator.
2 hours away Mummy Kate and Pastor Bruce rose to the sound of a loudspeaker. Their hosts, Pastors Felix and Yinka, had been preaching the gospel from 5.00 to 6.30am daily since they arrived 3 years ago in Epe. Plans were in place for a group to visit the 2 Obas (kings) at 9.00am. However, God had different plans for the day.
The team arrived at the camp ground at 8.00 am to set up for Wednesday. Over 600 people were sitting in an orderly fashion with numbered slips. Mr Jamiu Salami, a local tailor and indigene, arrived at the camp grounds at 3.30am seeking to benefit from the programme. He thought he would be the 1st in line. Alas, he met a hoard of people who had camped there from 3am. He took it upon himself to issue numbers (tickets). The people were ready for the outreach. The Obas’ visits were shelved for a visit of the King of the Kings.
Two hours away, the team started to assemble at New Covenant Church, Ilupeju. Sister Linda was the 1st person to arrive. Gbenga and I joined her later. The venue started to slowly fill up with people. Lots of hugs and kisses were spread around. Luggage also started to pile up. A taxi dropped 4 bags of medical supplies. There were more suitcases than people. It suddenly dawned on us that there would not be enough space for all the people and luggage on the bus. Pastor Bimbo came to the rescue. He shared some of the luggage amongst his church members who were also attending the programme.
The set off time went from 10.00 am, 10.15 am to 11.00 am. Where are all our members, we asked? Most were caught up in traffic. But one was lost. How? Uber had struck. Yes, Uber in Nigeria. Uber took him on a merry go ride around Lagos. After many frantic phone calls, he arrived safely. Zero rating for the driver. Apologising profusely, Akin L joined us on the bus. Onward Christian soldier marching on to war.
Next pick up point was Shoprite Jakande roundabout, Lekki. Great reunion with another group. We met them patronising Mr Biggs. Sit-down meals became a take away pack or a rush job. No waiting around. The bus was now overflowing with people and suitcases. We were short of seating space. My dearest friend became the conductor. He had the joy of standing for the rest of the trip.
The approach into Epe was beautiful. The bridge displayed the beauty of this ancient city.
The jetties and docking ports reflect the character of the town. We saw with our inner eyes potential and riverside homes in the vast expanse of riverside real estate untapped. The main road leading into the town was being redeveloped. The dust on the road was as thick as a harmatan storm. The road works had cut off some communities, with the drainage system acting as a barrier. We arrived at the hotel after a tiring two-hour journey. Another round of warm embraces with the forerunners and the Nigerian team. We are taking Epe by storm.
Back at the recreation grounds, facing a multitude, like Jesus did, the team was moved with compassion to start the programme a day early. No lined-up preacher nor worship team. No pens nor counselling slips. No reason either not to minister the love of God to these wonderful people. Mummy Kate and Pastor Bruce preached. A large number responded to the gospel praying to receive Jesus Christ. They prayed for the sick and many testified to instant results. God messed up our plans for a good reason. The revival had started. One alert townsman started taking names and phone numbers so that each of these early birds could be fast-tracked to the medics the next day.
Off to the Obas’ palaces they sailed. They had appointments with the kings of the land who were staunch Muslims. Sister Grace arrived just in time with Bibles and other gifts for the royals. The workers had a communion service afterwards, bonding and strengthening us for the work ahead.
The indoor sports centre on the recreational grounds was the heart of our medical activity. There was a main hall with six rooms. Two rooms were out of bounds. The main hall was allocated to the doctors and nurses. A section of the main hall was cordoned off for the pharmacy to dispense drugs through the windows. The dental surgery and the cervical smear test team had a room each. The store room doubled up as the laboratory. The pharmacy stored their drugs in the last room. Patients’ waiting areas was carved out of the passage way! We knew there would be trouble ahead.
The eye clinic and its registration area were located under two canopies outside. So was the medical registration tent. Chairs and canopies were limited. Blood pressures were rising. Lord, we need your help tomorrow.
We had our 1st meal and fellowship together. I ate like a king. Upgrade from amala and one-piece of meat to Eba and multiple pieces. Like I told my colleagues, it was beef and a pomo. I could not complain. New roles and responsibilities were allocated. Logistics to Sister Toyin and Brother Akin L. Welfare were Sisters Shade and Eucharia. They did not know what they were in for.
Everyone arrived safely. We thank God.
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Day 4 (Wednesday) – Lay down your life for your Saviour
We were housed at De Rock Hotel. It is a very new and nice place with most of the facilities working. Most, as opening the doors is like playing with a rubric cubic. The ‘Paint House’, to you “The Pent House”, which we occupied had no fan. The water tank overflowed into
our room. My nameless roommate walked around without his slippers on. He was happy with the state of cleanliness. I should say that the friendly staff over compensated for the minor inconveniences. The fellowship and camaraderie amongst the team was indescribable. Everyone was his brother’s keeper. We were excited.
We met at 6.30 am each morning to pray. It was a wonderful time of fellowship. We had the privilege of having Pastor Balogun and his lovely wife with us. What a humble couple. Across the ocean in London, we had a group of intercessors who also prayed daily at 6.00am with much enthusiasm. They provided us with 24-hour prayer and fasting cover. We enjoyed the privilege of having men and women from Nigeria, England, Ireland, Canada and the USA fulfilling the 3rd part of our slogan “Some come, some give and some pray”. Keep it up.
With over 50 people at our hotel, the transportation of people would always be a challenge. But not insurmountable. A portion of courage and willingness to lay one’s life down for Christ always does the business. We allocated people into the coach, private cars and SUVs. I was squeezed into the back of a Mercedes Benz with the bigz girls. Nice one. My roommate and Bro Solution offered to lay their lives down for Christ. It was either an hour walk, a trip on ‘Okada’ motor cycle or passage via a ‘Maruwa’ rickshaw.
Well, my brothers started with a trek down a red earth road. Five minutes down the lane, one man in a pair of bathroom slippers, the other in a pair of trainers, started to sweat profusely. Well, as their cheer leaders from our air conditioned seats we spurred them on. But we quickly realised that walking was not a lasting option. Frantically, we searched for an Okada. All the money in the Queen’s treasury could not get them a ride. Lo and behold, we saw an empty Maruwa. We blasted the car’s horn to attract the driver’s attention. I jumped out of the car to secure the services of the rickshaw. The heavens and earth rejoiced that our brothers had a ride to the campsite. Our euphoria lasted 60 seconds as the rickshaw sped through the traffic. A prayer meeting commenced in the car as the rickshaw erratically overtook cars and navigated corners. It looked like a Grand Prix race between the Okadas and Rickshaws. Lord, safe arrival for our brethren, we prayed.
The tents were full of people from yesterday. How do we handle the old and the new? I now understand the parable of the wineskins. The wineskin maker had to be on duty to help. Pastor Bruce preached powerfully. There was a spirit to spirit transmission. An altar call was made. The people came out in their 100s. Young and old, men in hats and women in hijabs. It was a remarkable sight. Thank you Lord for the souls.
Half of the tent went off for counselling. Another call was made for those wanting divine healing; 100s more came forward. Liberty Healing school was birthed. Sister Atinuke and her team went into action ministering to the people. People were told to sit in 10s in the front of the tent. Bro Gbenga O had his hands full coordinating the people and the counsellors. As people were prayed for they fell under the anointing. Various types of healings and deliverance were experienced.
In between healing school and healing school administration, I was at the medical section. The medical administration was challenging throughout the day. The number of people overwhelmed us. People were also not getting through to the doctors as a result of the bottleneck at the registration points and lack of space in the main hall. Lord, please give us wisdom. The medical facilities had to be rearranged. Dr Omololu started the reorganisation moving the nurses outside. This freed up extra room for the doctors.
The Eye clinic was up and running. The queues were long. The people were happy. Reading glasses were issued. The team of ophthalmologists earmarked 25 people for eye operations. The children’s church started alongside the main service. The teachers had come well prepared. The PA system was blasting with music. The tables were stocked with books, workbooks, Bibles and CDs.
The prayer tent was full of intercessors praying without ceasing. The deliverance tent also had their hands full of people being referred to them by the healing team. We left the site late, praising God.
|people were earmarked for cataract operations
|people were counselled
. A lame woman walked during prayers under the counselling tent. A man with health illness was set free.
Day 5 (Thursday) – They came back rejoicing and working
We were very expectant as we left the hotel. Yesterday was awesome. Today had to be greater. The tents were already filled with people again. A drama presentation followed the worship session. Now is your time to meet
with Christ boomed out of the mouth of the preacher. Bro Akin Abiona shared the testimony of a friend who had been waiting for a child after 12 years of marriage. She gave birth to a baby yesterday. God is in the business of answering prayers. After the altar call, people came out in their hundreds to say the sinner’s prayer. He prayed for the infilling of the Holy Spirit. They received it. People were prepared for water baptism.
Healing School followed the main service. Another altar call was made before healing school. Half of the people gave their lives to Christ. Mass counselling was held. 251 were seen and prayed for.
Medical administration went smoother. We had rearranged the reception bringing the nurses outside into a tent and adding an extra waiting area for the registered patients. The cervical smear team took over the manager’s office while the laboratory was spread over two rooms. God had enlarged our tents.
The pressure was on Sister Funke, Sister Stella and her team – Sisters Toyin and Efe. The crowd were getting impatient as there were no ophthalmologists to consult. Dr Emeka had his hands full issuing glasses to those in need. The Ophthalmologists arrived at 6pm after a marathon operating session. More people were screened for operations on Friday.
Yesterday a man with mentally illness walked into the grounds. The deliverance team grabbed him. A group of men and women led by Brother Olowe started the warfare. After a marathon session, he was set free. He had a meal, saw a doctor and slept overnight on the camp site. Today, he had a bath, was given new clothes and was led to see the doctors.
Thursday was a day of great reunions. Mary and Timothy from Badagry 2014 joined us as members of the welfare team. Taiwo from Awe 2015 also joined us as a counsellor. Mary was destitute when we met her in Badagry. Timothy was blind. Timothy had a cornea transplant while Mary was set up in business. Taiwo was near to death last year. She was rushed to hospital from the camp site diagnosed with congenital heart failure. They were all welcomed back as workers.
The Business empowerment tent was like a Turkish bazaar. There were stalls for everything. Gele tying, party make up, bead jewellery making, shoe and bag making, soap making, pofupofu making and IT skills. 8 people gave their lives to Christ during demonstrations. Halleluyah.
The children section had over a 100 children. The teachers taught them about the love of Jesus. Films were shown. They all loved it. Many children wanted to see a doctor so I arranged for the Paediatrician to see them in their domain. Over 80 children were seen. Unfortunately, Dr Banjoko observed that one in three of the children had a hernia. Never had she seen that before. Also amongst the adults was a high level of blindness. Things to pray about.
|people were earmarked for cataract
|people were counselled
|people will be followed up
|people were baptised in water
|various business empowerment sessions
|people received cervical screening
|cervical screening negative results
Day 6 (Thursday) – Testimonies
We returned to our hotel rejoicing in the evening. Giving glory to our Lord. Below are some of the stories.
Sister Beatrice spoke to a 10-year-old boy. She asked him what does he want. He responded that he wanted to know Jesus more. She felt God’s response was like that of Solomon, he will be given wisdom and understanding beyond his companions. She also met a woman who had had several miscarriages. She observed that she wore a strange ring. She did not disclose the source of the ring but agreed to take it off. She was prayed for her
Sister Gloria ministered to a backslidden woman who had attended an established church. The Holy Spirit said she should return to her first love. 4 people gave their lives to Christ.
Sister Grace was delighted to see Taiwo Oladokun from Awe who was near to death return as a volunteer. She had congenital heart failure leading to water retention issues. She also saw Timothy carrying water around the camp.
Mama Ayinde spoke to a Muslim woman covered in a hijab. She asked her Are you ready to give your life to Christ? She said no. As she directed her to the medical tent she informed her that on judgement day the words she had heard today will be recalled. The woman turned around and asked her to explain the word better. She gave her life to Christ. She asked how will she tell her husband.
We were encouraged to use John 14 “I am the way, the truth and the light” when speaking to Muslims as Jesus is the only way to heaven. They should be encouraged not take off their hijab but speak to their spouse and family about their conversion. They should let their family see the changes in their attitude and action.
Sister Bose spoke to a woman attending a Celestial Church. She told her story and prayed for her. She was taken to healing school. While praying for her in healing school she had a word of knowledge that the man she was living with was not her husband. She was amazed. She gave her live to Christ.
Bro Fred gave his testimony of divine healing. He had a pain in his leg due to the long flight from America. He heard the word go to the man of God. He was prayed for and Instantly some of the pain left his leg. He heard the word go to bed, God will do surgery on you. He woke up pain free.
Sister Linda gave the testimony about a woman who fainted while on the medical queue. People wanted to give her coca cola. She might have been killed as she had a 13.9 blood sugar level. She was diabetic. They looked after her. On checking the drugs in her purse, it was discovered that she had been given anti-depressants for diabetes. God help, Nigeria.
Sister Toyin had a dream overnight seeing a woman with stomach ailment and a man who had a thing limiting him. She met a man during healing school. While praying for him she felt the Holy Spirit say that he had something limiting him. She asked him about it. He said he had something tied around his waist. He was sent to the deliverance tent..
Day 7 (Friday) – There shall be showers of blessings
My 1st job for the day was to collate the stats for the past two days with Bro Peter our in house statistician. He held the information and media team together with super glue. We had previously walked around the camp site to agree our measures. Before I could blink an email had dropped into my inbox.Rev Balogun preached a powerful, life changing message from Hebrews 13:8. Jesus is the same yesterday and today and forever. The people poured out in their 100s again. There was a great thirst for the word of God. The landscape of Epe was changing,
The new believers were a bit rowdy. Eager to see the doctors and partake in the empowerment seminars, they surged forward to the counselling holding area. The ushers did their best to keep some order but it was a tough job. Those who were less able managed to get to the back of the tent but there were no chairs. Well, the first shall be the last. So we started to move people from the back to the counsellors’ tents.
I had a bit of time to have a quick chat with Pastor Bruce. He felt the people needed an outpouring of God’s love. He met a woman who had experienced 8 miscarriages in 4 years. She was depressed. After a hug and prayers, she had a wide smile on her face. He also met a 13-year-old muslim girl who gave her live to Christ. She did not know what to do next. These are issues which the newly established church in Epe will take on. During another quick chat with Rev Abraham, it transpired that we had purchased some smoked fish drying equipment which had been given to the Epe market executive committee. The market men and women had been empowered. 37 people gave their lives to Christ at business empowerment seminar. Attendees were encouraged to attend the church where their business proposal would be evaluated.
Mummy Kate was everywhere. She has super energy. She was leaping like a deer from place to place. I met her at the baptismal pool, pharmacy and counselling tent praying and spreading the gospel. People were always queuing to speak to her.
Yesterday Sister Toyin and Sister Funke met Mary a 4-year-old girl at separate places. Mary has bi-lateral cataracts. Blind in both eyes. She is a sweet and loveable girl. Mary was asked what does she want. Her response was I want to see. She has not been able to attend nursery school because of her disability. She was stuck at home with her grandmother because her mother who is a widow was not coping well. We could not operate on her because her operation had to be under general anaesthetics. In addition, heart problems might also be linked to a case like this.
Sister Funke spoke to the ophthalmologist about Mary. The consultant said the operation could only be undertaken at University College Hospital, Ibadan or University of Benin Teaching Hospital. Lord, we need a miracle.
Do you believe is a 24-hour miracle? You might have read about one or heard about one. Or Prayed for one. Here is one. Sister Funke started to pray for mercy and favour. Hallelujah, God made a way. Overnight, there was a miracle. Sister Funke’s daughter agreed to sponsor the operation. All expenses paid. Off to the cardiologist she goes tomorrow, on her way to regaining her sight. Remember the song? God will make a way where there seems to be no way. He walks in ways we cannot see. He will make way for me. Jesus is indeed the same yesterday and today and forever.
We had prayed for favour with the Director in charge of the grounds due to some issues with our rental approval. He came on site to inspect our activities. He met with one of our directors who explained that the love of Christ is demonstrated through our works. He listed attentively to the gospel and received Jesus as His Lord and Saviour. Whoa, what a miracle.
We met Emmanuel Amada, a security officer, who wore a dark pair of glasses. He was beaming. He has a cataract surgery on Thursday. Previously, he was blind in his left eye. On Thursday, he tripped over the tent wire a couple of times because of his partial sightedness. But now he can see. He said ‘I feel splendid and beautiful’.
As we were taking our team photographs, we had two honorary members added to our portrait.
“Head master” Olowe and Mr Adeoye Olojo. Mr Olojo, a former Lagos State Government, senior civil servant, strayed into the ground Wednesday. He had mental health issues. After some deliverance sessions, he was set free from the tormenting spirits. He will be admitted to a resettlement unit after the programme.
It was reported that a man went to the mosque accusing them of wickedness and keeping the people in darkness. He disassociated himself from the group affirming his belief in the living Jesus.
The dental team were busy counselling, scaling and polishing, undertaking extractions and prescribing medication to their patients. They noted that there was quite bad oral hygiene maintained in the community. High blood pressure and hypertension was also discovered amongst their patients.
There is power in our words. God is very close by when we pray. In the morning, we prayed for showers of blessings. It rained. Some of canopies were blown off. The campsite was waterlogged. The football tournament was delayed for a couple of hours due to the rain. Heavens opened over Epe. Despite the downpour, our work continued. The rain had cleansed the land. Washing away the sin and wickedness from the land. More showers of blessings we pray.