06 December 2005

Texas and Nigeria Evangelize Each Other

The Guardian, whose reporters are equally mystified by Higher Beings and Rural Beings, reports on a fair-play turnabout in missionary endeavors: Nigerian missionaries evangelizing rural Texans. I wonder if they would have used the same template to describe all those Southern Baptist missionaries, many (often the richest) of them Texans, who descended upon xenophobic Japan after World War II.
They say that God moves in mysterious ways, but perhaps never more so than when telling the leaders of Africa's largest evangelical church to build their North American headquarters in Floyd....

The Nigerian church, founded in Lagos in 1952, paid about $1m (£580,000) for 198 hectares (490 acres) of pasture, on which it is planning to build cottages, a 10,000-seat amphitheatre, an artificial lake and possibly a modest waterpark, leading some to dub it a Christian Disneyland. At the moment the only structure is a large conference centre that last month hosted a meeting of more than 1,000 ministers and volunteers....

Ajibike Akinkoye, the regional church leader in Dallas, said that when he arrived in Texas more than 10 years ago a voice spoke to him. "The Lord ... said 'you are not going to build a megachurch church yet. You are going to plant little churches around the Dallas metroplex and then I will give you a camp.'" After a series of what he describes as miracles he was pointed towards Floyd. "God directed us there. Through him now we want to open up things that will be great and everlasting blessing to everybody."

Mr Akinkoye said that before buying the land he had not known about the history of the area, where until recently the Ku Klux Klan had openly thrived. "It never crossed my mind there could be any opposition or danger," he said. "But when people pointed that out it made me feel 'thank God we are there', because even if they are negative towards us, or violent, or kill one of us, that is not going to stop the work God wants us to do. We have no fear, because whatever happens it is God's will."

Judge Joe Bobbitt is everything you would expect a Texas judge to be: a walking giant with a crushing handshake, cowboy drawl and a ready smile. In his office at the courthouse two flags - the Stars and Stripes and the Lone Star of Texas - frame his desk. Continuing the stereotype, you might not expect him to have an entirely tolerate attitude towards outsiders taking over a patch of Texas land. But nothing could be further from the truth. "When they first came here I thought their plans were pie in the sky," he said. "But I met with the head of their organisation from Nigeria and a gentleman from Dallas, and I've done my due diligence on this; there are no negative marks on this organisation.

"I did an internet search, and normally, you know, with an organisation this size, somebody, somewhere has something bad to say. But I haven't been able to find any negative websites on these people. They've repaired the road, put in water and sewage and raised the value of that land for everybody. It's going to be good for the community."
via Danny Yee's blog

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