The building we use for church services is very near the new football (soccer) stadium Benin City is building. I imagine when it is completed and is in use, it will make traffic in and around our building very difficult. But then we are close to outgrowing the current meeting space, so perhaps it is time to begin looking for something else with more space, and perhaps in a slightly less congested part of town.
Because of some construction they were doing today, they had some of the area streets blocked off, so Osas was a little late getting to me. But we still made it in time for services to begin just about on time.
After a couple of discussions with some members about the way some are on their phones, up and down constantly during services, sleeping and so forth, I decided to bump the scheduled sermonette speaker, Roderick Smart, and take the sermonette time too. I’d given it some thought, and took the time to explain that we quite literally come into the presence of the Creator during services. In the opening prayer we generally ask for His presence and the guidance of His Spirit, so what does He think when we are disrespectful of Him during that time? I don’t do something like this often, but there does come a time when at least some mild correction is needful, and I felt this was the time.
So I asked, if we were to have an audience with royalty, like an Oba (native tribal king), or a president or prime minister, would we make a phone call, check social media, doze off or get up and walk out mid conversation? Certainly not! Then why do we feel it is appropriate to do so when we are in the presence of the One who created all things, and is far supreme to any human ruler? With one notable exception, everyone seemed attentive, and during the rest of services I noticed a change in behavior.
In the sermon I started with Matthew 24:37 where Christ stated that as conditions were in the days of Noah, so they will be just before His return. I discussed some of the parallel conditions described, but spent the bulk of the time looking at why Noah stood out. What were the characteristics of Noah that made him the man God could use to save the human race, and be a bridge between the worlds before and after the flood. In similar fashion, we must have these same qualities to be bridges between the world today and the world tomorrow.
Unfortunately, about a third of the way into the sermon one of our senior members, Mr. James Aghimien, collapsed. Mr. Aghimien is one of the founding members of the Church in Nigeria, having kept 50 feasts this past fall! But at 69 years of age his health is failing. He is no longer able to give sermons or sermonettes, and he has battled high blood pressure for some time. Sadly, the quality of health care and even the quality of the medications that are available are not always the best. It appears his collapse was a result of a spike in his blood pressure.
He was helped from the room to a side room where he could lay down. I stopped services and immediately anointed him. After a few minutes he was able to sit up and respond, and was able to drink a little water. Most of his family stayed with him during the remainder of services.
I went back and stopped to lead the entire congregation in prayer for Mr. Aghimien before finishing the sermon message. I finished on time at 1:30 pm. By that time it was getting quite warm in the little room, and my clothing was soaked through once again.
There were several people I needed to talk with about various things, and after a time the building was clearing, and it was time to go back. Osas was understandably preoccupied with his father and getting him back home, so Roderick Smart volunteered to drop me off at my hotel with his car.
He drives an elderly and very well used Peugeot, and he’s explained that it is very difficult to get parts for it. Presently, when the engine gets good and warm it will just shut off. He has to sit on the side of the road and wait 5 or 10 minutes for it to cool off a bit, then it will restart and he goes on. So every time he comes to a stoplight, he shuts off the car to allow us to go a bit longer before it decides to shut itself off!
We made it safely to my hotel, which is only about 10 minutes away, and as we pulled up to the gate the security guards began laughing and joking with him about his “jalopy”. He also laughed and told me they thought it was a jalopy rather than his chariot! I laughed too, but I can’t say I fault their assessment very much! But there is something to be said about a car on which no one has had to make a car payment for the last 30 years, or maybe even 40 years…
I enjoyed a relaxing Sabbath afternoon in my room, cooling off and drying off! After dinner I was able to call and talk with my wife for a bit, and then began gather my things to start packing. I must check out of the hotel by early afternoon tomorrow, and Osas will meet me to take me to the airport. I have a mid-afternoon flight scheduled back to Lagos. If all is on schedule I’ll have plenty of time to catch a taxi from the domestic airport to the international one (only a few minutes by car apart) and get checked in to wait for time to board for my evening flight to Amsterdam, arriving early Monday morning.
Then I catch a flight flying with the sun to Atlanta, my US port of entry. After clearing customs I’ll head to my gate to catch my final flight, #12 for this trim, back to Fort Smith where my lovely bride will likely be awaiting me as I come out of the gate area!
Thank you for reading along with my trip. I hope the details I’ve shared are of some value to you, helping you imagine what life is like in a different part of the world, and also helping you get to know some of your brethren that you may never have the opportunity to meet this side of the Kingdom of God!