Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Catching Up

Shoot! Sorry to those of you who have been wanting to keep up with what I've been doing here in Nigeria. Leave it to me to forget about the existence of my blog for a month and a half! God has been quite busy working in my life and in lives of people around me. Since the beginning of March the photography ministry has progressed quite a bit. It had been going slow, but making the choice to bring my camera with me to a small cultural festival turned out to be a turnaround point! I had been advertising the ministry over a email group called joslink, but I hadn't received many offers from missionaries around the area who needed help. At this cultural festival two women noticed me and asked if I was the one sending out emails about the ministry. After a few minutes of conversation I had two gigs lined up! Since then, word seems to have gotten out and I have managed to keep relatively busy. Unfortunately, I only have an iPad to go through photos with (trust me, it is SLOW), which was causing issues with the length of time between taking the photos and returning them to whoever I was helping. Thank the Lord one of my kind neighbors has been so gracious as to let me borrow her Mac with iPhoto on it when I need to do editing. The video work with Sports Friends has progressed as well. Lately I've been working on a project that calls for testimonies from kids who have gone through the program. I spent time in a village called Pushit conducting interviews and getting shots of our Nigerian friend Moses leading a coaches training. Seeing the way that God has reached out and touched the lives of these children through the coaches in the program is amazing and encouraging. Often times I don't get to see the results of the ministry we do here, and with the state of turmoil that Nigeria is in it is easy to become discouraged, but God has made it clear that He IS at work and He IS changing lives. Due to the job market back home in Vancouver, I've got to depart a month sooner than I expected. I will be leaving sometime within the next three weeks! The next few weeks will be stressful preparing to leave. First, I have paperwork to get through and lots of arrangements to make, but since Nigeria has such a relationship oriented culture, a lot of my preparations lie in relationships. I need prayer for ending well here in Nigeria. I will be focusing on seeking wisdom in the way I prepare these relationships for my departure. Goodbyes are going to be hard, but I know God has got some pretty big plans for me elsewhere in the world. Thanks everyone!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


At the beginning of this month I made the decision to spend less time in Lagos with Threadstone so that I could focus on making my ministry and relationships here in Jos more fruitful. Since that decision I have been able to invest more in my ministry here in Jos. I mentioned in my last post that I was trying to start up my own photography ministry, and so far this has worked out! I have gone to several different workshops and classes to cover the action there, and Sports Friends has taken advantage of my interest in photography as well. I spent the first two weeks of this month tracking down the general secretaries of several different denominations to film them sharing their denomination's testimony with Sports Friends. We will insert these testimonies into a generic Sports Friends video to personalize the video to the denomination of church we are visiting and presenting the Sports Friends vision to. So far the project has been a success, but we are only a small portion of the way through it. I will keep you all updated on any progression.

I arranged to go down to Lagos last week for just one week because Threadstone had a large show coming up, and they wanted me there to rehearse prior to the show and play with them. Unfortunately, we experienced some minor (well, actually major) scheduling flaws, and when I arrived in Lagos I soon found out that the show had not been scheduled at all and that there was no reason for me to come other than to play with the band in church on Sunday morning. It was Monday that I determined that I needed to return to Jos, but it was Friday that I was actually able to leave. This is just one example of how God has been working on my patience this year! I have been realizing lately how much of a blessing hardships can be.

My time in Jos since returning from Lagos has been eventful to say the least. On Sunday morning a suicide bomber attacked the Church of Christ in Nations headquarters church just down the street from my apartment. When the bomb exploded the whole house shook and few windows on the bottom floor were shattered. The force was so strong I thought that the bomb had gone off right across the street. The blast only claimed 10 lives and injured 50, which is a miracle! Fortunately, the bomb did not cause much structural damage to the church itself. The church is a large building, which is still under construction, and if it had fallen the casualties would have been in the hundreds instead of just 10. Just after the explosion, Christians retaliated on a small scale by attacking a couple of nearby muslims and by driving nearby muslims out of their shops and burning the shops afterwards. Missionaries were confined to their compounds for the rest of the day, but yesterday things seemed normal and peaceful in Jos so we were allowed out. Please be praying for Jos though! This city has faced much, and the people need prayer.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Quiet Time In Jos

This past month has been much slower than previous months. Threadstone didn't have much on their schedule, and I had to miss what little they did have because of the fuel subsidy strike, which closed down airports temporarily. During my time in Jos I have been able to complete some work with Sports Friends, but the ministry has slowed down the past two weeks because Kyle Abts took the team to the international Sports Friends conference in Thailand. In the meantime I was able to work on college applications, relationships, personal reflection, and photography.

As of Sunday the 29th I was informed I have been accepted to Seattle Pacific University, which is my top choice of school! I'm thankful that God and I are seeing eye to eye on this one. The pressure of getting accepted to a school is off, but I'll be spending the next few months sorting out arrangements to get myself registered and ready for school in the fall.

One advantage of being in one place for an extended period of time is the ability to see friends on a regular basis. Being around Jos has given me the opportunity to build my relationship with the Ibrahim family, and especially Gwakman. Gwakman has been over for several more sleepovers, which have truly been blessed. Gwakman has become a good friend to me, and I'll be sad to leave him when I return to the states. Aside from Gwakman, I've been able to form strong relationships with some of the Hillcrest teachers. Multiple times a week I will be at the Hillcrest compound to cook and eat dinner.

At the beginning of the year, Chris Cowie told me that this year was just as much about personal growth as it is serving God, and he asked me to think of one way that I wanted to grow this year, and after thinking for a minute I told him that I wanted to discover where I fit into the body of Christ and to develop a strong sense of what my talents are. This peaceful time in Jos has been a blessing to my personal life. Through the past few months it has become clear to me where my talents lie, and most of all where God has been using me. God has blessed me with an artistic mind and opportunities to use that talent to give back to Him. The most prominent example is my involvement with Threadstone. More recently, in the absence of Sports Friends and Threadstone work, I have been trying to serve through photography. I have come up with a solid plan or ministry idea yet (something to be praying about please), but I've gotten it started at least. In Nigeria, to hire a professional photographer is so expensive it's absurd, and Christian organizations don't normally have the excess money for such an expense. This past week I volunteered to do a free photoshoot for another Christian rock band called Stage One, and I covered a trauma workshop for a church that has suffered greatly from the violence here in Nigeria. The photos turned out great, and I'm hoping to be able to do more work like this in the near future. P.S. If you want to see some of the pictures I've taken, they are on my Facebook, just add me.

Thanks everyone for the prayers!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Spiritual Life Conference

Starting a June 2nd I attended the annual SIM Spiritual Life Conference, which is essentially a retreat for all of SIM staff to come relax and also grow spiritually. I got the opportunity to serve with the worship team and also to work with the high school/middle school kids with a team from Moody Bible Institute in Spokane. Working with the worship team went well, but it was such an encouragement to see how quickly the youth team was able to connect with the missionary kids and to be able to connect to the high school guys on a deeper level. From the start the main youth leader, Aaron Coski was able to address issues that are specific to missionary kids, and during small groups my co-leader and I were able to get the high school guys to talk about what is really going on. By the end of the week we were revealing and discussing things that the students didn't know about each other.
I'm back in Jos now, and it looks like I will be here for all of January. I'll be starting up with Sports Friends again, but this time I will play the role of cameraman/photographer. As a Christmas present (from myself), I received a new digital SLR camera. Kyle Abts wants me to shoot a Sports Friends video to send back to America and to use as a way of spreading the Sports Friends vision within Nigeria. In addition to my work with Sports Friends I am using my time in Jos to focus on relationships with my local Nigerian friends. Tonight I am having Gwakman over to spend the night and I will be seeing many of my other friends as the month progresses. Thanks for your prayers!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Music Ministry In Lagos

This past Sunday, Threadstone started a youth ministry in The Waterbrook Church in Lagos. Our primary job in the ministry is to lead worship for the youth, and the second is to build relationships with the kids to disciple them and be a light into their lives through friendship. The ministry went fairly well today. It was the first time that these teenagers have ever been in a service together so they were a little shy at the start, but by the end of the service they were opening up and having fun worshipping God. Our primary focus was to break down the "cool" walls that these kids put up and allow them to have fun together. Our hope is that in the future the kids will be comfortable enough with us and each other that they can share what is really going on in their lives. We barely touched the surface of the pain some of these kids have endured today. The speaker's talk was on the pain that all of us feel, namely the pain that is caused by things that have happened to us. After the program was finished we were able to hangout with the students and get to know they better. They were shy at first, but after a few minutes they warmed up to us and we were able to connect with them. We talked mostly about superficial things like names, where they were from, and interests. Next time we meet we hope to take the conversation a little further and really start to build strong relationships with the students. I personally am excited for this ministry because as far as I have seen it is the only ministry for teenagers in Nigeria that reaches out to address what teens are really going through. Please be praying for the success of this ministry, it has so much potential to help teenagers build their relationship with God!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Old Friends and Exciting Opportunities

Just a couple weeks ago I was given the opportunity to surprise Victor Ibrahim by picking him up from boarding school. Some of you may remember Victor, whom we befriended in 2008-2009 and have sponsored ever since. Victor was excited to see me and found it humorous that I was driving him around Jos. It was encouraging to see that Victor was looking healthy and to hear how well he is doing in school.
Since our little reunion I have been with Threadstone going back and forth between Lagos and Abuja. The band is beginning to really take off in the Nigerian music industry. Recently we played a show called "Industry Night" at the Oriental Hotel in Lagos. All of the major artists, radio stations, and producers were present for the show, which made it a critical show or the band, and we nailed it! People accepted the idea of Christian rock music for a secular audience with open arms, and since then things have begun to pick up for the band. This past weekend we were called to Abuja by the top rated radio station in the city for a radio interview and a big event called "Praise Jam."
I would also like to apologize for the lack of posts and the lack of detail within the posts. The only internet I have access to is the internet on my blackberry phone. I will do my best to start posting more often to include more details.
Thanks for all your prayers and support!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Sports Ministry in Lagos

I've been in Lagos for the past two weeks spending time and practicing with Threadstone. As far as the band goes, we haven't had as much activity as usual, but I have been able to stay busy with sports friends. This week there was a sports ministry coalition conference here in Lagos. Kyle Abts flew in for the event, and we were able to attend together. On the fist day I didn't know what to expect, but it turned out to be a week for sports ministry leaders to get away for a week for rest and spiritual growth. Kyle and I seemed to be attending as guests of honor since we were seated at the front. Kyle spoke for part of the session, but had to leave early to fly back to Jos. Two days later I came back to attend again, but the main speaker, Hillary, asked me to speak for forty-five minutes! With just a few minutes to prepare, I managed to speak for half an hour about taking opportunities and the way God works through us. I would appreciate it if you could all be praying for wisdom for me because as a missionary, I am often placed in the position to teach people who are much older than me. Thanks for the prayers, and thanks for reading!