Port Harcourt, Nigeria – Part 1
Late Summer 2013
by Mark Jantzi
I am the last one of the team of seven from the United States to join the team in Nigeria for what will be a ministry to three nations. Five of the team, the Asbills (Burt, Nancy, Barak and Chris) and Wade Lux left the US on July 31. George Herrig preceded me by one day and I left home alone on Monday, August 12, arriving about 24 hours later via Air France in Port Harcourt, Nigeria on the evening of Tuesday, August 13. It will be exactly four weeks until I return home again. Since I am seated in the back of the plane, I am therefore nearly the last one in the foreign passport line at the airport, which is now housed in a makeshift type of tent. The procedures here are about the same as when I visited here 12 years ago and definitely less of a terror than when I first visited here 24 years ago, in which I described Nigeria as an armed prison camp with bereted soldiers everywhere holding machine guns and finding any occasion for stopping us – but not now. After enduring Air France and the Port Harcourt Airport’s harassing and intimidating procedures, I was glad to find my old friends, Mike Manilla and Boma, waiting outside for me, ready to drive me the one hour journey through “Nigerian traffic” to Br. Chijioke’s house, where a meeting was in process with Br. George speaking. This is a very nice house with many rooms to accommodate guests and I was given a private room in which to recover somewhat from a mere 5 hour jet-lag. It was 80 degrees when we landed and has remained in the cool 80’s all along here with continually overcast skies, no rain and a tolerable humidity.
The next morning after breakfast, I was informed that we were leaving immediately for the youth camp, for which I hurriedly repacked. This little trek turned out to be over an hour’s drive through very difficult traffic to the outskirts of the city. The venue is about a 10 acre boarding school campus owned and operated by a local fellowship couple, the elder Hubert and wife Domo Manilla. There was a brief meeting Monday night in which Br. Burt spoke. The next day began what will be five more days of very intense and long days, which will thoroughly upset our comfortable eating, sleeping and personal care schedules. But the word is very full and is being given to an age mixture from eight or nine up through the twenties, including some young married couples. Since many are of the age of approaching marriage, Br. Hubert brought a very extensive word on marriage and finding a partner in Christ. Several times there is an alter call response, the Holy Spirit stirring sometimes in waves. There are also occasions of great anointing in the praise; I can remember one occasion where all ages are dancing before the Lord. Several messages are given relating church history and how the devil has twisted and corrupted Christ’s purpose for His body. There are visitors from Congo and Uganda, as well as representatives from 5 or 6 other local fellowships. For several days Sisters Nancy and Lucy had special meetings for the little children; 10 children were born again at one such meeting; at the next meeting 20 children raised their hands to say they had received new birth in salvation; they were also baptized. Burt and I spoke on Sunday and for the night meeting the youth presented a play on Ruth. George shared on “Bearing One’s Cross” on Tuesday morning.
On Monday afternoon, there was a baptism in the nearby Niger River in which 60 (tripled from last year) were buried with Christ in water, including young children, many young adults, mothers and their children; there were two teams of baptizers. The older ones were baptized first, and then they sang and praised God as the younger ones came along. There has been a lot of emphasis in this conference for the young people to make decisions and that there will be lifelong effects of such decisions. The meeting hall has been full and overflowing (a couple dozen or so sitting outside). My count of chairs came to about 175, so attendance has doubled from last year. The last night of “the great feast” was the most grand and glorious of all meetings. It started at 8 PM and lasted well beyond midnight. First it was an hour or so of very lively praise, which lasted throughout the meeting. Then there were four or five teams ministering in prayer to what must have been 90-95% of the people: prayers for healing, deliverance and encouragement. The evil prince/spirit of Dagon/Mammy-water has wrought terrible destruction to the souls of some of these young people.
On Tuesday, we were taken back to Br. Joke’s house for a day of rest. It was a somewhat slower pace, but not exactly a holiday, since there were house meetings both Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. Whereas, we thought we would have good internet service, but that was not to be the case; it was not much more reliable then when we were at camp. When I did get through, I was able to encourage Rita in dealing with car problems and a malfunctioning Verizon land line. Tomorrow we will leave the house at 6 AM for the flight to Lagos. To be continued . . .