This mission to West Africa had been on our agenda for quite some time. However, God did not tell us at the time of our initial planning that there was going to be what the World Health Organization is calling the worst Ebola epidemic the world has ever known (over 1000 known dead and a mortality rate between 60-90%), and it is centered in the countries just north-west of Nigeria. About a day or two before our departure, a man flew to Lagos from Liberia and managed to introduce the disease into Lagos, thus including Nigeria as one of the countries to have the disease. Nevertheless, we sought the Lord and believed that it was expedient that we should go to Nigeria, but cancel our plans to visit Liberia, since the borders to that country are closed and almost all regular flights suspended. We thank God that we were able to visit Liberia and Sierra Leone last year and know that at least the kingdom message has been introduced and that hungry hearts have been touched. It is always on my heart when I visit these mission stations, that any trip might be our last and that the word we bring should be the most important thing that the Spirit would want us to say.
So at the beginning of this trip, Rita and I drove our car down to Kingston, NY where we met Brother Glenn Williams at their home and then he drove us down to Kennedy Airport on Tuesday, August 5th. That night we flew from New York to Paris where we met Br George Herrig and then rode the Air France flight straight down to Lagos arriving late the following afternoon. Br Akim’s driver was there to meet us; but it was a long process of going through passport, baggage and customs and then waiting in a very long line for a bus to take us and all of our luggage to the parking lot (I believe 4 or 5 buses filled and left before it was our turn). Since we were maxed out on luggage, also carrying printers and printing supplies, we were grateful for the Lord giving us favor with the custom agents. However, the ride from the airport to Br Uwak’s home was another experience altogether, the traffic being so heavy that though we landed about 4:30 PM, it would be 8 PM before we arrived at where we would be staying. It was the same place I had stayed with the brethren last year in Lekki on Victoria Island, which is a peninsula/suburb (connected by a long bridge) off the coast of the very large city of Lagos. Lekki is a community of mostly oil companies and the heavily guarded and gated communities where we stayed and had our meetings are made up of mostly oil employees (engineers, chemists and such). Br Burt and Sis Nancy had arrived at Br Uwak’s house from Ethiopia about two days earlier and they plan to return directly to there when this visit is finished.
So we had a long weekend of meetings, Thursday and Friday evenings and a fuller schedule on Saturday and Sunday. The meetings were held at the home of Br Akim and Sis Moyo, a new home for them since our visit last year. This home is where the Lekki home fellowship meets, there being 12-15 adults and at least that many children. Br Burt began the messages, speaking on how the church must go through tribulation in order to be perfected. I spoke on overcoming the spirit of fear, as this Ebola thing is on the thoughts of everyone here, including the children. Br George also spoke and led most of the children to pray the sinner’s prayer unto salvation. I also spoke on the ability to see spiritually and the contrast of spiritual light and darkness. There was a consensus among the speakers that we are fast approaching the time of midnight.
After a couple of quiet days, we depart from Lagos early in the morning of Wednesday, August 13 and fly directly to Port Harcourt. Their airport construction is still unfinished so our arrival business is still conducted in a very large tent. Again miraculously all of our luggage is located and delivered to us. A couple of drivers and cars from the local fellowship are waiting for us as we exit, and we are then taken to the youth camp, the same as last year. And we are ensconced in the same housing as we were in last year, where we are fed and cared for in a grand manner. This camp is the grounds of the Goldstone High School, which is owned and operated by Br Hubert and Sis Domo.
The first meeting began on Wednesday night and from then for the next 6 days, two meetings are held each day, all the way through the following Monday. For the first of the meetings, Bros Burt, George and myself are the speakers. We are keeping the same theme of the urgency of the hour and how each one can be prepared for the difficult times that are coming upon the earth. On Sunday, Br Ebare spoke and on the last day Br Chijioke was the first speaker, an excellent word on the practical aspects of overcoming in the human soul. We all agreed that the high point spiritually for the young people would have been Saturday evening, where there was a real freedom of expression in the praise. Several alter calls were given during the week, all with good response. I estimated that there could easily be about 120 souls at each meeting. On the last day, Monday, August 18, I was the final speaker; I spoke on how Jesus said it would be “as in the days of Noah” at the time of His second coming.
I went to bed that night with what I thought to be minor health problems and the beginning of a low grade fever. The next morning we arose early and took the first flight to return to Lagos and to Br Uwak’s house in Lekki. The Nigerian brethren said that I might have a start of malaria, so they got me the standard 3 day treatment, which I personally thought was pretty rough itself. We quickly decided that Rita and I would stay back while the other three team members along with four Port Harcourt brethren would make the long weekend ministry to Lome, Togo.
Togo is a small “skinny on the map” country west of Nigeria, separated only by another small country of Benin. The brethren had been invited to have meetings there by Sister Felicia, a colleague of Sis Biri. When they returned they all gave a glowing report of the meetings which included salvation and water baptism. I believe that Br George will be writing more detail about this visit.
After the return of the team from Lome to Lekki, we all had an urgency to wrap up our business in Nigeria and return to our respective places of origin as quickly as possible. The Asbills had their tickets changed and were to leave on Wednesday the 27th, returning to Ethiopia. The three of us, George, Rita and I decided to go to the Lagos airport the next day, on Tuesday the 26th and pray that we would have favor with all concerned to return home ten days early. As already mentioned, the Ebola disease had been brought into Lagos, Nigeria and had already spread to about a dozen others in Lagos. We learned that the airport had begun thermal image screening of all passengers as part of their security procedure. I had been under the protocol limit for several days now, thanks to Rita’s constant monitoring and feeding me Tylenol. So with George and Chijioke negotiating with Delta, we got our tickets changed and Rita and I were now flying directly to Albany, NY; George to Moline. We safely passed through the security screening and then went to wait for our 10:00 PM Delta flight that would take us directly to Atlanta. We landed at noon the next day at Albany and Br Glenn and Sis Linda were there with our car.
On the advice of our doctor, I went directly to the emergency room of our nearest local hospital in Amsterdam, NY. Thus began another nearly six day ordeal for me before I could yet return to my home. My mention of both words “fever” and “Nigeria” apparently set off “fire alarms” all over the state. The State Health Department got involved and I found out that I would not have been able to go home even if I had wanted to, not until I was cleared as Ebola free. Then the isolation procedures of my room were relaxed. Meanwhile it was found that I never did have malaria, though I was treated for it twice. However, I did have other life threatening issues and I really needed to be where I was and to be treated there. As I finish this report, I am home now for about 5 days and rapidly becoming my old healthy self again, thanks to your prayers and the almighty hand of our faithful, ever-watchful God. We see that the death rate for Ebola has now doubled to over 2000 and a case has been found in Port Harcourt. I am wondering if some of the plagues of Revelation have not already begun. “Pray that you be found worthy to escape” and to be hidden in the secret place of the Most High.
May God bless you,
Mark and Rita Jantzi