Then Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you!”
“Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life.” (Mark 10.28-30, NIV)
I was asked a little while ago what aspect of the gospel I thought was the key to people coming to Christ in Nigeria. I had to think about it a bit, but I believe it is the fact that when people come into the Kingdom of God they are born into a family, a Christ-community that is ready to welcome them.
Haruna was a young Muslim boy, tending the flocks for his father. But his father beat and abused him, so his aunt sent him away to Islamic school to study the Quran. During his studies he came across the idea of compassion and, not finding any real-life examples in the people around him to study, he determined to find a Christian church, since he thought he might be able to observe compassion among them.
He came to Gembu and went to First Baptist, just a little ways up the hill from our house. In this church of about 1000 people the ushers recognized he was new, and a deacon sat with Haruna and explained the good news about Jesus to him. Haruna became a Christian man, and was accepted into the community. Not only that, but he came to
our house and adopted us, and so we all gained family members in the process.
When I became a Christian at the age of 21 I felt like a bit of a black sheep in my own family, but I was welcomed into the Mennonite church I became a part of, and discovered the fellowship of saints for the first time there. Our family was only in Nigeria for a year the last time we actually lived there, but I can attest to the truthfulness of Jesus’ promise; we also received 100-fold of homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, and so on.
So as we look forward to leaving North America and heading to Cameroon and Nigeria, I know the miracle of the internet will alleviate part of our sadness, but the promise of Jesus will no doubt prove to be the biggest blessing we will receive there, as we gain – in this present age – one hundred fold of anything we might have left behind.