Today we held our prayer conference for the pastors, church leaders and community. The leaders of many different churches were present including Bishops, Archbishops, Regional Overseers, Pastors and Evangelists. There was great collaboration among many different church bodies for this event thanks to the coordination of the Nigerian Bible Society Chairman for Abia State. It had the backing of the Nigerian Bible Society, Christian Association of Nigeria, the Nigerian Women's Association along with local congregations. We also had the backing, support and presence of the local traditional rulers.
From 8:00 am, we had torrential rains and I thought for sure that we would have a low attendance, especially since our medical stations and food distribution was outside. When I got into the hall at 10 o'clock, it was already halfway full. By the time we started it was standing room only.
Our program started right on African Time with the band leading they hymn Holy, Holy, Holy. I recorded it so I can show my dad, this is his favorite hymn, and to hear it being sung in African rhythm by over 1000 Nigerians was almost too much. Several bishops presented topics about the Glory of God, doctors presented topics on Malaria and airborne diseases and LINC's Executive Director lead a session on Christian Community Development. I encouraged the leaders to begin to work together to make the blessings of the Kingdom of God become something tangible throughout the whole community, following the order of Evangelism, Relief and Development.The event ended with a Bible quiz for the youth, in which a young ladytook first place.
As the conference was taking place, local doctors and nurses led by Dr. Ansa Hogan from the US, checked for high blood pressure, diabetes and other medical issues. They began to distribute bags of rice and beans as well and we soon realized that the women in Aba are very strong, agile and able to fend for themselves. The leadership has learned to do things differently next time. By the grace of God, hundreds of widows now have some food to help fill in the gaps.We will be meeting with local pastors and church leaders to help raise their collective vision for community development along with their evangelism efforts. We are committed to following the principles of community organizing as wellas asset based community development, and that is hopefully made very clear as we continue our meetings. We are also very committed to working through local leadership including the church and community.