Not too young!
By Timothy Olonade
Nigeria, the giant of Africa, sometimes gains notoriety for the wrong reasons. Yet here we are raising a generation of young people who, like Josiah, can rise from the ashes of the failure of their elders to establish and fulfill God’s purpose. We’re raising Christ followers – youngsters who will do right when it’s wrong to do right, and who will rise above the entitlement syndrome to create a path of wisdom and excellence for others.
Back in 1998 I led a nationwide inter-campus student gathering that brought together about 10,000 undergraduates. At a similar event in 2003 the vision was crystallized, and the first Keep Your Vision Alive (KVA) camp meeting was born. Since that time it has metamorphosed into a kind of movement: Kingdom Vanguard Africa and Mentor Development Global. Those involved are not too young to:
“Pastor, will you please send us a Mark, Luke and possibly a John?”said the person at the other end of the phone. It was a female voice, from a city in faraway China. What could she mean?
Matthew, a Nigerian bi-vocational missionary, led two other young men, Paul and Lanre, into China. In 2015 the door opened for them to take the gospel to China through our Education as Mission scheme. And “Professor Yin” had fallen in love with Jesus after enrolling in her students’ inductive Bible study group. Having read through some of the New Testament, she concluded that if Matthew could be sent from Nigeria, why not ask the Church to send Mark, Luke and John too!
Paul, Lanre and Matthew now lead three underground fellowships in two different cities in China. “So much more could be done if only we had more helping hands,” says Paul.
Okoshola studied electronics/electrical engineering at university and then prioritized helping less privileged people learn how to mend phones and electronic devices. Twelve years ago he became part of our KVA programme, and a few years later he headed to South Sudan. His mission: through intensive and practical ministry to turn things around for a country devastated by decades of war.
Okoshola introduced simple youth programmes, such as a marathon race to help primary pupils gain scholarships for high school and rewards for excellent teachers. When the Regional Commissioner of Education noticed these life-transforming initiatives, they became partly sponsored by the government. Renewed hostility has curtailed the effort but not the spirit. Okoshola has reintroduced his programme among youth in refugee camps, along with other humanitarian services.
Dorcas does not look particularly strong, but she is intense and passionate in her beliefs. She has become a rigorous mobilizer in recent years. For the past four years this 22-year-old has been a strong voice for young people in her denomination to discover their roles in God’s mission. In the last two years Dorcas was virtually responsible for the attendance of nearly five per cent of those at our annual youth gathering.
Exam malpractice is rampant in the Nigerian education system. Sometimes even parents are guilty of inducing teachers to assist their wards. But Faith won’t have any of that any more.
“Somewhere in the corner of my heart, there is a longing to please God,” she says. Faith obtained admission to the university through a fraudulent entry result. Now she’s on a collision course with her parents as she opts to walk away from her university programme and start afresh. Such is the power of and love for God’s word in the lives of these young ones that a personal decision to honour God has become a singsong for them. At the moment they may be few, but their rank and file is growing and their stories are being scripted, one life at a time. These young people take pleasure in true worship of the living God. It is their story. It is their era.
Timothy Olonade is the Executive Director for El-Rehoboth Global Leadership Foundation, a frontier mission based in Jos, Nigeria, and known for mentor based leadership development. In 2014 he was appointed Vice President for International Training by Leadership Ministries Worldwide, USA. Currently he is responsible for leadership development and training in Africa, Middle East and Asia. He started Kingdom Vanguard Africa in 2004 and in 2008 launched Mentor Development Global. Both African-led initiatives seek to raise a worldwide movement of believers. Previously he led the Nigeria Evangelical Missions Association (NEMA). Timothy is married to Hannah, a fellow missionary and President of Women of God International. They live in Jos, where they raised their three (biological) children and others. www.elrehoboth.org; firstname.lastname@example.org