A Travellerspoint blog

"My Beginnings Were Dark"

The year my journey began, 2008

==Some people that began a journey do so with a carefully charted map and a well-defined plan. Mine did not begin that way. My journey to preach the gospel to every corner of Africa began from "under a rock". It was a damp and lonely place where I had found myself. It was a place where I could not have imagined my being. I was isolated and uncertain. I had lost confidence in the goodness of others, and filled with wonders as to why God would allow me to be "under this rock". But that is where I was. I was not perched from atop a lofty peak where one could see for miles ahead. I was in a dark and uncertain place, where light could only be seen by imagination. And this is where I would begin my journey. A journey that would carry me over 200,000 miles sharing the gospel will the beloved peoples of Africa. A migration that would bring hundreds and thousands to saving faith in Jesus from every last one of the fifty-four nations of this blessed continent. It would begin "under a rock" of God's sovereignty.

Twelve years earlier, in the fall of 1996, I would come to the city of Abeokuta, Nigeria, to plant a church. It was a place I had seen just 4 months prior at the request of my friend, Sanya Dosunmu. He was a pastor in the Ikeja section of Lagos, and was burdened to see the Egbas of his own birthplace come to Christ. He asked me to pray seriously about coming to this rustic, expanding town in Ogun State and found a church where the gospel could be preached. After some days of prayer, I cast my lot toward this center of Yorubaland, and in November of the same year started a church. For the next six years. I would give myself and my labors to winning the lost and training locals to do the same. God would be glorified through the planting of not only a church in Abeokuta, but another in Ayetoro, and a third in a town called Ifo. Over this period more than 30,000 souls would be saved. God would bless with many young men being trained for the ministry. It was a time of my youthfulness as I was a young pastor in my late 20's and eventually my early 30's.

The city was named after a large Rock that was like an ornament situated upon rolling hills in the center of town called the Olumo Rock. It was a cultural display of the history of the Yoruba lifestyle that dated back hundreds of years. The Olumo Rock had caves around its base in which people had inhabited as far back as the records could reveal. Strategically, this rock was located in such a way that the early settlers in Ogun State found it advantageous to defend their territory from invading tribes and slave traders. The rock was also a a place of paganism where Idols were erected and where blood sacrifices continue to this day. Due to the unique history of this rock in the region, when the a name for the township was eventually chosen, it was called "Abeokuta", which means in the Yoruba tongue, "under the rock". This name symbolized the ancient beginnings of the Yoruba people from their humble beginnings "under the rock", the Olumo Rock.

And so in January of 2008, I would return to this place just a few miles from the Olumo Rock to begin my journey throughout Africa. It was more than familiarity that made this inception memorable. It was that the trials of my previous twelves months had landed me "under a rock" of misfortune and hardship. 2007 had nearly crippled me spiritually. No writings could express the anguish I had felt during these tumultuous times. They nearly suffocated me with their sorrows and drowned me with their tears. I had only escaped as Lot from Sodom, but barely by the hands of merciful messengers. January of the next year, as I boarded a plane in Miami, Florida bound for Nigeria, a sense of relief came over me. I felt as if I was coming from out of my pit and seeing daylight for the first time in many days. I arrived into Abeokuta with my sole brother and another dear friend from our church in Florida. We had come to preach a revival at the palace of my longtime friend and pastor, Sanya Dosunmu. However, through a miraculous set of events, he had become the Olowu of Owu, one of the most influential Kings in all of Nigeria. While preaching at the "Palace Church" and later at the church I had founded more than a decade earlier, a calm assurance revived within me. Seeing people saved and sharing the gospel with the people my heart had once been endeared to, caused me to realize that God never forgets us or leaves us alone. The circumstances of my pain had not been erased, but the hope of seeing the sunshine again stirred the embers of my souls' fire. During my days in Abeokuta in the early part of 2008, I began to believe again. I began to believe again in God's purposes. I began to believe again in healing. I began to believe again in the goodness of people. I began to see a future for my life and those whom I loved. It was a new journey that would carry me to destinations I had never seen in my 38 years of life. This journey would push me to new limits and help me to see God more clearly. My travels would teach me grace and to love again. My voyage would be as much for my good, as it would be for the good of those I would minister. I would leave on this trek looking for the salvation of lost souls throughout Africa, and would in the process find my own salvation. It would not be the salvation of my soul in regards to my sin debt, but the salvation of my life. I would find the salvation of my joy and peace. This journey would last years. They happiest days of my existence would follow. God would show me many wonderful truths. I would cross paths with some of the most amazing people, including my sweet and devoted wife, Kimberly. The people I would acquaint myself with would help to shape me into the vessel God would long for me to be. I cannot with my poor and "regular-guy" language explain the wonders of the next 9 years of this journey, However, over these writings I will attempt to reveal to you some of the lessons I learned as I spoke for Jesus in villages, prisons, schools, churches, and in the open-air markets of western, eastern, southern, northern, and central Africa. At times, I am not sure how I got to where I am, but I can tell you where it began. The journey of this chapter of my life, as well as my journey to reach the African people started from "under a rock".

Posted by tpledger 15:29 Archived in Nigeria Tagged church africa journey missions gospel nations baptist missionary Comments (0)

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