Ministry in Nigeria

In July, Professor of Church History Dr. D. Clair Davis traveled to Nigeria to teach theology and assist Westminster alumna Elizabeth Matthias and her work with Mission to the World. He kept a journal of his experiences and shared it with the Westminster community via email. The following is excerpted from those messages.

July 17
It rained again, so many cool hours—it does come down. Library was closed because about to rain!

My class flourishes. I was getting total agreement on Assurance, but then discovered 10-30 percent of attendees come to the Lord’s Supper—so we were off and running. Will the Scottish communion season fly in Nigeria? Maybe.

When the culture is so social, with people constantly dropping in expecting conversation, when does a pastor prepare a message? Middle of the night! How many hours? Three. How does a seminary which prepares for intensive and time-consuming Bible study fit that model? I don’t know.

Speak in chapel tomorrow—be careful what you say in class, it’ll be preached in 30 churches tomorrow. I keep being asked for advice on everything; hope it’s helpful.

I'm doing well, eating, sleeping, health. Today is Malaria Pill Day; supposed to produce weird dreams but none so far.

July 19
While I work at cross-cultural stuff, it seems more and more to me that Christians everywhere are mostly the same, struggling with legalism, lack of joy, etc. That is, my recital of the foolishness of the Western Reformed church seems to be paralleled here in detail, and my desire of some inoculation against seems to be happening. Yesterday we spoke of patterns of conversion experiences, and through that we came to agree on the need for ongoing recognition of sin and grace, repenting of the knowledge of sin through the Gospel, never thinking of Christian life apart from grace. I believe the Lord is using me to make a difference. That this supports Elizabeth’s work is also great.

People have been speaking to me about Partnership between Mission to the World and Westminster and the work here. I’m so glad it’s not just about money, but about joint ministry. Imagine Westminster students doing summer internships here. Imagine a center here for training in Muslim evangelism. Imagine reviving the old dream of making Tiv-land the place where AIDS is beaten, by a combination of medical help and CCEF marriage counseling.

Tomorrow I preach with translation in a local church; my oldie on Nehemiah, the joy of the Lord is your strength.

I return Aug 1. I look ahead to a long warm shower, to totally dry clothes, moderate pigging out, but also going ahead with the work in the heart that the Lord has been doing here.

July 22
A small goat is smaller than a big chicken—they get along. A minor tummy twitch because of a fresh but unbleached salad—fine now.

My seven guys just did something amazing—put together the Puritan how to live for Christ with covenant theology seeing Christ everywhere in the Bible, how to know in this situation that Christ is my Savior, that I am indeed a Son. Amazing!!

We’re planning for an all-Nigerian prayer letter.

Preaching went so well—husbands and wives nudging each other! I’m doing very well.

July 25
This is probably my last. Today a sendoff, where I was honored with a traditional Tiv, startling stripes and hot! but the message to me is most encouraging.

Five out of seven term papers really got it—gospel as the context for obedience—so I’m extremely encouraged.

My plan/vision/dream is to get out a Nigerian revival letter with help from Westminster Nigerians, using these seven in seven different tribes. I think it’s worth doing—I do have more time now.

I audit the African Theology class, with much potential for relativism—but it all turned out gloriously Gospel with a clear focus on liberation from sin only in Christ.

Hoping in the day remaining to bring some clarity into the MTW proposal for a combined medical/marriage counseling attack on AIDS.

I’ve been so well here, not wilting that much in the heat, with Elizabeth’s good food to keep me going between pounded yam feasts.

Tomorrow is the 26th, four months since Lynn’s death—26th has been very hard so far, please pray. I thank you for so many support letters, prayers. You are all very precious to me.