Archive for the ‘Missions/Missionaries’ Category


PLEASE PRAY WITH ME: Ethnic and religious unrest in Nigeria

December 4, 2008


eng_nigeria_cars_bm_711159gThousands take refuge after deadly Nigerian violence

JOS, Nigeria (AFP) — Thousands of Nigerians who fled a wave of deadly sectarian violence remained in a makeshift camp on Wednesday as more funerals were held and shell-shocked residents began sifting through wreckage.

The refugees were said to be too scared to go back to their homes in the central city of Jos and fearful of what they might find when they did return.

Eze Udemegue, area coordinator of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), said: “We still have more than 3,000 still in the camp. They live on materials provided by NEMA, the state government and NGOs (non-governmental organisations).”

The state government has said about 200 people died in the clashes, in which machetes, guns and even bows and arrows were used, although other sources have put the toll at twice that figure.

More bodies, meanwhile, were still being recovered across the city. “Twenty bodies have been picked up from different places within the city on Tuesday and are now on their way to the cemetery for burial,” said Murtana Sani Hashim, an official responsible for recording the number of corpses.

Two days of violence erupted on Friday after a rumour that the majority-Muslim All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) had lost a local election to the mainly Christian Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

In neighbourhoods worst hit by the clashes, locals said they were staggered by the scale of the death and destruction.

“I did not realise the extent of the damage wrought in the city until today when I went around affected areas,” Yohanna Buba, a 36-year-old civil servant told AFP.

“It is unbelievable. I wonder how long it will take the city to recover,” he said.

A grain market had been completely destroyed with some 3,000 stalls reduced to ashes.

“All that we had has been burnt… We don’t even have enough to eat now. We have been ruined,” said trader Mohammed Sani, picking his way through the debris.

“Fifteen years of work gone in a few minutes…” added a car spare parts trader.

Muslims and Christians for the most part cohabit peacefully in Nigeria but Jos, in the “middle belt” between the predominantly Muslim north and the mainly Christian south, saw violent clashes in which hundreds died in 2001.

Hundreds more died in other central areas in 2000 and 2004.

Elsewhere, car dealer Hamidi Idris said he had returned to his garage to find that over 200 cars had been destroyed.

“We have lost nothing less three million dollars… The loss is too colossal for us to recover from in 10 years. It’s just too much,” he said.

A heavy military presence remained in the city Wednesday and a dusk-to-morning curfew was still in force.

Roadblocks had been set up and soldiers were searching cars and checking identity papers.

Banks, offices and markets, however had started to re-open and more residents were venturing out onto the streets.

Army spokesman Sani Usman said the military presence would remain as long as necessary.

“We have a mandate from the president to restore lasting peace in Jos and our men will remain as long as it takes to achieve this mandate,” he said.


It Is Official

January 3, 2008


Arewa Aid Executive Committee Announces Appointment of Development Officer

Lee Hodges to begin work for Arewa Aid starting January 1, 2008

The Executive Committee of Arewa Aid is happy to announce the appointment of Lee Hodges of Hendersonville, Tennessee as Development Officer beginning January 1, 2008. Lee has been a minister for 30 years, and became interested in the mission of Arewa Aid through his meeting with Dr. Bradley Dean Blake, the founder of Arewa Aid.

Mr. Hodges primary responsibility will be to foster the relationship between Arewa Aid and it’s supporters, and create new relationships with interested churches, individuals and businesses that are interested in supporting humanitarian work in Northern Nigeria.

Lee has extensive experience in missions through his work with many churches of Christ in Michigan, Tennessee and Pennsylvania, including developing programs within churches to teach mission preparation.

Board Member John Mark Hicks expressed his gratitude to Mr. Hodges, stating, “I am so pleased that Lee has chosen to work with us. His reputation and work ethic will allow Arewa Aid to continue to grow while Dr. Blake and his wife Jen continue their work in Nigeria. We are truly excited to appoint someone to continue the development of Arewa Aid here in the United States, while the work continues to expand in Maiduguri, Nigeria”.


Different Times Demand Different Approaches

December 18, 2007


Dan McVey is Missions Coordinator for Africa at the College For Bibilical Studies at Abilene Christian University, in Abilene, TX. He is also a Board Member for Arewa Aid. This is an important essay that calls us to different approaches to missions and our own mission. Hope you enjoy!

Since its birth 2000 years ago, the Way of Jesus Christ has always been a flexible faith, emphasizing allegiance to Jesus Christ as its single most defining characteristic, capable of entering any culture, transforming it and moving in missionary waves to cultures and societies beyond. Christianity always has had shifting centers of influence in its history of expansion. From the Jewish temple and synagogues to the Greek temples and markets, and from the Roman legions and bishops to the Germanic monks and reformers, the Kingdom of Christ has seen gradual shifts in its centers of dynamism, theology and impetus for growth. Another such shift is happening right before our eyes. In shades and hues and now in brilliant flashes of light, the Kingdom of our Lord is expanding into new territories, and our theologies and vocabularies will reflect these changes in years to come.

What we are experiencing has been termed a “New Reformation,” the “Third Church” (Orthodox as the first, Roman Catholic/Protestant as the second, and this emerging World Kingdom as the third), and the “Renewal of Christianity as a Non-western Religion.” We are seeing a changing world, a growing Kingdom and changing expressions of missions. Where is the “mission field?” The word “missionary” has lost most of its traditional meaning (a westerner who travels to foreign fields of service), and is being redefined as cross-cultural servants from anywhere to anywhere under the guidance of the Spirit of God. Migration of believers, vocational missions, and creative access to unreached people are some of the most significant movements in church planting and evangelism.

In this changing world of Kingdom Times, we need new paradigms through which we view the opportunities and calls of God to serve in his world. Questions for the future include: 1) what is our role? 2) what message do we have? 3) what does partnership with God look like in this rapidly changing time? 4) what are our goals in missions? 5) how do we participate in God’s work in reaching the unreached portions of the world? and 6) how is the Spirit of God preparing the coming generations for their roles in these momentous times?

Two observations:

  1. We cannot continue to “do missions” as we have for the past 20 years. These are different times with different needs and we are different people with the unchanging message of Jesus.
  2. “The church that lives comfortably in the post-Christendom West is unable to respond to the pain and spiritual need of postmodern generations” (Samuel Escobar). We must reflect on what it means to be a disciple of Jesus in sincere/authentic expression of faith in growing communities of faith within our own culture. Furthermore, we must cast long vision into the future of what our own churches are going to look like and how they will function in the coming generational, revolutionary shift of religious expression in North America.

God is raising the bar for those who are called to participate in these Kingdom Times. Fresh looks at simple lifestyle approaches, partnership with emerging churches, and laying aside our fixation on personal safety so that we may target the truly unreached places of the world-these are some of the issues we must address if we wish to be strategic co-workers with God. These are exciting times. These are testing times. Church history abounds with examples of fellowships and movements that were marginalized through political compromise, and submission to overwhelming cultural influences and apathetic disconnection from the needs of the world. Our roles, needs and abilities may see change, but the Kingdom marches on. Some day, as a matter of routine rather than the exception, we will be studying Chinese and African theologians, singing African and Polynesian hymns, and imitating Indian and Korean disciplines of faith. And it will be just fine. We are getting closer to the vision of Revelation 7.9-10 all the time, “After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.'”


Arewa Aid

December 7, 2007


The Lord has opened a wonderful door of opportunity for Barb and me, and has given a new direction for our lives. November 17th. I accepted an offer from the Executive Board of Directors of Arewa Aid to become the Development Officer for this 501C3 Non Profit Corporation. Arewa Aid is the support arm for Brad and Jennifer Blake who work and live in Maiduguri, Nigeria. Arewa translated means North, and is a common word used to describe the aired desert region of Nigeria just south of the Sahara.

This is a wonderful opportunity to work with a special couple as they build bridges and open doors to this Muslim area of Nigeria, West Africa. Islam came to this part of Nigeria over one thousand years ago. Long standing, and deeply imbedded traditions of Islam will not be easily over come, but we are beginning to see hearts opened and souls reached for the Kingdom of Christ. If you missed recent posts concerning this work click here, here and here to learn more.

Barb and I will be traveling to Maiduguri, Nigeria , Lord willing, in March of 2008 to see the work first hand. We solicit your prayers as we embark on this new chapter in our lives. 


2007 Arewa Aid Dinner A Tremendous Success!

November 16, 2007


The benefit dinner last evening for Arewa Aid was a tremendous success. Two hundred and twenty-five were present to learn about the arid area of northeastern Nigeria where the Blakes live, and 47,000.00 was given for their cause. John Mark Hicks, our master of ceremonies for the evening, introduced us to the need for drinking water in this area, and encouraged us to remember that Jesus said a cup of cold water given in His name would not lose it reward.


Through out the evening we learned how Brad and Jennifer are seeking to be Jesus to the Muslims in this area. One of most pressing needs is for a new well to serve not only the drip irrigation farm they have begun, but the water needs of the community as well. Often the water that is trucked in is not used as intended for the farm, but meeting the needs of people who come seeking clean drinking water. The Blakes are not willing to turn a deaf ear to the need of those who come seeking water. Brad also shared a video about, and their burden for, the “Beggar Boys” who roam the streets of Maidugur and many cities of the north begging for food to keep them alive only to beg again the next day. Their only possession is a small bowl from which they bathe and eat. Arewa Aid wants to reach out in a tangible way to these boys by teaching farming practices that can be used by them in their home towns and thus keep them from migrating to these larger cities with dreams that crumble and lead to begging on the street.

Dave Goolsby, from “Healing Hands International”, spoke of his work with the Blakes and how they are a missionary family that has become Jesus to the Muslims of Maiduguri. As Jesus left his home and emptied Himself to become one of us, the Blakes have also emptied themselves to become Nigerians to the Nigerians. They dress in local attire, speak the local language, and three children have been born to them and are being raised there.

One of the highlights of the evening was a phone call interview conducted by Dr. Phil Slate with Jennifer Blake who is still in Nigeria. We learned of the upcoming food preservation workshop to be held in February and the local interest that is building for this special time. All of these humanitarian works are an expression of love for the Muslim people of this desert area. This is not what the locals had expected from this American couple that moved into their midst, and as a result hearts are being opened and questions are being asked. Like the healing and caring touch of Jesus, these programs show how much they care, and thus become the basis for discussing the Good News of Jesus.

Plans are already underway for the 2008 Arewa Aid dinner. Here are some pictures from this wonderful evening.















November 15, 2007


The Arewa Aid Benefit Dinner is tonight. Weeks of planning are now about to unfold in an evening of learning, sharing and praise. Dr. John Mark Hicks, board member, will be the MC for the evening. john-mark-hicks.jpgjohn-mark-hicks.jpg


Musical interludes will be provided by the acapella singing group “Durant”, and the fifth and sixth grade chorus from Friendship Christian School. A silent auction will also be in progress during the dinner hour. At last count we were near the 200 mark for confirmed guests coming to the dinner. If you are not among those planning to attend I want to ask that you join us in prayer for the success of the evening.  


Click here and here to learn more about Arewa Aid and the work of Brad and Jennifer Blake in Northeastern Nigeria.


Motivation To Preach

November 1, 2007


Street Preaching In Ghana, West Africa 1970

The marching orders of the Lord, or the “Great Commission” as we termed it, was given much more of a priority when I was growing up. I can remember when missionaries came to town they were given opportunities to speak and tell of their work. As a young boy I looked up to these servants of the Lord, and their challenges took hold of my heart at an early age. This coupled with the encouragement of the minister in my home congregation led me to the decision to become a minister. After preaching locally in Tennessee for a couple years I felt that I had to preach in a mission field. So at the ripe old age of 24 Barb and I began our first full time work in Glen Rock, Pennsylvania, a northeast mission field.


Among the numerous reasons for the church’s lack of growth today I would list the lack of encouragement and exposure to the importance of preaching, and the urgency of the “Great Commission”. Seldom today do you have the opportunity to hear a missionary speak of their work. Young men today are encourage to make many career choices, but seldom are they encourage to devote their lives to preaching the Gospel of Christ.


I realize that part of the reason for this is the way preachers have been treated through the years. The horror stories are many. Another reason is that our tribe has no central control or headquarters, that provide a retirement program for their ministers. At the same time most ministers are not paid enough to provide their own. There is not much financial security in ministry with our tribe.

I guess all this says that there has to be a greater motivation to preach than financial security, and recognition in this life. And maybe that is the way it should be. As I look back on the lives that have been transformed by the message of Jesus that was preached and the lives that are now being touched by those who were transformed; that is wealth you can’t see in a bank account or spend at the Mall, but it is so very valuable.

One day in glory we will see the true value of the investments we have made during our life time. Only those that transcend time will really matter then. So if you are a minister of the Gospel…preach on brother! And while you are at it, allow a missionary to speak, take a young man aside and let him know that you believe in him and his abilities. Tell a young lady, as I did a number of years ago, you are going to grow up and become a missionary. LaJuana along with her husband Eddison have raised four beautiful children and have served as missionaries in Belo Horizonte, Brazil for over 20 years. She often reminds me of what I told her.


I have always loved Isa. 6:1-8. Isaiah describes the throne room of God. His first reaction was to exclaimed, “I am doomed”. His sin so prevalent in contrast to the presence of God would surely cause Him to be destroyed. But the Angel comes and touches his lips with a hot coal and pronounces that his sins are forgiven. Then comes the question from the throne, “Whom shall I send”. Isaiah now cleansed and filled with gratitude says, “Here am I, send me.” May our gratitude send us into our mission field as well.


November 2, 2007 Let me encouage you to read the following article at the Christian Chronicle


An Invitation To Learn And To Share

October 27, 2007


The Blakes: Brad, Jen, Ibrahim, Rahamatu and Musa

She was only two weeks old when I baptized her parents, Barry and Darlene Becker, but today she is the wife of Dr. Brad Blake, and mother of three wonderful children all born and being raised in Northern Nigeria, West Africa where she and her family are missionaries. From a very early age Jennifer wanted to be a missionary in Africa. Today that dream is a reality.


Brad and Jen are working to reach Muslims in Northern Nigeria with the message of Christ, and like the one of whom they speak they have as their first priority to win the hearts of Nigerian Muslims through serving them and meeting their very real needs. As Brad said of a recent humanitarian workshop that they held, “Our Muslim trainees skeptically arrived on the first day expecting to hear scathing Christian preaching, Yet when they heard and practicalized the principles of composting, their amazement at this simple technology peaked their interest…This has led to many bible studies resulting in six baptisms while working with three congregations in three northeastern Nigerian states.” Meeting perceived needs of these people whom God loves is opening doors for the Gospel message.


Brad is here in Tennessee doing what all missionaries have to do from time to time…raising support. A special benefit dinner is being sponsored by the College Hills Church of Christ in Lebanon, Tennessee on November 15th. at 6:30pm. I want to extent an invitation to each of you to come and be a part of this special night. If you wish to attend you will need only to RSVP to me at and I will pass the information on to the responsible parties. A free meal will be provided and an opportunity to help financially will be given. Here is a link to a map to the College Hills Church. If you are not able to attend you may still have a part in this wonderful work. All financial donations should be sent to:

Maple Hill church of Christ

c/o Arewa Aid
Attn: Jeff Hallums
102 Maple Hill Road
Lebanon, TN  37087


Arewa Aid has a basic website that lists some of their goals for the future. Please take a look.


I will close with thoughts from Jen in their October Newsletter. “I myself am most especially in prayer over the matter of our funds. How distressing the issue of money can be. I regret that we must even spend our time searching for funds while lost souls are wandering hopelessly and aimlessly. But my faith has been so tried in times past and strengthened that I have no doubt that our father will give us all that we need. Even if what we are seeking does not seem to come “in time”, I will still trust. Wherever he sends, whatever he asks, whatever he gives, all in his time. We are determined to be faithful, as he has always been faithful to us.” (Jen is in Nigeria with their two oldest children and Brad and their youngest child are here in Tennessee.)


If you have questions concerning the work that Brad and Jen are doing here is their email address: