Since 2014, what consistently is the third most terrorized country in the world? To find your answer you would want to look up the Global Terrorism Index (GTI). This is produced by the Institute for Economics & Peace (IEP) based on data from the Global Terrorism Database (GTD). This data is collated by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) led by the University of Maryland. As late as 2017, because of persistent Boko Haram and Fulani militant attacks, Nigeria ranks as the third-most terrorized nation. Only Iraq and Afghanistan rank higher in carnage.
My parents are living on a farm in Zolfo Springs with my brother Nate and his wife Melissa. Recently, their guard dog Shepherd went missing. Less than a week later, Nate’s longtime companion, Minnie, was hit and killed by a truck on the road outside their home. As my parents were out walking alongside a ditch looking for Minnie, a car stopped and the driver asked what they were looking for. A conversation ensued in which the driver asked about getting permission to fish in the farm. Dad explained that he was the owner and he would agree for Alex and his wife Elisa to fish as long as they were willing to let him share with them about Jesus. They decided that was a fair arrangement and after fishing a couple of times at the pond and catching nice Bass, Alex one afternoon sat down on the farm porch and conversed with Dad about John 3:16. He ended up placing his faith in Jesus.
Matthew 6:10—Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Psalm 145:1—I exalt You my God the King, and praise Your name forever and ever.
Psalm 145 is one of my favorite psalms in the Bible. Aside from the eleven different verbs or participles used to praise or recognize God, the entire twenty-one verses are a tribute to God’s greatness. The predominant verb is the word praise (used six times). In addition, the words exalt, honor, declare, proclaim, speak, give a testimony, sing, thank, and informing, are used in the Holman translation. Five times God’s greatness is specifically highlighted.
Jackie called her friend Sandy and informed her that she was going to quit her job. When asked why, she said that her company changed management and the new boss was unfriendly towards her and very critical of her work. Rather than try and figure out the profile of her new boss and how she might modify her behavior, it was easier for Jackie to leave. Jackie does not like conflict. Not many people do.
Jeb spread a false rumor about another leader in the church. His pastor after confirming the report was untrue, confronted him about the report and asked him to recant. Jeb refused and shortly thereafter, left the church. Unfortunately, in a bizarre twist of events, Jeb’s departure ended up in the elders expelling their pastor and church founder. The body of Christ lost a talented leader and in hearing this true story I was reminded of Jesus’ warning to his disciples.
You could hear them screaming at each other five offices away. Heads poked out to see what was going on—I was afraid words would escalate to blows, but fortunately that did not happen. Don looked like he was going to have a heart attack, his face was beet red and he was shaking. Rich’s jaw was clenched and his palms rolled into fists but with three of us coaxing we managed to get them separated and back into their own offices.
I asked Rich what happened. He said he went into Don’s office to ask how Allie was doing on the project she was working with him. Don told him she was worthless and to get out of his office, he was sick of taking Rich’s broken employees and felt like Rich deliberately was out to make his life miserable. Rich said the way Don spoke penetrated his brain and hit his anger button. He knew Allie had her weak areas but he was proud of her hard work and resented Don’s judgmental attitude. Furthermore he didn’t appreciate the way the older manager always blamed people instead of trying to get along. So instead of finding a response to deescalate the tension, he spoke the first thought that raced across his brain, “Don you are a loser and I’m sick of trying to help you.” Those words brought Don out of his chair and began a two-minute shouting match.
Navy Petty Officer First Class Marcus Luttrell was the sole survivor of a US Navy SEAL team ambushed by Taliban fighters. Severely wounded, Luttrell somehow managed through great courage to evade an enemy zealous to kill him. Fortunately, members of the Afghan Sabray tribe found him and whisked him into their village. Despite incredible danger, the tribal chief protected him, fending off Taliban attacks until word reached nearby American forces who then came and rescued him.
Brian dreamed for a long time of building a house for his family on a wooded, five-acre plot of land nestled within the city. Notice I used the word dreamed. Brian did not just want to put up a simple home for his family of five. He wanted to build a ten-thousand square foot ministry center. I remember many of us thought he was overreaching. Why not just build a modest home and then as God provided continue to expand?
I met Lam in a dining facility at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin. As we were chatting I asked him when he came to the United States. Lam escaped from Viet Nam at the age of eleven with an uncle and his older brother. His parents were afraid that when he turned thirteen he would be forced to serve in the military and potentially die or come back maimed as so many of their countrymen who were forced as children to fight the Cambodians.
Eighteen of us sat around the circular table in the conference room of the Military Academy located in Gori. For several hours we met with different deputies from the Ministry of Defense and listened as they shared the challenges of living within field artillery range of Russian guns. Their fear of angering their neighbor and again losing their freedom is fueled by Russia’s occupation in 2008 of Abkhazia and South Ossetia—two secessionist territories within Georgia.
1 Samuel 2:6-8—The LORD brings death and gives life; He sends some to Sheol, and He raises others up. The LORD brings poverty and gives wealth; He humbles and He exalts. He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the garbage pile. He seats them with noblemen and gives them a throne of honor. For the foundations of the earth are the LORD’s; He has set the world on them.
Jeremiah 36:26—Then the king commanded Jerahmeel the king's son, Seraiah son of Azriel, and Shelemiah son of Abdeel to seize Baruch the scribe and Jeremiah the prophet, but the LORD had hidden them.
National holidays can provide a natural period for introspection. As we approach yet another celebration of our nation's independence, I think this year of the word insecurity. In the 1770’s when our forefathers fought for the freedom we celebrate today, they lived in a time of great tumult. Consider this: they faced an opponent far superior in wealth and military might; they knew starvation, harsh weather and disease; they lacked basic supplies in armament, clothing and supplies; and they did not always know who was truly for or against them. But in the midst of uncertainty, doubt and despair the trumpet call for liberty persisted. Men and women strove mightily to worship, speak, live and work upon the foundation of freedom. For that self-determination, insecure lives bled nobly; though pained, pilgrims refused to give up; trepidation clung to truth and the right to dispel tyranny.
Nigeria is a nation of over 146 million people—the largest populated country in Africa. It comprises more than 250 ethnic groups of which the following are the most populous and politically influential: Hausa and Fulani 29%, Yoruba 21%, Igbo (Ibo) 18%, Ijaw 10%, Kanuri 4%, Ibibio 3.5%, and Tiv 2.5%.* In mass Nigeria is over twice the size of California. The nation is located on the Gulf of Guinea and shares borders with the countries of Benin, Cameroun, Chad and Niger. Our team ministered in the city of Jos which literally means Jesus Our Savior! Jos is part of the Plateau State (Nigeria has 36 states) which sits in the middle of the country.
On the plane from Atlanta to Portland, I sat next to a salesman and a lawyer. We had a great time sharing stories, food and funny video clips during our five hour flight. Matt shared with us that he was headed to Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho to compete in the Ironman competition. On Sunday, his goal is to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and run 26.2 miles in 12 hours! We pumped him with questions and he shared his training regimen, thrills and spills in past competitions. And then he told us the secret to his perseverance.