When Two Worlds Collide

We are excited to have today's blog brought to you by another one of our speakers, Dave Glander. To learn more about Dave or to book him as a speaker, please click the link provided below the blog.
“This is your captain speaking. Welcome aboard. The weather looks good, and we are expecting a smooth flight today. I'll talk to you again before we reach our destination, but until then, sit back, relax, and enjoy the rest of the flight.”—And off I went—on a trip I hadn’t planned on taking.  Please bear with me as I take a few minutes to catch you up on this mystery trip….
In November of 2021, Carl Kerby spoke at a church in St. Louis where he met a man named Pastor Baba Balus.  When Pastor Baba heard Carl delivering an apologetics message with such clarity and conviction, he immediately asked for Carl to hop on a plane in 10 days to attend and speak at a conference in Abuja, Nigeria, and teach at several churches and schools while there.  Due to Carl’s busy schedule, he wasn’t able to go. Instead, he asked me if I would be willing to go on this trip—which I tentatively and hesitantly accepted.  It was because of what Pastor Baba said to me personally over a phone call, however, that altered my apprehension.

America waited too long to deal with this snake, and they lost an entire generation because of it!

Prior to that call, I had been pacing back and forth in my driveway with anxiety about this pop-up, last-minute voyage possibly looming over me, for I really didn’t want to go. (After all, I was going to miss the American tradition of Thanksgiving for the first time in my 47 years on earth!)  I was also mentally preparing to decline this current invitation in ways that didn’t shut the offer down for the future.  That was until Pastor Baba said these words to me that made my heart turn like the Grinch who stole Christmas.  He said, “America waited too long.”
He had my attention. “Our students in Nigeria are JUST NOW starting to get hit with anti-Christian worldviews.  If we can get them the answers like I saw Carl giving,” he said, “we can cut the head off of that snake before it gets in… America waited too long to deal with this snake, and they lost an entire generation because of it!”  Wow!  What he said hit me right between the eyes because, well, he was absolutely right.
So, there I was, with my heart in my hand, 30,000 feet in the air, headed to Abuja, Nigeria. I went with high hopes of building a connection for Reasons for Hope to provide them with all of our resources to help prevent them from experiencing the loss we suffered here in America.  What I didn’t expect for myself, however, was how moved I would be to be included in their worship of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  The people of Nigeria are not only some of the sweetest and most honorable people I have had the pleasure to meet, their dedication and sacrifice to be in the House of the Lord was more than I had ever seen.
There’s a new reality that forms when you get to actually experience those Scriptures for yourself.  During the conference I was invited to attend, one of the services started at 9:00… PM, that is!  I thought, “Ok, I can do this; I wonder what time they will go to?” (I’d heard that prior services lasted a minimum of 4-6 hours.)  I casually asked, “Sooo… what time will it end?”  With an air of excitement, Pastor Baba looked me dead in the eyes and responded, “Sometime around 7:00–8:00 AM.”
Now, I know you are already impressed by the amount of zeal Nigerians had to be in the house of the LORD, but I’m not done yet. 
  • There weren’t just 50 people there—that would have been quite impressive to get that many to commit to an all-night church service. 
  • There weren’t 5,000 people in attendance—that would have been even more unbelievable. 
  • Listen to me, … there were over 100,000 people in the largest church in the world, and another 5,000–6,000 in the outdoor overflow tents!
There was no air-conditioning and no complaints (and it had been 90+ degrees all day).  The seats were hard plastic—no complaints.  Some of the folks there had to wait up to 3 hours to catch a ride home—still no complaining.  There were just a few buses to transport people that should’ve had a 50-person limit, but they stacked over 100 people inside—again, no complaints.  And this wasn’t a one-time event; this church holds gatherings of this kind the last Friday of every month—with zeal!
Now fast-forward to March 2022, when I had the honor of attending the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) Convention in Nashville, TN.  The NRB is the largest gathering of Christian communicators in the world comprised of all walks of television, movies, radio, podcasts, vlogs, blogs, magazines, books, and so on.  It was a humbling experience to be surrounded by so many “famous” people who have so much influence over our culture.  I was even able to participate in several interviews and be a guest on one of the American Family Radio’s popular radio shows, “Exploring the Word.”
The exhibitors’ hall was over 30,000 sq. ft. with some of the most impressive high-tech booths I’ve ever seen.  The convention itself was located at the Gaylord Opryland Resort, which is nothing short of an entire elite city including a hotel with a dozen restaurants, shops, and a water park both indoor and outdoor.  Among the events were amazing breakout talks given by individuals as well as panel discussions about how we can impact our culture with the good news of Jesus Christ.
World famous radio broadcasters such as Larry Elder and Eric Metaxas were broadcasting right there in front of a live viewing audience.  Everywhere you turned, there were high-dollar cameras and audio equipment shooting footage with slick-haired reporters.  Even Newsmax was there shooting live interviews with upper echelon, elected officials, and movie stars.
In short, the whole thing was a little overwhelming and super impressive in the enormity this convention represented. I do believe that at the heart of it, though, the honor and glory of Christ was the focus (even if perfect-haired folks wearing skinny-jeans and sport coats permeated the environment a little too much).  On the flip side—if I can just be honest—there were definitely attendees and vendors whose intention was purely self-promotional, which wearied my soul.
Surrounded by all this, I found my thoughts returning to Nigeria:  They had no “lights, camera, action” over there in many of their churches.  They didn’t have fancy anything for the most part.  Heck, one of the churches where I spoke looked as if it had been bombed in the not so distant past … BUT the people inside that building were filled with joy and worship like I’ve never experienced.  Every place I went was packed out—wall-to-wall with people—to celebrate our LORD.
I also couldn’t help but think about the last several churches I’ve had the honor to speak at since returning to America—churches that were mostly empty.  Pastors are struggling with anxiety like never before because Covid removed their congregants, and most didn’t return when things opened back up.  Youth groups are down by 50% it seems, especially when you compare the size of their worship rooms with the number of empty chairs.
I can’t help but wonder why—in a place (Nigeria) where they have a lot of nothing—they can’t provide enough space for the number of people who want to come worship. Yet, here in America, where we have some of the most elite broadcasting and technical abilities, many of our churches are on the brink of extinction.

My prayer is that we will humble ourselves like the Nigerian people who ask nothing of God except to be in His presence.

Nigerians have a desperate passion to see God move, yet many Americans treat church like an inconvenience in their lives.  I would love to see what would happen if you invited your American friends to pray and worship with you ALL night long in sweltering heat on hard plastic chairs… Would they do it with joy?  Would they do it at all?
Maybe we need to refocus what church looks like to us.  I am in no way saying that we throw away all of our media, for I am personally involved with Christian media, which is why I was at the NRB convention in the first place.  What I’m asking is why are we struggling to make an impact with all of these tools we have, while a total thriving in Christ is occurring in an environment where those same tools aren’t as prevalent?  

My prayer is that we will humble ourselves like the Nigerian people who ask nothing of God except to be in His presence.  Maybe, just maybe, if we combine our amazing technology with the passion of the Nigerians, we would be able to share the good news of the Kingdom of God in such a way that multitudes would force their way into it (Luke 16:16b; Jeremiah 29:13)!
To learn more about Dave Glander, our blogger for this week, or to book him as a speaker, please click HERE.
If you seek answers to questions you or others may have, we invite you to purchase Did Jesus Commit Suicide? And 27 Other Questions Teens Are Asking About the Bible (that adults want to know, too). To order, click HERE.
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