Laurie and I got back late Tuesday night, and despite the ordeals that accompany travel to Africa, we were exceedingly blessed on this mission trip. It was our second trip to West Africa, our first trip being in November 2012. That mission was so well received that we were asked to return, with Laurie being asked to train Christian lawyers in biblical peacemaking while I would again teach Christian leaders evidence for the truth of Christianity ("apologetics").
As we previously shared in an email blast before we left, Laurie was expecting twenty or so Christian lawyers to attend her class, and even that would have been a good turnout, given lawyers' busy schedules, and since the class was all day Monday through Friday. It turns out around 125 lawyers attended, and the response was beyond expectations. The final day of teaching ended with a ceremony lead by a High Court judge who was sad that he was only able to attend one day of Laurie's seminar. The executive committee of the lawyers is already planning for Laurie to come back and provide advanced peacemaking and mediation training for the lawyers.
I had the privilege of teaching more than 25 Christian leaders from all over Nigeria on "The Case for God, the Bible and Jesus." I created three power point presentations and brought my own projector so that there were no technical issues. The response was tremendous, and the students asked if I could send them my power point presentation via email when I returned to the U.S., which I have done.
I also had the privilege of sharing the vision of Ratio Christi, the campus apologetics ministry that brought me in as the International Director. Our host at the facility where I taught invited the Chairman of a large Christian association to meet with me. I shared with him the vision of Ratio Christi, and how we are committed to reversing the statistic that half or more of professing Christians who enter the university walking away from their faith before they graduate. This man was so receptive that he picked up his cell phone and called the president of his denomination, which is three million strong. I was invited us right over to the headquarters and was able to share with him, too, the vision of bringing apologetics and a renaissance of Christian thinking to the campuses of West Africa and to the churches.
During our time in West Africa we spent several hours in meetings with a local man who is taking his training in apologetics in the U.S. at Luther Rice University in Atlanta. He wants to serve as coordinator of Ratio Christi in this particular country, so he is my "feet on the ground" in my absence. We are in the process of formulating plans for a return trip that will include an Apologetics Conference, and formal training for students and Christian leaders who want to learn apologetics, which is a species of evangelism.
I will only give you the highlights of the trials and blessings of traveling to and from West Africa. We were flying from Des Moines to Atlanta with a stopover in Charlotte, North Carolina, before flying to West Africa. When we arrived in Charlotte we found out our flight to Atlanta was cancelled, meaning we would miss our connecting flight to Africa. We spent about three hours on cell phones trying to find alternatives, and the only way we could be in on Monday morning to teach our respective students was to fly from Charlotte to JFK in New York early the next morning, then fly all night to West Africa. We booked those flights, at an additional cost of around $1,500. The bad news was that all our luggage, including 135 textbooks for Laurie's class, had been sent on to Atlanta. Thankfully, with moments to spare, our luggage arrived at JFK just after we did, and we were able to keep our teaching schedule, albeit with no sleep Saturday night.
On our return from West Africa, the attorney who coordinated Laurie's event knew how chaotic it is to make domestic airline connections in their country, so he asked his brother-in-law to help us. It turns out that his brother is in the military and works at the International Airport, and he and two of his friends, in uniform, escorted us through the security lines like we were royalty or rockstars. It was almost surreal, but such a huge blessing.
We thank you for your prayers and support that enables us to fulfill our calling. We will provide more details after we catch our breath, which may take a couple of weeks because next week I am speaking at an apologetics conference in Vancouver, Canada, and Laurie is assisting with a marriage mediation in Spokane, Washington while I am in Canada.