Oscar Amaechina, the president of Afri-Mission and Evangelism Network in Abuja, Nigeria, will never forget the day he thought his life would end.
“I remember there was a particular mission field where we were ministering to people, and some people came to kill us,” Amaechina told The Christian Post. “They confessed that they were there to kill us. We saw them with their machetes, we saw them with their swords, and we believed that that was our last breath. We thought we were going to take our last breath and go.”
While staring death in the face, Amaechina and his fellow missionaries decided to offer one last act of kindness to their persecutors.
“We gave them rice, gave them spaghetti, gave them cream and soup … and they moved away from us,” he recalled. “They returned, and one of their leaders spoke to us through an interpreter and said, ‘We were here to kill you. Since we are poor, no one has ever given us gifts, but because of these gifts, we want to become Christians.’”
The assailants’ instant change of heart, Amaechina said, both shocked and amazed him.
“I couldn't believe it,” he shared. “And we led them to Christ. It was wonderful, it was awesome and it was an eye-opener. Since that day, we have never resisted showing kindness. There's power in kindness and love. And that is what we believe in ministry.”
That mentality has driven Afri-Mission and Evangelism Network since its creation in 2007. The nonprofit is made up of a consortium of mission-minded churches and faith-based Christian organizations that seek to advance the Kingdom of God by reaching the unreached people groups in Northern Nigeria with the Gospel.
The nonprofit focuses on two major interventions: Gospel intervention, which involves conventional mission, diaspora mission and ecclesiastical mission, and humanitarian intervention. The latter involves several programs, including the feed the hungry program, the clothe the naked program, the clean water program, the orphan and vulnerable children program, medical mission, the education program and the skill acquisition program.
“We reached so many communities with our conventional mission when we realized it’s not all about preaching the Gospel,” Amaechina said. “We looked at the environment, and we saw the degraded nature of the people around the environment. Women walk about naked, children are famished, the water they're drinking is so toxic … there is no hospital … people are degraded, they're living like wild animals.”
Preaching the Gospel and sharing about a “good” God, the pastor explained, became a challenge, as “I didn’t see any goodness around these people.”
“I didn’t know what to say,” he said. “What I did was to return back home and prayerfully ask God, ‘What are we going to do to bring this knowledge of Christ?’ And that was how we developed several forms of intervention … and the more we do, the more we discover there is much to be done.”
Presently, there are 19 missionaries in the conventional missionary project, and 56 missionaries in the diaspora mission project. Within the coming year, the organization hopes to bring that total to 160 or 170 — but due to risks stemming from Islamic extremist groups and radical Fulani herdsmen, the “harvest is plenty but the laborers are few,” Amaechina said.
“We are constantly harassed, threatened and beaten, our spirits are really willing but our fleshes are getting weaker on a daily basis,” he wrote in the organization’s annual report.
Still, missionaries have seen the fruits of their labor. For example, in 2021, 231 people came to Christ thanks to the efforts of the diaspora mission project, while dozens participated in the ministry’s discipleship program.
“We want to develop a multiplier effect; that is the chain reaction,” Amaechina said. “We impact you and we expect you to impact others during the discipleship.
A former pastor, Amaechina told CP that many people groups in Nigeria have never heard the Gospel — or even the name of Jesus Christ, even though the country is the most prosperous in Africa. He estimated that about 65,897,000 Nigerians have not heard about Jesus — and most of them live in remote areas where they are “trapped in obscurity.”
Amaechina called this unfortunate reality the “failure of the Nigerian Church.” Many professing Nigerian Christians do not want to travel to unreached places due to physical risk, he said, while others see no incentive to plant churches in poverty-stricken areas.
“The Church in Nigeria has abandoned the mandate of the Great Commission,” he said. “Comfortability of the Christians has made it difficult for people to make sacrifices … there are forgotten communities where there is no single church existing. Everybody is clustered around the large metropolitan areas … because they can collect larger offerings. It is a serious factor.”
Other times, he said, African Christians are deceived into embracing the prosperity gospel, which teaches in part that believers have a right to the blessings of health and wealth. Such blessings can be obtained through positive confessions of faith and the "sowing of seeds" through the faithful payments of tithes and offerings.
Poor African Christians, Amaechina explained, are drawn to this false teaching because it offers a solution to poverty.
“The Western missionaries brought the Gospel to us, and what we are doing now — we are merchandising the Gospel. The Gospel is not for sale, but especially in Nigeria, the Gospel is for sale,” he said. “It is a serious problem. People are making money merchandising the Gospel and unfortunately, the people are bewitched.”
“You are not interested in salvation, you are interested in prosperity,” he continued. “Most of the unreached are naked; they don't have clothes to wear. So most churches don't go there to plant, because there's nothing to reap.”
In the coming year, Afri-Mission and Evangelism Network has a number of specific goals to advance the Gospel. These include mobilizing and training more missionaries; providing clean water to two specific communities; constructing classrooms in one target community where not a single person has gone to school, and providing transportation to missionaries.
“When we go about distributing whatever we have, we don't discriminate,” Amaechina said. “We are not just giving because we want to convert you. We are giving because we love you. We will work with you because we want to show you love, whether you get converted or not.”
He added: “There are people who are secret admirers of Christ. I've met so many of them … they love Christ, but they cannot openly declare their love for Him. So when we show kindness, we show kindness to everyone, whether you are a Muslim, you are a pagan … our kindness is to all humanity with intention with the belief that through the kindness of God, we touch them … and if possible, bring them to the saving knowledge of Christ.”
Amaechina thanked Western Christians for their prayers, stressing the importance of “people who will lift our heads when they have fallen down.”
“I must confess … most of the time, we feel like quitting. It is difficult. Our life is at stake. The resources are not there. You have good plans, but the plans go down the drain because you don't have anybody to support you,” he shared.
“Nigerian Christians are not interested in mission; they are interested in money … what we're doing is, we are settling it on our knees. We are praying, asking God to help. We are trusting that God will be able to do it.”
Leah M. Klett is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org