Discipleship Lessons from the Frontlines in Nigeria

Show Notes

Recently, I had the opportunity to chat with Brad Brandon, CEO of Across Nigeria. His firsthand account of ministering to persecuted Christians and reaching Muslims in northern Nigeria was truly eye-opening. In our conversation, Brad shares the dangers Christians face under Sharia law and from extremist groups like Boko Haram and ISWA. Yet God is still at work! We discuss the schools Across Nigeria that have been built to serve Muslim communities and build relationships. Brad also tells stories of new converts who lose everything when they turn to Jesus. You’ll be inspired by his faith and insight into discipleship that we can apply in our own context. I left with a greater appreciation for religious freedom and a challenge to seek out my own “Nigeria”—the purpose God has called me to. What stuck out to you most from Brad’s experience in northern Nigeria? What might your “Nigeria” be right now? Click the link below to check out Across Nigeria and sign up for their newsletter. Then let me know your takeaways in the comments!

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Brad’s Links:
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Website: https://www.acrossnigeria.org

  • Visit acrossnigeria.org to learn more about the organization’s ministries, including the upcoming gospel outreach through radio broadcasting in northern Nigeria.
  • Sign up for the email newsletter on acrossnigeria.org to receive real-time updates, testimonies of Muslims coming to faith in Christ, and other relevant information about the organization’s work.
  • Contact acrossnigeria.org for further inquiries, to write letters, or to find the organization’s address.
  • Stay informed about the organization’s work by following their social media channels, which can be found on acrossnigeria.org.
  • Support the organization’s efforts by contributing to their mission through donations or volunteering, as detailed on acrossnigeria.org.

#ChristianPersecution
#SupportNigerianChristians
#PersecutedChurch
#MissionaryWork
#ChristianMissions
#FaithInAction
#StandWithPersecutedChristians
#NigeriaOutreach
#ChristianSolidarity
#PrayForNigeria

TIMESTAMPS:

00:00:00 – Supporting Parents of Gender Confused Children

00:03:19 – Persecution of Christians in Northern Nigeria

00:07:28 – Dangers of Working in Northern Nigeria

00:10:21 – Finding Purpose in Danger

00:14:13 – Building Relationships with Muslim Communities

00:16:14 – Reaching Muslim communities in Northern Nigeria

00:18:24 – Impact on reducing violence

00:20:14 – Building community and discipleship

00:22:22 – Challenges in discipleship

00:25:22 – Discipling Muslim converts in Northern Nigeria

00:32:16 – Building a Church in Nigeria

00:33:32 – Persecution and Safety Measures

00:34:56 – Trusting God in Dangerous Situations

00:42:30 – Finding Your Calling

00:45:30 – Outreach and Support

TRANSCRIPT:

00:00:00 – Johnny Sanders
Do you have a child that is gender confused? Are you the parent of somebody who is either identified as transgender using different pronouns or some other type of gender confused, just propaganda being shoved down your kids’ throats? Well, I created the biblically parenting gender-confused children support group for parents just like you. The support group is completely free. We meet monthly. You can connect with other like-minded Christian parents who are struggling with how to parent children who are gender confused. They are getting all sorts of nonsense brought to them by the world, and I want to help connect parents who are going through similar struggles and be able to tackle this issue through a biblical worldview. If you are interested in joining this group or know somebody who might be interested in this group, head on over to faithfullyengaged.com. And there’s more information about this support group there. I have a link down in the description below.

00:01:14 – Johnny Sanders
Well, today, my guest, his name is Brad Brandon. He has a lot of experience specifically in Nigeria with Christians there. So, Brad, I’m excited to get this conversation going. Why don’t you tell the audience a little bit about yourself?

00:01:29 – Brad Brandon
Yeah. So I’m the CEO of a nonprofit organization called Across Nigeria. And basically what we do is we work with the Muslims in northern Nigeria, and then we also work with the persecuted church in northern Nigeria as well. There are thousands and thousands of persecuted Christians there. In fact, last year, there were about 5068 Christians that were killed just last year alone in northern Nigeria. So we’re helping the persecuted Christians, those who are being persecuted for their faith, and then also trying to reach the Muslims in northern Nigeria as well. It’s kind of a dual operation at the same time.

00:02:11 – Johnny Sanders
You know, it’s, it’s really interesting hearing this from an American perspective. But just before we hit record here, Brad and I were talking about where, where we’re located. I’m in Oklahoma, he’s in Connecticut. And certainly, there are some differences between Oklahoma and Connecticut. Not saying there are any cultural things, but in the United States compared to Nigeria or just other kind of dangerous parts of the world, for those of us who have lived in the United States for our whole lives, it’s kind of hard to comprehend what that’s like in some of those dangerous parts of the world. So for you, what’s that been like working in a pretty dangerous part of the world?

00:02:54 – Brad Brandon
Yeah, it’s. In fact, it is. It’s the most dangerous place to be a Christian in northern Nigeria right now. There are more Christians killed in northern Nigeria than anywhere else in the world. In fact, if you took all the Christians that were killed in the entire world, 90% of those would have been killed in northern Nigeria. So you’re right, it is a very dangerous place, very different than here in the US, where you can walk out your front door and you can have the expectation of getting wherever you’re going and back home safely. That expectation is not so much in northern Nigeria. Most of northern Nigeria is controlled by Sharia law. And just to get into the religious aspect of it, it’s controlled by Sharia law, which is,  Which is like the combination of religion and government here. Here in the US, our culture is more like the separation of church and state. The government is one thing, religion is another thing, and they’re relatively separate from each other. They pretty much are. In northern Nigeria, under Sharia law, it’s almost. It’s the exact opposite. They’re not separated at all. In fact, they’re one and the same. The religion is the government and the government is the religion. And so under Sharia law, you get punishments. Like if you steal something, they cut your hand off, which is a common occurrence in northern Nigeria. If you’re caught doing drugs, you get 40 lashes with a cat of nine tails, which is like a whip with shards of metal at the end of it. And then one of the biggest punishments. And, of course, Sharia law is enforced differently depending on what country you’re in or what region of the world you’re in. Northern Nigeria, enforces it very strictly. And so under that is a doctrine called Arima Shari, which means. So what that means is that if you’re a Muslim and you convert to Christianity, under Sharia law, it is legal for your family to either kill you or hire somebody to kill you just because you’ve converted from Islam to Christianity. It’s completely legal and in fact, encouraged by the government there. So we deal a lot of times with that fallout. People trying to escape when their lives are in danger, when they’re being hunted, even by their own family and their community. That’s one of the aspects of our work that we do there is we have a refugee facility where we take people in who are being hunted and who are facing violence. Not only that but on top of it, I mean, take the religious persecution away from it. It’s just a dangerous place to live, period. There are about 2000 IDP camps, which are displaced persons camps throughout Nigeria. There are about 3 million people in those IBP camps. And the conditions are absolutely horrible. Just lack of food, lack of clean water, health care. I mean, you name it, they’re lacking it in these places where tens of thousands of people live in one small, condensed area, just because they either lost their home to fire, they’ve lost their home to flood, they’ve lost their home to invaders who’ve come in and invaded their village and taken over. I mean, just a host of reasons why people end up in these IDP camps. So you have all, like, a chasm of all of these things happening, and it’s just absolute chaos. And in northern Nigeria, it’s basically like the wild west. There’s. There’s. There’s no law, there’s no order, there’s no. There’s no anything and anything can happen. And, yeah, so that’s. That’s where we work. Right in the middle of all of that, groups like Boko Haram, which is an Islamic extremist group, a militant group. We operate in a lot of the areas where they control the area that we operate in, ISWA, which is the Islamic State of West Africa, which is the new ISIS, by the way. After we went in and cleaned out Syria, it did weaken ISIS, but they just diverted those resources to West Africa. And now the Islamic State of West Africa has more resources than they know what to do with. In fact, the Nigerian military. This was about three years ago. The Nigerian military pulled out of Nigeria. The soldiers basically just walked off the jump. And the reason they said, was because Boko Haram and ISWA have better weapons and better technology than we do, there’s no way we can win against them. It’s a suicide mission. So they just walked off. But that’s where we go. That’s where there’s great opposition. There’s greater opportunity. So we go in looking for those opportunities, those doors that God opens for us to minister in those areas and do what we can by God’s grace.

00:08:08 – Johnny Sanders
You kind of just started to answer this question I had brewing here, that after that whole litany of danger, and you’ve got this, you know, the Islamic extremist groups going on, and I know you just scratched the tip of the iceberg there. As far as some of the danger that goes on there, doesn’t necessarily sound like the place that you want to take a vacation and have this nice resort and all these happy, good times there. You kind of got into that, that reasoning there at the end there. But I guess that question is, why? Why go into such a dangerous spot of the world like that?

00:08:49 – Brad Brandon
You know, this isn’t a place that you would go on vacation. In fact, I think it was the voice of the martyrs who wrote an article in one of their publications. Maybe this was, like, six months ago or something like that. And they started the whole article by asking who in their right mind would go to northern Nigeria to minister and operate there? And, you know, a few of my friends read that and just kind of laughed and thought, I know who does that. Yeah, it really has to be appalling, right? Because you have to walk into that situation understanding that you’re doing something that’s way bigger than I am. You’re part of something that is bigger than me. And then when you go there and you’re called and you lock in the confidence of that calling, knowing that God has you there for a reason and a purpose, honestly, I can’t think of any other reason why I would be there, other than that’s exactly where God wants me, and that’s where I’m most comfortable. That’s where I love to be. That’s where I feel at home. And that’s all because that’s, you know, that’s how God has shaped me and gifted me to do the things that need to be done in that place. Other than that, I’d rather be called to Florida or Hawaii or some tropical place like that, suffering for the Lord on the beach or something. But I know that’s not where God has called me, so I wouldn’t be happy there.

00:10:24 – Johnny Sanders
I think that’s just such a. Such a huge point thereof logically just. And if we take a more secular, worldly type of mindset, yeah, there’s no reason to go there. That’s not going to enrich your life in the sense of, like, worldly aspirations and goals and getting rich and enjoying your time and everything. But that’s not what it’s about. And I love what you mentioned there, that you can have all those riches and goodness. We know stories of all sorts of celebrities that have even killed themselves that you think they have it all, and clearly they don’t. Being where God has intended you to be. There’s nothing greater than that. That’s what we’re called to do, is to not just do our own will, but to follow God’s will for us.

00:11:14 – Brad Brandon
Yeah, I think ultimately, at the end of the day, we’re all designed for a greater purpose. And if we’re in pursuit of that purpose, or even if we’re fulfilling that purpose, either one of those two is where you really find happiness and contentment and true joy. When you’re operating outside of that, fulfilling that, or pursuing that purpose, I think that’s when we start to become discontented and then we become angry. We get into trouble. All kinds of things begin to unravel when we’re operating outside of that. So you could have $100 million in the bank. If you’re not pursuing your purpose or fulfilling your purpose, you’re kind of a lost soul just wandering aimlessly in this life, and that’s not what God has intended for any of us.

00:12:07 – Johnny Sanders
Yeah, absolutely. I wanted to dig a little bit deeper into kind of those two different spheres that you had. The one of trying to reach the Muslims there, that’s more of the, you know, evangelism side and then more of the kind of the ministry type of side towards the persecuted. Persecuted Christians that are there. I wanted to start with the outreach there with the Muslims.

00:12:37 – Brad Brandon
Yeah. So that. That’s.

00:12:39 – Johnny Sanders
That’s a difficult thing to do in any part of the world. But when you already have this just extreme violent situation there in Nigeria, that seems like you would have to be pretty calculated and how you go about that. So I would love for you to speak a little bit more like, what is that, outreach to Muslims there in northern Nigeria? What does that look like?

00:13:07 – Brad Brandon
Yeah, so we travel all throughout northern Nigeria. I mean, all the way up to Nigeria, even into Nigeria. And from east to west, used to be that the violence was kind of isolated to the northeast in the Dugurri area. That’s kind of brief, but now it’s. The violence is equal from east to west. Anywhere you go in the north, you’re going to run into violence or violent groups or something like that. And, yeah, I mean, basically what we do is we. It is calculated in the sense that we’re not foolish. We do take risks, but they’re calculated risks. They’re not foolish risks. We don’t just walk into any village and say, here we are, listen to us. Here’s Bibles, and we like to start a church here. That would be foolish. But what we do is we really get to know people in that culture and in that area, and then those relationships lead to other relationships, and those lead to introductions to other groups of people. And so we’ve developed over time. We’ve been doing this for about seven years, but we’ve developed a pretty good network of people that we know, people who know us, and more importantly, people who know us. And when we go into a Muslim village, we don’t go in proclaiming the word of God. We go in just showing the love of Christ, really, that’s what we do. One of the ways that we do that is we might bring in a water filtration system or we might bring in some medication for their kids who are dealing with something that we have some medication for. We’ll help them really, any way that we can. And one of the things that has happened, particularly among the Fulani Muslims, which are one of the most dangerous and violent groups in northern Nigeria as well, it’s Boko Haram, ISWA, and Fulani Muslims. In fact, just this past Christmas, just a few weeks ago, there were about 190 Christians that were killed by Fulani Muslims on Christmas day, on Christmas morning. I don’t know if you heard that in the news, but that was Fulani Muslims who did that. That’s the same people that we work with. One of the ways that we found to really just sort of become great friends and develop a mutual trust is that we build schools in Fulani Muslim villages that teach their children. We use the Bible to teach their children to read and write English. Now, if you can read and write English in northern Nigeria, that’s like a college education because it opens up so many other doors of opportunity for their children. And they see that and they know that. So we develop a relationship with a Fulani Muslim village, and then as the lord leads, of course, and as the Holy Spirit leads us, we look for opportunities to introduce the idea of starting a school in their community or in their village. And so far we have not been turned down. We have three schools throughout northern Nigeria. In Fulani Muslim villages, one school has about 450 students, 400, and another has, I think, 475. And they’re all 475 students and they’re all in northern Nigeria. And we just really show them the love of Christ by teaching their children the Bible. And in turn, we teach them about things in the Bible and Christ and who Jesus was and all those things. But we don’t seek to evangelize or proselytize their children because that really would be offensive. Obviously, you could imagine if we came in there and started trying to convert their children, they would get upset by that. But really what we do is train our teachers who teach in those schools to develop relationships with the parents. And so it’s through those relationships with the teacher and the students and the teacher and the parents that we’ve really been able to reach so many Muslims in northern Nigeria is just from those relationships that develop. And then from there, other connections are made. One parent might know somebody else in fact, one of our schools was started because one parent in one of our schools had a sister in another village across the country. And she told her what was going on, and she said, oh, send them to our chief to talk to our village and see if they can set up a school. And so we went there and the same thing happened. We talked to the chief. The chief loved the idea, and we were able to start a school there in her village. So it’s just those kinds of connections and that networking, it takes time to do that. I can be impatient at times and want to see more progress, but I really just try to trust the Lord that it’s got to be in God’s timing. And so really it’s just showing the love of Christ. That’s really the greatest tool that we have, and that’s how we reach Muslims in northern Nigeria. Now. One of the cool things that happens from that is wherever we have built and started a school and operate a school in that area, the violence drops by 70%, 70% less violence in that area where we have a school operating. And so I look at that and I’m like, that’s the solution to the problem. I mean, even our State Department is sending, what did they send, $700 million last year to Nigeria to try to quell the violence that’s going on. It doesn’t seem to do anything. I don’t see any impact from our tax dollars that are sent there every year. The Nigerian government certainly hasn’t been able to do anything. But I look at, how we bring the gospel of the peace of Jesus Christ into these areas, and that’s exactly what it produces. It produces peace in the areas where we’re happy. So I hope that answers your question. But that’s what we do to go into those areas.

00:19:33 – Johnny Sanders
I think that’s an incredible strategy and just, just story in general, I think as Christians often we think of, and this is definitely some of the Americanized version, we think of that evangelism and reaching people of all right, how many. How many numbers did we check? How many raised hands did we get during the prayer or whatever? And I’m not completely discounting any and all of that, but there’s a, There’s a different level here of building community, especially in a gospel just starved area.

00:20:14 – Brad Brandon
Yes.

00:20:15 – Johnny Sanders
To use scripture to teach how to read and write. I mean, that. That is an incredible, credible tool there. And when you were sharing that, that, that was amazing to me, that these very militant Muslims, like, are okay with that, but it helps teach their kids it gives them that college education, like you’re saying. That’s, that’s an incredible way to impact people. That’s not just about checking the box off. It’s very action-oriented.

00:20:47 – Brad Brandon
It’s action-orientated. And I think, too, that in the US, we are very much geared for seeing instant results. So we like you as you mentioned, I’ll use the illustration you said, and not that there’s anything wrong with this particularly, but in a church service, you know, you might walk away, the pastor might walk away, and say, oh, we had, we had 20 people raise their hand to receive Christ. You know, we want to get those, those tangible results right away. In Nigeria, northern Nigeria, it’s not like that. You can’t do that. It takes time. It’s really relational evangelism, where you have to build relationships with people first before they’re ever going to listen to you on the level of what you believe about God and Jesus and all of those things. And so, you know, it’s some villages, it’s taken us seven years to get in there and be trusted and be endeared and taken in, and it’s just constant sowing into. And I call it the garden. Like, you got to sow into that garden. If you’re going to reap fruit, it doesn’t just instantly come to you. You have to weed it, you have to water it, you have to make sure the soil is right, make sure it’s in the right sunlight, all of those things. It takes investment and time. And I think we’re not accustomed to that in the US. We’re accustomed to quick results. I put something in, I should get something out right away. And, that’s just not how it is. Yeah.

00:22:25 – Johnny Sanders
And I think that’s really healthy for those of us in the states to have that recognition, not just in war-torn Nigeria, although that’s credibly necessary there, we can take a lot of that in our, in our own backyard as well. You’ve got a, you got a kid that’s dropped out of, out of the church and is unsaved. So, yeah, let’s, let’s pour in all resources, let’s throw bibles at them and all these things to try to get it back in the church. And again, not, those things aren’t all bad, but are you trying to do it just on your quick timing, or ultimately, are you trusting God that he’s got a plan and let’s trust him to take care of this and ensure he can use us? But it’s not about our speed and efficiency to get it done. It sounds like what you’ve been doing in Nigeria, it’s forced you to do that. There’s no other way around that.

00:23:22 – Brad Brandon
Yes, absolutely, because there’s no other option. I think one of the things that you see as a result of that is looking at discipleship in the churches in the US. Churches are really struggling with this concept of discipleship. It’s because discipleship, it takes time. There’s no substitute for time when it comes to discipleship and personal growth, spiritual growth. So churches in the US, we’re really struggling with that. We see the importance of discipleship. So people talk about it often, but churches are really struggling to come to grips with how we really become effective disciple-makers, not just leading people to the Lord and adding numbers, but then making disciples of Jesus Christ. I think in Nigeria, I don’t want to say that we’ve solved that problem, but I think it comes much more naturally because, from the onset that we’re reaching somebody with the gospel, we understand this is going to take time. So after they come to Christ, it’s not a surprise to us that, okay, now their spiritual growth, guess what, is going to take time. And we’re going to have to spend time with them and we’re going to have to sit with them and have a meal and have conversations over and over and over, maybe three or four times a night with some people and just talk to them about their faith and help them grow. I think in the US, a lot of times we don’t have time for that true organic discipleship. And I think that’s one way that it manifests.

00:25:03 – Johnny Sanders
That makes a lot of sense. And again, I think there’s a lot to learn from that kind of transitioning this into more on the christian side. I wanted to start with more of a specific question that, especially if you get a, a Muslim to, to convert. And again, that is a, that’s a massive decision and affects the entire family. What, what does that discipleship like you’re talking about? What’s that look like specifically in that situation? How, how do you disciple something, somebody that’s giving up everything? What do you do with them in that situation?

00:25:47 – Brad Brandon
So let’s go back and just talk about, like, what it looks like when a Muslim converts to Christianity in northern Nigeria. It looks very different than it does here in the US. And it’s hard for, I think a lot of times, us from the US to get our minds wrapped around it, but they literally lose everything. They lose it all. So if you’re a Muslim and you convert to Christianity, if you escape with your life, you’ve lost your home, you have lost your business. If you own one, your bank accounts have been frozen. No one will sell you anything at the market. You can’t go and get any medical care from a doctor. He won’t see you because you’re a converter. They lose it all. They’ve lost their family, their support system. No one will talk to them. Even if they choose not to kill that person, they certainly won’t contact them or have any contact with them. So they have lost it all. We have one woman who’s in our refugee facility, and she was pregnant. While she was pregnant, one of our pastors led her to the Lord, and so she became a Christian. Her husband divorced her at that, right at that lecture, but sort of kept her in, like, a hospital room, but kept the door closed, locked. So she was in a prison, and they fed her. It’s almost like they were incubating her. Incubating? Using her to incubate the baby. She gives birth to the baby. She doesn’t even see the baby, doesn’t get to touch the baby, doesn’t even get to see the baby. They. They take. She gives birth to the baby right out of the womb. They take the baby away and give it to the father, and the father takes off. She feels like they’re gonna kill her now, so she escapes, like, you know, hours after she gave birth to this baby. And now she’s in our refugee facility. And somewhere out there, she has a child that she’s never even seen before. So they literally come to us with nothing, the clothes on their back that they’ve escaped with. So I guess sometimes in the north, when they are able to stay where they are and where they live, the discipleship happens a lot of times, like the bible mentions nicodemus by night, and so it happens behind closed doors. It happens under cover. It happens out in the bush where nobody can see. But eventually, people catch on to what’s happening, and they’ll get labeled as a convert. And in those cases, they come to us in our refugee facility. And at our refugee facility, we take in people who have converted from Islam to Christianity, and their life is somehow in danger to one degree or another. They need help, so we take them in. We take care of all of their felt needs. So they have needs of food. They have need of just. Even, like, a bed, a mattress to sleep on, clothes, those types of things. We give them a garden plot where they can grow food. We even give them some cooking utensils. We have just small, tiny little one or two room apartments in our dormitories at our refugee facility. And then also one of the most important things that we do is we have a pastor that oversees the refugee facility and he is a discipler, so he will spend the time with them over meals. I mean, it really is less of a church and more of a community of believers. It really reminds me a lot of the early church when I go there. Like when I walk into these situations and we have pockets of persecuted christians, christian communities throughout the north, and there are less churches like, to us. We think of churches somewhere that I go in northern Nigeria, church is not some place that you go to once a week. It’s a community that you live in. And so the discipleship happens within that community. Once they get to us. It is very difficult to disciple them when they are in the mountain, in the far, because you have to do it under the COVID you have to do it being hidden. So it becomes difficult to do that three or four times a week when you meet with somebody and they want to do a Bible study or learn how to pray. Just something as simple as that. Yeah. So, yeah, I hope that answers your question, but that’s kind of what it looks like.

00:30:46 – Johnny Sanders
I mean, again, just, I hope those of you that are listening to this, especially those of you that have never traveled internationally or just don’t. Don’t really have the. The concept of, of some of the things that Brad’s mentioning here to really take this and take some time to. I know you probably hear this often of being grateful for the freedoms that you have here and things of that nature, but sometimes it falls flat. It’s like, yeah, yeah, we got it. That’s great. But you hear these type of stories and to be able to pray, to read the Bible together, you don’t think of that here as being a big deal, but that’s a huge deal that we were able to do that freely.

00:31:31 – Brad Brandon
Yeah. Even just to have a group of believers gather. You know, I talked about the christian communities that we had throughout the north. I mean, just to have them get together safely and not be attacked, not be raided, not be run out of where they are, it’s just, you know, like a big success. I’ll give you one quick story. We had started a church in the north. It grew to probably 2030 people, something like that. And we decided, okay, this is big enough to where we’d like to build up a building. And so we built a building and it was out in the bush, and we showed up the first Sunday. We were going to do like a dedication Sunday. And, you know, when I say building, it was more of like a shed. You know, it had cinder block walls, but it was more of like a shack that we just built in the middle just to keep the rain hot. And so we did the open house the first Sunday. Dedication Sunday. It was great, had a good time. Came back the next Sunday and it was torn to the ground. I mean, every block was taken off and scattered. We rebuilt it and sort of have like a second dedication again. So we spent a Sunday in there. It was great, had a celebration. Here we are back again. We came back the next Sunday and it was gone. It was destroyed again. So we decided, okay, there’s a mango tree that is like, you know, over here. We went and just met under the mango tree. Just because it’s out of the songs, a lot of people. So we thought, okay, we’ll just have church under a mango tree. That’s fine, big deal. We came back the next Sunday and the mango tree was cut down. And right now that church is currently meeting in a building that looks like they have to. They have to dress up the building to look like a storage house, like a storehouse, because if it looks like a. If it looks like a church or somebody suspects it of being a church, they’ll either destroy it or the government will compensate or something will happen. So, yeah, it just kind of speaks to that, like, you know, just to be able to do the simple things that we do here, like go to church or do a Bible study or anything like that. Gather to pray for a prayer meeting. It’s like a big deal over there. And it’s sad. Sometimes christians here in the US take those things for granted.

00:34:02 – Johnny Sanders
Yeah, absolutely. As, you’re saying these things, you’ve kind of alluded to some things that you and some of the churches do, but with obviously some of the dangerous things that are happening. All the, you know, hundreds of Christians that get killed. What are some of the things that you do well in Nigeria to help, help keep you and the people around you safe?

00:34:31 – Brad Brandon
That’s a good question because a lot of people, people will ask me, do you travel with security or are you armed? You know, even in Nigeria, they have strict gun laws, so only the bad people end up having guns. But really, you know, I, even if I could carry a weapon, I don’t think that I would. And here’s the reason why. I think that it sends the wrong message. Now, don’t get. Don’t get me wrong. I love my firearms. I’m an American. I believe in the Second Amendment. Don’t get me wrong. But I think that if we were to walk into a Muslim village and we had weapons with us, it says something. It says something about our trust. It says something about our intent to be there. It says something about, hey, we’re good as long as you don’t mess with us. If you mess with us, then there’s, you know, and I also kind of think, too, that sometimes you just got to trust the Lord. And I’m not trying to over-spiritualize that, but really, sometimes you just have to give it to God and say, you know what? My safety is of the Lord and God. You bring me where you want me to go, and I trust that you will take care of everything else. I feel like if we were to travel around with armed security, that our trust would be in something else. And I’m not trying. Again, we take calculated risks. I’m not trying to take foolish risks, but I worry about the message that that would send. I worry about where I’m putting my trust. And we’ve had people who have been killed. One of our pastors in 2021, who worked as a scout for us, like I was talking about before, we did a two-week tour through northern Nigeria. We were visiting Muslim villages, talking to them. We came back to Khana. We dropped him off at his house, and we came back the next morning to pick him up, his church was burned to the ground. His house was burned to the ground, and he was hacked to death in his bed. And so we, you know, so there are times when that trust is put to the test, but you really, at the end of the day, just have to say, okay, God, we’re going to continue to trust you and continue to trust you to bring us into where you want us to be. It doesn’t mean that we don’t take precautions. Of course, when we go into a certain area, we never go in. We never come out the same way we went in. So we will always leave an area differently than when we came in. So if we come in on one road, we go out another road. We don’t travel at night. All of our traveling is done during the day. And at certain times when we’re in certain parts of the north, we always show up unexpectedly. So we never call ahead and say, hey, we’re about 15 minutes away, you know, or we’re an hour away, or we’ll be there on Saturday. We never do that. We just show up, which is conducive to the Nigerian culture because they kind of do the same thing. You know, people just show up at your house all the time and you give them a meal and sit around and talk for a while. But we do take those kind of precautions to keep us safe. When we’re driving on the roads, we travel at a high rate of speed and we don’t stop anything. In Nigeria, a lot of times they’ll set up decoys. An injured woman on the side of the road would be one example. You pull over to help that woman and she’s a decoy and, you know, that’s how they grab you. So we’re constantly aware of our surroundings and we do ask God to give us wisdom, but there are times it’s amazing because when we. You travel like that, you see God do miracles. We literally came into a town once, and the town had been taken over by Islamic militants. And just as we entered the town, they set up a roadblock behind us after we got into the town. And we were stuck in that town for that night. We prayed all night long. Every road was blockaded so we couldn’t get out. We had one of our scouts call us in the morning and say, hey, this certain road is open. For whatever reason, they’ve moved the blockade out of there. So we got. Anytime we travel, we are ready to go at a moment’s notice. I mean, we are impacted in the truck in less than a minute. At any given time, middle of the night, you know, we’re ready to go sleep with your clothes on, your bags packed, all that kind of stuff. And so we hit the road, we went out that road and we saw where the blockade was. We got about an hour down the road and our scout called us and said, are you out? Did you make it out? And we said, yeah, we made it out. And he said, oh, praise the Lord because they put the blockade back after you left. I mean, it was just the first thing that he hit me it was like God parting the Red Sea, letting us go through, and then God closing it behind us. You know, that’s, that’s what it is. But you see those kinds of things all the time when you’re operating and living in that kind of faith. Yeah.

00:40:08 – Johnny Sanders
And I love the fact that, yeah, you point out some of, the practical things to be done. Um, yeah, not driving at night, that things of that nature. I mean, God definitely calls us, to be wise, but you’re also recognizing there are some things you can’t do. You couldn’t move that blockade, but. But it was. And that’s where that trust is so important. Like you said, with firearm usage. But I myself am a firearm owner, as most of our, many of the listeners are, that that protection of your family and everything, it’s great. But you. You’re not in your house.

00:40:50 – Brad Brandon
You’re.

00:40:50 – Johnny Sanders
You’re in a very different location. And if we take that further, I mean, I don’t think you’re going to outgun some of these terrorist organizations out there. Like, you eventually got to run out of ammo there, right? And it goes back to that trust, that. That trust in God no matter what. Again, that’s something that we see with a lot of the early church martyrs, whether it’s Stephen or some of these other missionaries throughout the years, dying for your faith. While tragic, that’s something that we want to try to avoid. If we came through wisdom, there are worse things out there than dying for your faith. Think that’s important. If you’re going to take that call to go to Nigeria, take that call to go talk to your neighbor across the street, wherever you are, there’s a level of faith that God not just will protect me, but that he’ll be glorified. And whatever happens ultimately is in his will.

00:41:55 – Brad Brandon
That’s right. Yeah. Yeah. And I always ask people like, what, what’s your Nigeria? And they, you know, they kind of look at me like, what do you mean? And I’m like, my Nigeria is Nigeria. The thing that I’m called to do is go to Nigeria. But we’re all called to do something. So what is, what is that thing in your life that you’re called to do now? That might be starting a Bible study at your school. It might be starting a prayer meeting before work, you know,, at the factory or whatever it is. Just go do that thing that God has called you to do. So seek after it. And then when you find it, because the Bible says seek, and you will find. That’s what God says. So if you’re seeking your calling, you’ll find it. And when you find it, fulfill it and do whatever it is that God has called you to do. I think that so many Christians are living this complacent life where, where, like, they are not actively seeking their Nigeria. And I use that. You know how I’m using that, but not that. Not that they need to be called the Nigeria. But like you said, maybe just talking to a neighbor is your Nigerian. But whatever it is, get into the business of fulfilling what God has called you.

00:43:13 – Johnny Sanders
I love that. I was about to ask a question along those lines, and you really answered it brilliantly of go out and do something little, little bit about my, about my mom, but she’s traveled to Indonesia many times, so different muslim area, but still some similar type of, type of stories there and has been throughout, all over the world, especially with different muslim groups. And she says that all the time when she’s talking with people that you don’t have to travel across the world. If, if you would like to or if God’s calling you, then yes, go do that. But yeah, you do need to do something, even if that is in your hometown across the street, praying for a missionary. That’s something that I actually really love about what our church does. My church that we support a missionary family, and we have constant different updates about them and, and being able to pray through them specifically, not just a broad area, but specific people. Goodness, there’s all sorts of things you can do to be involved, but it’s not going to just fall in your lap and do it for you. Like, you got to do something. So I love the way that you put that.

00:44:31 – Brad Brandon
Awesome. Yeah, praise the Lord.

00:44:33 – Johnny Sanders
Well, I’m sure those of, those of us who have been there for me listening to this and then for, for other people who are listening to the podcast would want to be in touch with you after the show or learn more about you and your organization. So how can they learn more about you and your organization once this show airs?

00:44:53 – Brad Brandon
Yeah, our organization is called across Nigeria, and our website is acrossnigeria.org. So if they just go to acrossnigeria.org on that website are just all the things that we do, all the ministries that we have in Nigeria. On January 15, we’re about to launch a gospel outreach through broadcast, broadcasting radio signals into the remote areas of northern Nigeria to reach the Muslims. It’s a radio broadcast that’s done in Hausa and Pula, which is the language of the Fulani people. So that airs on January 15. You can go to our website across Nigeria.org that’s on there. What we do with the schools is on there, our refugee facility. All of that stuff is@acrossnighteria.org and also on there is a way for you to sign up for our email newsletter. And we send that out about once a week. And we just kind of give you real-time updates of what’s happening in northern Nigeria, what’s going on, what we’re doing what God doing. We send out testimonies of Muslims who come to faith in Christ. All of that is@acrossNigeria.org dot. That’s the best way to get a hold of me. Our numbers are on there. People can certainly call, and write letters. Our address is on there as well. All of that is across Nigeria.

00:46:17 – Johnny Sanders
And I’ll have that linked down in the show notes below if you want to click on that pretty easily there.

00:46:24 – Brad Brandon
Absolutely.

00:46:25 – Johnny Sanders
Well, Brad, it’s been an absolute pleasure talking to you. And yeah, I’ve learned so much about northern Nigeria that I did not know. And like I said, only scratch the surface there.

00:46:35 – Brad Brandon
Awesome. Thanks, Johnny. This has been great. I’ve had a great time.00:46:39 – Johnny Sanders
Great. All right. Thank you to everybody who tuned in today, and we’ll catch you on the next episode