The Nigerian Church is arguably the largest and most vibrant Church in Africa and one of the most dynamic in the world. Nigeria is home to the largest fifty thousand-seat single service auditorium. It also hosted one of the largest events in human history where over 2.5 million believers gathered for a Christmas celebration in one location. Despite the constant struggle with Islamic forces, Nigeria has a strong fervor and zeal for Christ. Recently the Nigerian evangelical mission movement announced its plan to mobilize fifty thousand Nigerians over the next fifteen years for its Operation Samaria, which seeks to take the gospel through the North African Islamic nations back to Jerusalem.
Aptly tagged Vision 50:15, the project seeks to include the entire North African, Arabian Peninsula until the gospel gets back to where it came from—Jerusalem. More than one hundred top missions leaders (representing eighty agencies, churches and organizations) who are actively involved in recruiting, training and sending missionaries from Nigeria affirmed this vision during the 3 November 2005 Nigeria Missions Executive Congress. Also at the congress were: Greg Parsons, general director of the US Center for World Missions; Gary Hipp of Mission Moving Mountains, and a member of Interdenominational Foreign Missions Association (IFMA) board; Dan Rabe, executive vice chair of New Tribe Missions; Bill Sunderland of visionSynergy International; and representatives from seven foreign missions serving in Nigeria.
Vision 50:15 is indeed a bold step for the Nigerian Church, which is currently dealing with its own Islamic, anti-Christian northern territory. However, there is unanimity in the Church that the time has come to re-launch the gospel in this fashion. No other African country carries the level of zeal, passion and aggression for evangelism as demonstrated by the Nigerian Church. No other country in Africa has survived the degree of religious upheavals that the Nigerian Church has undergone. There is a palpable feeling that the Nigerian Church is uniquely suited to fulfill this gigantic vision.
Vision 50:15 Outlined
This project has been initiated by the Nigeria Evangelical Missions Association (NEMA), which presently has some ninety-five member bodies with nearly 5,200 missionaries in fifty-six countries. The association has commissioned various committees, task forces, forums and networks to help mobilize the Church, augment missionary training, locate the fields and put in place a strong missions base for the anticipated missionary breakthrough this vision anticipates. A study group has proposed there be at least sixteen tracks used across the nation to lead various aspects of this ambitious vision to mobilize, train and release fifty thousand Nigerians in the next fifteen years into fairly long-term cross-cultural ministries.
The period between 2006 and 2020 has been divided into five three-year phases. The first phase will focus on ownership development, spread of information and vision education within and outside of Nigeria. Both the Church and missions agencies are developing comprehensive, well-articulated plans to ensure the entire body unites to give the target nations the opportunity to hear the gospel. These plans will serve as resources for mobilizing and training missionaries to enhance the effective utilization of ministry opportunities available to the Nigerian Church.
Vision 50:15 and the 10/40 Window
Vision 50:15 provides the Church a focal point for its effort to reach the 10/40 Window. As a local initiative it enables every person to do his or her part within the vineyard and also work together to realize the goal of fifty thousand mobilized Nigerians by 2020. With this vision the multi-level efforts in mobilization, research and training may now find a specific target. Currently, Nigerian missionaries are serving in fourteen of the thirty-eight countries covered by this vision!
This vision implies that the Nigerian Church is seeking to face the hard part of the remaining harvest field with total and unreserved commitment. We cannot get back to Jerusalem without:
- Facing the enemy eye to eye. This vision calls for holy confrontation. The nations between Nigeria and Jerusalem are known to have overtly set themselves against the Lord and his anointed.
- Overrunning the enemy territory. We must look into this vision “like a lamb in the midst of wolves.”
- Having a readiness to die. This requires a reappraisal of our theology of suffering. This vision will query and question the laid-back theology of ease that has characterized the Nigerian Church over the last few years.
NEMA helps member agencies, organizations and churches to be more effective and efficient in their missions enterprise both in their pioneering efforts and toward a fruitful outcome of current work in difficult terrains within and outside of Nigeria. NEMA offers important opportunities for strategic partnerships and alliances across denominational divides.
With the adoption of the vision by NEMA members and other participants, there is a wider platform to mobilize all facets of the Church and missions community in Nigeria. At the arrowhead of this vision is the critical need to sensitize, inform and motivate the Church nationwide to embrace the new phase of missionary enterprise. At the moment, high-level collaborative meetings between leaders of various networks have commenced to carefully examine the core element of the vision.
NEMA is presently expanding its joint training institute to accommodate more students. Faculty members are preparing for the full operation of the vision and missionary training evaluation is progressing. In some cases, the vision is helping some of the large denominations rethink their missionary candidate training to enable them to train Nigerians for out-of-Nigeria postings.
The most difficult part of the vision is the absence of adequate research. NEMA is currently working on a comprehensive research of the Nigerian harvest. Because of the need for a qualified research team, NEMA is seeking to mobilize and equip a team with the necessary Internet and computer resources so that they might supply the information needed to fulfill the vision.
The fulfillment of Vision 50:15 could move forward if all the Baptists in Nigeria (who have over 3,200 local congregations) commit to raising 4,500 missionaries in fifteen years. It could also be accomplished if the Anglicans (who have more than twelve million adherents nationwide) commit to at least three thousand missionaries.
The huge capital required for this vision must come from all stakeholders of missions in Nigeria, both missions agencies and churches. NEMA has recently invested in a functional operational base and is currently seeking assistance to make sure the centre has all the technology it needs to fulfill its task. We trust that the bulk of the funds for this vision will come from the Nigerian Church; however, since this is a global vision that seeks to put Nigerian missionaries in thirty-eight countries, we pray that friends of the Nigeria missions movement from around the globe will come alongside us as well. Our prayer is to see Vision 50:15 fulfilled by 2020. Our prayer is that many people will be ushered into the kingdom as we make our way back to Jerusalem.