Adventures on the Beach in Lagos

Today you will not believe this story, but I promise you that it is true and not made up.

The Pastor’s Seminar went fantastic!  We expected 50 to 60 and had about 100 plus.  They came from across denominations with the requirement of being senior pastors and limited to one per church.  They were Anglican, Four Square, Baptist, Pentecostal, Assembly of God, and others. I gave 30 to 40 minute sessions with 25 minutes of small groups after each.  We had a lunch break and finished an hour late at 3pm. The pastors were humble, teachable, and asked honest questions about relationships and the equipping of workplace leaders.  The Navigator staff here will help coach them in the process.  Each got my Horses book which was printed here in Lagos.

Now comes the fun part.  We left the conference center at 3:30pm just in time for Lagos traffic. It took us 3 and 1/2 hours to go just a few miles.  What would take just 45 minutes to the home of my hosts took that long just to start.

We would sit sometimes for 10 to 15 minutes without moving at all. The street vendors were out in force with all the normal stuff like fruit, candy, cds, magazines, books, watches, and phone cards.  But they had more like toilet covers, dog collars and leads, clocks, and even hair clippers.  Their presentation was the best that I have seen in the world. In between all the cars were hundreds of motor bikes with the drivers carrying a passenger on the back. They are like fast high risk taxis by motor bike.

So we stopped by the home of one of his friends, got a very needed restroom break, had some juice then switched to a borrowed SUV.  Next we headed out to the beach to get out of the Lagos traffic.

With the light rain there were many deep ruts and traffic was spread over 4 or 5 lanes at times and coming right at us.  It was exciting the first few minutes then we got in ruts and nearly got stuck but made it out much to the dismay of those who wanted to make money to rescue us. Then we sputtered and finally realized that we were out of gas. Out of gas at 8pm on the beach in the dark in Lagos!!!

Just got gas and trying to start car… So our adventure continues.  I will let you know tomorrow  if we ever  make it home.

Ethiopian Airlines

Well, as it usually is, my first impressions were wrong again!

This flight has been great.  The plane, a Boeing 767, is nice.  It is only 20% full with people sleeping everywhere.  I am too big to do the lie down in 4 chairs thing, but I slept well and got in another couple of hours which gave me 4 for the night over 2 flights.  That will get me by.  I will now be 7 hours ahead of OKC in time.

Wrong on the meal again!  Never believe the schedule or your experience, just continue to stay flexible.  Not breakfast at the first or before landing but a wonderful fish lunch with rice and veggies half way thru 6 hour flight.

So this experience was pleasant, where as the first flight was an old plane, packed, tight seats, and hassle on luggage.

I did get the draft of the second article done at the airport and am ready for a new adventure inNigeria for the first time in 20 years.  I really want to help these business leaders with biblical, creative ideas as they are living in a very corrupt business and government climate. I want to encourage and teach and train the leaders and build bridges for the pastors also.

Nigeria has been in the news with killings in Jos and other events, so we need to be alert and sensitive to opportunities.

So after an immigration (I had to get a very expensive visa here ahead of time) experience and time to clean up and get settled, I should be ready to go. This evening may be easy, but tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday should bring public and private ministry and many new friends.

That is what it is all about and worth the pain and difficulties just to make an eternal difference in the lives of a few key leaders. I continually look for the 20% and the 4%…

So let the search begin.

Ethiopia

Well, I will visit Ethiopia for 3 hours.

Got my 2 to 3 hours of sleep on the plane.

It was an old Boeing 727 which is small for a 5 hour international flight.  My seat was exit aisle 15 J .  Appears to be a seat on wide body plane but it is only wishful thinking numbering. It was really seat “D” on a 6 seat wide 727.  I was just very thankful for the leg room.

Guessed wrong on meal

They said breakfast on my travel agent schedule, but we took off and slept hard for 30 to 45 minutes then they turned on the lights and we had  a lunch. Not bad, chicken and rice and veggies – at 1:30 am.  So I didn’t need to get a sandwich for dinner at the Israeli airport.

This is a poor country but airport is not too bad. No phone or internet connection here or airline club.  I will take out my computer and write my second article about the trip or maybe one I am doing for a Canadian magazine.

Heading south…

International Travel

Well, I made it through Israel security checks with no problems.  However, one of our party this afternoon is a USA citizen now, but grew up in Egypt.  He came to the USA in 1994. They were nice, but questioned him for an hour as we were coming in.  Since I am an OLD man with gray hair then I look harmless I guess…

But, it still took me 105 minutes because I got hassled for luggage on Ethiopian Airlines. Had to pay over $100 in excess baggage charges for 2 bags vs. 1 and 2 carry ons…a rip off.  NO other airline allows only 1 carry on and they should have honored the American Airline complete round trip ticket as most airlines honor the starting carrier’s terms.  So that took an extra 40 minutes even when I was first in line after getting here 4 hours early. Oh well the joys of travel.

A NOTE– Israel has the tightest security in the world yet they allow on water bottles through security.  I think our USA rules are a joke and just help sell more water.

Overall I got through the process just great!!

I love the food here in Israel and Palestine.  I had apricots and dates every morning.  The dates were the best that I have ever had anywhere.

Africa will present me a whole new menu of choices although I could go without and do fine.  Although I have been able to reduce my steroids after 3 weeks of overload, I am still on the edge.  When I get home it may be serious diet time again if I can just get the dosage down.

It is near midnight and I need 2 or 3 hours on each flight.  I will lose an hour and will only be 7 hours ahead when I reach Nigeria.  In traveling we keep track of weird things like time zones and currency conversion and important things like two passports, etc.

The trip is about one third done.  See you in two weeks. 10 to 14 days is fine and 17 days pushes it, but 22 days is tough.  I just could not get back in time to leave again.  The first part has exceeded my expectations and I sense ALL the prayers.  So I can not wait to see what is next.  God is so good to allow us to meet his children around the world and have immediate fellowship.  What a deal!!

Off to Nigeria

We had a full closing day for Israel, starting with 3 speakers this morning. Our group left at 1pm for some last minute sight seeing in Jerusalem. We were delayed an hour just getting through the checkpoint into Jerusalem from Bethlehem.

The tensions have increased each day that we have been here. VP Biden visited on Friday. Then the new 1600 settlement houses were announced. Second Clinton’s statement.  Then the remodeled temple opening yesterday. Demonstrations in the streets yesterday in which a policeman was wounded, etc.  The checkpoint for regular Palestinians was closed Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Then closed tighter on Monday.

We met “Don”, our guide, in East Jerusalem. He is an Israeli attorney and a political advisor to the USA presidents since 1992.  He also advises other key arab countries. “Don” spent two hours with us over a wonderful Jewish meal. I have loved ALL the food in Turkey and Palestine and Israel. Don says this is a unique moment and Obama must use his strength and encourage Israel to go to the table for peace. He says it will be a two state solution with a border similar to the original one right down Jerusalem. Don says the other key arab countries want this to get done. He thinks that current flare up will NOT turn to big violence and strife but it needs to be stopped now. Fascinating listening to him.

We saw the old city and Mt of Olives and other key sites. They, specifically, have not changed, but the areas right around them have changed significantly since we were here about 1982.

Got to sit next to Brother Andrew the last two days at the conference.  Lynne Hybels and two friends joined our afternoon tour. She is genuine and cares deeply about the situation here. I got her book about Nice Girls Finish Last for Davidene as well as Brother Andrew’s latest one.

So, now leaving my small group of guys after 9 days and off on my midnight flight to Lagos, Nigeria. A guy that goes there twice a year to Nigeria does not feel comfortable in Lagos, so I need to be careful. But we will be well taken care of there. I have my talks ready with new power points but need God’s Holy Spirit to guide the way and the schedule.

So far this trip has been unique and educational and extremely rewarding.

God is so good to let me do this.

Today

Great day again. Prime Minister of West Bank spoke for one hour. I was impressed. Think he is genuine. Tony Compolo tonight. He is always funny and thought provoking and more liberal than me, but I agree with him on most of this. Kenda and J would have loved him.

Pack tonight. Then one day with afternoon in Jerusalem. To airport to leave for Nigeria at midnight. A full day.

Wrote one article today and have 2 or 3 more at least on me. Deciding how to respond to needs here for businesses, etc…

Love you all.

Jesus and Women (Lynne Hybel’s Talk)

I just heard Lynne Hybel’s (wife of Bill at Willow Creek church Chicago) talk here in Bethlehem on Jesus.  She did a great job! Particularly in regard to Jesus and women. Her talk is, or will be, at the web site of

http://bethbc.com/christatthecheckpoint.html

I promise you that you will not be disappointed. You may want to skip the first 10 minutes or 15. Then listen to what she says about her depression and Jesus. The whole talk is an hour.  She got one of the few standing ovations.

Forward to any women who love Jesus.  Her simplicity and focus are fantastic.

Finally, as I write this, it is Tuesday afternoon and there is security all around the hotel as the Palestinian Prime Minister will be here at 5pm. There is unrest and demonstrations in the streets of Jerusalem due to settlement issues and border has been shut tighter the last two days.  There are 25 vehicles in front of our hotel.

Wow!

Wow!

Border still closed. It’s now been 4 days, but we are going strong.

Israel housing illegal settlements in the news big time here.

Every day is better.

Heard Brother Andrew (85 years old) the smuggler today.

Meeting very key folks. Lunch with key local business leader and dinner with key pastor at his home.

Met courageous farmer and children’s ministry leader. (See Facebook.)

Gaining huge heart for Muslims and Palestinians and Middle East and what God is doing. 2 more days then off on all night flight to Nigeria.

Thanks for praying.

Conference

Good day.  Check points still closed for locals and other nations upset. Bethlehem West Bank is still in the news. I met farmers who have not been allowed in Jerusalem in 14 years…

22 women died in one year at checkpoint trying to get to hospital to have a baby.  They put up with a lot…

Friends heard shooting in refugee camp nearby. It’s commonplace to hear 30 shots at a given time.

Most speakers were great. Meeting some key leaders.

Great tour today.  (See Facebook.) Church and more sessions tomorrow.

Situation very different here from what the media and Christian ministries present. Very interesting…

Full days. Getting my money’s worth and learning a lot.

Web Cast

Good morning from Bethlehem on the West Bank!

You are able to catch our conference live on the web and can tune in  – even for 5 minutes and see my face in the crowd. Here’s the link:

www.christatthecheckpoint.com

(If that does not work do search on Bethlehem Bible College and it should lead you to it.)

They are doing live broadcasts twice a day: 1am central your time (while you sleep) which is 9am in the morning here; and at 1130am your time which catches our evening session at 730pm.  You can catch our Saturday evening at 1130am Saturday morning.  Might be fun just to turn in for a couple of  minutes.

Delegates here from 15 nations.

No Sunday morning conference here as we will be in churches, but that is 1am anyway for you all.

We start our first of 5 afternoon tours after lunch today.

Our group has special stuff and meetings set with key Palestinian leaders.  I am continuing to meet a few business leaders and key pastors and organizational leaders.

Beautiful sunshine here and we are at nice hotel near a hillside of pretty homes.  Am anxious to see the good and bad of the West Bank…

Hearing much about Christian Zionism and how most of us as evangelicals support the jews and not the Palestinians (with tons of scripture).  So I have much to study now and when I return.

Have a great weekend!!!

I am having a very unique opportunity…