A Gospel Effort at Meiran
By: Deji Yesufu
Meiran is an area in Lagos State that is situated in Agege local government area, close to Abule-Egba. It is one of those areas of Lagos State that borders with Ogun State and accommodates people who must live on the outskirts because of the challenge of the rising cost of accommodation at the heart of Lagos. Former governor Ambode had however given Meiran and environs a face-lift by developing the road network in these areas – so that despite having to endure long distances to the center of Lagos, government has improved the economic lot of the people with better roads, and this has also occasioned an increase in the population. With increased population also comes increased gospel opportunities and this is where Moses Jesutola comes into the picture.
Moses Jesutola first contacted me on Facebook in July 2020, enquiring about my alma-mata – the Institute of Pastoral and Theological Training, Egbe, Kogi State. He is today a student of that seminary. But while carrying on with his studies, Moses reaches out to the young people of his environment with the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is not a particularly easy task in Meiran because his ministry will involve having to contend with the more established charismatic churches in his neighborhood. Moses, himself once a professing Pentecostal, became convinced of the reformed position merely by reading theological debates on Facebook (those who say these debates do not bear any fruit will need to reexamine their premise again). He did his own private investigations and has come to more settled convictions about the Bible being all sufficient and trustworthy. It is this evangelical position that he shares with those he teaches at Meiran. To buttress his work, Moses invited me for a one-day conference at Meiran, Lagos, to talk to young people there about the “All Surpassing Worth of Knowing Jesus Christ” – a text taken from Philippians 3:8.
I am not sure what Moses intended to have the children learn from that text because when I see such a text in the Bible, particularly in the New Testament, I see conflict; and preaching from it is going to war with the word of God as the weapon of my warfare. The only trouble was that I saw the need to present gospel realities to these young people without sounding too controversial at the same time. What Moses does not know, and maybe reading here for the first time, was that I had included an exposition of the ministry of Joshua Selman in my sermon. It was on the last page of the three-page summary I had printed in my hand. For some reason, I never got around to mentioning Selman in the sermon and I think it must have been God answering my private prayers: I usually plead with God to take away from my mind information that is not necessary for my listeners. Those young people, mostly between ages 12 and 24, got a mouthful that Saturday afternoon, nonetheless.
First, I told them that a true gospel preacher is not afraid to point out falsehood. I showed them from Philippians 3:2 that Paul had referred to some preachers of his day as dogs. In other words, these men had become next to filth because of what they were teaching in the churches. Then I went on to emphasize to these young people that the Christian blessing is essentially spiritual (Ephesians 1:3), and that the all surpassing worth of knowing the person of Jesus Christ was not something that we could quantify with money. Health and wealth is not the gospel of Jesus Christ – our Lord is a lot more than prosperity. Then I got my listeners to appreciate the emphasis of Paul on the blessedness of having a righteousness by faith, as against a righteousness that come from the law (Philippians 3:9). I told them that a revelation of these truths will bring them to following Jesus Christ, even if it meant having to fellowship with his suffering (Philippians 3:10). My time was far spent before I could get to the point where Paul talked about some individuals who were the enemies of the gospel – where he spoke of his weeping as he mentioned them (Philippians 3:18-19). It was here I intended to mention Joshua Selman – but I never got around to doing it. I believe that even now my sermon is not complete except I prove to those young people that the biggest influence on their young minds in Christian ministry in Nigeria today, Joshua Selman, is a heretic. For those who wish to know more on this, read the article that ‘Biodun Shotola and I wrote on that subject here.
It is sufficient however to note something the Holy Spirit is doing in an almost unknown end of Lagos, Nigeria. I only realized it during the question-and-answer session of the conference. Moses had opened the conference and I had followed this with another one hour of preaching, and then the young people had opportunity to ask questions and it was those questions that revealed to me what God is doing in their lives. I have been to many conferences before, but I can say that the questions that were asked in this conference were about the most thought-provoking I have ever encountered. The young people wanted to know:
- How do we differentiate between self-righteousness and true righteousness?
- If, according to my teaching, Christianity is not about prosperity, what then is it about?
- How do we reconcile 3 John2:2 with my teaching on eschewing the prosperity gospel?
- The Bible says: give and it shall be given unto you. Does that bear any semblance with what the prosperity preachers preach?
- Can you specify the kind of suffering believers are called to?
There is no space in an article like this to state the answers I provided for these questions. Suffice to say that they were questions that followed this sermon and they reflected minds that were following keenly the arguments I laid out in the sermon. At the conclusion of it all, I prayed that Christ will be formed in their hearts; that they will know the all surpassing worth of Jesus Christ and stop this craze for looking for what is not lost that has enveloped much of Nigerian Christianity.
As I made my way back to Ibadan, having to navigate Meiran with the ubiquitous keke vehicles, all I saw around me were people, people, and people. It appears that the population of Lagos grows by the second and it reminds one of the words of Jesus: the harvest is ripe, but the laborers are few. In fact, the greater tragedy of Philippians 3 is that among these few laborers in the kingdom, it is the modus operandi of the devil to plant false peddlers of the gospel. The gospel need of Meiran is immense; the gospel need of Nigeria is even more dire. Those who have put their necks out to do Christian ministry deserve all the encouragement they can get. Moses Jesutola has laid his hands on this plow; you and I can join him one way or the other to fulfil the great commission. When we write like this people conclude that we are asking for money. Yes, I am asking you for money. Only that I wish you will realize how desperate the need is and you will prayerfully consider how you can enter into supporting ministries like those of Moses. Sincerely what the gospel needs in Nigeria is not money but people who will possess a burden for the souls of men in their hearts. When you reach that point, what you give will only be a fraction of what you are doing for Jesus Christ in Nigeria.
Moses has promised me that there will be another of such conference before the year closes. If it pleases the Lord, I will be there to see those young minds again. One of them, a girl, told me she will soon be resuming at the University of Lagos to study Accounting. Can you imagine what an influence such a girl will be in that university environment, in her home and at her place of work, if she eventually comes to grasp the person of Jesus Christ and his all-surpassing worth? I can and that is why I make the effort to make known this gospel effort in a little-known town in Nigeria – Meiran, Lagos.