The First Mass Open-air Evangelistic Campaign in the history of Niger, West Africa


October 30 – November 13, 2002

 

  • The first time churches came together in unity
  • The first time miraculous healings were witnessed in public
  • The first time Musl__ms came to faith in Christ in numbers
  • Sponsored by World Vision and World Horizon

 

Nigerien believers ministering at historic Crusade:
the blind see, the deaf hear

 

Sharing the gospel boldly as Elijah did at Mt. Carmel

(The major world religion centered in the Middle East is here referred to as ‘the Religion’ and its adherents as ‘Religionists’.)

Niger is a country directly north of Nigeria which was over 99% Religionist. Christian churches were few and small in size. The impact of the Church was so insignificant that there were no laws against proselytizing, preaching the gospel in the open air, or as far as we know at the time against converting to Christianity.

And so we were able to hold an evangelistic event in the open air in the capital of Niamey where everyone, including Religionists, were invited to come to witness miraculous healings. And curious, they came to listen and to be healed.

I began by sharing with the crowd that we were all worshippers of the God of Abraham. Historically this is true—both disciples of Jesus Christ as well as Religionists worship Him. However, the difference is the way in which we go to Him. Religionists believe in one way, for example, through the Prophet or the Five Pillars of Islam. Disciples of Jesus Christ, however, believe in another way to the God of Abraham. But there could not be two different ways to reach Him. There must be only one way.

Which one is the correct way?

I told the Religionists listening to me that instead of simply arguing or debating the issue by pulling out the Koran or the Bible, let us simply ask the God of Abraham Himself to show us which is the correct way to Him. I proposed to them an interesting arrangement.

Many infirm people—the blind, the lame, the deaf—were present at our meetings. I explained to the crowd that clearly only the One True God, the God of Abraham, had the authority and power to heal such infirmities. Witchcraft was clearly unable to perform such miracles. (This was quite obvious with the presence of witchdoctors at our meetings who had come to be healed of their infirmities themselves.)

I proposed to the crowd that we would pray to the God of Abraham asking Him to heal the sick present at the meeting. And when we prayed to Him, we would pray in a very special and particular way. We would pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Now if after we pray in that particular way the God of Abraham answers with powerful miraculous healings, what should we conclude? What is the significance of the blind seeing and the deaf hearing after we pray in the name of Jesus? We would find out later.

The crowd agreed with my proposal to ask the God of Abraham to heal the sick at the meetings.

I led the subsequent prayer to the God of Abraham, and closed it very emphatically in the name of Jesus Christ.

After the prayer I instructed the servants of God and disciples I had just trained over a period of several days to apply what they had just learned. They proceeded to lay hands on the sick in Jesus’ name and to exercise the authority entrusted to them in Jesus’ name. Miraculous healings ensured very quickly. One by one, people came forward to testify that the God of Abraham had healed them. The blind were seeing, the deaf were hearing, and the lame were walking. Even witchdoctors testified of being healed. Such miracles took place every night.

After all the testimonies, I turned to address the crowd again. I told them that the One True God, the God of Abraham, had clearly heard our prayer and subsequently performed many powerful miracles. Why had He heard our prayer? It must have been because we had prayed to Him in the correct way. And we had prayed to Him in the name of Jesus Christ.

I told them from what we have just witnessed that we have no choice but to conclude that the only way to the God of Abraham is Jesus Christ alone.

In this way I challenged the Religionists night after night to repent and follow Jesus Christ alone. Many responded. For the first time in the history of Niger, Religionists came to Christ in numbers—about two hundred received Him as Lord and Savior during the week.

 
Initial Report on Historic Campaign in Niger: the blind see, the deaf hear, the sick are healed

We wrote:

“The Lord is visiting Niger in an unprecedented way. In the Equipping Seminar on the first two days of our visit, the Lord imparted His miraculous healing power to those pastors, leaders, and believers who attended. After that we held three evenings of pre-Crusade meetings in local churches. Then the actual open-air Crusade began on Monday, November 4, and we are currently in the third day of the seven-day Crusade.

After preaching the gospel, I would ask the Lord to confirm His word by healing the sick. To accomplish this, I asked the Nigerien believers trained in the Healing Encounter to come forward to lay hands on the infirm in the name of Jesus. With great boldness and faith born of the Holy Spirit, these believers rebuked the infirmities and commanded them to be healed in the name of Jesus.

We have witnessed great miracles one in Jesus’ name—the blind are seeing and the deaf are hearing, One man brought to a meeting on a cot was unable for several years even to sit up. He stood up and walked in the name of Jesus. One Musl__m man, a district chief and respected member of the community, was healed of pain in his knees and foot after twenty years of suffering. He cannot deny that Jesus is the Son of God. After hearing the testimonies, precious Musl__m souls are responding to our invitation to accept Christ as their Lord and Savior. Because of the situation particular to this Crusade, I personally do not at this time have an idea how many people have been saved, although we know the pastors and churches are greatly encouraged by what the Lord is doing in their midst. With glee one pastor remarked to Brother Clive Cook, Coordinator of the Crusade and Director of World Horizons in West Africa, that the miracles he saw during the Crusade were “just like in the Bible.” Such things had never before been done in the history of Niger.”


Training the believers how to open the eyes of the blind and ears of the deaf:
November 3, 2002

“I had noticed that the believers I had trained were not really ministering with boldness and perseverance during the first two pre-Crusade church services. Although people were getting healed, I felt it could have been better. They needed more training. So for the third pre-Crusade meeting which took place just a couple of hours ago, I decided not only to preach the gospel to any unbelievers (Musl__ms) who might be present, I decided I had to give more training to the believers. It was not enough for me just to go over the Scriptures on how Jesus healed, but I decided I had to actually lay hands on the infirm and heal them in front of everyone for them to see how it was done.

Usually I simply minister in mass healing…those who are healed come forward to testify, and those who are not healed don’t. It’s relatively “free of risk,” because those who are not healed don’t come forward and tell everyone they weren’t healed. But I had to show the believers that I was willing to stick my neck out by ministering to the infirm one on one from the front if indeed I expected them to do the same.

But the pastor of Bethel Church, where we had the meeting tonight, is a very enterprising man of God. Instead of holding the meeting inside his church, he decided to hold it outside the church in the open-air, right by the side of a busy street. He erected a stage, put up lights and a powerful sound system. Several hundred people gathered, not just believers, but unbelievers from the street drawn by the hoopla and singing of the choir he had assembled. It was a mini open-air Crusade!

I first shared to the unbelievers about Jesus’ identity as the light of the world (Jn 8.12), and how we his disciples are given the responsibility of preaching the gospel and demonstrating to the world who Jesus really is by healing the sick in His name. Then I taught from Mark 8 and 7 how Jesus had to minister twice to a blind man before he was completely healed and how Jesus opened the ears of a deaf man; and that we would do the same that evening. I announced by faith in the name of Jesus that I would be the first to minister to the blind (or those with poor eyesight) from the stage so the believers could learn how to do it. (Let me tell you, this takes some holy boldness, but praise the Lord Jesus for His faithfulness, and thank you for your fervent prayer…it availed much tonight!)

Four people came up to the stage. I ministered first to a younger woman with poor eyesight, who testified to the crowd she could see well after I ministered about four times to her. Hallelujah! But the real eye-opening healing was the next one involving an elderly woman who was practically blind and practically deaf. When I first rebuked the spirit of blindness and commanded her eyes to be opened, there was no improvement. I asked the crowd what I should do—should I be discouraged, afraid of embarrassment, give up? No, they shouted in accordance with what I had just taught them, continue! I ministered a second time. She looked around and if I remember correctly there appeared to be no improvement in her vision. I turned to the crowd and asked them what I should do. “Continue,” they shouted. Bless their hearts.

Once again I rebuked the blindness in the name of Jesus. She said she could see a bit better! The crowd roared its approval and gave thanks to the Lord. “What should I do now?” I asked them. They told me minister again. Finally the Lord completely opened her eyes, and she could see well! Hallelujah!

I decided not to leave well enough alone (praise the Lord for His faithfulness) and told the crowd we were going to open her ears in the name of Jesus. I inserted my fingers into her ears, rebuking the spirit of deafness and commanding her ears to open up. Nothing happened for a few times. (Things were starting to look bad.) Not only that, she started to feel pain in her jaw after I started praying over her ears. This of course signaled an evil spirit in the woman who was not pleased with my rebukes and was retaliating. With renewed vigor, I rebuked the spirit and commanded it to come out. The pain remained despite all my efforts. (Perhaps I should have quit when I was ahead after the woman’s eyes were opened?) The crowd waited.

Then I thought came to me—it must have been from the Lord. I asked the woman if she was a Christian, and she said she was not. Then I understood! I told the crowd that God had already shown her grace by healing her eyes, but if she now wanted Him to restore her hearing, she had to respond to God’s grace by accepting Christ. A sister came up to the platform and communicated with her by sign language. She indicated she wanted Jesus in her heart!

Then I knew I had the enemy on the run…I inserted my fingers into her ears one last time to rebuke the deafness. A wide smile immediately broke out on her face—she could hear! The crowd went wild with gladness and praise unto the Lord.

Then I had the believers—who had just witnessed the teaching from the Lord from the stage—come forward to minister healing to the many in the crowd who needed healing. With great faith, boldness, and persistence, they attacked the works of the devil as they laid hands on the infirm. Many people were healed of various infirmities through them and came up to the stage to testify. What a meeting it was…the believers in Niamey are so greatly encouraged, and the Musl__ms have witnessed the power of the name of Jesus with their own eyes! It is also the perfect way to prepare for the opening night of our big open-air Crusade tomorrow.”


Report on last day of open-air Crusade:
Sunday, November 10

“What a glorious way the Lord brought the 7-day Crusade to an end tonight…the most people, perhaps the most convincing message of all seven days, perhaps the most number of people coming forward to testify of miraculous healing and accepting Christ!

The Lord gave me a fitting message. As part of the folk Isl–mic culture here, people will periodically visit a “maribou,” a priest who will in return for payment offer animal sacrifices for the forgiveness of their sins before Allah. It may be that these priests are little more than sorcerers dressed up in the robes of Isl–m. But it was a wonderful way to introduce to them Christ as High Priest in way which was culturally relevant.

I described for them how Jesus is infinitely superior to their “maribous” as a priest, based on the last several verses of Hebrews 7. Since he is the perfect High Priest, we sinners can approach the Most Holy God in his name, and in his name only. Then I proposed a test. We would approach the Most High and request that He do things that only God can do, that is, heal the sick miraculously and powerfully. If we approached Him in the correct name, He would answer us and heal the sick. If we approached Him in the wrong name, He would not respond. I proposed to the crowd that we pray to the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob (worshipped by both Musl__ms and Christians) IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST. If Jesus were the perfect High Priest, God would respond by healing the sick. The crowd thought it was a fair test.

I asked the ministering believers to come forward, followed by those who wanted to be healed of their infirmities. Then came the moment of decision—I felt a little like Elijah on Mt. Carmel—“O God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, whom we all worship, we approach you in the name of your Son Jesus Christ. If he is our perfect High Priest and the only name by which we can approach You, then answer our prayer by fire. Send your power to heal the sick and cast out demons. Amen.” Then I instructed the believers to begin ministering.

 

Ministering mass healing to the infirm


The miracles came fast and furious. With a minute or so people began to stream forward to testify of being healed of many different kinds of infirmities. Among them were two men, both Musl__m “maribous” (priests) who had been healed of their infirmities in the name of the Great High “Maribou” Jesus Christ (see photo below).

 


Between testimonies I peppered the crowd, challenging them to come forward to acknowledge that Jesus Christ was indeed the perfect High Priest, and not the sorcerers they frequented for animal sacrifices. Their God and our God had answered our prayer clearly and unmistakably when we had prayed in the name of Jesus Christ. The proof was abundant and unambiguous. Souls came to Christ. Although the number saved in this Campaign pales compared to the number saved in the Egypt Campaign (10,000 souls), the number is very high for Niger. By most standards this is the poorest country in the world. Similarly, this could be the spiritually darkest country in the world. I would have to say that this is the most difficult place I have ministered in within recent memory in terms of numbers saved. But we have this week witnessed an historic breakthrough in Niger. God has restored His miraculous healing power to His local Church and believers here. They are ministering with great power and confidence, something I did not see so evidently with the local believers in Egypt. This is one of the most satisfying Campaigns I have conducted. The pastors and believers are reveling in the glory of God they have witnessed.”

Below are photos of some of the many who testified that they had been healed:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Below are healing testimonies from a different evening

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Report on last day of overall Campaign, November 13

“We had a glorious final meeting this evening!

The believers of this church planted by Horizons Director Clive Cook working with a neighboring evangelical church arranged an open-air evangelistic meeting in front of their church in the district of Dar-Es-Salaam. They used a truck as a platform from which I spoke. Hundreds of people from the neighborhood, including Musl__ms, attended.

After I preached the gospel, I asked the Lord to confirm His word with miraculous healings. He was faithful again to heal the infirm through the hard-working believers who ministered. Many people came forward to testify of being healed of various infirmities, including deafness.

We have found that this kind of neighborhood in-front-of-the-church open-air meeting has been very effective in winning souls and demonstrating the power of the gospel where it most needs to be seen—not inside the church, but outside where the Musl__ms are. They come to watch. Some are healed and accept Christ. But the most exciting development is that the churches can do this by themselves after I leave. These meetings cost very little; they can be held lawfully in the open in front of local churches, they draw many Musl__ms, they provide an opportunity for churches to work together, and perhaps best of all, they don’t need a foreign evangelist. A local minister can preach, and the believers are already trained well enough to minister healing confidently without me. The churches can take turns holding them in various districts of the city.

In such a way, the extremely dark spiritual climate of Niger will change. The news that miracles are occurring regularly at these open-air meetings will gradually spread throughout the city, and more and more Musl__ms will come to see and hear the gospel. They will begin to take the gospel seriously, and there will be change of attitude of the Musl__m community toward the faith that Jesus died to bring us. Who knows what God could do now through His Church in Niger?”

 

Blind woman testifies she can see
Holding the microphone at right is Pastor Joel Biao of World Vision in Niger

 

 
Above: front section of crowd at Crusade in amphitheatre
 
Final Report: Open-air Crusades – no special “gifting” required

The recent Campaign in Niger, West Africa sponsored by World Horizons, World Vision, and the united churches of the capital city of Niamey is one of the most significant in the history of The Elijah Challenge. Over a period of fifteen days, “ordinary” believers from both evangelical and charismatic churches learned and then ministered healing to the infirm at open-air evangelistic Crusades where Musl__ms heard the gospel. In these Crusade meetings, I first presented the gospel, proclaiming Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Musl__ms vehemently deny that he is the Son of God as in their eyes this claim amounts to blasphemy as it did for the Sadducees and Pharisees of Jesus’ time. In each meeting after the message, I would declare to the people that we would then ask the God of the Bible—whom the Musl__ms acknowledge—to respond with miraculous healings if indeed what I had just claimed about Jesus was true.

To accomplish this I would ask the believers—trained in our two-day Healing Encounter—to come forward and stand in a line at the front facing the people. After that I would ask those who needed physical healing and deliverance to come and line up facing the believers. Many would respond and come forward. Then I would pray and ask the God who created the heavens and the earth to answer with fire to prove that what I had said to the crowd about Jesus was true. Then came the moment of decision when I released the believers to minister with the laying on of hands—it would be “up to them” to heal the sick with the authority the Lord had given them for this very purpose according to Luke 9:1-2 and Luke 10:1,9. The Lord would use THEM to provide the visible evidence that Jesus is the Son of God.

As the Lord’s foot soldiers, these believers slugged it out in the trenches with the enemy to destroy his works—disease and demonic oppression—before the watching Musl__ms. People with every kind of infirmity came up to them for healing: from pain to blindness to deafness to lameness. Not all were healed, but many were healed when the believers continued their assault against the infirmities by rebuking them with authority in the name of Jesus. They would not lose heart if no change in the person’s condition was observed after ministering to them the first time. They would persevere, and in this way demons and infirmities would leave. Some blind people saw; some deaf people heard; some with epilepsy were dramatically delivered from demons of epilepsy. Those healed would come up to the podium to testify publicly of what God had done for them in the name of Jesus.

In between these testimonies I would stress that the one God whom we all worshipped was confirming through these miracles who Jesus was—the Christ, the Son of the Living God. I would encourage the Musl__ms to believe in him as Lord and Savior, since God had given them visible evidence. They would come, especially those who had been healed.

Evening after evening in the same way these believers stood side-by-side to destroy the works of the devil: healing the sick and casting out demons to demonstrate to the crowd that Jesus was the only way to the Father. One could not tell which of these foot soldiers were evangelical, and which were charismatic. All were ministering with power in the name of Jesus Christ.

John 14:11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. 12 I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing…

After the seven days of open-air Crusade meetings were over, there remained three days of post-Crusade meetings in local churches in the city. Emboldened by what they had witnessed in the Crusade meetings, the pastors decided to hold these meetings in the open-air outside their churches. This is still legal in Niger, where there are no laws against preaching Christianity. The pastors set up lights, loudspeakers, chairs, banners and arranged for music by worship teams to attract the local people to the evening meetings. During these three meetings, people in the surrounding area, up to a thousand people in one location, gathered to hear the gospel and witness the miraculous healings. More precious Musl__m souls were saved in each meeting.

Musl__ms throughout the districts of Niamey began to talk about the miracles being done in the name of Jesus Christ. The news was spreading.

In the course of these three local meetings, it dawned on us that the Lord had shown us a new and radical way of winning souls after the Campaign was over and the foreign evangelist had gone home. For most Nigeriens to attend one of the meetings at the amphitheater where we had held the Crusade, they had to spend two days of wages on taxi fare. But people living near a local church could simply walk to an open-air meeting held in front of the church. There are about sixty churches scattered throughout the city of Niamey, so if they took turns, open-air evangelistic meetings could be held in different districts of the city. The pastors could continue to work together in unity for each open-air meeting. And since the believers through the Campaign had already been trained to minister healing boldly and effectively, they could continue to heal the sick in future meetings to confirm the gospel WITHOUT ME being there.

The Lord has shown us something revolutionary. Local churches in Niamey can hold their own open-air evangelistic meetings. No outside foreign evangelist, no “special” gifting is needed. There is no need to rent an expensive facility for a big Crusade. But the blind will see and the deaf will hear as “ordinary” local believers minister at local neighborhood meetings. News will spread throughout the city. Musl__ms will continue to come, be healed of their infirmities, and accept Christ.

This can become a model for churches in other countries ministering under similar conditions.

GOD IS RESTORING HIS POWER TO THE WHOLE CHURCH!

 

Report from Pastor Joel Biao of World Vision of Niger

“I am glad to say thanks to you today as a way of showing my gratefulness to the great work you did for two weeks in Niamey for the sake of the Gospel. I can’t still help smiling as I am trying to figure the way that God lead this Campaign. Of course Clive Cook (Director of World Horizons for West Africa, co-sponsor of the Campaign) and me started talking about this without any conviction the first day. And we did a very short prayer that day. I couldn’t imagine, Brother […], that this will end into an event so great in the history of the Church in Niger. Oh dear brother, may God bless you as you struggle to carry out his will for the world in darkness. Your meekness and humility touches me deeply, and I praise the Lord who has brought at this point.

My life as a pastor and leader is really affected: I have learned to be bold in ministering the healing. I have got much more in faith. Through that campaign I can say God added something more to my faith. I could through the campaign know the kind of message we give when we try to bring people know the transforming power of God. I discovered that God can do much more as we try with humility to show that he is the almighty God. I also concluded that without signs, wonders and miracles we only do very little in winning the souls.

The first important thing the campaign has achieved for the churches is the unity. That was the first time that really the churches worked together in real spirit of unity. Also many barriers have been knocked down; indeed some of the churches that ministered healing didn’t believe in it. They thought that is for the pentecostal churches. Through your teaching and training they were convinced that anyone who is engaged in announcing the Good News in the name of Jesus can do so. Moreover, henceforth the churches are united and free to work together without any denominational discrimination. The church in Niamey is confident in preaching the Gospel with signs and wonders; the church knows how to handle the spiritual warfare; the church is really bold in preaching the Gospel.

The Gospel will become effective in Niger as the Musl__m people will themselves witness miracles in the name of Jesus. There will be much more fruit than what we had previously. the Chuch in Niger will become really bold and effective in reaching out to Musl__m people. The harvest will be great.”

Pastor Joel Biao
Social Relations Service
World Vision, Niger BP 12713
Tel. (227)753427 – Fax (227)753430
Niamey – NIGER

 

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