Building the Nigerian Student Mission Movement

By David Oluseyi Ige

Seyi is the mobilization director for the Nigerian Evangelical Mission Association.

“Behold, how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!”

As I was collating the reports for the Student Leaders Training Conference and the Roundtable Dialogue facilitated by Student Volunteer Movement 2 (SVM2) and hosted by Nigeria Evangelical Missions Association (NEMA) through the Youth and Student Co-Mission (a track to stimulate greater involvement of Nigerian Christian Students in Missions and to help them cultivate Campus-wide, Non-denominational Student Mission Movements on their Campuses) it dawned on me that God is quietly reawakening the emerging generation of Nigeria to posses the nation for him.

This was made clear as 35 key leaders and influencers in Campus ministry Organizations, Mission Agencies and churches gathered between 22nd and 25th of August, 2007 to seek how to re-dig the well of revival in our campuses and infuse the emerging generation with a vision, hope and expectation of the completion of the great commission in their lifetime.

This is one indication, among many, that the time is ripe for the fulfillment of many prophetic pronouncements concerning the emerging generation in Nigeria – a season of coordinated and collaborative efforts to see thousands of dynamic Nigerian young people released as message bearers to the ends of the earth following graduation and preparation.

In the early 1970s, there was a massive awakening on the campuses all over Nigeria. The birth of that awakening was brought about by the influence of western missionaries like Pa Elton who labored among the youth in our campuses.

The Christians on campus were not just voices but forces to be reckoned with, they lived as light and salt; they were the best in their classes. They were committed to the Lord and His cause, going from one campus to the other painting the campus with the presence of Jesus.

This movement led to the release of students into the ministry after their graduation. Most of the key leaders in the Nigerian church movement today are direct products of that revival.

Many of the students that caught the fire in the 70s are now church and organizations’ key leaders who are doing exploits for the Lord both within and outside Nigeria. However, because of the lack of a united prayer front and a national coordinated effort, the revival was punctuated.

The Lord is revisiting Nigeria again as He brought the team from Student Volunteer Movement 2 (SVM2) to facilitate and enhance the rebuilding of the Nigerian Student Mission Movement, a national expression of the SVM2 association internationally.

The movement is not about starting another structure, organization or fellowship on campus but working with the existing structures to see to the release of the harvest force to the harvest field.

And indeed, the necessity of the international collaborative student mission movement being spearheaded by SVM2 in this hour can not be over-emphasized.

The purpose of the Roundtable was to discuss, plan and set goals for the development of a national collaborative student mission movement across organizations and ministries. The gathering was a powerful time as the Spirit of God had prepared these leaders beforehand and a true spirit of unity was tangible.

Many commented that they came because they were tired of the divisiveness they felt in the Nigerian church’s presence on campuses.

There was agreement that unity around common goals and themes at a national level played out through each partnering organization and ministry was the only acceptable way to faithfully accomplish the big vision of the Kingdom of God.

On the first day of the roundtable Engr. Yomi Oladeji the Chairman of the Youth and Student Co-Mission gave the overview of the roundtable. He also recounted the impact that the revival on our campuses in the 70s brought to the nation.

He challenged the delegates from different organizations to put aside their denominational and organizational differences and be open to God for the fulfillment of His purpose for students in Nigeria. The next session was facilitated by Ryan Shaw, the leader of the international team from SVM2.

He expounded the historic role and impact of Student Mission Movements in the West, with reference to the Haystack Prayer meeting in 1806 by five college students.

These students on one summer day were forced by thunderstorm from the grove to find a shelter under a large haystack where their hearts were arrested in prayer for an awakening of global mission interest among their fellow students.

They influenced their peers which brought about the birth of American missionary movement. He encouraged the participants to build on the historic precedent of God’s move in Nigeria.

The second day of the roundtable was opened by a devotion led by Bala Usman, the Director of Missions, Nigeria Fellowship of Evangelical Student (NIFES). This was followed by discussion session to identify the barriers hindering the Nigeria student mission effort.

Some of the hindrances identified are:

  1. Lack of genuine discipleship relationship among the emerging Nigerian student
  2. A low standard of commitment to and promotion of long-term cross-cultural ministry among the unreached.
  3. A general lack of a unified prayer movement focused on the fulfilment of the Great Commission though different organisations pray for this.
  4. Fear of how to make both ends meet if they commit their lives to going as mission bearers.
  5. A general lack of equipping resources to empower students to pursue God’s purpose for their lives and mobilize their peers for long-term ministry among the unreached.
  6. A general lack of a connecting point for students and leaders of student ministries with a passion for student mobilization for mission to network and share information, ideas and effective resources.

The participants were led into prayer for these barriers to be broken. This was followed by a discussion on the tools and practical resources necessary to serve the Nigerian Student Mission Movement and how to get them into students’ hands.

The third day of the roundtable was the kernel of the meeting. The devotion was taken by Tony Idoko, the National Director of the Great Commission Movement of Nigeria. Immediately after the devotion we broke into groups to set common goals for the Nigerian Student Mission Movement (Named the Youth and Student Co-Mission).

Strategies were laid out for training student leaders across the country to develop grassroots campus mission movements, for a prayer movement for the nations, for eliciting written commitments among students for long-term ministry following graduation, and more.

This was followed by the discussion on ways to implement the vision nationally by the participating organizations (called affiliates).

The Executive Secretary of NEMA, Timothy Olonade brought to front the vision to mobilise, equip, train and send 50,000 Nigerians to take the gospel to the Unreached Muslim People Groups in Northern Nigeria, Northern Africa, Horn of Africa, Arab Peninsula and back to Jerusalem in the next 15 years.

‘With this united front by coalitions of more than 100 Churches, Mission Agencies, Campus Ministry Organisations that are members of NEMA with more than 5,200 missionaries serving in more than 250 nations,’ he said, ‘there is a platform from where we can take off.’

The leaders of campus organisations and churches present made the following statement of affirmation and commitment on behalf of the students in Nigeria.

We Believe…

That Today’s Emerging Generation in Nigeria Has Been Gifted by God in Unique Ways to Offer Creative and New Evangelism Strategies Among the Unreached.
That a Spirit of Unity in Pursuing a Common Goal is Pleasing to the Heart of God and Releases Tremendous Blessing Upon the Nigerian National Church.
That Collaboration Multiplies the Ability to Speedily Accomplish the Goals & Objectives Set and Brings God Greater Glory.
That a Global Student Mission Movement is on God’s Heart for This Hour and that it is Entirely Possible That He Could Raise Up More Than 100,000 New Message Bearers For The Unreached.
That a Pivotal Part of seeing the Missionary Movement from Nigeria Realized is a Flourishing Nigerian Student Mission Movement.

We Commit…

To Personally Participate and Serve The Nigerian Student Mission Movement Through Promoting Its Goals and Strategies In Our Respective Ministries and Churches.
To Being Proactive in Equipping & Empowering the Emerging Generation to Stimulate Campus Mission Movements in their Communities.
To Partner with God to See 50,000 College Students From Our Ministries Mobilized to Serve Long-Term Among the Unreached for God’s Glory.
To Partner with God in Calling Our Ministries to Mobilize 120,000 Students to Participate in Global Prayer Teams Interceding for the Unreached & for Effective and Anointed Laborers to be Raised Up To Reach Them.
To Raise the Bar of Discipleship In Our Ministries, Believing That As Students Follow Jesus More Deeply They Cannot Help But Respond to His Global Heartbeat.

Each organization and church represented was encouraged to go back to their respective sphere of influence to implement the joint commitment. All the leaders present read the affirmation and commitment together and appended their signatures.

There was excitement as the leaders sensed the dawning of a new hour in Nigeria’s student mission thrust.

It was also agreed that the movement will be strengthened during the fourth national Inter-campus multi-ministry discipleship and missions conference(GOFEST ‘08) involving several Church base youth group / students ministries. This event will bring together about 10,000 youths from 19th – 24th March, 2008 in Abuja, Nigeria.

Student Mission Movement Training Conference

Prior to the Roundtable Dialogue there was a training conference for student leaders that took place at the Chapel of Faith, University of Jos, from Wednesday 15th to Saturday 18th August 2007.

The conference was attended by 97 student leaders from various schools and campus fellowships from the five geo-political zones of Nigeria.

Several materials were distributed to the registered participants including Ryan Shaw’s book “Waking the Giant” (Published by William Carey Library) and two training manuals (SVM2’s Movement Manual and Global Prayer Teams Guide). These were used during various sessions of the training.

The training conference was an opportunity for student leaders in positions of influence in their campus ministry organizations and local churches to come together and be challenged, encouraged, exhorted and envisioned for the ways and strategies to implement into their existing campus ministry fellowships in order to develop campus mission movements.

It focused on the cultivation of personal discipleship, which is always the basis for cross-cultural mission, as well as God’s established interest in youth and students for global proclamation, the necessity of prayer in mission, leadership training, how revival and mission go hand in hand, a historical review of student mission movements in the past and practical steps to develop a campus mission movement.

There is nothing new under the sun and the student leaders were encouraged to learn from the past exploits done by the preceding generation by reading biographies of those whom the Lord used to pioneer that revival and learn from their successes and failures.

The conference enabled and equipped student leaders to effectively implement strategies into their fellowships to develop grassroots movements that include:

  1. A high commitment to prayer for the unreached and today’s generation to be empowered to reach them.
  2. Students challenging each other to make spirit-led, faith-filled written commitments to serve Jesus among the unreached for long-term when they graduate
  3. Hosting Bible studies focused on God’s beating heart for the nations from Genesis to Revelation,
  4. A commitment to raise money to be sent to support message bearers that the fellowship knows and prays for,
  5. Overall a deep level of discipleship to be pursued that effectively prepares message bearers for the realities of serving Jesus among the unreached,
  6. A strategy to take the vision beyond their own fellowship to other fellowships on their campus and to other campuses and local churches.

There was a session where participants met according to their fellowships and made plans on how to commence and sustain what God had told them during the training and secure the involvement of their entire fellowship membership.

These leaders made commitments to go back to their respective campuses and start Global Prayer Teams and mobilize other students to do likewise.

On the last night an Abandoned Devotion Gathering was held. This was the climax of the training and lasted from 10PM – 5AM. The meeting provided opportunity for protracted corporate prayer for the unreached nations and for worship.

There was intercession for Nigeria’s emerging generation of believers, personal and corporate repentance for the sins of the generation, prayer for spiritual revival on campuses that leads to hearts being mobilized for the unreached, and for specific forgotten people groups in West and North Africa.

At the end of the meeting, 19 participants made definite commitments to go as message bearers to Unreached People Groups when they graduate.

A new dawn

There is no doubt that there has occurred a change of baton but it is not a displacement or replacement of those who have labored in bringing revival to the continent of Africa. It is Nigerian students rising up to join the emerging generation from around the world to run the anchor leg.

This task of completing the great commission in this generation can only be achieved by perseverant, unified, collaborative and believing global prayer.

We solicit the global church to join the Nigerian Student Mission Movement in prayer that God will load Nigerian students with burden as we pull the trigger that will release them as bullets of life and light to make an indelible impact among the unreached nations.

We should also pray that God will use SVM2 to ignite the same zeal in other countries of the world.

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