Plan for 50,000 Nigerian Missionaries to “Overrun Enemy Territory” in North Africa

Nigerian evangelicals have an ambitious plan for North Africa, as reported in the Lausanne World Pulse:

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.

Although the report is recent, the decision was made back in November, and several high-profile US missionary organisations were involved (links in original):

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.

This “Back to Jerusalem” idea is also very popular among some Chinese evangelicals, who believe that they will spread west on a similar mission. Christianity Today noted last year:

The vision to bring the gospel from China along the Silk Road and “back to Jerusalem” originated before 1949.

“Back to Jerusalem” is now a concept adopted by numerous groups, some of which are in China and some of which are abroad. Author Paul Hattaway and several prominent house-church Christians coauthored a 2003 book outlining their controversial goal of sending 100,000 Chinese missionaries to 51 nations.

The Nigerian version, however, is decidedly militant. Back to the World Pulse:

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.

That was pretty much the line taken by the Pentecostal revivalist Reinhard Bonnke, whose aggressive rhetoric was blamed in part for triggering a riot in northern Nigeria in 1991. Christianity Today again:

Rou Jarvis, a Southern Baptist missionary in Lagos, says Bonnke is controversial among many Nigerians. “He’s very confrontational with Islam, and that’s not good. If I’m going to win someone to Christ, I’m not going to tell them first that their faith is wrong.”

Jarvis says when some of his native friends learned that Bonnke was coming to Lagos, they were concerned. “They were afraid that riots would follow,” he says.

One wonders what the effect of 50,000 Nigerian evangelicals on a similar mission across Muslim lands might be…