Tomorrow I leave on the first of many trips overseas to visit, train, and encourage fellow pastors as we all strive together to be faithful preachers and teachers of God’s saving word.
This first trip will take me to the West African countries of Togo and Nigeria with possible visits to Ghana and Benin as time permits.
I have been reminded of a Proverb and an important truth several times over the past couple of weeks as I prepared for this trip…
Let me explain…when I accepted this new call back in the end of October, I knew that one of my first trips would be to West Africa. I thought to myself that I wouldn’t have any trouble making these plans and preparations since I’ve been there before and I’ve been making trips to our overseas contacts and churches annually for the past 17+ years. Well, I thought I had all my ducks in row, my i’s dotted and my t’s crossed. I sent off my Nigerian visa application with more than enough time to get it back and then send in for my Ghana visa. I was feeling pretty good about saving money by not going through a visa service that charges hefty fees. Well, 10 days passed, and then 14 days, and then three weeks came and went and we had to cancel a family vacation to visit our grand-daughter because if my visa came while we were gone, I wouldn’t have time to get it sent back to the Ghana embassy for the visa. When it didn’t arrive nearly a month, I decided to call Mr. Martin Essien who happens to be in the U.S. from Nigeria. We had met for a couple of days in January when he was in St. Louis for business. He wasn’t sure what he could do, but said he would make a couple of phone calls. A few hours later he called to double check my passport number and visa application number. The next day Martin called to tell me that his contact in the Nigerian Embassy was able to retrieve my application from a pile of applications that were part of a “diplomatic delay that were being held as immigration negotiation leverage.” Apparently, the U.S. government and the Nigerian government had been in the middle of negotiations of a reciprocating five year visa program. We speculate, that when President Trump signed the executive order on immigration, the Nigerian government got nervous and decided they might need some “leverage.” Anyway, long story short, I had my Nigerian visa in hand the next day. It was still too late to get my Ghana visa, but I was able to change my flights with very little difference in schedule and I will now fly into Togo where I can get my visa upon arrival. I will then go to the Ghana embassy in Lome, Togo and get my Ghana visa there.
In the end, the Lord’s will be done as I get ready to begin the privilege of being about my Father’s business in Togo and Nigeria.