Just back to The Netherlands after a three-week missionary journey to Delta State and South-east Nigeria, Pastor Elvis Ndubuisi Iruh, an Associate Pastor with Victory Outreach, Almere, who led a team of three missionaries to the country, shares their experience in this interview with The UNION
What informed the missionary visits to the South-east Nigeria and how did you arrive at the choice of places visited?
Our mission to Nigeria was two-fold, first we had received invitation from His Lordship, the Rt. Rev’d Professor Evans Ibeagha, Bishop of Nike Diocese of Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion to the dedication of their new cathedral church of St. Cyprian at Abakpa Nike in Enugu State of Nigeria. The dedication also coincided with the Presidential address of the Bishop at the first session of the fourth synod with the theme “Dedicate unto the Lord”. We were asked to minister to the churches of the diocese numbering over 70 with a congregation of over 5000 members. These activities lasted a whole week in Enugu and after that we traveled to Ughelli in Delta State where we held series of crusade campaigns to bless the people from that part of Nigeria with God’s word and manifestation of signs and wonders. The choice of Ughelli, Delta State started in 2015 when I visited Nigeria on my missionary work, they had requested for a crusade to be held with me alongside any of our other missionary pastors; so luckily I had on the trip my Senior Pastor, Pastor Roel van Rooij and Brother Michel Bosman. I travelled with Brother Bosman to Ughelli and we did another two weeks of teaching and ministration of the word. It was a tremendous experience for my co-Pastors from Europe being their first time in Nigeria.
Who are the team members and why were they excited about coming to Nigeria at the time they did?
Pastor Roel van Rooij is an ordained minister of the gospel, a licensed Minister with Victory Outreach International, a Pentecostal church with the anointing to work with people with drugs and alcohol addiction problems or other issues of life that requires rehabilitation; he is the senior Pastor of Victory Outreach Almere in The Netherlands where I serve as Associate Pastor alongside him. He is a good teacher of the word of God and he loves Africa as he has visited severally the nation of Kenya where I lived and worked as a missionary pastor for five years from 2006 to 2011. The second person on the team is Brother Michel Bosman, an ordained minister of the gospel and he has worked severally in the ministry with a special anointing for healing ministry. He is also a teacher of the word and a member of the pastoral staff of Victory Outreach Almere in The Netherlands. He is a widely traveled person and married from Rhodesia now Zimbabwe. The last but not the least is my very self, Pastor Elvis Ndubuisi Iruh, a Pastor with Victory Outreach International, I serve under the leadership of Pastor Roel van Roel as an Associate Pastor with Victory Outreach Almere. Since my return from mission to Kenya, I have devoted most of my time to going out of Europe on mission to African countries, Nigeria happens to call this year and God made it possible to arrange it and for that reason we came to Nigeria for nearly three weeks of missionary work.
Were they in Nigeria for the first time and what were their initial fears?
Yes, this is their first time in Nigeria, of course such much information in the media on insecurity in Nigeria particularly going to Delta State, again the challenges of Boko Haram, since they have not been to Nigeria before, no matter how best you tried to explain the situation, they say experience is the best teacher. None of those issues actually brought fear into them; they were excited to come to Nigeria and to meet the good people of Nigeria. Their expectations were met, they had good experience of Nigeria and they definitely plan to come back. If there is anything they took away with them, it’s the generosity and high level of hospitality shown them everywhere they visited in Nigeria, we did travel around the East with visit to Enugu, Anambra, Delta States and Lagos State. They found it very hot but they coped with the heat until their return to Europe. They would definitely love to come back to Nigeria in the future.
What were the highlights of the visits to some of the areas?
Apart from visiting churches, we had opportunity to visit other interesting places like touring the ancient city of Enugu, seeing the rural areas, visit to Oba in Anambra state to attend a wedding ceremony; traveling by road to Ughelli in Delta State, stopover in Ontisha to see the River Niger; visit to Warri and it happened to be during the Vice-President’s visit to the town; of course, we also witnessed the long queues at the filling stations because of fuel scarcity and ridiculous selling prices at various times. Of course, the major highlights of the trip were the missionary work, the hunger and openness of the people to the gospel of Jesus Christ; the joy of celebrating, the dancing and praising of God was amazing and we took recordings of those dances to show to the church in Europe that we need to express more gratitude towards God.
What lessons did your team take back home after the trip?
Never judge a book by its cover; they would probably not have come to Nigeria if they have to go by all they read in the newspapers or online publications; they scare life of out you; yes, there are challenges in Nigeria but that has not robbed Nigerians of their hospitality and kindness towards strangers; they felt the warmth, love, compassion of the people despite all the challenges of life they faced or go through each day. They are amazed at the level of commitment from the people to the things of God. The enjoyed the openness of the people to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Are you planning any follow-up trip soon?
Yes, but not very soon, probably next year we are planning a bigger crusade still for Delta state as that is where the request is coming from. The churches we visited all agreed that they want the team to come back next year. Although our calendar is very busy next year as our ministry is preparing to celebrate our 50th anniversary as church having started in 1967 in California, United States of America through Pastor Sunny and Julie Arguinzoni Snr.
Briefly, tell us about yourself and your Church in Almere.
My name is Pastor Ndubuisi Elvis Iruh, born in Nigeria from Owa-Alero, in Ika North East Local Government area of Delta State, Immigrated to The Netherlands about 20 years ago. I am the publisher of The Voice magazine, a Pan-African magazine published in English language in The Netherlands since August 1999 and the originator of The Voice Achievers Award, a yearly award to recognize and appreciate those contributing towards the advancement of Africa. As I mentioned earlier, I am an ordained Pastor of Victory Outreach International and I serve in ministry as a Pastor. I have a burden for lost souls which makes me to travel around the world to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. I am married with children. Victory Outreach Almere is a Pentecostal and multi-cultural people with our 300 membership. We run the church with what we call, ‘Recovery home for ex-drug addicts, a discipleship home for young men who want to disciple in the things of God. The ministry is 17 years now in the city of Almere, The Netherlands.