Igbo missionary in Niger Republic…says the Lord has given us the desert

 

…How he got saved in a Catholic Church

 

Innocent Anoke known as Mallam Iounusa is a missionary from Ebonyi State  Nigeria to Niger Republic in the Sahara Desert. He shared his experience with Chris Curtis Anthony at a seminar held for missionaries in Lagos, organized by Royal Missionary Outreach International in partnership with Mountain of Fire and Miracle Ministries, at the MFM International Headquarter, Onike, Yaba, Lagos.


Can you give us an insight into your background?

The journey of my life with the Lord started in the early 70s when I was a little boy. I like to refer the whole thing as a divine arrangement because I was born into a family that is totally ignorant of the Gospel. A family of ardent idol worshippers and deities. In my case the Lord was really interested in me because as observed at my early age by my father I was never interested in any of their fetish practices. In short in some cases I was spotted laughing at them whenever they are celebrating their gods or worshipping them.  Although I cannot tell the exact age I was then, but I got to know that my biological father gave an order that no one should bother me as regards worshiping the idol of the family since I was not interested.

I never understood all they were doing then, yet I was not interested. I also laughed at them whenever they are doing the dancing and observations of some of the rites and rituals. My father started observing my disposition and he had the conviction inside of him that there was something special about me and for my lack of interest. It was also obvious that my father was not interested as well, but because it was the traditional that he met, he had to join them and participate.

 

What state exactly are you from?

By God’s special grace, I am from Ezziga Village in Onicha Local Government Area, Ebonyi State.


How was your early days encounter with the Lord?

Honestly I cannot say specifically how I met with the Lord, all I can remember is that I was not having any interest in the paganism that was going on in my village at that time. I knew also that there was something special about me that made me lose interest in all those practices then; I think that was divine.  The idolatry in those days was tempting. Sometimes the idolaters would prepare very nice food that ordinarily as a child you’d be tempted to join them, if not for anything but the food. But I was mocking everything even the food, mode of worship and dancing. What helped me as I stated earlier was how God used my father to intervene on my behalf because there were times when children were forced to partake in the rituals of those days.

How was your early day of knowing God like?

Initially when missionaries came to my village, they spoke so well to us and I started showing interest in everything they were saying to us. They picked their message from a book they later gave me a personal copy. The book was titled “Thy kingdom come”, I started reading the book and the more I read the book the more I wanted to know more about the kingdom of God.  It was at the process of reading the book that on my own I gave my life to Christ. I met with the white missionaries and they prayed for me. From there I went to the Catholic Church and asked to be baptized and after some time later the bishop came, a white man by the name Bishop Donald Burrhy confirmed on me what is called the sacrament of confirmation of the Holy Spirit by laying hands on me and praying prophetically.

That was the beginning of my journey with the Lord. At that moment I felt a burden was lifted off from me and God took away what was like shame in my life. I felt this strange power of God upon me to the extent that I did not feel threatened by any form of charm or death threat against my life. I was later to be an altar server to take care of the things used during Mass. From there I left for the middle belt of Nigeria, Lafia to be precise to a place called Kwandere. I was about 18years of age then.

So what happened afterwards?

All this while the Maitaisine sect crisis was prevalent in the north especially in Kano State. There in Lafia I continued with my Christian faith in the Catholic Church. It became so obvious to everyone that nothing goes on in the parish without my knowledge or participation. It was an awesome experience then because I was in charge of the catechism and also the Mass server. During this period, the activities of the Maitasine became so evident that some people became scared of going to Church on Sundays. But we were even more active then because we started going to Church more and earlier than before. By 4.am, we were already in the Church waiting on the Lord whenever we had programmes. Thank God none of us was affected by the Maitatsine sect riots.


So how did the whole mission activity in Niger Republic start. Were you invited by a Church or you went there for a visit?

In 1991 the Lord took me to Niger Republic on His own will without me knowing anyone or having any relative there. Then I had become a non-denominational Christian. God had given me a proper and better understanding of the gospel and I could interact with other believers effectively. I was not held down by denominational inclinations. I understood quite well that we are dealing with the Church of the Lord. It also dawned on me that there is no denomination in heaven. So I opened myself to the world and to preaching the undiluted word.

 

Read also; “What missions have joined together”https://churchtimesnigeria.net/what-missions-have-joined-together/

Were you married then when you heard the call for Niger?

No, I was not. I got married later. My going to Niger Republic was dramatic. I just woke up one morning, took my Bible and began to travel as the Lord directed me. I got to Niger Republic and discovered that the people were waiting for me. I was well received by people I had never met. It was through them that I was able to establish the missionary post.

Nobody or any agency can say they sponsored me to Niger Republic and up till now I hate the very idea that anyone or agency sponsoring me. The best anyone or agency can do is for them to come and see what the Lord is doing through me and if they wish to partake in it, their support is welcomed but to say I am sponsored by anyone is a big lie. I can stand anything so far it’s for the Lord and can go anywhere for him no matter the terrain.

Over there in Niger I usually have religious talk with the Muslims. They come along with their Quran and I with my Bible, we share with one another and afterward I pray with them. As God would have it, many of them have come to know the Lord by mere sharing from the scriptures and comparing notes. It was later a denomination like Assemblies of God became interested in what we were doing and they became involved but not as a sponsor.

What languages do you speak?

I speak my native dialect which is Igbo, I speak English, Hausa,  French and sometimes a bit of Koro Language which is spoken among the people of Plateau state, Nigeria. I can speak a bit of several other languages and also a little of Taoureg .


What is life like over there in Niger and across the desert?

There is no issue at all with the people. The Lord has given us the whole of the desert land and I encourage groups or individuals who are mission minded and are ready to lay their life for Christ to come
down here. The harvest over there is large and we need more labourers especially from Nigeria. We beg our Christian leaders to come and join us. God has given us already Niger Republic down to the Sahara and across it and also given us influence over the leaders in this country for whatever we need as Christians to do God’s work.

Mallam innocent Anoke…. Inousa….. is a Nigerian Missionary to Niger Republic, For any support in cash and kind to the mission work he and his fellow missionary are doing in Niger Republic, you can reach him through the Royal Missionary Outreach International, 1, UAC Road, Lafia, Nasarawa State, Mobile no: 08060236846, 08026127478, 08166120436, 08091570442.

About Gbenga Osinaike

Gbenga Osinaike is a 1992 graduate of Dramatic Arts from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria. He specialised in Play-writing. He also holds a Master of Arts Degree from the University of Lagos. He was Assistant Editor in Punch Newspapers from where he resigned having worked for 13 years to start Church Times Nigeria in March 2007. He is currently the Nigeria representative of US based Institute of Global Church Studies and also the Publicity Secretary of the Lagos, Nigeria Chapter of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria. He is married and blessed with two children.

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