Homecoming in Nigeria
One Langham Scholar’s Hometown Celebration
by Helen Goody
John Stott Ministries
The congregation feasted, women danced, and the choir sang. Dignitaries were there; friends and family were there. And above all, this congregation in the heart of Nigeria praised with fervor the awesome glory of God. It was an event that Langham Scholar Philip Tachin will never forget.
Philip has had requests to preach every week since he finished his Ph.D. and returned to his home country in May 2009…every day, that is, except for July 12, 2009. Instead, on that Sunday, Philip was the subject of rejoice for the church where he was raised: NKST (Reformed) in Gbajimba, and more than 800 attendees–from several area churches and communities–praised Philip’s academic achievement in a thanksgiving celebration.
“I gave a full testimony of the Lord’s mighty deeds in my life and my family in the past 10 years but more especially my time in America… I have been so humbled by the way the Lord has uplifted me among my people,” Philip said.
After Philip’s testimony, Rev. Dr. Emmanuel Usue gave a very powerful sermon from Isaiah 60 challenging both church and political leaders in the state to arise and shine the glory of God in view of the looming spiritual darkness over the land. The church then feasted together on beef, chicken, fish, rice, and pounded yam. Music and dancing wrapped up the celebration. Many people sat outside the church because there was no space inside for them.
The large celebration is testimony to what Philip’s academic achievement means to this community. “My scholarship means much to my church…They take me to be an authority in matters of the Gospel and that they would benefit from me positively as I continue to preach the whole counsel of God to them, “ Philip says. “The people feel that my scholarship is a manifestation of God’s grace and blessing to our clan for raising one of them to such rare status. It was also an opportunity for all my people who came to hear my testimony of the Lord’s goodness by taking me through all the steps to accomplish what I have today.”
Also joining in on the celebration was the president of Philip’s church denomination for Nigeria, the national auditor of the ruling party for Nigeria, a former governor and retired army general, congressmen, university professors, and the president of Philip’s clan, who reminded Philip that he is the first in his clan (with a population of more than 20,000 people) to receive a doctorate degree.
“They all spoke of my qualities in a way that I was completely humbled, said Philip. “I never expected to hear the testimonies of people who said that my life has impacted theirs immensely and that all their eyes would continue to be upon me as a Christian leader…But I told them that the reason the Lord has lifted me up is to be their servant through preaching of the word and bringing healing to their lives.”
And Philip’s servant heart is certainly leading him. The weekend following the celebration, he was off to preach again. He is also involved with the Reformed Outreach Initiative, a ministry he started with some other colleagues to reach minority tribes in Northern Nigeria and preach the Gospel in their own language. He is working on translation projects, running workshops, teaching, and participating in television evangelism. “There is no better joy in this life,” he says, “than serving the Lord through touching the lives of others with the Gospel.”
Read about Philip’s firsthand encounter with Muslim violence in Nigeria and “Loving the Enemy.”