In January of 2014, while serving persecution victims with The Voice of the Martyrs, Kimberly and I traveled to Nigeria to interview an orphan named Nankpak for a book project. We were both profoundly impressed by Nankpak’s humility, grace and the forgiveness that he was learning to offer his persecutors. I won’t share much of the background here—it is Nankpak’s story to share—but suffice it to say that his father, mother and two younger siblings were viciously murdered by Islamic extremists in Northern Nigeria. Nankpak was left for dead and is marked by machete scars and a bullet wound. (Boko Haram and Fulani militia continue to kill Christians today, and much of the world simply disregards these attacks. Please pray for our Nigerian brothers and sisters).
Kimberly and I were grateful to pray with Nankpak that day. We committed to pray for him every single day and to stay in touch with him as we were able. By God’s grace, we have been able to do that, and his relationship with our family has grown closer and closer as we learn more about each other. Nankpak was granted a scholarship to Landmark University and graduated in July with his Bachelor’s Degree in Microbiology. We prayed along with him as he sent me his grade reports, and prepared for exams, and it was our joy to encourage him.
Earlier this year, while I was in Rwanda, I Skyped with Nankpak. During our conversation, it occurred to me that Rwanda is only about 2,400 miles from Nigeria, unlike the 7,000+ miles from Nigeria to Colorado. I suspected that it would be easier for Nankpak to get a visa within the continent and I asked him if he would be interested in coming to Rwanda for a summer visit. He was thrilled at the prospect. Having grown up in an orphanage, Nankpak has a huge heart for vulnerable children and was willing to come and serve in any way we needed.
And he did. Nankpak came to Rwanda and served with distinction!
Nankpak may now be the most popular Nigerian in Rwanda. He helped with so many projects this summer, ranging from sharing his story during a worship service in Kigali, helping organize more than 900 patients during a medical clinic, learning how to shoot videos with a gimbal and to use production software, speaking to more than 500 students in chapel, slinging mud to rebuild a home, and simply loving our Rwandan staff and families.
The word used to describe him most often was “humble.” I have heard women and men of God described this way in many countries around the world and it is one of the finest accolades a believer can receive.
Humility begins by thinking of others, before oneself. In principle, it is quite simple to be more aware of the needs of others than you are of your own needs. In practice, we all know first-hand how hard it is to live it out.
As Christians, we learn about humility throughout Scripture, but my favorite text is Philippians 2, where Jesus beautifully modeled true humility and service: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:3-5).
We are honored to consider Nankpak part of our family. He is a refreshing man of God and we love him and are so proud of him. How can we serve this week by applying Nankpak’s example of humbly making eternal investments in the lives of others?