I’m CSPC member Amanda Scott. This is how I’m living deeply.
We’d never met, but before I knew it I was inviting her and her children to come live with us- the very next day! You met Sabina Ude in last week’s Live Deeply profile. She and her three oldest children have a powerful story- they’re here in Knoxville fleeing the violence in their home country of Nigeria, where her husband and three younger children remain. I met Sabina last July through the ELL (English Language Learners) program at CSPC. I help serve people who come every Thursday to learn English, but there’s also a Wednesday night Bible study component. That’s how I met Sabina. (Mark Steimer suggested she come even though English is one of her main languages; he knew she’d love the community.) She and her children had just moved here from Nigeria, and the hotel where they were staying said it couldn’t accommodate them anymore. So I invited her and the children to stay in our family’s guest room. Although we’d just met, we had connected through that deep bond Christ creates between His children, so it just felt like offering a family member a place to stay. She moved in the very next morning and stayed two weeks. My husband Ben and I were so excited to welcome her and her children (two were with her then, three are now). It was a gift to us and our own five children. Ever since, Sabina’s and my friendship has kept growing- we usually see each other once or twice a week. The gospel has deeper meaning when you’re learning it in a multicultural way. Sometimes we can shape God into our own image, so Sabina challenges me in my faith- am I aware I’m in a spiritual battle? She challenges me in my praying- do I really believe I’m supernaturally talking to God? She’s invited me to consider: What does it mean to walk by the Spirit? Yes, you have to know truth about God, but when you read the Scriptures, people are often hungry to experience Him and know they’re loved by Him. Sabina has invited me to be curious with God- to consider experiencing Him in different ways and have more imagination in my prayer life. I’m developing a bigger appreciation for the body of Christ and how we all fit together.
Our conversations have been incredible, and as Sabina’s shared about Nigeria through those, I’ve become very concerned. With the country’s presidential election coming up on February 25th, power is up for grabs and extremist violence is worse than ever. We may read about the situation there in the news some, but we’re reading about small bits of it- there’s so much I didn’t know. When I learned more than 5,000 people were killed (many martyred Christians) and hundreds of thousands made refugees amid the oppression last year, I asked Sabina, ‘Explain to me how that happens.’ When she unpacked how people are losing their lives, homes, farms, and businesses to senseless violence, it really opened my eyes. And what’s happening in Nigeria affects the rest of the continent, too- depending on how the election turns out, there could be a huge humanitarian crisis in West Africa. This is the body of Christ –these are our brothers and sisters- so, yeah, I’m super passionate about our family in Nigeria. Being an international body of God has to be an important part of our identity in the Kingdom. We need to realize we’re all necessary- I have so much to learn from other people in Knoxville to expand my view of who God is, let alone people internationally. So we need our brothers and sisters in Nigeria to grow in the faith in order for the body to function well. Do we understand that? In this election season, I’m praying for supernatural protection over both the Christians and Muslims in Nigeria. I’m asking that many people will come to Christ when they see they’ve been supernaturally protected- even those committing atrocities who don’t deserve protection. Could we see such an awakening for the Kingdom through some sort of protection that hasn’t happened yet? God loves to love people to Himself. Let’s pray for surprisingly peaceful results and rule over Nigeria, and for everyone to be so aware that God gets the glory.