Nasarawa-State born Sunday Kigbu grew up in a family of idol worshipers. He had no idea about the Christian God and had thought life was all about the effigies his people bow down to in the village.
His orientation however changed when he travelled to Kaduna from his base in Nasarawa and was invited to a church where he experienced God for the first time.
He subsequently surrendered his life to Christ and made a commitment to going back to preaching against idolatry. He also resolved to reach out to idolaters and people of other faiths other than the Christian faith.
For almost 30 years now, he has been doing that and labouring in prayers that by all means his people and indeed many that are still being held in the bondage of ignorance will see the light.
Call to missions
Kigbu who attended the 2023 Global Mandate Conference in Lagos told Church Times that he got the call to go into full-time missions while working in a company in Kaduna. That was many years after his conversion.
But before he veered into missions full-time, he had always nursed the ambition of working in unreached areas of the country, particularly among people who are sold to idolatry. “Because of my background in idolatry, it was a burden in my heart to reach out to my people who are still living that life of ignorance,” he said.
It was that mindset that made him pray for a missionary partner when he was still single. God answered his prayers. He met his wife on the mission field and the two of them now serve under the Missionary Alliance for Africa (MAFA) as missionaries.
He describes the life of a missionary as that of total dependence on God. “I have learnt not to depend on man no matter what. One of the earliest mistakes I made in ministry was to look on man and depend on man for sustenance. But God corrected me in good time. No matter what anybody promises me now, I don’t put my hope on such promise. I fix my gaze on God. I have suffered several disappointments in the past because I depended on man. But God has since delivered me.”
So far, Kigbu has served in about 5 different fields mostly in Kebbi and Niger States and has planted about 10 churches so far. He has interacted with people of diverse cultural orientations and has seen God work in the miraculous on the fields.
Before now, converts from his outreaches were handed over to churches in the area where the souls were won. But now, he says, “We have to find a way to establish our converts in the faith. We meet under trees and sometimes go to their houses to disciple them. We discovered that many of those who are handed over to churches are not well followed up.”
In the course of the work, he established a mission school in Niger State to train people for the vast harvest in the north. “Presently we have about 30 students in the school. We use the Hausa language to train them because that will help facilitate faster learning for the indigenes. The goal is to prepare the workforce that will be useful to the environment where we operate.” he said.
Kigbu trained as a missionary with CAPRO. He said, “One of the challenges most missionaries face is how to keep the home front while the mission work is going. It is a big concern. But God has been faithful. It’s been a long struggle getting my children through school. But there is cause to thank God for his mercy. Two of them are in the university, while the others are in primary and secondary schools.
“It is God who has been seeing them through school. Each time we want to pay school fees is a challenge. But God sees us through every stage.”
His wife, Rhoda Kigbu according to him is God sent. “I thank God for my wife who has been very supportive of the work. She was already doing missions full-time when we met. She was with Harvesters for Christ. But after marriage, she crossed over to join me in MAFA. God has helped the two of us to raise five children who are also very keen on mission. They are always with us on the field doing the work together.”
Presently in Okutu village in Kebbi, Kigbu says the insurgence in the north is not as bad as before. “Things are now calming down unlike before. The only challenge is that we don’t have a place where we can meet regularly. We move from house to house and from one under tree to another under tree. There are places where we make local tents to hold our meetings. But we are happy because God is giving us results. Lives are being transformed.”
Apart from having a physical place of worship, he says, getting a mission house where missionaries can stay and coordinate the work in the various fields is one project that is at his heart.
The Kebbi-based missionary who will be 60 this year says one of the virtues a missionary must crave for and beg God for is patience. “In this work, one needs a lot of patience and perseverance. If you don’t have patience with God and with people, you will burn out. That is one major lesson I have learnt in the about 30 years that I have been doing this work. You need patience to receive the promises of God, patience to nurture your converts to maturity and patience to see the reality of what we pray and trust God for.
“The Idolatry around us is pervasive. Many come to church but they still go back to submit to idols. So we need to continually pray for them that their eyes of understanding be enlightened. The good news is that God has continued to give us victory even among the Muslim communities in this part of the country.’
He recalled the GMC of 2023 noting that the conference to a great extent is a morale booster. “I can’t forget the meeting for a long time. It was a place for many of us to be revived and encouraged. A missionary needs such conference occasionally to stay alive and active on the field.” (see flyer above for GMC2024)
Asked what is the greatest need of the missionary he says, “We need more of your prayers. We are calling on those in urban centres, cities and all missions lovers to keep remembering missionaries in their prayers that God will keep their eyes focused on the goal of winning souls, that they will not be distracted and that they will not be wanting in their duty post. Pray for us so we won’t be weak and lose the hope of our calling.”