One important piece of being a church that is involved with the
community is seeing that community is not limited to any town or city.
The Bride of Christ is a global community and we have the opportunity to
both encourage and be encouraged by an amazing pastor named Marcus.
In 2007, I met Marcus for the first time. I was on an exploratory mission trip to Nigeria with the church I shepherd. We were brainstorming with The Great Commission Movement of Nigeria what role our church could play in reaching the Dukkawa tribe, listed by the Joshua Project as an unreached people group. I was slated to speak several times to pastors and church leaders, and Marcus was my assigned translator.
Ultimately, our church accepted an invitation to invest five years discipling, mentoring and coaching the fledgling Dukkawan church to full spiritual health and missional effectiveness. This meant five more trips to a remote location in northwest Nigeria for conferences, relationship building, discipleship training and missional empowerment. Each time, Marcus was my translator.
All of us who traveled to Nigeria quickly came to love and admire this man of God. We saw his intelligence as he moved back and forth between languages. We saw his humility and character. We saw his natural leadership gifting. We saw his wisdom.
At one point our church made a missional decision to invest in his theological education. His vocational desire was to serve God's kingdom as a pastor and discipler. Several years later, he completed his education and was ready to serve his community as pastor. At that point, I sensed a nudging from the Holy Spirit to investigate whether Marcus could serve as a global pastor for our church in Nigeria.
I realized that I could only be with the Dukkawans once a year for a few days. Financial pressures and the danger created by Boko Haram have made those opportunities less frequent for the time being. I saw that, while I had limited presence, Marcus could be there virtually all the time, continuing the work of discipleship and missional effectiveness we helped begin. I asked; Marcus accepted. We have been working together remotely for a couple of years now. I have been rejoicing over the gains the Dukkawan church is making as Marcus joins hands and heart with the excellent Dukkawan leaders.
In order to introduce you to him, I asked him a handful of questions via email. Here is our dialogue:
Marcus, tell us about your calling and preparation for ministry.
I am confident God has called me into ministry. I am intending, by the grace of God, to serve Christ my entire life. Before sensing I was called to ministry, I had obtained a diploma in agricultural extension from Kebbi State College. In order to get ready for ministry I earned a BA in Religious studies from the University of Ibadan and a Bachelors in Theology from the UMCA Theological School. I would like to do more advanced study as God provides opportunity.
You are a husband and a father. Introduce your family to us.
My wife's name is Hannah Joshua Rikoto and my children are Jonathan, Silaseskcho and SilaElaskacho.
Tell us about the Dukkawan mission.
Like most missions it has not been easy, but the results are very encouraging. The specific thing I am doing right now is developing a program for church growth that is simple and doable. The field is vast - there are many who have not yet heard of Christ or been transformed by him. But the harvest is ripe. The work that is being done is raising up leaders and churches to undertake the mission and the results are encouraging.
What challenges do you face?
Antagonism. This is not just apathy but actual antagonism to the gospel. Apart from this is the ongoing struggle of knowing how to help these people be what God has intended them to be.
Is there a scripture you turn to again and again that inspires and encourages you?
"Hope does not disappoint us, because God poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us." Romans 5:5
How can we pray for you?
- For God's guidance
- For wisdom and leadership in ministry
- For my wife's health
- For the opportunity to relocate where I can live with the Dukkawans.
I am personally blessed to know Pastor Marcus, and our church is blessed to have him on our team. He is truly a gifted man of God and an excellent representative of our body in Nigeria. Please join us in lifting him and his family in prayer as they continue the mission in the Dukkawa nation.