May 29, 2013

Building a Foundation of Truth in Nigeria

In both of his letters to Timothy, Paul warned that there would be those who would turn away from sound doctrine and succumb to the influence of tradition and myths (See 1st Tim. 1:3-4 and 2nd Tim. 4:3-4).  The Tide radio ministry places a high priority on sharing the story of Jesus with people who may have not yet had the opportunity to hear about the one true God and his great love for them, but we also have a desire to make sure that all people have access to the truth.  Consequently, although many of The Tide radio programs target people in communities around the world where Christianity has not yet taken root, there are times when we initiate an evangelistic radio program among people who have to some degree embraced the teachings of Jesus but continue to be strongly influenced by traditional beliefs and false doctrines.  The Tide Tiv language radio program that just went on the air in April 2013 in Nigeria is an example of the latter.  The TIV language is spoken by more than 7 million people, and the Tiv people make up the 4th largest ethnic group in Nigeria.  The majority of the Tiv people live in east central Nigeria and depend primarily on agriculture for subsistence. 

A large number of Tiv would say they have converted to Christianity, and some have embraced Islam, but the influence of their traditional religion remains very strong in their lives.  Like people in so many other regions of the world, many Tiv who claim to believe in Jesus find it difficult to differentiate between their culture and their religion.  As a result, their longstanding traditional beliefs permeate their religion and still hold power in their lives.  The goal of The Tide, through this new Tiv language radio program is to immerse people in God’s truth and free them from the bondage of traditional beliefs that the enemy has used to create distorted doctrines.  The Tiv language, culture and beliefs are rather unique in Nigeria and have more in common with some southern African people groups than other indigenous Nigerian people groups.  Some anthropologists believe that the Tiv migrated north to Nigeria from South Africa centuries ago. 

What is especially distinctive about the Tiv is the nature of their traditional beliefs which are based on what they call ‘akombo.’  Unlike many other traditional religions, there are no spirits attached to ‘akombo.’  Instead it is a system of exceptional magical forces and their symbolic representations or emblems. These emblems can be almost anything, from naturally occurring objects and plants to special carvings.  The traditional Tiv belief is that everything in life from health to agricultural success and prosperity can be influenced by these magical forces through a form of witchcraft.  The Tiv also believe in a creator God who has made these forces available to mankind and given certain individuals the power and ability to control or manipulate these mystical forces.  This customary Tiv religion includes sacrificial rituals that are used to influence the manifestation of the magical forces either for good or evil, so that they may be used for personal benefit or for causing harm to others.  The Tiv traditional belief system is much more complex than this simplistic overview, but provides several connection points that can easily be integrated with Christianity to obscure foundational Biblical truths with falsehood. 

The Tide Tiv language radio program brings The Tide ministry one step closer to reaching our Vision 2015 goal of 15 new heart language radio programs by the year 2015, but more importantly it will provide a beacon of truth in the heartland of the Tiv people and will save many from heartache and disillusion by guiding them to hope and assurance of eternal life through Christ.  Please join us in asking God to touch many hearts through this new radio program in the Tiv language.  Pray also for our Tiv language radio speaker, Mr. D as he endeavors to communicate God’s heart and truth to his fellow Tiv people.  This expansion of ministry in Nigeria creates additional financial obligations for both The Tide and our ministry partners in Nigeria.  Please consider making a supplementary contribution to help fund this proclamation of God’s truth to the Tiv that they may know and experience His life giving love and grace.

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Thanks to listener requests and your support, our Nigerian outreach includes Christian radio in eleven major languages in Nigeria.

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