OPERATION JEREMIAH 6:16
NOVEMBER MISSIONS TRIP TO NIGERIA
RABBI YEHUDAH BEN SHOMEYR
THE CALL TO RETURN TO NIGERIA AND THE THEME OF THE MISSION
2011 I ate, slept and breathed Nigeria. The majority of my energies were focused on preparing for my November trip to Nigeria. I first went to Nigeria in August of 2010. I was invited by a Nigerian Igbo Rabbi, Rabbi Ukahson, where I met the Igbo tribe and spoke among their many Torah obedient Messianic congregations, teaching Torah. I also meet their king and one of their paramount rulers as well investigating the tribal claim of being a portion of the lost tribe of Gad through his sons Eri, Areli and Arodi. Since then I have done much research and wrote a book about my findings, called, “Finding Gad: The Quest for the Lost Tribe of Gad,” which can be found at: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/raybash.
In February of 2011 I was invited by Rabbi Gavriel Ogugua, an Igbo man living and ministering in Florida, who had me and the Igbo King, Eze Chukwuemeka-Eri (who I met in Aug. 2010) to speak at the “All Israel Conference” in Palm Beach. It was there the King invited me to return to Nigeria at the end of November for the Ovalla Festival, a celebration commemorating Gad’s son Eri and his companions crossing the Niger River into Aguleri as well as celebrating the Yam Harvest. I agreed and then alerted Rabbi Ukahson of this development who suggested I come at the start of November and minister among the Igbos and the various congregations and end my trip at the Kings Palace. The theme of this trip would be dealing with the Torah Life as it applies to the Igbo believer. HaShem gave me the core verse and message on which this mission would hang.
Jer. 6:16 Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.
I exposed the Christian Missionary conspiracy to withhold vital information that they discovered regarding their Hebraic roots as well as their misinterpretations of the Igbo culture, paganising it and stripping it from them through conversion to modern westernized Christianity. I encouraged them to express their Torah obedience through their Igbo culture which is actually more authentically Hebraic than even the Orthodox Jews of the west.
I was disturbed by the fact that many Igbo Torah obedient believers were trying to look like western Jews. I emphasised that they were Hebrews from Gad and not Jews from Judah and although it is touching to see the younger brother Gad emulate and imitate their big brother Judah, there comes a time when the little brother Gad must become their own man. They must be the Igbo-Hebrew Gadites, the Father has made them and called them to be and not a poor carbon copy of Judah.
I am in the process of writing a second book revealing the Hebraism within the ancient Igbo culture and customs which I hope to publish by the end of 2012.
ARRIVAL IN LAGOS
Upon arrival I was met by Rabbi Ukahson’s talmid, Roger (Abraham). But due to the late arrival of my flight into Lagos I missed my flight on to Port Harcourt and had to spend the night in Lagos where I met with a Torah obedient Congolese believer, Agustin Kipupu, who I called Godion, who petitioned for Messianic resources to be translated into French.
Arriving in Port Harcourt the next day I was delighted and heartbroken upon seeing my host, Dr. Rabbi Mikael Melek-King Ukahson, who looked to me as an angel with broken wings. In February of 2011 R. Ukahson had a traffic accident in Ghana that left his back injured. The Rabbi moved slowly, shuffling with pain haggering every one of his steps as he moved with the aid of a crutch. Yet despite all of this he had a smile on his face and beamed with eternal optimism and faith.
I began my mission at R. Ukahson’s synagogue, “Beit Ha Torah Natsarim Synagogue and Center for Spiritual Formation Yeshivah,” at the Torah Life Leadership Conference.
I spoke on Abraham our leader and how we are to be like Abraham in our leadership roles among our community and congregation.
The next day I spoke on what Christians call the “Five Fold Ministry” and how it is really a job description of a Rabbi and how each of us as leaders operate within various degrees and capacities of the Five Fold Ministry. For example, I personally operate in a greater capacity as an Apostolic Rabbi more so than a Pastoral Rabbi.
Upon the morrow the topic I covered was the Torah Family Dynamic as it applies to leaders and afterwards we had a very profitable question and answer session.
The day after that I addressed the leaders regarding the unity of believers, teamwork and how to choose talmidim (disciples/students). After that day’s session I went with Brother David Otubo, a congregational leader in Port Harcourt, to see his sister who was suffering from pain in her neck and left arm. I anointed her with oil and prayed for her and it was reported the next day that she was already feeling better. During that particular excursion I had the privilege of meeting and praying for a former Chief Judge of Port Harcourt who had a wealth of information regarding Igbo history and culture.
On the final day of the leadership conference I spoke on resolving conflict within the ministry and congregation. We closed out the leadership conference in port Harcourt by handing out the HalleluYah Scriptures (www.halleluyahscriptures.com), the Aramaic-English New Testament (www.aent.org), Hebrew English New Testaments (www.hopeofisrael.net) and various works from Nazarene Israel (www.nazareneisrael.org) to the leaders as well as certificates of attendance and completion. Thanks to these ministries for donating these priceless materials.
It was Sabbath and we went to K’hilat Yehoshua HaMoshiach – HalleluYah Ministries congregation led by a man named Okeyah, whom I called, “Uncle Sunshine” because of the smile he always had upon his face and the joy he seemed to always carry with him. Their choir had prepared songs for us as well as worship with indigenous Igbo Instruments. The people were pleasantly surprised when that I was able to dance in the traditional Igbo way. I was asked to pray for the men and women of the congregation who seemed to suffer from infertility and I also called forth the little boys and girls and blessed then with the traditional Hebraic blessing said over them on the Sabbath day. I spoke on Parahsah (Torah Portion) Vayira and emphasised how Abraham Avinu served Hashem despite the pain of his three day old circumcision and how Lot was righteous and tried to be an agent of change in a wicked city.
After I delivered the message the leades of the congregation honored Rabbi Ukahson and myself by dressing us in garments worn by Igbo elders and then there was a traditional meal of foofoo, pepper soup and palm wine. Again the people were amazed that I ate the spicy food as they did, with my hands and without tearing up due to the spice of the soup.
I continued to be amazed at R. Ukahson’s resolve to travel and minister alongside me despite the horrendously rocky roadway system which was painful for him due to the injury to his back. He did so without one word of complaint.
BACK IN PORT HARCOURT
At the start of the new week Brother Otubo picked me up from my hotel and presented me with and Igbo Bible so I can better learn the Igbo language. We made our way to the synagogue we held the Torah Life Leadership Conference and held a like conference for the laity. I spoke about the basics of living a Torah Life; Sabbath Observance, the 613 Mitzvot and other aspects of the life of a Torah Obedient Messianic/Natsari believer.
R.I.C.O.N & NNEWI
We took the Torah Life Conference to Nnewi where R.I.C.O.N. (Redeemed Israel Community of Nigeria), a conglomerate of Torah obedient Messianic and Matsari congregations and synagogues meet and worked together. RICON rented out a community hall that actually looked much like a traditional synagogue with a balcony. I spoke on Jer. 6:16 and the restoration of the Igbo culture, therefore restoring them as a portion of the lost tribe of Gad. I highlighted the aspects of their Hebraic culture and customs that parallel that of Judaism, which has always been a part of the Igbo culture since ancient times. I encouraged RICON to work toward the restoration of the Igbo culture and be the unique tribe of Gad that HaShem has created and destined them to be.
On the Sabbath I spoke on how the blessing of Laban upon Rebecca became a curse of barrenness to her because it was an insincere blessing. That night I spoke on the Havadallah service and its roots which can be found even in the Brit Chadasha (New Testament).
Last year in Nnewi I spoke at Moreh Orizu’s, small one room synagogue and seen that they had begun construction on a much needed larger synagogue next door. This past November, over a year later I was able to see the great progress they have made on the construction of the structure.
Before the conclusion of the Nnewi Torah Life Conference RICON presented me with a gourd laced with cowrie shells, their version of a maraca, as well as a lion carved out of wood; this in acknowledgement of my chieftain title name, “Odum Biara Ana Igbo-Nwanne Di Uto (The LION who came to Igboland is a Sweet Brother).”
It was in Nnewi that Rabbi Ukahson began to move about even more slowly than before and had to rest for longer periods of time due to his back injury. We had made plans to go to Ghana and this situation threw all of that into question. Would R. Ukahson be able to make the journey?
We rented a van to take us from Nnewi back to Port Harcourt. It was at that bus station waiting for our van that I witnessed more of the resilient nature and honorable character of R. Ukahson. A driver slapped the woman behind the ticket counter and upon witnessing this shocking event, with not forethought and without regard to his self the Rabbi stood up and confronted the man. Many of us were compelling R. Ukahson to sit down, concerned that the man may turn upon and beat R. Ukahson. He would have none of it. In boldness, despite his pain and injury he confronted the man and made him apologies to the woman he hit. I discovered that R. Ukahson was more of a lion than I and even an injured lion will not back down from a fight.
Due to the Rabbis weakened body and declining health we had to cancel our trip to Ghana. At the time we were very disappointed and wondered why. But in retrospect we discovered were forbidden to go, just as with Rav Sha’ul was not permitted to go to Asia (Acts 16:6). We discovered one group in Ghana were speaking falsely in the name of another ministry, trying to solicit funds under false pretense. We also discovered that another group we planned on ministering to, two of the leaders were trying to subvert the other and were secretly at each other’s throats. So if we went, we would have landed in the middle of and dragged into drama and conflict and no ministry would have taken place anyhow. Instead of going to Ghana, R. Ukahosn took me to a school he supported and sometimes taught at; Cornerstone Theological Seminary in Owerri. It was there that I spoke to the students about the applicableness of the 613 Commandments to believers in Yeshua today. Afterwards the Dean wishes for me to return in March to lecture and speak at their commencement ceremonies.
Our next stop was Onitsha to speak at Dr. Daniel Orah’s Beit Shalom Natsari Synagogue. On the way we had to stop multiple times to allow R. Ukahson to rest due to the pain he was under. Upon reaching the synagogue in Onitsha where I spoke on the Torah Portion about Jacob and Esau. The next night I spoke on how Isaac was told by HaShem not to go to Egypt, but stay in Gerar, the land of the Philistines and to sow and reap despite a famine. As a result, Isaac reaped and prospered. I related it to how many Nigerians see America or the West as an Egypt to escape the “famine” in Nigeria (Philistia) and how HaShem wants them to sow and reap here despite what they perceive as a famine.
We made our way to the Kings Palace. I presented the King with a copy of the HalleluYah Scriptures, my book, “Finding Gad” and a DVD of me speaking at the World Igbo Congress in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on the connection between the lost tribe of Gad and the Igbo people. I did this because in August of 2010 when I first meet the Eze (King) and he confirmed my title as an honorary chief within their tribe, he also appointed me as his ambassador to proclaim the Hebraic origins of the Igbo people. I presented the Eze with the DVD to show him that I am fulfilling the office of ambassador which he bestowed upon me. I also met Prince Chinedu and Prince Chukwuemeka whom I had been communicating with this past year on facebook. The Eze had his people prepare supper for us and then we went to our hotel to rest for the next day. Prince Chinedu is working to come to Canada to study.
AGULERI: THE PALACE OF OBU-GAD
The first day of the Ovalla Festival at the Palace, which commemorates Gad’s sons Eri, Areli and Arodi crossing the Niger River and settling in Aguleri as well as celebrating the Yam Harvest. I was one of the key speakers at the Festival and I spoke on Jer. 6:16 and about the restoration of the Hebraic Igbo culture. Also to speak was Prof. Alaezi who wrote “Ibo Exodus,” a work I referenced in research and in writing my own book about the Igbos.
After the lectures I, Prof. Alaezi and many others were confirmed as chief within the Igbo tribe. Thus my honorary chieftain title was made official.
I was called forth by the Eze, dressed in my Igbo garments. I sat on a low stool before the Eze who held a Torah scroll in his hand. I grasped the other end of the Torah as the Eze prayed for me, blessed me and made my honorary chieftain title, official. I was given and confirmed the title, “Odum Biara Ana Igbo-Nwanne Di Uto (The Lion that Came to Igboland is a Sweet Brother).”
After my confirmation I was asked to dance before the elders and everyone laughed with joy and amazement that I a white westerner could dance rhythmically as an Igbo man. According to tradition they threw money at me as I danced, much as Jews throw money and candy at a bar/bat mitzvah.
The next day I was picked up before sunrise at my hotel by a van full of Igbo chiefs. We drove as far as we could to the Niger River until the path became impossible to traverse by auto and had to continue on foot. By this time the sun was peeking over the horizon. By this time we had caught up to the Eze and the rest of the community that had walked to the River the whole way on foot.
When I finally reached the hill beyond which the Niger River flowed and crested that hill and saw the River with my own eyes I could not help buut weep. I felt the Presence of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) so strong that I knew this was a Holy Place, I knew this had to be the place which Gad’s sons crossed the Niger. I discovered after the fact that during the dry season when the water level drops in that particular area a 12 stone memorial can be seen at that spot said to be the place Eri, Aroli, and Areli crossed the Niger. This is consistent with other Israeli crossings found in Scripture, specifically that of the Red Sea and the Jordan as found in the Tanak.
After the Eze retold the story of Eri’s coming to Aguleri, prayed and blessed the people on the banks, the people came one by one to be mikvahed (baptised) by the Eze. I too came and the Eze blessed me as he poured water over my head.
Once we returned to the palace I was escorted to the Eze’s throne room and sat to the left of the King as a myriad of Igwe’s (paramount rulers/lesser kings) under Eze Chukwuemeka-Eri, came into the throne room to congratulate and pay homage to the Eze and the Ovalla Festival. I met probably 40 or more Igwe’s. I greeted each in the Igwe way among chiefs and rulers and exchanged business cards with them. They were very impressed and appreciative of my knowledge and practice of the Igbo language and culture. In many ways I was dressed and acting more Igbo than the Igbo, and they took note and admired this. By the end of the day they began to call me, “Onye Ocha Igbo,” meaning, “The White Igbo.”
While in the palace a news crew came in and interviewed me about my address to the people the day before, my chieftaincy title and my relationship with Eze Chukwuemeka-Eri.
After meeting the many Igwes under the Eze we all went downstairs and out to the palace grounds where all of sat in places of honor under canopies. I was humbly shocked to be seated beside the Eze under his canopy while groups from the community came to present gifts of money and yams to the Eze. The Eze had me bless and pray over certain groups who came, one being a student group and another being physically handicapped. The leader of this group that was physically challenged obviously instilled within them a sense of pride, self-worth and self-esteem as well as they were all dressed very fine with smiles on their face despite some of them were on crutches, in wheelchairs or even crawling on their hands, dragging their legs behind them.
I always left the palace with a full stomach as the King made sure his guests were fed.
The following morning we were to leave Aguleri and we stopped by the palace to bid farewell to the King and he had breakfast prepared for us.
Again R. Ukahson’s dedication and stamina never ceased to amaze me. He was unable to attend the second day of the Ovalla because on top of his back injury he had a bout with malaria and was bedridden in his hotel room with the chills.
In the morning we left Aguleri. R. Ukahson seemed to have gained some of his strength back. After leaving the Eze palace we drove to Nike, Enugu.
It was in Nike Enugu where I met an Igwe that wasn’t there at the Eze’s Ovalla. His name is Igwe Emmanuel Ugwu. We arrived at his Palace and were escorted into his throne room and I was sat in a special throne only for honored guests. I was surrounded by his cabinet chiefs. The Igwe soon arrived and I was asked to address him and his cabinet regarding the Hebrew-Igbo connection. He served us lunch, after which he invited me to his Ovalla in December. I had to graciously decline but agreed to try and make it to his 2012 Ovalla.
We left Enugu and returned to Port Harcourt where upon the next day I was to go to Lagos to catch my flight home.
2010 my mission to Nigeria was like unto Joshua and the spies who were sent on a recon mission in Canaan. My return to Nigeria 2011 was like ploughing fields and planting seeds, laying foundations. Next year I hope to reap and build upon the foundations laid. Next year I plan to continue holding conferences and distributing Judaica items and spiritual educational materials but also to conduct DNA tests among the Igbo to place scientific evidence alongside the archeological, Biblical, linguistic, historical, and cultural evidence that has already been compiled connection the Igbo to Gad as well as possibly further archeological inquires.
THANKS: Thanks to all who gave in whatever capacity which made this trip possible as well as a success, Baruch HaShem!
HOW YOU CAN HELP
The trips I make to Nigeria, much of the money (half or more), for these trips come out of my own pocket. The rest is provided by donors such as you, the reader. Each trip cost approximately $3000.00 (plane ticket, visas, in route food and travel expenses, shipping expenses of materials sent ahead of me to be distributed to the Nigerian believers as well as miscellaneous and unforeseen expenses). This cost relatively isn’t much because my host(s) when I arrive usually fit the bill for most of my food, lodging and travel expenses. So your donations of any denomination is very much needed and appreciated. No gift is too small, every little bit helps. One can donate through the paypal button on my website (www.adint-ministries.com) or make check or money order to:
PO Box 763
Ft. Fairfield, ME. 04742
HOW YOU CAN HELP THE IGBO
Sacred Name Bibles (ISR Scriptures, HRV, Complete Jewish Bible, Aramaic-English New Testament), All four volumes by Michael Brown’s, “Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus,”Tefillin, Tzitzit, Kippot, Tallit Gadolim, Tallit Katans, Mezuzot, Messianic and or Natsari books, Messianic prayer siddurim, Artscroll Siddurim, Messianic music and worship CD’s, Messianic and or Natsari Teaching DVD’s etc.
Though we are not specifically asking for funds, if you have no Judaica to give and wish to be a part of this important project please use the paypal donation button on the Home Page and we will gladly buy hem the Judaic items and resources they need.
Once we have sufficient amount of goods we will ship them to our contact who will distribute them among the various congregations.
Please let us know if you can think of other ways you or your congregation can help.
Please send all Donations to:
PO BOX 822
Fayetteville, NY. 13066
I sincerely hope and pray that you decide to be a part of this prophetic and monumental task of restoring the lost Tribe of Gad to Israel, Messiah and to the world.
Thank you, your generous and sacrificial donation will help make these Messianic Igbo believers remain strong in the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3) and combat the anti-messianic propaganda of the Orthodox Jewish anti-missionaries and reclaim their rightful place as sons and daughters of Gad.
Rabbi Yehudah ben Shomeyr (Kris Shoemaker)