We recently talked with Hankuri Tawus Gaya about some of the challenges and blessings of working in Nigeria. Hankuri serves as an Area Director and Strategic Plan Officer with Nigeria Fellowship of Evangelical Students (NIFES) and a Coordinator for Langham Preaching Movement for North Eastern and Central Nigeria. He is the author of 22 books and 12 songs.
Give us an overview of what is happening in Nigeria today, especially as it relates to the church and Christians in the country.
Nigeria is faced with a huge leadership challenge. However, God is raising up a new generation of leaders with a biblical worldview who will infiltrate every segment of society and recapture the nations for Christ. God is calling the Church back to the truth of his Word and to trust in him as we face various challenges that include:
- Brokenness in every sphere of the country
- A growing insurgency responsible for many abductions, especially of students
- Killings of Christian leaders and attacks on predominantly Christian communities
- Increased rates of internal displacement, which are overwhelming the nation’s security apparatus
- Ministers who have shifted away from preaching biblical truth to emphasize wealth and healing
Amid these challenges and threats, many believers are determined to live for Christ and to trust him. We have ministers who are determined to remain committed to both evangelical truth and to preaching the gospel. Mission work has continued to thrive, and churches and ministries are taking advantage of the moment to provide trauma counseling for crisis victims.
The Church is also involved in raising up leaders for the marketplace and empowering members to get involved in job creation. God is indeed raising a fearless generation of Christians amid the persecution and daunting challenges!
Where did your love of books originate?
My father, a retired missionary, introduced me to books by giving me the Bible as well as access to his theological and missions library. While in primary school, I started reading Hausa romance novels and books on leadership and wisdom. The novel aroused my curiosity and love for books. I still recall moments when I wouldn’t put down a book until I finished reading it.
When I began working in higher institution and joined the Nigeria Fellowship of Evangelical Students (NIFES) I had access to their library and began borrowing a minimum of two books weekly to read. I was allowed to review books during Fellowship meetings and was given awards for borrowing the most books! It was during this time that I started buying books, writing books, and using books as a tool for discipleship and leadership development. I started a library for our Fellowship as a student and used the Bible and books to train young leaders who have also grown to love books and God’s Word.
As a writer, what is your focus and where do you find inspiration?
I write to promote Christlikeness with a focus on helping my audience—students and youth and those who love them—to discover their identity in Christ and their purpose for living. Like many Christian writers, my inspiration comes primarily from God’s Word, and then from books written by others.
In an MAI webinar you talked about the importance of having a community when you write. Tell us more about why other people are important in this process.
Growing up, I lived in rural areas with my family, which included nine siblings. We always had people staying with us, and as kids we were part of a group that would go around to work on each other’s family farms. It wasFrom this background that I learned the importance of community and its place in living a productive and impactful life.
So, it was normal for me to connect with a community when I started writing. This has given me opportunities to learn from those more experienced than me, learn best practices, and understand the challenges of writing. Being part of a community has also given me access to resources and opportunities that have enhanced my life and writing ministry.
My advice for any writer is to find a local writing workshop to attend. If there is none, inquire at a local bookshop or publishing house about connecting with other writers.
Tell us about the students you mentor. What excites you or challenges you?
The students and young people in Nigeria are dynamic, passionate, energetic, and ready to be mobilized for the cause of Christ if we are urgent in our mission to train them. They are also a connected generation, but they are exposed to so much information and are often ignorant or lack the wisdom to discern what is good for them.
My biggest excitement is seeing them trust Jesus and develop a lifelong relationship with him. When they do this, they begin stepping out to make him known on campus and in society—anytime, anywhere, and under any condition. It excites me to see them discover both who they are in Christ and their purpose for living.