Inspired by his father’s sacrificial love for the spiritual welfare of rural Nigerians, David Umune has developed a dynamic ministry that is bringing freedom, peace, education, and health to thousands of people. David’s calling has led him into confrontation with powers of darkness that threatened to destroy his life and ministry. These attacks have been overcome through prayer, faith, and strong leadership. A once-struggling ministry, The Evangelizers Team Ministry International (TETMI) is now recognized as ‘the rural evangelism people’ of southeast Nigeria.
David grew up in a loving Christian family, where he gave his life to Christ as a young child. He would sometimes travel with his father, Sunday, who was a pastor and evangelist. Young David would imitate his dad by putting on his father’s suit and tie and preaching to his siblings. As he neared college, David decided to abandon his plans to attend law school in order to follow in the footsteps of his father.
After graduating from Bible college in 1991 he received a phone call from his very discouraged father. Sunday had started the TETMI mission in 1985 to reach out to the millions of neglected rural Nigerians, but there had been little long-term fruit seen. David recognized that a more holistic approach was required and that TETMI needed to be reorganized to aim for a transformation in both the church and community. From then on, the mission agency would not only preach the forgiveness of sin through the grace of God, but also provide health care, education, and clean water. Shortly after David had received the call from his father, Sunday would pass away after being involved in a car accident and David was asked to take over TETMI as the Mission Director.
TETMI’s tipping point from a struggling ministry to a growing movement occurred in a thatch hut in the village of Akaeze Uku where David had led a small survey team to the village. As they sat on the floor in flickering candlelight, three giant forms appeared inside the doorway. One manifestation demanded, ‘What have you come here for?’ David replied boldly, ‘We have come to win this place for Christ!’ Filled with confidence, David laughed at the evil emissaries. Before they vanished, their final words were, ‘We will see!’
The challenge was on. This was not the first time that such oppression had been experienced by TETMI workers. But it was the first time that the powers holding the people in fear and death had been confronted face-to-face.
Akaeze Uku had been in bondage by spirit worship for generations. The taboos surrounding witchcraft led to cultural practices that resisted any helpful change or development. For example, sheep were considered sacred and their deaths were mourned by burial in a coffin. In contrast, children bitten by a snake during initiation practices were left to die. In fact, the community would murder anyone who killed one of the poisonous green snakes that inhabited the area.
The breakthrough began with the renewed emphasis on holistic development. TETMI had tried but failed to open a school in Akaeze Uku before. This time they tried again and people started to send their children. As mothers saw their children learning to read, they became interested in learning as well; and in studying the Bible.
The spiritual battle was intense. The children in the school were ostracized by the community, the school boys refused to be part of initiation practices in which they would be given controlling spirits from the local shaman. However, more and more people began to see the destructive nature of the animistic practices which held people in fear and poverty. The Christians were also having profound positive effect on the community. They were open to ideas of sanitation, education and medical care. The benefits were obvious. They were able to break taboos from the shamans with impunity. As freedom in Christ took root in the the lives of people, the chief priest admitted that the local gods had been driven away.
Village after village now requests the presence of TETMI, who respond with medical teams, clean water wells, and more schools. Currently, there are twenty-six TETMI pastors working in rural communities in four states. 920 villagers belong to TETMI churches and there are more than 1,500 students in the three primary schools and one high school run by TETMI. A female witchdoctor who recently came to Christ testifies of the times of struggle saying, ‘All those years of hardship by TETMI were not wasted, because now I have found heaven.’
Hear more from David Umune on the work being done by TETMI in Nigeria and how Partners International Canada is helping by watching the short video below!
This post was contributed by PI Canada Director of International Operations, David Hunt. David Umune and his wife, Hope will be visiting us in Canada from June 7th to 14th and is available to speak on the work TETMI is doing and the spiritual warfare he has witnessed in Nigeria. If you are interested in hearing more from David Umune please contact Luke McKee (Communications Coordinator) at firstname.lastname@example.org