By Richard Taylor
Peter was born into a pagan / animist family. In his twenties, he attended a Catholic church only to get involved with the wrong crowd and ended up stealing money from inside the cathedral. God always has a way of turning bad to good, and Jesus literally appeared to Peter in his room that night and challenged him about what he had done! Peter was never the same again.
There and then, he surrendered his life to Christ and started a Bible study group within the church. The group soon grew to over 200 people and with the blessing of the priest, he left to start the first church of Truth and Life Ministry.
Peter trained as an Ophthalmic Optician and over the following twenty years planted and established over 60 churches, two schools and two clinics whilst practicing his profession! Incidentally, the priest still regularly sends money to support the work of Truth & Life Ministry.
Truth and Life ministry has a very clear call to take an integrated gospel to the millions of un-reached people in rural Nigeria and to the Muslims in the north of the country. The vision was birthed in the most horrific of events. Peters brother was beheaded by Islamic extremists whilst preaching on the campus of Bauchi University.
As Peter cried out to God in the aftermath of that atrocity, he simply heard Jesus repeat the words he had preached to the crowd gathered on the Mount of Olives 2000 years earlier, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. With grace and faith, Peter established Truth & Life Ministry to do just that.
Sadly and most unexpectedly, in 2003, Peter was involved in a fatal car crash on Nigerias notorious roads as he returned from a church-planting trip.
2003 – 2004
It was the following year that I made my first trip to Nigeria with my father Barrie who had been friends with Peter and the ministry for twenty years. During my stay, I was delighted to be able to hold the beautiful grand-daughter that Peter never lived to see. Born just 2 months after his untimely death, she was named Solace by her parents. Solace was an amazing source of joy and comfort to the family that had lost Peter, yet tragically, she too died when barely a year old, shortly after I returned to the UK.
When the news came to me, I cried bitter tears of grief and anger. It wasnt God I had a problem with it was the tragic way this child had died. Solace had been admitted to the hospital with a fever that wasn’t life-threatening. Whilst there, she developed diarrhea. The ill equipped facility ran out of “drips” with which to treat her, and she died.
I was grieved at the injustice – if Solace had been my daughter living in England this would never have happened! To quote Bono: Where you live should not decide whether you live or whether you die. In my grief, the words of Isaiah describing the future glory of heaven, burned like a cattle brand that left an indelible impression on my heart:
“Never again will there be in it
an infant who lives but a few days,
or an old man who does not live out his years;
he who dies at a hundred
will be thought a mere youth;
he who fails to reach a hundred
will be considered accursed (65:20)
Ive since carried a loud and persistent shout in my heart, Never Again! There are some things that we cannot prevent, yet there are many more we can. Death by preventable disease is by definition entirely avoidable; the curse of poverty through lack of education is entirely unnecessary. Its within the grasp of our generation to be the ones who bring NOW a foretaste of the age to come that Isaiah describes to forcefully advance the kingdom of God, and be the forceful men and women who lay hold of it (Matthew 11:12), shouting from the ache within our hearts, Never Again.
19?? September 2007
Following the death of Peter Sarki, the ministry appointed two men to oversee the work: Vitalis Yahemba as General overseer and Simon Yakubu as his deputy. Both men hold responsible jobs in business in the city of Kaduna where Truth & Life are based. Being a businessman myself, I was able to relate easily to both men on my second visit to Nigeria in 2006. On my final day, I spent a couple of hours with them asking about the vision for the ministry and what we might do to help.
The number one priority is to expand and establish TALMO secondary school they started a few years ago. Behind this school Simon shared the amazing God given vision and plan. The school will provide education to the children of the fearless pioneers who leave their families to go and plant new churches. I recorded the impact one such man had on me during my trip last year:
Pastor Matthew Ibrahim, pioneering a church in Rika Kibiya Local Government Area, Kano State – The area is predominantly Muslim and the village is located one and a half hours drive off the main road into the bush It consists of a few compounds of mud built houses each compound containing 20-30 people. We visited the compound that first received and welcomed Pastor Matthew. A few in that compound have become Christians and meet as a small group with one or two other converts from the other compounds joining them.
One man has provided a very small room for Pastor Matthew to live in and the villagers provide food. He stays in the village for about a month, then returns home to his family for a brief visit. We were warmly welcomed and provided with a meal of rice. Pastor Matthew is a living example of a man who has literally given up friends, family, houses and land for the cause of Christ. His ministry is simple yet inspirational.
The school not only provides education, but when complete, it will be an income stream for the ministry so they can support more church-planters like Matthew. I remember well the humble, soft tones with which Simon Yakubu explained the strategy God had given him and my response, that I would do everything I could to help.
News came just last week of Simons tragic and unexpected death in hospital from medical complications following a road accident. Simon, too, died of a condition easily treated in the West, leaving a wife and six children. Im stirred again with the God given cry of, Never Again. Im praying that God births in me a fresh vision and provides resources that enable me to do something to honour the memory of another dear friend and man of God.
This cry continues to compel me to do something.
Two months ago, I launched my latest venture after many months of development.
Its a social enterprise, www.screen-saviours.com, with all profits going to projects that echo the cry of “Never Again.”
Theres a life-saving clinic serving the community with an immunisation program and maternity care, and a life-giving school providing education to those who would have none.
Sometimes, a persons death can have as much impact as his or her life.
Richard is married to his amazing wife Sarah. They have three sons. He combines his management consultancy business with roles in Christian leadership that include serving on the executive of Freedom in Christ Ministries and leading a UK group that is passionate about missions in Nigeria.
Richards latest venture is a social enterprise to support social action projects in developing nations, including Nigeria. The target is 1000 supporters. To learn more, check out: