"I'd Rather Die with My Shoes On"

By IET Communications

Viashima Agu

Viashima Agu

Nigerian-born Viashima Agu is almost 60, an age when many men are beginning to think about retirement. Not Viashima. He’s taking on one of the hardest jobs anyone can imagine: pioneering a Navigator work in Liberia.

Viashima and his wife, Rumun, have embraced an uphill struggle as they work to establish a foundational generation of Liberians who will carry the Gospel into their own culture. The obstacles are many. They need people who are receptive to the Gospel. Then they must help those people grow in Christ. It will be crucial for these first believers to open doors to relationships through which the Gospel can spread generationally.

Such pioneering work is difficult anywhere, but Viashima and Rumun are starting this effort in a country recovering from fourteen years of civil war. The unemployment rate is very high. Viashima says that a debilitated infrastructure and widespread corruption make it more difficult for businesses. But he’s undaunted.

“God’s promises show us that nothing is going to stop Jesus from discipling the nations,” Viashima said. “We can either join Him or we can sit out . . . I want to die with my shoes on, battling for what He has called me to do.”

Viashima began to pray about Liberia in 2009. Then, in 2010, he made a two-week trip to evaluate the situation. He went again in March 2011, spending nearly four months. On this trip, he asked God to connect him with students who would be receptive to the Gospel and connect him to a broader relational network.

God answered this prayer. Prior to the beginning of that semester, Viashima met a student who introduced him to many others who were also interested in knowing more about the Gospel. God was opening doors.

Viashima and Rumun knew they would need to live in Liberia to be most effective. But at the time, financial limitations made a move unviable. Viashima decided to make regular forays into Liberia until sufficient funds could be raised. During each trip he found his friends eager to study the Bible. Rapport grew as they gathered under a tree on campus to learn about a relationship with God. Eventually Viashima asked if they would like to accept Christ as Lord.

“Some of the students told me that they couldn’t [accept Christ] because they had too many sexual sins,” Viashima said, adding that the group hadn’t come to a clear understanding of God’s grace. He encouraged them to first give their lives to Christ—to “come as you are”—and then ask Jesus to transform their lives through a Spirit-filled process of discipleship.

Touched deeply by this message, a dozen men committed their lives to Christ. Viashima immediately started helping them become true disciples—to live godly lives of integrity and purity, to gain a deeper understanding of Jesus and His Word, and to love one another.

His next trips came in November of 2011 and in March 2012. The circle continued to expand as the original group brought their friends to the studies. Soon he had two study groups meeting every Sunday. As new students came around, Viashima kept returning to the book of John to help them understand the life and character of Jesus.

“At this age, with my gray hair, I didn’t think that these young men would relate well with me,” said Viashima. “But I had been praying that God would connect me to people who would connect me to their friends. I saw they wanted their friends to join our discussions.”

This receptivity reminds Viashima of God’s promise in Isaiah 60:22. “That verse says that the least of us can, by God’s power, be used to expand His kingdom. I’m the least. God is great. Knowing that, I can keep going.”

God continues to open doors. God has now provided the finances for Viashima and his wife to move to Liberia. At the time of this writing, he’s looking for a home near campus, a place where students will feel comfortable and welcome.

He and Rumun are ready to move to Liberia, and he’s giving his shoes some wear and tear.