“Man On a Mission”- Interview With Brad Brandon
James Egidio: 0:38 Hi, I’m James Egidio, your host of the 99 Relapses podcast. The podcast that moves you from recovery to discovery through the grace and mercy of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In episode number 12 and 13 titled Satan’s Worldly Strategies, I made it a point that we are living in perilous times and as Christians, we are being attacked both verbally and physically, and it will get worse before it gets better. This attack is coming from the enemy, Satan, as mentioned in Ephesians 6:11-12, where it reads, put on all of God’s. You’ll be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. We are not fighting against flesh and blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Despite how bad things may seem, we still live in a country the United States of America founded on Godly principles as One Nation Under God by our founding fathers, and we still have the ability to practice our Christian freely without being physically persecuted. My guest, who I refer to as a man on a mission for God knows firsthand through his ministry and mission work that he has taken to extremely hostile environment and knows firsthand what it’s like to be physically persecuted for practicing his Christian faith. It is my pleasure and a blessing to introduce my guest to the 99 Relapses podcast, Mr. Brad Brandon. Hi, Brad.
Brad Brandon: 2:19Hey, James. It’s good to be on with you. I’m excited to be here and talk about what God’s doing and what God’s brought us through, and the power of God really is what it boil down to.
James Egidio: 2:28 Amen. So Brad tell the listeners and viewers of the 99 Relapses podcast about yourself and about your ministry or your mission in Nigeria.
Brad Brandon: 2:41Yes. God just basically dropped me into Northern Nigeria. I didn’t know, this is probably five or six years ago. I didn’t know much about Nigeria and what was going on in Nigeria and what was happening, but following the leading of God and just trusting. There I was, I got dropped in the middle of Abuja, the capital city in northern Nigeria. And God just really started to open doors for us to work with and lead many Muslims to faith in Jesus Christ. In fact God is doing such an amazing thing in the hearts of Muslims there. He’s allowed us to see close to 4,000 Muslims come to faith in Christ in just about five years. And he’s opened so many doors to the Fulani, Muslims and House of Muslims in northern Nigeria. And we’re just really ministering the gospel to them. But like you mentioned, Northern Nigeria is one of the most dangerous places in the world right now. In fact, I think Open doors has it listed as number five or six on the world’s most dangerous places to be a Christian. So it’s a high risk and a highly volatile environment that we work in.
James Egidio: 3:51Yeah. What what’s it like to work in such dangerous conditions in that part of the world? And especially, when you’re working with, Muslims that have their belief systems and and of course you’re a Christian and they’re uncharted, I can say uncharted territory, really. What is it like?
Brad Brandon: 4:10 It’s stressful. It’s stressful at times. I am based out of the United States, so I travel back and forth from Nigeria to the United States. I live in Connecticut. My family they can’t go over with me the, and travel where I travel because of the situation being high risk. So they, for the most part stay back here in the states. And as I’m going over there, it’s an entirely different life that I have over there. We travel around all through Nigeria, Sokoto, Cina, Kano; Meduri is the birthplace of Boko Haram. So we are literally in the backyards of people who want to kill us on a daily basis. So it’s an entirely different lifestyle. We sleep with our clothes on, our bags packed. We’re ready to go at a moment’s notice to get in our cars and get loaded up and leave if we need to or go somewhere. If we need to work. The greatest thing that I see as we’re traveling in these conditions is we see the hand of God working on our behalf. I always tell people it’s very easy to be a Christian in northern Nigeria where you’re hunted, where there’s violence towards Christians. The place where it’s difficult to be a Christian is when I come back here in the United States where I can do anything and go anywhere, and I really don’t need to trust God to go to the store. I don’t need to trust God to go to work. I can do what I want to do here in the States, and I don’t really need God in that sense. When you get to Northern Nigeria, you can’t walk out your front door without trusting God and needing his guidance and protection everywhere you go. So in that sense, it’s easy to be a Christian there. Hard to be a Christian here. And when I tell people that, it’s confusing at first, but when I explain it, people go, oh yeah, I get what you mean.
James Egidio: 5:58 Yeah, I know, and it’s interesting you say that because I was a guest on another podcast and we were talking about that this whole thing. and I don’t wanna get off track on what we’re talking about here, cuz I’m going to ask you another question about Boka Haram, but we let our guard down here because we have it easy. Yeah. As we’re not physically, as I open up the show, we’re not physically persecuted, we’re getting verbally persecuted in and we’re getting tested as Christians here, we’re getting a little taste of it. But it’s not like fully ratched up like it is in Nigeria, where you know you’re taking a chance to be physically persecuted. who is Boca Haram? If wanna explain that to the audience, the listening and viewing audience?
Brad Brandon: 6:41Yeah, so Boca Haram is an organization that basically hates the West. That’s essentially what Boko Haram means is it’s. it’s the word Bo Haram, those words together basically mean death to Western education or Western ideology. And so they hate the West and they promote Islam and Islamic teaching and they think that the West is completely opposed to that. So on that basis, they’re an offshoot of an Islamic terrorist organization. and their stronghold right now is Northern Nigeria. There’s other parts southern Cameroon, and Benin that they operate in, but their stronghold is northern Nigeria and they wreak havoc all throughout. Northern Nigeria through kidnappings, killings, persecutions, ransoms that’s really how they fund a lot of their organization is kidnapping. They’ll even kidnap Nigerians. It’s not just westerners who are traveling in that area. Which a lot of westerners don’t anymore because of that, but they’ll kidnap Nigerians and hold them for ransom. I think they were just responsible last year for killing a Nigerian soccer player, football player, and and holding him for ransom. And they get these dollar amounts from people who pay to get their loved ones back. That’s a big way that Boko Horom raises money. So it’s a, it. It’s a large terrorist organization. They’re very organized and they have a system of operating all throughout northern Nigeria, and they just wreak havoc all throughout the region.
James Egidio: 8:13Who funds this Boko Haram?
Brad Brandon: 8:15 Mostly they get their funds from kidnappings in ransom. It depends on who you ask. In Nigeria, some Nigerians will even say the Nigerian government funds Boko Haram in a lot of ways. There’s Libya is also accused of funding Boko Haram, Syria is accused of funding Boko Harram, ISIS, and ISWA they all operate in the same. But that’s that’s basically how they get their power and strength. In fact, they’re so strong in northern Nigeria that last year the Nigerian army they basically walked off the job in northern Nigeria and said, if you’re not going to equip us, With the guns and the ammunition and the tools we need to do our job and hold back Boko Haram then we’re on strike. We walked away.
James Egidio: 9:01Wow.
Brad Brandon: 9:01And the Nigerian army walked away from Northern Nigeria for the most part because Boko Haram was so well funded, their equipment was better than the Nigerian Army. And and that was devastating because obviously Boko Haram just walked into that vacuum and took it over.
James Egidio: 9:20 what’s their mode of attack and where do they get these arms
Brad Brandon: 9:23 The mode of attack basically is like anything in northern Nigeria, they’ll use the highway systems throughout northern Nigeria and they will basically stop and create blockades on the highway. They’ll use the highway systems to kidnap people just to wreak havoc throughout these regions. Stop shipping take over shipping containers. Just stop everything. So the main way in which they do that is the highway system. When you’re traveling on the highway system in northern Nigeria, it’s an entire. Different world. You were telling me before the podcast that you had a friend of yours whose parents died in a highway crash, right? It’s dangerous enough to be on the Nigerian roads just as it is let alone with the threat of terrorist, Boko Haram and ISWA. That’s their hotspot. So anytime we’re on the highway, We are on full alert. There’s the A2 corridor in northern Nigeria runs from Abuja all the way up to Kaduna and the low pass Kaduna up to toward Katsena. That’s the most dangerous highway in Africa because of the killings, the kidnappings. everything that happens really happens on those highways. They try to do checkpoints. The military tries to retain control of ’em. But they’re just so underequipped it’s very difficult for the Nigerian military to do that.
James Egidio: 10:44Yeah. They they’re, are they armed with weapons?
Brad Brandon: 10:48Yeah, absolutely. AK 47 s 50 cal machine guns on the back of pickup trucks. Everything that you see on the news and some of the things in the movies really isn’t too far off from what you can imagine being there.
James Egidio: 11:03Yeah. I’m surprised that our state department in this country is not on alert for that to get involved.
Brad Brandon: 11:10 They are. they are, but it’s very difficult for them to do anything. I know that right now the UK is really doing a lot more in northern Nigeria than our state department is, which to be honest with you, I think is a big mistake because right now Nigeria is the new Syria. Some years ago the United States went in with some allies and cleaned out Syria and really dampened the power and weakened ISIS. well, what used to be ISIS is now ISWA, the Islamic state of West Africa, and they’re stronger than ever and more equipped and more funded. And it’s really a growing problem. So I guess what I’m saying is what used to be Syria now is just West Africa and Nigeria, and it’s only growing in power and strength. So I’m surprised that our State Department isn’t doing. I’d like to think maybe they know something I don’t know. But from my perspective on the ground it’s a mistake to let this thing continue to grow. And it is, oh, it’s continuing to grow. We, when I first started operating in Northern Nigeria, most of the violence was. was separated to the northeast quadrant of the country. Now we experience violence from north, northeast to northwest. It’s all across the northern part of the region now, and it’s getting into Nigeria has gotten extremely dangerous. Benin, Cameroon, Togo, all of those countries now are being swept in with all of us. So it is growing exponentially.
James Egidio: 12:39 Man. You talk about hostile, is a serving opportunity. That’s just, it’s not, putting back chairs after a service in the United States or, with your Starbucks in one Yeah. With your, yeah. Starbucks in one hand, and the chair, in the other, or helping the pastor get prepared for the service. This is unbelievable work to spread the good news. Like I said, we get in a comfort zone here, and we think, oh my gosh, it’s so tough here. Such tough times and that was
Brad Brandon: 13:04 right.
James Egidio: 13:04 That’s the premise of this episode too. But you mentioned ISIS and you mentioned they started in the Northern Nigerian region then, but you also were talking about or mentioned, I should say, the Fulani Muslims now. What’s the difference between the Fulani Muslims and the Boko Haram
Brad Brandon: 13:22 so the Fulani, I really like an indigenous people group in, in West Africa. They’re a I liken them a lot to like Native Americans here in the United States. And what’s really interesting is how they became Muslim. They weren’t always Muslim and they’re a people of mystery in West Africa, nobody really knows where they came from, even though they’re indigenous. There’s some legends that they were born out of the clay of the river the Niger River. Some people even claim that they are from the relationship between King Solomon and the queen of the South.. And what’s interesting is that there’s a lot of Hebrew influence and Islamic influence or Arabic influence in their language and their speech. And even their physical characteristics are different. They really look more Eastern African or Egyptian. Then they do Western African. There’s. there’s different physical things that you can look at. Their skin is more of an olive tone. They look more Egyptian than anything else. Yeah. But they are a people of mystery. And how they became Muslim is really simply this, and it’s a sort of a thought for us to be corrected on is that the first missionaries that reached Nigeria came from the coast and they reached the coast of Nigeria. It was the Dutch and the British missionaries, and they worked their way North and they reached all of those people group the Yaobo, the Ebo people. And so most of southern Nigeria is Christian. There’s a heavy Christian influence in southern Nigeria, and then all of a sudden they reach northern Nigeria and the Fulani Muslims are more of a, like a semi nomadic people. They live out in the bush. They’re nomadic throughout the year. And a lot of their early missionaries, if you read their writings, they said the Fulani people are more like animals because they live in the bush, so we don’t really need to reach them with the gospel because they don’t have a soul. And I always think of the verse in the Bible that says, preach the gospel to every creature. So whether you think they have a soul or whether whatever, just preach the gospel to ’em. And that’s what the early missionaries should have done. But they didn’t, so they didn’t really reach them with the fervor they reached everyone else. Islam came down from the north came down from Nigeria, came down from Libya, and reached the Fulani people in West Africa. And it and really the right now, the Fulani Muslims are the thorn in the side of every Christian in Nigeria. In fact, last year there’s something like 5,191 Christians that were killed, that were slaughtered in Northern Nigeria, and a lot of them were killed by Fulani Muslims. Yeah, they’re extremely dangerous people group. But I gotta tell you this, part of my heart is for the Fulani Muslims, like that’s primarily who we reach in northern Nigeria. So as much as they’re violent people and as much as they’re killing Christians, that’s the people group that I’m drawn to, that God has given me a desire in my heart to reach with the gospel. And so we’ll walk into Fulani Muslim villages and we will just show them the love of Christ we will develop relationships, friendships with them. In fact, some of my greatest friends are Fulani Muslim chiefs of their village. And we have great relationships with them. and we preach the gospel and we lead them to the Lord. In fact, we’ve seen several Fulani Muslim communities completely turn to Christ and forsake Islam and put their trust in Jesus Christ. So God’s doing a great work among those people. But let, I don’t wanna sell it short either. They’re very violent people and yeah, that’s probably the greatest group in northern Nigeria. That’s persecuting Christians right now directly. You always hear about it on, or at least I do because I’m sensitive to it, but CNN is like put it this way. It’s the herdsman against the farmers. That’s CNN’s way of saying Christians versus Muslims. The Muslim Fulani are the herdsman and the farmers are the Christians and whenever they allow their cattle onto the farming land, there’s a conflict and a clash. And that’s when the killing happens. Yeah.
James Egidio: 17:42 Yeah. And as you’re telling me this, I’m thinking of Paul, the Apostle Paul before when he was Saul, he was persecuting Christians. they’re like the early Paul,
Brad Brandon: 17:50 really They are and it’s funny you mention that because my prayer a lot of times is, Lord raise up a Paul in the Fulani people raise up an apostle Paul in the Fulani people. Yeah. Yep.
James Egidio: 18:03 Yeah. Yeah. That’s interesting. And when, they have this revelation of coming to Christ, it’s got to be amazing. It’s got to be an amazing experience. The transformation, yeah. I mean for especially for you to see this because there’s that, there’s beauty in that. there is beauty. Yeah, there is. There’s got to be beauty in that. And you watch that transformation, you’re go, my gosh. And that’s the thing about, with me trying to get the point across with faith who, for people that let’s say, come across the 99 Relapses podcast are not saved and they’re struggling with an addiction and, it’s, I get teared up when I watch people get baptized, but you’re seeing people who literally, like I said, have persecuted Christians like Paul did. Murdering.
Brad Brandon: 18:46 Yes.
James Egidio: 18:47 And they’re coming to Christ and they’re forgiven for that Of course, when they come to Christ. Yeah. Cuz they’re asking
Brad Brandon: 18:52That’s right.
James Egidio: 18:53 For, repenting and asking for redemption. Yeah, it’s gotta be amazing.
Brad Brandon: 18:57 Yeah, there’s no doubt. The Fulani Muslims that we work with they’ve had conflict with Christians, and I know some of my friends, some of the people who we’ve led to the Lord, the people who we work with they, they’re killers. They’ve killed Christians before. I know that. And all of Northern Nigeria for the most part, is controlled by Sharia Law. And in Sharia Law there’s a doctrine called sif, which means honor killing, and that means that it’s legal in Northern Nigeria. If you are a Muslim and you convert to Christianity, it is legal for your family to kill you to avenge that honor. And you won’t be prosecuted for that. So that’s what Christians are up against in northern Nigeria, we have a refugee facility where we house people and keep them in safekeeping because they’re hunted. In parts of Northern Nigeria, we’ll go in and take them out of those areas, put them in our refugee facility. We have a pastor there that disciples them, a Nigerian pastor that disciples them. We give them a plot of land to grow a garden. We have a little two room apartment in our dorm rooms that they can stay in. And so we just harbor them there and keep them in safekeeping. And right now our facility is at capacity. like we literally cannot put in another person in our facility. That’s good and bad. It’s good in the fact that it’s showing how God is moving in northern Nigeria and the great movement of God, something is happening where he’s opening the hearts of Muslim people, not just in northern Nigeria, but in the Arab world entirely. There is a great movement of God that’s happening where Muslims are coming to faith in. Even through dreams and things like that that I’m hearing about.
James Egidio: 20:39 It’s funny you mentioned that. Yeah. It’s interesting you mentioned that through dreams. I have a friend of mine Steve Bryant. He lives in Israel probably about nine months out of the year. I’m not sure if he’s still doing that. I haven’t been in touch with Steven quite some time now. but he’s works with a Christian documentary film crew. So they just go around Israel and they do video footage, throughout Israel. So he knows Israel, every corner of Israel. And he interacts, of course, with the Israelis and all the Israelis that came to Christ accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior have come through dreams. Yes, that’s what he told me. Yeah. He says it’s the most amazing thing. He says they have a dream and they come to Christ.
Brad Brandon: 21:25 I was just working with a young guy in Nigeria two weeks ago who came to us and his father was or is an influential chief in northern Nigeria. He started this young kid I’ll call him Dan. That’s not his name. Check his name right. But Dan started getting dreams and some of the dreams were like asking him questions like why do you always pray that the prophet Mohamed would have peace? If, cuz that’s a big thing that Muslims pray for, is peace for the prophet Mohamed. If he’s really a prophet, why doesn’t he have peace? Another one was in the Koran. If Mohammed says, I hope that when I die I’ll be with Allah. Why are you following somebody that doesn’t know where he’s going? Another one was, the Koran says, if you really wanna know Allah, ask the people of the book. Christians are the people of the book. So why are you asking Muslims to know Allah? You should be asking Christians. So these questions came to this young man in a dream he ends up coming to faith in Christ through these questions, right? He goes to his father and he says, Hey I’ve rejected Islam. I’m putting my faith in Jesus. His father gets angry, of course, and wants to kill him, so he runs away. His father sends three men to go find him. They find him bring him back. They lock him in. This is a true story. They lock him in the house of the local Imon, till the father can figure out what to do with this kid and and so he begins to ask the Imom these questions. The, I mom is like the Islamic pastor. Mohammed? Why doesn’t Mohammed know where he is going? And mo the Imom’s I don’t know. The, Imom ends up coming to Christ and letting the kid go I don’t even know what happened to the Imom. He may have been killed by the father for all I know. I don’t know. But the kid runs to Abuja and he finds us because he knows. That we’ll take him in and we’ll house him and we’ll keep him there. We couldn’t put him in our facility because our facility’s at capacity, like I already mentioned, but we found another safe place for him to be Later. We found out that his father had sent those three men to Abuja to find the white guy, to find the pastors that worked with the white guy and find his son and kill him all. So his father put a contract out on our life because we were helping his. Grow in his faith in Christ. And that really is that’s an everyday story for us as we work in northern Nigeria. Yeah.
James Egidio: 23:43 Yeah, and as you’re saying that, I’m thinking we have a messiah. We have the King of Kings, the Lord of Lord, the Prince of Peace, who says, I am the way, the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father. Except through me.
Brad Brandon: 23:58 Except through me. That’s right. Amen.
James Egidio: 24:00 Yeah. And it’s we have that rest rested assurance knowing where we’re gonna go. We know who our Messiah is, we know who saved us who has us. And that’s where we get our peace.
Brad Brandon: 24:12That’s right.
James Egidio: 24:13 That’s where we get our peace.
Brad Brandon: 24:14 That’s right. Yeah.
James Egidio: 24:15 Yeah. Yeah. So let’s see. You mentioned something about Boca Haram and then ISIS and the Fallani Muslims. What do you do to keep yourself safe in this environment?
Brad Brandon: 24:28 Yeah, so I don’t, I’m not trying to over spiritualize it. But we don’t travel with armed security. I get that question all the time. We don’t travel with guns like, it’s like anywhere here in the United States. Nigeria has gun control, gun bans, so only the bad people have. The go the government for forbids the good people from carrying guns. So we don’t do that. We really just trust the Lord and follow his guiding and his leading. I’ll give you a couple of examples. We’re driving into a city called Minna. This was just maybe three weeks ago. And we’re hearing this like strange crunching noise on the ground. And we look and we find it’s all gun shells, spent gun shells on the ground going into town and when we get to Minna, we find out that that a couple, random terrorist group, we call ’em Bandits, but really they’re Muslim terrorist groups. They had blockade every exit out of town. So we were stuck for the night. We really just spent the night praying and asking God to show us where he wanted us to go. We got up the next morning and one of the Muslim groups had moved on. We went through the blockade. And we got a call about an hour outside of town from an informant of ours, and they said, Hey, did you get out of town? We said, yeah we’re out. And they said, that’s good because that Muslim group had come back. and and taken up that spot that we had driven through. So it was almost like God just parted the Red Sea for us and then closed it behind us. It, we see stuff like that happen all the time. We were driving into the capitol city of Zamfara State called Gusta. We, when we got there, we found out most of the city had been overtaken. By these terrorist groups. Even some of the police stations had been hijacked and taken over. And so we just stopped and we prayed and we said, Lord, what do you want us to do? We were there to visit a Fulani Muslim group that was just north of Gusal. We felt the Lord telling us, you need to get out of town. We’re not reckless with the risks that we take. We’re prayerful, they’re calculated risk. So when God tells us to get out we get out. So yeah. At any given moment, we’re ready to go. We jumped in our vehicles. We started heading out of town. We found out that the several of these Muslim terrorist group had surrounded Gusal, and we got to the first checkpoint on the way out. No problem. Second checkpoint on our way out, no problem. Third checkpoint, right when we pulled in, it’s a checkpoint called Gumi. And as soon as I, I looked out the window of the vehicle we were in, I saw armed Muslims gathered on the side of the road and I thought, this is it. And just as my eyes laid on them, just as I laid my eyes on ’em, I saw the Nigerian police coming in and started a conflict with them started to arrest some of them and there was some confusion on the side of the road. We slipped through that checkpoint and got outta the town the next morning the Nigerian media was full of the story that at Gumi there was, the military had clashed with armed Muslims and killed couple hundred armed bandits in that spot. So we were literally minutes or hours from being in the middle of that conflict.
James Egidio: 27:37Geez.
Brad Brandon: 27:38 But we just trusted God to tell us when, to go!
James Egidio: 27:41Gosh,
Brad Brandon: 27:41 when to stay, where to go where not to go. So I’m not trying to overly spiritualize it, but it, we just trust God every step of the way everywhere we go.
James Egidio: 27:52I would say so. Yeah. That’s Hebrews 11, the faith chapter
Brad Brandon: 27:56 That’s right. That’s exactly right. Yeah. Yeah. And sometimes I don’t know if I have a lot of faith or if I’m just really stupid.
James Egidio: 28:04 That’s what I say about my walk.
Brad Brandon: 28:06 I haven’t, yeah, I haven’t quite figured that out yet. What? What it is? Am I brave of? Do I have faith or am I just being really stupid? Yeah.
James Egidio: 28:14 Sometimes I say, do I have a lot of faith or am I just stubborn? Because I know right. I’m gonna finish this race somehow or another.
Brad Brandon: 28:19 Yes, for sure. Yes.
James Egidio: 28:22 Oh my gosh. We’re so blessed though. As Christians, we’re so blessed that we have a God that, that we have, and
Brad Brandon: 28:28 Yeah.
James Egidio: 28:29 I see so many people searching for so much, and especially when they’re in the middle of an addiction, and it’s like the answer’s right there, and you want to, I just want to grab ’em by the collar and shake them, you can’t, you have to do it with some grace.
Brad Brandon: 28:39Yeah,
James Egidio: 28:40 and some love and it, and of course it’s not just grace, it’s repentance, it’s going to the cross and it’s asking for forgiveness because we’re just, we’re sinful. And I say that, I say even when it comes to addictions, I say, we have to be responsible for our addictions because
Brad Brandon: 28:55 yes
James Egidio: 28:56 it’s sin, and there, and I’m not undermining as to why people get into sin because it’s rebellion. But rebellion is sin too. And then it. selfishness and it’s all these things wrapped up in one. It all goes back to the cross.
Brad Brandon: 29:11 That’s right.
James Egidio: 29:12 And I don’t have to tell you, better than I do. I do want to ask you though, It does, I want to ask you as far as the living conditions for you housing and food, how does that work out?
Brad Brandon: 29:24 I have an apartment in Abuja,
James Egidio: 29:27 okay
Brad Brandon: 29:27 where I station out of, so that’s in a secure area. So when I get back into Abuja, I say secure, but secure is subjective, right? Just three weeks ago, the United States Embassy the State Department here called back all of the the embassy representatives. Here in all the diplomats from the U.S. The UK did that Australia did that as well. Basically told all the diplomats they had to leave Abuja. So when I say Abuja is that’s a subjective statement. Yeah. It’s safer than anywhere else we operate. And I have my little apartment that’s in our secure area where there’s a secured guard and a gate that you have to go through to get in there. So I use that as a headquarters, so that part of it’s. but when we’re traveling throughout the north, and we might be traveling for a week or two weeks through northern Nigeria. Yeah. It’s the wild West. That’s the only way I can describe it. Sure. If something happens there’s no one that you call when something happens. You can’t call anybody. You can’t call the police. You don’t call for help you’re stuck wherever you are. So you’re completely vulnerable to the whims of the element that we’re in. Whether that’s whether that’s Boko Haram, whether it’s ISWA, whatever it is we’re open to it.
James Egidio: 30:44 Yeah. How wanted I ask you a question? How old are these kids that are involved? I should, the age range, would you say?
Brad Brandon: 30:51 I would say that for Boko Haram, the age range tends to be a little bit younger because they recruit younger people. A lot of times I’m sure you’ve heard of the kidnappings that take place where Boko Haram will go in and kidnap a couple hundred students out of a school. I know exactly what they’re doing. They’re going in and they’re taking, they’re recruiting is what they’re doing. They’re gonna bring these kids back. They’re going to brainwash these kids. And they’re going to make them soldiers in Boko Haram. So for Boko Haram, I would say the age of the operatives tends to be younger, probably anywhere from 14 to early twenties.
James Egidio: 31:29 Wow.
Brad Brandon: 31:29 Of course, the in the higher ranks, they’re gonna be older, even in Boko Ram. But Boko Horam tends to be younger. Also, if you’re talking about the bandit groups, these armed Muslim groups that are out there, they’re not really associated with Boko Haram or Iswa. It’s, it’d be a lot like gangs here you have your well-known, established gangs, but then you have these offshoot gangs, that’s the same way, same thing over there. Those tend to be very young. whenever I hear about Bandit groups I’m immediately thinking these are probably 12, 14, 15, 16 year olds walking around with AK 47 s and machetes and sometimes handguns, and they’re just as dangerous if not more dangerous than a full grown adult.
James Egidio: 32:14 Wow.
Brad Brandon: 32:15 Just be, just because their mindset is in a different place. Yeah.
James Egidio: 32:18 Yeah. It sounds like they’re even used as decoys too, like I know.
Brad Brandon: 32:22Yeah.
James Egidio: 32:22 I have friends from Israel.
Brad Brandon: 32:23 Absolutely.
James Egidio: 32:24Yeah. I have friends from Israel and they’ll say that. The Palestinian groups, terrorist groups will use young kids as decoys and they’ll strap a bomb. They don’t think nothing. Strapping a bomb to a 12 year old and putting ’em in front of, that’s a bunch. A bunch of people.
Brad Brandon: 32:40 Yeah.
James Egidio: 32:40 It’s just very hostile as well. in that situation.
Brad Brandon: 32:44 And even if you think of it, if you’re standing at gunpoint of a 12 year old with a gun you just think about the lack of discernment that’s gonna be there or the lack of ability to negotiate with that 12 year old. You’re probably more likely to be able to negotiate something with an adult. Who has a little bit more life experience and and yeah. That’s why I say sometimes those younger groups can be more dangerous than Sure. Than even the older groups. Absolutely.
James Egidio: 33:12 Yeah. Puts a whole new perspective on Babysitting, Geez.
Brad Brandon: 33:16it does. It absolutely does. Yeah.James Egidio: 33:18
So as far as food How do you guys sustain,
Brad Brandon: 33:20 the food is, we just eat whatever is available to us. Last time I was there we had a meal of goat intestines. We walked into one village and they had a monitor lizard that they had killed for us, and were ready to cook it up and have us eat it. Yeah. That, that wish whatever is offered to us we’ll take it. I don’t really particularly, I don’t particularly enjoy some of the food but I’ll eat whatever they give me because I don’t want to be offensive. Yeah. In that way.
James Egidio: 33:49 Yeah. It’s interesting.
Brad Brandon: 33:50 But when we’re back, when we’re back in Abuja, the food is great, right? Because Abuja is a large city. So when you get to the larger cities, even in northern Nigeria there’s a lot more options than there is out in the bush in the sub-Sahara desert of northern Nigeria.
James Egidio: 34:05 That’s interesting. Wow. very hostile environment. very hostile.
Brad Brandon: 34:10 Yeah. Yeah. I had I’ll tell you a quick story. Last year when I was there, and this kind of settles the reality of what we’re doing. Last year we had just finished a tour through northern Nigeria, about two weeks. We were traveling around visiting with some villages. We are visit. Some pockets of persecuted Christians in northern Nigeria. Some Muslim villages as well, trying to reach them with the gospel. And one of my friends, one of our operatives that we work with there he is a pastor in Cono, so we dropped him off at his home at the end of the tour and we were going to go back and pick him up the next morning. We showed up the next morning and they burned his church, they burned his house and we found him. They had hacked him to death in his bed. So we had to take his body and bring it to our refugee facility. In fact, when I was just there about three weeks ago we went to that place where we found him dead with his wife and we all prayed on that spot and just ask God to make his voice and his preaching even stronger in his. Than it happened in his life. And and that’s true. That’s one of the things that I really encouraged his wife with was, look, when he was alive, he was a powerful preacher of the gospel in the area where he ministered, but now his voice. is reaching all over the place. I told her, I said, I talk about him everywhere I go in the United States. Every church or conference that I speak at, I talk about him. Every podcast I’m on, I try to bring him up so people hear his voice through me, and it just makes his message even that much more powerful. It like we were talking before the podcast, like everything Satan tries to do, like even with Covid and persecution and all that stuff. he thinks he’s winning, but really what he’s doing is furthering the message of the gospel. He’s really making it, it stronger. If you think about in the Book of Acts, it was Acts chapter one and verse number eight. They were told to go to the uttermost part of the earth. Then they stayed in Jerusalem and they didn’t go anywhere. So the persecution of Saul comes in and the early church is persecuted and all of a sudden in Acts chapter eight and verse number one they’re finally reaching outside of Jerusalem and getting into the uttermost part of the earth. It took the persecution to move them out and get them going. Persecution actually furthered. the gospel strengthened the gospel message, right? Like some have said the the blood of the martyr is the seed of the church. And I believe that to be absolutely true when Satan tries to weaken something that God is in, really what he’s doing is strengthening it. He tried to stop Christ from going to the cross. And if you think about the theological implications of that, it’s. he was trying to stop something, but really what he did is just push it further and make it happen. And that became the salvation of the entire world,
James Egidio: 37:05 yes. I, it’s so interesting you say that too, because I think things have to get worse, a lot worse before they get better, and I think we’re just at the beginning of the worst. I completely agree with you. Yeah. Oh yeah. I think the day, I think the day is coming. It will no longer cost us nothing to be Christians in the U.S. Oh, no question. about it!,
Brad Brandon: 37:29 the day is very quickly coming. When it will start to cost you something to call yourself a Christian. Absolutely. That’s what I see all over in Northern Nigeria. It cost them everything
James Egidio: 37:38 I tell lot. Yes. I tell a lot of people that I says as Christians, it’s gonna get to a point where we’re going to be be brought to a place where we’re gonna have to decide whether we want to give up everything that we have. Yeah. Personally.
Brad Brandon: 37:51That’s right.
James Egidio: 37:52 Materially for our faith. And those are the ones that are gonna stand strong. And
Brad Brandon: 37:58 That’s right. You have to,
James Egidio: 37:58 and you’re in the middle of it. You know better than I do.
Brad Brandon: 38:02 Take that a step further because we often think oh, I’ll have to give. My job or my car or my house and I think to some degree a lot of Christians can maybe go along with that. But what about the mothers that I see in Northern Nigeria who come to faith in Christ and their husbands come in and take their children kidnap, take their children. The mother has no legal right to the children anymore. She has to run away or she’ll be killed. She has literally lost everything. Her home, her family, her children. Satan does not play by the rules. And so we even have women in our refugee facility who’ve given up their own children because they’ve chosen to be identified as a Christian rather than a Muslim. And so that’s even a step further that it goes,
James Egidio: 38:48yeah. And that reminds me of Matthew 24, where Jesus predicts the future. And he says that, he says they’ll be gnashing of teeth, and he says,
Brad Brandon: 38:56yeah,
James Egidio: 38:57 and it’s gonna be like the birth pains of a woman. And he. There’s gonna be wars and threats of wars. We’re starting to see things getting ratchet up just a little bit. And this is our right. The leaders of this world, it’s not just in the United States. It’s everywhere.
Brad Brandon: 39:10That’s right.
James Egidio: 39:11 And this, this global agenda and a lot of people will say that’s a conspiracy theory. But what I say is that we as Christians, which we probably have one of the greatest gifts, and I’m sure. this has really sharpened for you. Being in Nigeria, being in the middle of that hostile environment is we have the gift of discernment. We have a discerning spirit through the Holy Spirit. He gives us that. I wanna say seventh sense instead of Sixth Senses. That’s right. Yes. To know, okay, this is not right. We don’t, we live in this world, but we’re not part of this world. And that’s what that means. And we have to use that wisdom that comes from proverbs to our advantage and we have to stay the course.
Brad Brandon: 39:52Yeah.
James Egidio: 39:53 And I know there’s gonna come a time where we’re gonna have to slowly but surely shed the things that we’re so used to. And I, I say keep it simple. Just keep things simple and stay in your faith and stay steadfast in your faith. That’s always,
Brad Brandon: 40:07 it’s like Hebrew, even Hebrews five Paul talks about there he. that how? How do we get discernment? He says, it’s exercising the word of God, right? We exercise the word of God to discern both good and evil. How do you exercise the word of God? You live it out, right? You practice it every single day, right? You’re practicing the word of God and what happens from that? The fruit of that is you gain the ability to discern between good and evil. It also makes me think the verses that you’re bringing up the Bible talks about in the last days that even children will be pitted against their parents. And one of the examples I have of that is we helped a woman named Nan. She had been a Muslim, she was an older woman and she came to faith in. One of her sons found a Bible in her room. This is in northern Nigeria again. She had five sons. They put a contract out on their own mother’s life to kill her. And anyone who would help her. Could you imagine your, ah, putting a contract out on your own? So we took her into our refugee facility and we keep her there and keep her safe there. But that’s what that spirit does. The spirit of the age pits even children against their own parents. Yeah. And we see it evident all the time.
James Egidio: 41:21 Yeah. And the thing is a lot of the churches in the United States are preaching this feel good gospel message, or actually this feel good message, I should say. Not gospel message. Cuz a lot of ’em are straying away from the gospels and they’re preaching this, compromising this new age Christianity with oh, you can live with your boyfriend, you can live with your girlfriend, or it’s okay to accept, homosexuality for what it is,
Brad Brandon: 41:43 right.
James Egidio: 41:44 and that’s blasphemy. It’s total blasphemy. And it’s not it’s misleading people. This feel, I call feel good Christianity or contemporary of Christianity.
Brad Brandon: 41:53 Do whatever you want, right? Yeah.
James Egidio: 41:54 Do whatever you want. And there’s no repercussions. it’s not sin anymore. And it’s really sad. It’s really sad and it reminds me of the verse in Revelations where we’re not hot nor cold, or he’ll spit us out. That. Okay. Yeah. We can’t be on the fence. It’s the days are numbered. Our days are numbered, and we can see it because of what’s going on now. I don’t want to get political, but our politicians are doing, what? They’re allowing same sex marriage and all this other stuff. This is total Blasphemy. it’s it goes against God and the gospels and it goes against everything that the Bible represents.
Brad Brandon: 42:34 That’s right. And we if you read the Satanic Bible I’ve done a study on this back when I was pastoring a church, the Satanic Bible written by Anton Lavey back in the sixties. He wraps up the commandment of the Satanic church and he says the whole of the commandment is, do what thou. will shall be the whole of the law. That’s what he writes in the Satanic Bible. So basically what he’s saying is, the Satanic commandment is do whatever you want. That’s what we want you to do. And that seems to be the gospel of the modern day church. They’re adopting, it looks more like satanism than it does real, true Christianity. Exactly. Yeah. Yeah,
James Egidio: 43:14 exactly. Yeah, my guest, Brad Brandon, you his website and Ministry is AcrossNigeria.org. That’s www.AcrossNigeria.org. You can donate on that website. And he’s a man of God. He’s a man on a mission, as I had mentioned at the very beginning thank you so much for appearing on this podcast. Its been a pleasure. And it’s been a blessing. Brad, I really appreciate it.
Brad Brandon: 43:41 James. I’ve loved being on with you. It’s been great, and I’d love to come back and share more stories.
James Egidio: 43:46 Absolutely please.
Brad Brandon: 43:47 And appreciate everything you’re doing.
James Egidio: 43:48Yes. Thank you. God bless. Thank you so much. Thanks.
Brad Brandon: 43:51 You too. Thank you.
James Egidio: 43:53 All right. Bye. Thanks.