Diestelkamp Returns to Nigeria
To my Brethren in Christ,
Next summer, the Lord willing, my wife, Alice, and I plan to return to Nigeria. This will conclude four years of pleasant work with the West Side church in Aurora. It will then have been five years since we came home from Nigeria. During those years I will have preached in nearly sixty gospel meetings here in America.
In 1959, Alice and I, with our youngest son, Roy, then eleven, went to Eastern Nigeria. After four months in that Region where so many had worked before us, we moved to Lagos, the capital of Nigeria, thus opening the western part of that country and the big cities to gospel work. In two years in Africa we baptized 1,300 and started fourteen congregations. Since that time Sewell Hall, Audie McKee, Paul Earnhart, George Pennock, Jim Sasser and Robert E. Speer have gone to that area, continuing the good work. The latter two are there now, but brother Sasser will return to America next summer. From a beginning of virtually nothing in 1959, we now have about 35 congregations in the Western and Mid-western Regions.
No other young man has volunteered to go and replace brother Sasser. Many preachers would like to go but are hindered either by health conditions of the family or by school necessities for their children. Since our health seems adequate, and since our youngest child will graduate from High School next year, and enter college, we believe it is our duty to go. Surely our previous experience there makes us even more qualified than when we went in 1959. Conscience demands that we re-enter that fruitful work for souls. We appeal to all friends of truth, to all who are interested in salvation for the most possible souls and to all who want to help keep the church pure in Western Nigeria. We need your help. Please consider the following:
The Nigerian Challenge Today
1. Nigeria is as large as Texas and Oklahoma combined, and with a population of nearly sixty million is Africa's most populous country. Besides this, it is perhaps the best friend America has in Africa.
2. In the last 18 years, more than 40,000 people have been baptized into Christ in Nigeria and more than 450 congregations have been planted. But most of that work has been done in the Eastern Region, consisting mainly of villages and rural areas. But in 1959 we helped to open up the vast areas and the huge cities of the Western Region. There are yet dozens of fine cities with from 10,000 to more than 100,000 souls into which a gospel preacher has never gone. Besides this, those who have been converted need to be nurtured. The congregations now established need to be edified and strengthened.
3. The cost of sending a man to Africa and supporting him there is perhaps 2570 greater than the total cost of maintaining a full-time preacher in the cities of America. But consider this:
(1) You can send a generous, personal contribution.
(2) Bring this appeal to the attention of the congregation where you worship, and to others also, that they may help.
(3) Gifts may be made in lump-sum amounts or in monthly donations.
(4) Contributions may be sent now (while you have the money) or between now and June 1, 1966. It will be helpful to us if you will let us know what your intentions are.
(5) Congregations that now have considerable money may want to share it for the Nigerian work by sending to me for travel and work funds. Others that do not now have sufficient money on hand may want to include this work in their 1966 budget. You may have sent to the Nigerian work before, or you may be sending now. If so, you will be happy to have another opportunity for participation in that fruitful work by helping to send and/or support an experienced family as we answer the call to duty.
Needs and Plans
We need a minimum of $575.00 per month ($400.00 for regular support and $175.00 per month for rent and "overseas expenses" such as utilities and other unusual costs peculiar to such living but strictly related to gospel work there). We will also need a minimum of $6,000.00 for travel and working funds. If this seems costly to you, remember it is not too much more than the cost of full support here. Then remember the abundant opportunities and the fruitfulness and you surely will see that is is a cheap deal and a good investment for souls.
Some may say, "But we need to do more here in America." Surely this is true. I do not intend to try to diminish American work. But on the other hand, remember that in our good, enlightened land, luxuries abound, but the people do not want to hear. Dozens of preachers may go out, but few people will hear them here. Conversely, in Nigeria people live in comparative poverty. They are intelligent, but not often highly educated. But they are eager to learn. Their eagerness to hear and their willingness to obey make it a very fertile field, and it imposes a great responsibility upon us to enable them to know the truth. You can have a great part in such work by responding to this appeal generously.
We shall try to live frugally, as we have tried to do in all of the years of gospel work here, and as we did before in Africa. And we shall also try to use every dollar that is entrusted to us as wisely to make your gifts as fruitful as we can do. We shall report regularly after we arrive in Africa, perhaps every two months.
Since so few can or will go, surely we must utilize every scriptural means of reaching as many as possible. Won't you pray for us and help us have sufficient funds to expand our work as much as possible. We will have to depend upon you and the Lord to do that part which we cannot do. You can supply the means. God can grant pardon to those who come to him through the Word we shall teach. God will do his part. We shall try to do ours. We believe you will do yours. Let us hear from you real soon, please, as we become partners in this great work. May the Lord bless you abundantly.
P. S. Before any appeal was made, Mrs. Ellen Hurford, of Aurora, gave $45.00 to start our travel fund. The West Side church in Aurora has decided to give $1,000.00. We are deeply grateful to all.
TRUTH MAGAZINE X: 4, pp. 14-16 January 1966