Going to Nigeria
James L. Gay
To my brethren in Christ:
The Lord willing, my family and I will be going to Nigeria this summer to work in that fruitful field. Here is how a longstanding keen interest in that work finally culminated into a decision to go and why.
I picked up the telephone receiver on the first ring and heard the operator say there was a personal call for me. I identified myself and heard a deep voice, "Brother Gay, this is Bill Hall. The elders here at 77th Street, in Birmingham, told me to call you. We understand you are interested in the Nigerian work." I assured him I was. "Well, we have some money and we want to spend it in Nigeria." Wisely, they had already checked a reference that knew me, since we were unacquainted, and were ready to extend an invitation to come and talk with them. I made the visit and the elders there have assured me of my salary and house expense while I am in Nigeria.
It may surprise you that they are interested in expending this much money in Nigeria, W. A., and that a thirty-seven year old gospel preacher, who, if he has a "pioneering spirit" has not detected it, would be interested in going, since it involves leaving many loved ones, a pleasant work here, and the security of homeland. Here are some very good reasons:
1. It is one of the most fruitful fields in the world for an evangelist because the people are interested and responsive. Note the following statement by brother Leslie Diestelkamp, who worked there for two years: "In two years in Nigeria one gospel preacher will baptize more people into Christ than twenty-five average preachers will convert in America in the same time," Gospel Guardian, Jan. 6, 1966.
2 Present conditions make it easy to reach many who are not Christians. Street preaching is an effective way. Often an unannounced meeting will have as many as 200 listeners, with many so interested they will stay long after the sermon to ask questions. In Africa, reading material is still somewhat scarce to the average man, which makes them eager to get and read printed material. This opens the way for tracts and other teaching materials, accounting for the tremendous distribution mentioned by brother Sewell Hall in his article entitled "Five Years in Western Nigeria." (Let me urge you to read this excellent article. G. G. Jan. 21, 1965.)
3. It is Africa's most populous nation. Every sixth African is a Nigerian, according to a recent press release, and ranks ninth with all nations of the world with a population of over one-fourth that of the U. S.
4. As the best friend the U. S. has in Africa, a gospel preacher from here would be less likely to have his work hindered by "anti-Americanism."
5 Being an ex-colony of England, like India, its national language is English. This will help immensely even though there are many tribal dialects.
We, as you can see, are interested in Nigeria because the most possible good can be done with the money and time we can presently expend in foreign work. It is astonishing how much has been done with so few laborers there in the past six years. Surely you will be interested in helping this worthy work.
Our Needs to Accomplish This Work
The 77th Street church in Birmingham will supply our salary and house expense. We now need to raise $8,000 for travel and working funds. This may seem expensive, but I think when you compare full-time support of a preacher engaged in full-time meeting work you will find this is a cheap deal. And, then consider the opportunities and fruitfulness of this work. Surely you will see it as one of the soundest investments for souls you could make.
Here Is How You Can Help the Work in Nigeria:
1. Contribute personally to the work. Any sum of money will be appreciated and acknowledged.
2 Bring this appeal to the attention of the congregation where you worship so others will have the opportunity to help.
3. Congregations having money on hand they would like to spend for preaching the gospel could not spend it in a more profitable field. They may want to share it with the Nigerian work by sending to my work and travel funds. Those that have helped in this work before and knowing how prolific it is, I am sure, will welcome the opportunity to give "once and again" to see the kingdom progress in this fertile field.
4. Contributions may be sent now or by June 1, 1966. You can make them in a lump sum or put this work in your monthly budget for the next few months. Whatever you decide please let me know your intentions.
All money given will be used as wisely as we know how, and accounted in my regular progress reports that I will send to those having a special interest in this work.
An African boy felt keenly the power of the Word when he said of the Bible, "That book makes holes in my heart." The gospel has the power to save the lost world. It can prick the heart and cause man to turn to the Heavenly Father who loves us all, but the gospel can do this only if we can hear. Brethren, will you pray for us and provide sufficient funds so we can go to this fertile field where so many are eager to hear and obey? God will supply and sustain us in what we cannot do for ourselves. We must do what we can do. I am ready and willing to go and do what I can. I am confident of your love for the souls of men and surely believe that you will help liberally in this great endeavor. Let me hear from you soon. In the meantime I am moving forward with the necessary red tape so I will be ready.
May our Lord bless you and yours abundantly and work with us for an abundant harvest.
TRUTH MAGAZINE X: 8, pp. 9-10 May 1966