Report From Nigeria (I)
P. O. Box 498,
Vaba, Lagos, Nigeria
We left Plainfield, Ind. on June 4th with the understanding that our ship would sail on the 8th. However, after we arrived in New York we learned that the sailing had been delayed for ten days. The ship officials said they wrote us of the delay but the word failed to reach us. But our stay in the New York area was made pleasant and our expenses kept at a minimum due to the fine hospitality of Bro. and Sister Bill Echols of East Orange, N. J. and Bro. and Sister James Finney of Fairlawn, N. J. While in the New York area I spoke at East Orange, Fairlawn, and Newark, N. J.
We were on board ship one month and two days and the trip was very pleasant. The freighter stopped at a number of ports to load and unload freight but at only one place were we able to find the church. On other Lord's Days we had our worship in our cabin aboard ship. In Halifax, Nova Scotia, we were cordially received by the brethren. There are only two churches in the whole of Nova Scotia, one in Halifax and one at Mill Village, about 50 miles away. The total membership perhaps would not exceed 40 people.
When our ship came into Freetown, Sierre Leone, we received a letter from the Sewell Halls telling us that the Leslie Diestelkamps were sailing the 30th of June and for us to look for them at Monrovia. In Freetown, however, our ship's orders were changed and we did not stop at Monrovia.
We arrived in Lagos on Sunday morning' July 16th, at about 9:00 a. m. When the ship was still some distance from the dock we could see Sewell and Canetta Hall and their children and one of the native preachers waving to us and it was impossible for us to keep back the tears. We had worked hard in order to come and many people had made sacrifices in order to send us, and now we were really here. From that hour to this I have not ceased to be thankful that we have been permitted to come.
These words seem quite inadequate, but the Leslie Diestelkamps did a very fine work in the Lagos area. They had the help of the Sewell Halls the last eight or nine months and both families have done a work that only eternity can measure. There are four churches in greater Lagos and all of them doing well. In addition, there are churches in three other cities in the Western Region.
I am preaching on the streets every night and thus far there have been people baptized at well over half of the services. We get them in the station wagon and go to the ocean or the river "for baptizing." However, we are not stressing baptism because we are not interested in numbers but in conversions. And every night the local members of the church who attend the lectures, acquire the names and addresses of a number of people who are interested and they go to their homes that. week and teach them further. Then many of these people are baptized on Sunday.
Just Last night we baptized a man from Jebba, a town some two or three hundred miles north' of Lagos. He is well educated, intelligent and has been preaching for some denomination in Jebba. His conversion came about in an unusual way. Bro. Hall and I were both out of the city preaching last Sunday and Verna and Sister Hall attended services at the Surulere church. Sis. Hall had to take her baby out and a man was passing the building and she invited him in. The sermon aroused his interest and he asked Bro. Williams to talk more with him. After their private discussion Bro. Williams urged him to attend the leclure on the street last night. After his baptism he, said to me, "In the providence of God I was permitted to learn the truth." He had planned to return to Jebba today but he delayed going one day so that we might spend this afternoon teaching him more. If he is as sincere as I now believe him to be, I plan to go to Jebba in the near future and work with Lim in establishing the Lord's church in that city. This one story will reveal to a small degree the wonderful opportunities and fearful responsibilities that face us in this land.
The Thomas Bldv. church in Port Arthur, Texas will begin providing the major part of our support the first of September. They will also supply the rent, so most of the amount for rent in the report will be replaced in the fund. Just before we arrived the Halls were able to find two houses for rent side by side. The rent on the new house is $40.00 per month cheaper but some extra furniture was necessary since the house Bro. Diestelkamp lived in was partially furnished. Our new address is listed at the top of the report. Please continue to remember this work in your prayers.
Truth Magazine, VI: 1 pp. 1,21-22