Many readers of Truth Magazine have lost contact with the Nigerian work, for little has been published since brother Leslie Diestelkamp returned to the U. S. three years ago. The work in Western Nigeria has thrived during that time, by the grace of God. Let me fill in some details.
Brother Leslie Diestelkamp started the work in Western Nigeria four years ago. Brethren Sewell Hall, Bill Hall, Aude McKee, Paul Earnhart and the writer, have been privileged to labor in this field. The gospel has been preached and churches planted in both the Western and Mid-Western Regions. Today there are thirty churches worshipping according to the New Testament pattern. To God be given the glory! Also, while living in Western Nigeria, brother Sewell Hall made the first effort to preach the gospel in Ghana.
Five churches have been established so far in 1964--Warri, Koko, Oke Ado in Ibadan, Owo, and a church that meets five miles from Benin just off the Asaba Road. The church was re-established in Warri when a young man moved there from Sapele and converted five or six of his friends. Brother Ekanem at Sapele was instrumental in bringing the Koko work into existence, and brother Solomon Etuk's labors have been largely responsible for the work five miles from Benin. These churches are small, but a beginning has been made and by the grace of God they will grow.
The church at Oke Ado in Ibadan met for the first time on February 2. During the previous week, thirteen people who lived in this area, were baptized. These people had previously been members of a Nigerian sect known as Cherubim and Seraphim. After more than a month of study, they renounced the errors of this group and determined to walk in the pathway of righteousness. At the morning service on February 2, more than sixty were present. This church has been a source of encouragement.
The church in Owo has an impressive beginning. Brother Oginni from Abeokuta, brother Abimbola from Ibadan and the writer, spent June 8-21 in Owo, in an effort to establish the Lord's church in that city. Brother Samuel Odewumi also assisted us for the first week, and brother John Oluyemi the second week. One hundred and three obeyed the gospel. On June 21, one hundred five were present at the morning service, and one hundred twenty-nine in the evening. By June 24 (three days after the meeting closed) the number baptized had risen to one hundred twenty-two. Brother Abimbola remained in Owo for the rest of June. Brother Oginni spent the month of July there.
Many are hungering and thirsting after righteousness; and the experience of Owo may well be repeated in other places, but who will teach these newborn babies? The great need today is for good teaching and able teachers. In an attempt to solve this problem, brother Earnhart rented a room, and he and I are both devoting two nights a week to teaching young men. Those enrolled in the classes have all combined faithfulness with some degree of ability in the past.
"Searching the Scriptures" is another attempt to teach both individuals and churches. This bulletin is published monthly and contains teaching primarily designed to edify and strengthen Christians. 1500 English and 1000 Yoruba are printed each month. It is already showing its usefulness.
In July of this year, the Earnharts moved to the Mid-West. They now make their home either in Benin City or Sapele. They are to be highly commended for unselfishly deciding to remain in Nigeria another year. Their presence in the MidrWest will be of great value to the church in that area. Sometime in August, the Jim Sassers will join the Pennocks in Ibadan.
Two things are critically needed in Western Nigeria--money and men! During the next year, two new men will need to come. Both the Earnharts and the Pennocks will be leaving early in the summer of 1965. The Earnharts will have completed nearly three years, and the Pennocks have no choice. They must leave for legal reasons. Who will come? We cannot afford to neglect this work at this time! The work among the Yorubas of the Western Region has been slow and hard compared with the work among other Nigerian tribes, but as shown by our experience in Owo, the tide is finally beginning to turn. I am convinced that the immediate future will be a period of challenge and opportunity, such as has not before been experienced. I pray that it may be so. Who will come? Let us hear from you!
The two men who will come in 1965 will need much financial help before they can come. The men in the field need help now! One hundred three people were baptized in Owo, but this effort cost about $200. A place for meeting had to be rented, benches con- structed, etc., as well as the ordinary expenses connected with such an effort. Yet, no regu- lar help is being received by the writer, to help defray such expenses connected with the work, and as yet, brother Sasser has been unable to raise any.
Much printing needs to be done. The supply of tracts is getting low. If we are going to reach Yoruba people, we MUST have material printed in Yoruba. This has been one of the past weaknesses. Many single page tracts have Yoruba on one side, but the booklets designed either to teach the lost, or instruct Christians, are all in English. One exception to this was brother Cecil Douthitts booklet, "Bible Topic Studies," which brother Aude McKee had printed in Yoruba, but the supply of these is almost exhausted, and they must be reprinted. A new Yoruba songbook would also be valuable. Brother Samuel Odewuni is already engaged in translating some of this needed material into Yoruba, but after the translation has been made, will there be money for printing? By the grace of God, and with your help, there will be! Let us hear from you.
Truth Magazine IX: 2, pp.14-15