Report From Nigeria

Leslie Diestelkamp
Box 48, Uyo, Nigeria

August 4, 1959

It was 6:15 a.m., and by the light of a flickering kerosene lantern one could watch the expressions of sincere concern for truth upon the faces of a group of natives as they listened to the gospel of Christ. Soon the first rays of the sun crept into the little hut that is the meeting house of the Afaha Obio Enwang church, and before the assembly was dismissed at about 7:45 the place had become radiantly lighted by the light of a beautiful new day (the sun rises here between 6 and 7 a.m.). Men, women and children, some of the latter completely nude, listened intently to the preached word, and then when they were given opportunity, the men asked sober, intelligent questions about polygamy, forgiveness for such sins as murder, confession to a priest, etc. When Brother Broom and I drove the narrow, winding path that served as a road away from the place where I had assembled for the the first time in the "bush" of Africa, I was thrilled with the experience. It was very obvious that I would be dealing in the coming months with an intelligent people who are very eager for truth. The little group we had visited that morning would be remembered as an example of the great opportunities and responsibilities before us here.

Yesterday was our wedding anniversary, but we were unable to make it a day of celebration. After many other things, the day closed with an open-air lecture in the village of Abak. For 1 1/2 hours many people stood listening intently and then climaxed it by asking questions about faith only, eternal life, miracles, etc.

Our first gospel work in Nigeria was done more than 500 miles from here, at Lagos, where our ship, the "Accra," docked July 22 and where we were met by the Billy Nicks family. Lagos is the capital of Nigeria and its chief port. There we were able to locate a few Christians, and also one man who had taken a correspondence course in the Bible and who was ready to be baptized. Sunday morning, July 26, we watched as Brother Okon E. Udoh immersed Jacob S. Onokote in the waters of a little inlet from the Atantic Ocean. That afternoon a small group of us met together for worship and we were thrilled to know that the Lord's church was having its beginning in Lagos even upon our first Lord's Day in this land. Evidently, the challenge of that work in Lagos will demand that we return there at some future time for more gospel work, and to help the little band of Christians there. Right now the calls are many for helpers here, and already my appointment book is being filled with dates even reaching several weeks into the future. Souls here are very hungry for the gospel and young preachers are eager for help in their work.

Our journev from the U.S.A. to Nigeria was made by ship from New York to Southampton, England, then later from Liverpool, England, we came to Lagos. We made the trip without any real difficulty and with very, very little seasickness. We were bothered with only one storm. In England we appreciated a visit with faithful brethren, and I spoke a number of times. Brother Len Channing and family treated us royally at Aylesbury, and we were convinced that their work there is sound and fruitful. In New York we were treated in the finest of ways by the Richard Donleys, and while there I spoke a number of times at East Orange and Fair Lawn, New Jersev, and at White Plains, N.Y. Other churches need to imitate the good Castleberry church in Fort Worth, for they support three preachers in the N.Y. area, and many more are needed there. Millions of souls there demand the work of many preachers, and churches should grasp the opportunities that prevail, realizing that the work will indeed be hard but eventually fruitful.

With regard to my impressions of Nigeria I would suggest the following: (1) We need two or three more preachers immediately, or as soon as possible. If the western division, including the Lagos area, is to be opened up, men will be needed to go into it soon. Hundreds in that area now take Bible correspondence courses and Christians are known to reside in several places. Yet no real gospel work has been maintained in all of that area. Let us hear from you if you can come or if you can help send someone. (2) We need money to print tracts. These people grab tracts like a hungry child grabs a candy bar. We can print them here much cheaper than in the U.S.A. If you want to help, send us the money (check) (air mail is 25c) and your gifts will be acknowledged. (3) Pray for us that our health may continue to be good and that we may be wise for thiswork. Pray for the good Thomas Blvd. church in Port Arthur, Texas, which supports us here. We are very grateful to them and to Southside church in Odessa, Texas for the use of the house in which we live at present, and to all of you who helped provide funds for our travel to this land. God bless all of you.

Truth Magazine IV:1, pp. 12-13
October 1959