From Nigeria, No. 7
One year ago our first report from Nigeria was prepared. We had then been in this land only two weeks. Then it was a land of mystery to us, full of terrific challenges for gospel work. Today it is sometimes more mysterious and certainly more challenging, as we come to greater understanding of the opportunities and responsibilities. In the twelve months just ended, more than seven hundred fifty people have been baptized as a result of our work, and nine churches have been started. But we shudder to think of the potential that can be done and that we must do. Every town we drive through, and almost every busy section of the city into which we go, I say, "We must preach here some time." We know now that people will hear in every part of the nation. A year ago many Christians believed that the people of this Western Region would be much harder to convert, and some predicted that it would not be a fruitful work. Now we know that there is little difference in these tribes, and even the people from the North and the Mohammedans, also can be converted. Knowing that large audiences will listen in every place, and that many honest ones will obey, it is frightening to know that we must pass up most of the places because we are too few in number to take advantage of them.
For one year we preached night after night (as well as many, many times in the daytime) and yet, though this is a land where rainfall averages from 70 to 150 inches per year, we were rained out only three or four times. Many times it would rain just before or just after a meeting. Here in the Western Region we had the great handicap of having no Yoruba-language Christians to use as interpreters. We hired some men on different occasions. Two of them, E. 0. Abimbola, a secondary school teacher at Ibadan, and George Oginni, a contractor in the Lagos area, have been converted. This latter man was once a preacher in the Apostolic Church. Both men are becoming quite capable and will soon be able to preach to their people without our help. Both are very zealous and desire to go everywhere preaching.
We spent one night in Paradise. On a trip to Ibadan we found that our reservation for suitable quarters had been canceled. We searched the city and finally took a room in The Paradise Club. It turned out to be a den of iniquity. Nevertheless we had to spend one night there until other quarters were available. One denomination here is the Celestial Church of Christ. They invited me to come to them and speak. Alice and Roy went along one Sunday afternoon. When we arrived a fine group had gathered to hear, but before we were allowed to enter the building, we were asked to remove our shoes. I preached in my sock-feet for more than an hour! Later I returned and have been asked to continue studies with them. One man here claims to be Jesus Christ. He has been here since 1952 and still has a very small band of followers. They have three large buildings devoted to business enterprises and the small group seems to be fully convinced that this is indeed the Lord.
We give away thousands of tracts, yet in the whole year I have seen only three places where even one was thrown away or deliberately torn. Even in those three places it was only one or two rowdy boys who did so. Most everyone will clutch the tracts as precious possessions. Many, many times when we go again to the same place, after a few days or even after weeks, we see signs of the tracts in the pockets of people, or they produce one and ask a question about it. Last Sunday the church assembled for the first time for morning worship at Abeokuta. Twenty-two were present. Fourteen have now been baptized there. Before we dismissed Sunday morning, one older man stood up and said that he had heard us speak some weeks ago and had taken tracts. He read them and examined the Bible with them. Then he had prayed, "Lord send us the pure truth." He had been in two denominations previously, but is now happy in Christ. The Congo troubles have caused deep concern here. We look forward with concern to October I when Nigeria becomes independent, and we pray for peace. Pray for us and for this nation.
We are always grateful for the magnificent cooperation we receive from Christians and churches in America. We thank all who have helped and will help the Sewell Hall family. They are due to arrive here in mid-September. This is a major step in progress here (We surely hope another family or two will plan NOW to come in the next few months).
Since last report from us, the following help for this work has been received: James Finney, for auto expenses, $100; for other work: Aurora, Illinois, church $64; Antioch church, Charlotte, Tenn., $90; Temple Terrace, Fla., church, $85; Oak Grove church, Cuba, Mo., $25; Alma Spencer, Salem, Mo., $5; Roberta Grigsby, Paris, Texas, $10; Mr. and Mrs. 0. M. Spleth, LaGrange, Ill., $75; Mr. & Mrs. Jack Duncan, St. Charles, Mo., $25; Total for two months, $379.00. Expenditures were as follows: Rent (native preacher's assistance) $8.40; Expenses, preaching trips to lbadan & Abeokuta, June, $38.22; July, $67.20 (two trips); first of August trip, $53.20; Interpreters (Lagos, Abeokuta & Ibadan) and transportation costs for Ibadan baptisms, $113.57; Tilly Lantern for Lagos work, $9.47; Lantern repairs, letter printing (for letters to neglectful members), Phone calls to Ibadan and Abeokuta, mailing equipment, stamps, $15.82; 100 English song books, $25.00; Travel costs, for two native preachers to Sapele for preaching trip, $43.26 in July, $28.00 in Aug.; $28.00 deposit on printing of 1000 hymn books in Yoruba language ($75.60 due on deliver in Sept.) ; Total $430.13. Balance remaining: $207.47. We have ordered 20,000 more Yoruba tracts which will take $63.00, plus the $75.60 due on song books when delivered, so you see the balance will be small.
We continue to give thanks to the Thomas Blvd. church for their full support of us here,
as, well as to churches in Aurora, Ill., Plainfield, Ind., Kenosha, Wis., Grand Prairie, Texas, and Paris, Texas, for their support of our native co-workers in this region.
Usually questions in the street meetings are about the same night after night, but two new ones were recently offered; (1) "Since the Bible says, 'If you have ten wives, take them all to church,' what of that?" (2) "How can you say Christianity is not spread by war when the Bible says, 'If you don't have a sword, buy one'?" These churches in these large cities are now growing to the point that they need their own buildings. This is a difficult problem, for land is expensive according to African standards. If we can get land, we believe we can get buildings. We are beginning to plan and work on this in one or two places. The last two months have been among the most fruitful, with 153 baptisms and with many more in attendance at worship assemblies. Widespread unemployment keeps contributions very low and the very low economy of those who do work also hinders the church work.
We are scheduled to sail for America next July 4, and should arrive in America in early August, 1961. I hope to spend the first year entirely in meetings. The following meetings are already scheduled for the fall of 1961: Plainfield, Indiana; Valley Station, Ky.; Thomas Blvd., Port Arthur, Texas; Crawfordsville, Ind.; Grand Avenue, Chicago; West Washington, Indianapolis. For the spring and summer of 1962, the following are already scheduled: East Orange, New Jersey; Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; Fair Lawn, New Jersey; Centralia, Missouri. If other churches desire my services they should write me (air mail 25c) soon: P.M.B., 1080, Apapa, Lagos,, Nigeria. I need several more meetings to fill the time and desire to book them now so as to eliminate uncertainties in our last months here.
Truth Magazine V:1; pp. 8-9