Report From Nigeria, No. 8
The dawn came bright and clear on September 19, and shortly thereafter five native Christians, my family, and I stood on the wharf and waved joyfully to the little group of passengers who were standing on deck of the incoming "African Dawn," a freighter from New York. For weeks we had anticipated the coming of the Sewell Hall family, the companionship and cooperation of this family in these weeks since they arrived has been rewarding indeed. This is their second trip into Africa, the first having been two years spent in the "bush" in Eastern Nigeria, Now they join us in the gospel work here in the big cities of the Western Region, more than five hundred miles from the former place of work. Their former experience will he a very valuable asset, and brother Hall's unmistakable ability and soundness in that faith will assure a great work. In the few remaining months that we will be here, we fully expect a very fruitful work in cooperation with these people.
In the last few days we have had more news that thrills us and that we want to share with our readers. Brother Aude McKee, now of 341 Southmore St., Plainfield, Indiana, has agreed to come to replace us in 1961. This is a great relief to us, for there is such a great need for someone to, continue to work with brother Hall in strengthening these churches and edifying the new converts, as well as in going on with more and more work among the unsaved. It would indeed be a shame and a grave mistake to lead so many to salvation from past sins, and then desert them to allow Satan every advantage over them. They do not have many well-grounded people, as is usually true in new churches in America, but almost everyone is a completely new convert. Some are growing significantly, but all must be nurtured much.
Brother McKee is an ideal man, I believe, for this work. He is a Bible preacher. He tells the people what the Bible says, and where it says it, which is exactly what it takes to convince these people. Brother McKee is forty years old, experienced, capable and devoted. He has a wife and four sons who will accompany him here. He will be supported here by Thomas Blvd. church in Port Arthur, Texas, the same people who have supported us here and have also supported two others before us in the East. However, Brother McKee will need much travel fund and some monthly contributions to enable him to do this work. I hope Christians everywhere and churches also will immediately plan to help him. Write him and have him visit your community, or tell him NOW how much you will give him and when he can expect it. Why not save up a substantial sum and donate to this work, or send him a liberal amount each month? Your dollars will probably bear no greater fruit anywhere in the world. Brother McKee will need to raise nine thousand dollars or more. This is indeed a large sum. However, remember, when his travel fund, his salary and other expense money is all added together, it is not significantly more for two years than is spent by many, many churches right there in America for the total cost of maintaining a preacher at HOME. Remember, further, that brother McKee will do more preaching in two years here than the average American Gospel preacher does in five years, and he may baptize more people in two years than many preachers baptize in a lifetime.
The whole world looks to Africa today as a new beach-head, where modern civilization will make an almost new start. Indeed Christians need to look to Africa also and be sure that we do not fail to accompany that civilizing influence with the powerful gospel of Christ. If Africa is dominated by the Moharnmedans and Catholics (who are both powerful here) then the world has much to dread from Africa. But if Africa can be won in significant numbers, to pure faith in Christ, then the future will be brighter for the whole world. Please do not put this appeal aside carelessly. Do your part today to help the cause of Christ to continue to grow in number and in purity in this fruitful place. Brethren who believe in the all-sufficiency of the church to do the work God gave it to do, and who appreciate a work that consists of nothing but preaching and teaching the Bible to multitudes of hearers will surely rally to help brother McKee secure the needed money. We are building no schools here, we are not establishing "mission stations" and we are depending entirely upon th-- power of the gospel to convert souls. Brother McKee agrees with this principle and determines to continue this kind of work. Brethren who also agree with this plan of work have been very liberal in helping brother Hall and me, and we appeal to all of you to fail not to send these other good people.
On October 1, 1960 this nation became independent. It was a gala day here. This congested, dirty city had been cleaned, painted and well prepared for the great event. So far all is well. Peace has prevailed, for which we are very thankful. Now we set ourselves more resolutely to the task of bringing freedom from guilt to the multitudes.
Nigeria is a land of great contrasts. A few natives are very wealthy. Some live in moderate circumstances. The vast majority live in utter poverty. In the "bush" (rural area) many men work hard, for long hours, for $5.60 per month or a little more. On this they must maintain their families. Many, many have no remunerative work at all. Recently we had a report from one of the churches .1 helped start while we lived in the "bush." On a particular Sunday there were two hundred ten people present, and the contribution was two shillings and five pence (330). Of course this is partly because they have not yet learned to sacrifice, but also because so many of them -indeed almost all of them-are so very, very poor. It is easy to criticize the small contributions, but it would probably be hard for us to duplicate it if we had to live under their circumstances. BUT THEIR SOULS THE JUST AS PRECIOUS AS OURS. Furtherfore, some day this will not be a poverty stricken land, and then, if not sooner, they will be willing and able to send the gospel everywhere in Africa and perhaps to all the world.
We are very grateful for the cooperation of brethren and churches in America in this work. Since last report the following is an account of funds: Balance at time of last report-$207.47; Received: Antioch church, Charlotte, Tenn., $90.00; Aurora church, Aurora, Ill., $64.00; Frank Coleman, Hendersonville, N.C., $25.00; Mrs. Eunice Morris, Washington, D.C., $25.00; Mr. & Mrs. Harry Pickup, Tampa, Fla., $75.00; Total: $486.47. Expenditures: Solomon Etuk, lbadan preacher, $30.00, to finish his support for Aug., Sept., Oct. (remainder of his support is from brethren in Grand Prairie, Texas) ; for interpreters at lbadan, Abeokuta & Lagos, and for expenses for preachers on trips to lbadan and Abeokuta, and for a few mailing supplies -$212.08 ; for 35,000 tracts, $105.00; For portable bed for preaching trips-$199.60; for major car expenses (tires, brakes, spring, etc.) above regular costs-$98.03. Total: $464.71. Balance in fund-$21.76. In addition to the above Grand Avenue church in Chicago sent $50.00 worth of new books to be given to preachers and others here, and James Finney, Fair Lawn, N.J., sent $100.00 for regular car expenses. Again I must say that we could not have done such a significant work without your cooperation. Those who have sent money through the months can be assured we have tricd to use it wisely to enable us to reach the most people with the truth. Since last report 103 have been baptized, bringing the total above 850 since we came to Nigeria. You brethren have had a major part in this work. We are grateful and we believe the Lord is pleased. We are confident that many Nigerians will be forever thankful to you also. (Note: In last report I mentioned that I had ordered 1,000 song books in the native language, but since my funds are low, brother Hall has kindly consented to pay for those from his funds). Brother Frank Hudgins, Gainesville, Ga., has sent some good charts for our work. They will be useful to any of us here in presenting truth to the people, and we are very thankful for them.
One week-end I went, with an interpreter, to Aheokuta, 63 miles north-west. After preaching several times, we started home about 9 p.m. Sunday. But fifty miles from home the brakes suddenly "went out" on the pick-up. That left us on a relatively strange road, with congested areas to pass through, and no brakes. We made a temporary repair, but were only able to save the brakes for an emergency! All the natives advised against driving to Abeokuta on the Sunday during Independence celebrations. I asked the new converts at Abeokuta what they would do. One of them quick said, "We will go to the place and sing and pray and read the Bible." I showed them that they could also take communion and give (for they have to be taught that Christians can do this without a preachers's help). Anyway I rejoiced at their faith and willingness to try to do, what they can after such little teaching. After two nights in the Abeokuta Rest House (similar to a motel) I found my body covered with bites. No, not mosquitoes. Bed Bugs!
Before we left America, some dear friends gave me a small brief case in which to carry my Dickson Analytical Bible here in rainy Nigeria. Night after night I used it here. The Bible was well marked, and so useful in the question periods. Then one night while one of the native preachers was speaking, my brief case with the Bible was stolen. Now I use a small 70c Bible so that it won't tempt people to steal it.
Some time ago brethren Broom, Hall and some native preachers made a trip or two into Ghana, west of Nigeria. One native was converted. Now he, brother Gaidoo, reports 48 baptisms. Brother Hall will soon visit there again to help him. Look on your map of Africa. In all of the western bulge, only that small group in Ghana have fully obeyed the truth, except the thousands here in Nigeria. We must not rest from labors here. This must be a means of reaching the millions of other nations in this vast field. No doubt all of those people would be equally receptive. "The harvest is great but the laborers are few."
(Note: Please read the article about NIGERIA in the Oct. 10, 1960, issue of TIME magazine. It is well written, accurately descriptive and truly shows the potential of this nation as a leader in Africa. Christians who read it will understand better the opportunities gospel preachers have here.)
Truth Magazine, V:2, pp. 21-23