Report From Nigeria, No. 9

Leslie Diestelkamp
Lagos, Nigeria

"Was Jesus really the Son of God or just the servant of God?" If Jesus is said to be the son of God because he had no human father, then what of Melchisedec, who was "without father, with mother" (Heb. 7:3)? These and many others were the questions asked when we were preaching in the streets of Lagos one night. When I did not "satisfy" the questioner (that is, did not give the answer that pleased him) he challenged me to meet their Moslem (Mohammedan) "Prophet" in debate. It was quickly arranged and we have subsequently held four debates in the streets of Lagos. Each debate is for two or three hours, without chairman or moderator. He has affirmed that "The Koran is more authentic than the Bible" and that "Mohammed is the true and last prophet of God and was promised by Jesus Christ." I have denied those two, and have affirmed that "The Bible is the complete will of God for man today" and that "Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God." From three hundred to six hundred have heard each time and a big majority in. each crowd are Moslems. Perfect order has prevailed, and not a cross word has been said. Yet it is a queer experience to be surrounded by hundreds of natives, almost all of whom are completely opposed to what I am teaching. It has been a great opportunity to preach Christ to the multitudes of unbelievers, and it has been a very thrilling experience for me to do so. The Moslem religion is growing rapidly here, perhaps mostly because the denominations do not take a significant stand against it.

Fruitful Works

In October, I drove 375 miles east to the Sapele-Warri area. The few Christian there had been begging me to come and help them some. One group that had been meeting but had not been taking communion was encouraged to be more faithful. Some of the other groups were encouraged and one new church was begun in Warri, one of the major cities of that part. Thirty-two were baptized on the trip. Since then brother Sewell Hall has started a new group in Ikorodu, a town fifteen miles out of Lagos. This makes a total of eleven churches in the Western Region, with from 300 to 350 in regular attendance. Eighteen months ago there were two or three churches and perhaps 40 or 50 people meeting. Yet we have not begun to fight. In going to Sapele-Warri area, I had to pass through five cities as large as those to which I was going besides dozens of towns. Everywhere multitudes would have gladly heard if I could have stopped to preach. Almost everywhere many would obey if they could just hear.

Last February, Otobo, a man from eastern Nigeria who was working here in Apapa, heard us preaching in the streets, and believed and was baptized. Then he began to communicate with his brother, Johnson, who was an Anglican preacher in the home region, about 500 miles away. Late in October, Johnson came here for a visit. He had 2 or 3 private talks with us, heard one sermon, and was baptized. He then was in the worship assembly one time, and went back home. There he gathered some of his neighbors and taught them the truth he had just learned. To date sixty-nine have been baptized there and others seem almost persuaded.

Two years ago the gospel in purity was taken to Ghana by Wendell Broom, Sewell Hall and a few native preachers from Nigeria. One man, John Gaidoo, was baptized. He had been a Salvation Army preacher for many, many years. Later he came to Nigeria for some study with Christians. For the last year he has been preaching in Ghana, and about 50 have been baptized, and five small groups assemble faithfully. Brother Hall will soon go there for a couple of weeks to help some more.

Training Classes

Evidently one of the most important works we have attempted is the series of classes now in progress in my home. Fifteen or more men are meeting here each day, studying intently for many hours together. They have come from all of the Western Region; one is from Ghana (brother Gaidoo) and one from the Eastern Region (brother Johnson). Four or more languages are represented though they all speak English also. This is an effort to edify them for greater usefulness in their work in their home communities. We have no school organization, no diplomas. We are just Christians trying to follow Paul's instructions in 2nd Timothy 2:2. We plan other such classes, perhaps to be conducted at night in the local meeting places of each church, arranged for the benefit of those who cannot attend this day-time series.

About Our Helpers

Thomas Blvd. church, Port Arthur, Texas, continues to support me here, and we give thanks for their kind assistance. James Finney, of Fair Lawn, N. J. sends, $50.00 per month to help with automobile expenses. We are grateful for this arrangement, also. The following is an account of other help received and uses made: Received since last report: Antioch church, Charlotte, Tenn., $90.00; Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Mielke, Windsor, Wisconsin, $10.00; Mr. and Mrs. Lloyd Barker, Hillsboro, Ohio, $10.00; Mrs. Carrie Martin, Madison, Illinois, $5.00; Total: $115.00 received. Balance from last report: $21.76. Total $136.76. Expenditures: Tracts-$3.50; Sapele-Warri trip-$163.74; Assistance to brethren in starting Warri church (rent, etc.) $43.82; Pick-up wheel, tube $7.91; Interpreters and expenses for native preachers on week-end trips, etc. Oct-Nov.-$103.32; total-$323.29. Deficit$186.53. We appreciate every gift very much, not because it helps us personally, but because it becomes a tool in our hands to bring truth to many, many people.

In my last report, printed in TRUTH Magazine, I was reported to have spent $199.60 for a portable bed. This should have read $19.60. The former would have been slightly expensive.

Items of Interest

Brother Aude McKee, 341 Southmore, Plainfield, Indiana, is now receiving funds to enable him and his family, to come to Nigeria next summer to replace me here. He needs the cooperation of faithful brethren who are eager to help in a fruitful work that is conducted in altogether scriptural ways. Lamar Ave. church, Paris, Texas, sent a used mimeograph machine to be used in the work here. It will be useful for years to come.

In the debate mentioned earlier in this report, one strange argument the Moslem made was that since "without shedding of blood there is no remission," the many wars waged by the Moslems were justified and it is not wrong to kill. When it came my turn to speak I naturally replied rather strongly, and I criticized sharply the Koran for teaching that it is right to kill the opponents of Mohammen. About that time someone exploded a fire-cracker just a few rods away. I jumped! It was an amusing coincidence' When it was concluded and we drove slowly through the crowd of six hundred natives, almost everyone waved a friendly farewell and one man nearby said to me as I passed, "You go well. They did not beat you! He meant that it was clear that I had not been harmed, and evidently he wanted me to take note of this, which I gladly and happily did. Every week we still baptize some. We are trying to put more emphasis upon conviction, and are almost discouraging baptism sometimes, in order to try to be more certain that the people understand. Many, many converts have become very strong and faithful Christians in this last year here in the big cities of Nigeria. We hope the future years will produce even greater strength. One of our great problems here, as in all large cities, is securing buildings, and even procedures to get lots are very complicated and expensive. Two or three churches, are now working hard to try to get locations (so far all meet in rented quarters, and many times these are very, very noisy and sometimes filthy).

We pray that the new Year will be a real time of peace and joy for all of you, and for Christians everywhere. Pray with us that we may all be able to utilize the time to save many more souls and strengthen many more Christians.

Truth Magazine, V:5, pp. 15-17
February 1961