By Karl Diestelkamp
“How was your trip to Nigeria?” I respond, “Terrific!” Twenty-eight days packed to the gills with preaching, teaching, answering Bible questions, talking and traveling in seven different Nigerian states, and meeting with hundreds of brethren and scores of faithful gospel preachers — what more could a preacher ask for?
It was my privilege to travel with my father, Leslie, and to work closely with him for four full weeks-a first for both of us in my thirty years of preaching. All who know him know of his great love for Nigeria and everywhere we went it was obvious that he is deeply loved and “esteemed very highly for his work’s sake.” Nearly everywhere we went someone would say, “I was baptized in 1959 (or some other date) when you were preaching on the street in _________,” or, “I was in your Bible training course in Lagos in 19___,” etc. Many stated that it was Leslie Diestelkamp who had brought the gospel to the western and midwestern regions of Nigeria. Others commented that he was the one who taught them to make the proper applications of Bible authority in the work and organization of the church. We thank God that seed sown has brought forth so much good fruit.
We determined to encourage, uplift and strengthen brethren and warn concerning various false doctrines. The excellent reception, for the most part, of our teaching and the strong support given brought added joy. In warning of the evils of “social drinking, ” it was encouraging to find widespread opposition to the practice. The few who “raised questions” on the subject made no substantial defense. We handed out nearly 500 tracts on “Social Drinking” that I had prepared especially for the trip.
We warned about the “Crossroads heresy” and the promise of some to take it to Nigeria in 1986, again distributing booklets documenting the dangers. There were numerous questions relating to premillennialism and one face-to-face confrontation with one false teacher on this topic. His carnal outburst was enough to demonstrate the futility of his position. We taught on the need for Bible authority in the work and organization of the church, showing the unscripturalness of “sponsoring churches” and church support of human institutions such as Nigerian Christian College and Nigerian Christian Hospital. At this point we also exposed World Bible School (WBS) which is simply an American devised missionary society by another name. Yet, WBS “team members” visiting Nigeria do not tell Nigerians what WBS really is. Unscriptural activity in Nigeria (like in America) is far from dead, manifesting itself in institutionalism, the social gospel, and inter-congregational combines.
Another false doctrine exposed was the contention of a few that the only d4scriptural time” to observe the Lord’s supper is in the evening on the first day of the week.
I was greatly impressed with: the strength of so many, laboring so diligently, under conditions we would consider great handicaps; the large number of faithful preachers many of whom are struggling to support themselves (some of the strongest, most able and experienced preachers, in some of the most difficult places, facing some of the greatest opposition, must “make tents” in order to supplement or provide support for their families); the many zealous “young” preachers who are going everywhere preaching the word; the great number of faithful women and the presence of so many children in most assemblies; the increased number of churches able to partially or fully support their own preachers and some even supporting others elsewhere; the enthusiasm Nigerian Christians have for the work, and the worship of God; and last but not least, their determination to plant the gospel seed in new areas of the country and the establishment of new churches. The future looks good!
Starvation conditions found in other parts of Africa have not reached Nigeria, but there is stiff much hardship and deep poverty, and the drought is hurting some food production and supplies. Inflation is seen in every aspect of Nigerian life and though there is visibly more money, it buys less. There has been improvement in major roads, but small roads and city side streets are worse than ten years ago. City traffic is indescribable. More churches have secured their own meeting places, yet some are still forced to meet in cramped quarters and poor locations. Song books are needed in many places. Numerous preachers and teachers are in need of selected basic study materials, books and literature, but can not buy them since there is no way to exchange their, Nira for Dollars.
I am thankful to have had the opportunity to preach again in Nigeria and trust that only good, and no harm at all, will result. I thank those here in the U.S. who made my participation possible and thank God that we are both back safe and well, and that we found our loved ones well at home.
Guardian of Truth XXIX: 11, p. 335
June 6, 1985