By Leslie Diestelkamp
This report must necessarily be brief, yet comprehensive and informative. I shall therefore divide it into various subheadings as follows:
Brother Jim Sasser, of Rogersville, Ala. 37857 (Rt. 3, Box 3) and I made the trip to Nigeria together. Jim is an ideal travel companion and made the frustrating experiences of such long trips pleasant. He and I “speak the same thing” (I Cor. 1:10) and made the same appeal to the Nigerians everywhere.
We traveled by Pan Am from New York to Lagos and back. Inside Nigeria we drove a Volkswagon Passet rented car nearly 4,000 miles. A few roads are much improved there and quite good, but most roads were very, very bad and a few were almost impossible. Lodging conditions have improved very much there, and we were able to have air-conditioned quarters most of the time.
When I went to Nigeria the first time in 1959 1 was 47 and the oldest American preacher who had gone. Now I am 62 and I know some friends were apprehensive. But I fared real well. I was not sick at all, though I did have a very small amount of diarrhea the first two weeks. I missed no preaching appointments, though, and lost only 10 pounds (result of heat and diet). Jim did quite well also with only slightly more stomach trouble.
It had been six years since I left Nigeria the last time and I found at least the following changes: (1) City traffic has become almost impossible. There must be at least four times as many cars as we formerly had and the degree of irresponsibility of the drivers, especially the multitude of Taxi drivers, is much worse. It is a nightmare to try to drive there. (2) The cost of living has risen many times until it is almost impossible. A car that costs $3,000.00 here in America will cost $5,000.00 there. Other things are comparable. (3) The country is at peace and the people seem just as friendly as ever. There is more prosperity, but at the same time much inflation, so the people are no better off, and sometimes worse.
We are encouraged with the condition of the churches. There are indeed some trouble spots, where divisiveness prevails among brethren who should be in agreement, there is some small amount of promotion of human institutions by a few Nigerians bent on building schools, etc. and there is an ever-present weakness in that the churches are slow to take up support of their preachers. However, even in this last item there is vast improvement in some places, and everywhere there is a mood to go forward in good work and to continue in all scriptural action. Error is resisted with zeal and such teaching is well-received by the Christians. There are plenty of strong Nigerian preachers who know truth and uphold it vigorously. They will not be quickly led astray.
Jim and I preached about 140 sermons in about 90 congregations in seven states, involving us in about 4,000 miles of travel. Everywhere we appealed for peace and purity and with few exceptions were heartily received. We seldom preached on first principles but concentrated on strengthening the weak and encouraging the strong. In spite of this type of preaching, perhaps 15 or 20 were baptized But everywhere the Christians expressed desired that we return.
At least five Nigerian preachers are conducting training classes for the young preachers and are doing excellent work in this regard. There were many appeals for help for native preachers-many of whom work faithfully with no support at all at present. If any readers want to help such men, get in touch with Brother Sasser or me and we can give names and addresses.
As one would expect, there are a few fakes and a few men trying to get money under false pretense. Any Americans who consider helping any Nigerian should first of all receive proper recommendation from some reliable source. There are many, many reliable men whom you can contact. I also will be glad to help in any way possible.
Truth Magazine, XVIII:36, p. 9-10
July 18, 1974