Nigeria Mission History

Nigeria mission history

In the early 1960’s, Bro. Lawrence Pruitt began communicating with Bro. B. U. Etuk, a native minister in Nigeria, who was open and receptive to the gospel. Bro. Etuk was very desirous of a missionary to come and teach them.

David MaddenIn response to the call, Bro. David Madden flew to Nigeria on March 22, 1964. He went for the purpose of acquainting himself with the Nigerian Church of God. He found the people, although ignorant of much truth, receptive to the doctrines of the Church of God. He writes: “They question me much about our services and the doctrines we teach. I always refer them to texts of the Bible. Where they are not teaching the same as we, they immediately say, we will teach the truth.” He returned home on April 12 reporting of the ‘bright prospects for future expansion.’ Shortly following his homecoming, Bro. David passed away with malaria on April 28.

Ostis WilsonOpal WilsonBro. Ostis and Sis Opal Wilson resigned the pastorship at Pacoima, CA with a burden to carry on with the work in Nigeria. They left on July 15, 1964 by boat and arrived at Port Harcourt, Nigeria on August 12. The Wilsons labored primarily in the village of Asana, Akwa Ibom State. Bro. Etuk wrote of the Wilson’s: “Bro. and Sister Wilson have already won the confidence of all the congregations and their presence is helping a lot to spread the Gospel–the purpose for which they came.” After a short illness, Sis. Opal passed away with pneumonia on September 24. Bro. Ostis returned home on August 2. He began sending Bible lessons to Nigeria on a monthly basis. A high price had been paid in the year of 1964 with the passing of two missionaries. Bro. Ostis wrote after the passing of Sis. Opal: “…let us all dig a little deeper and consecrate a little more and sacrifice a little greater for Jesus’ sake and for the work of God.”

Cecil CarverMay CarverBro. and Sis. Cecil Carver flew to Nigeria and arrived on September 19, 1965. They stayed in Nigeria working with the Church until their 28-day visa expired. As with other missionaries, they had many experiences while laboring in that far off land. At this time, there were a number of native ministers that were being supported by the Church of God in the United States. Bro. and Sis. Carver reported that they found many honest and sincere souls. At the same time, they acknowledged that the people were young in the faith and the Carvers were interested in seeing some changes made in the operation of the congregations in Nigeria as time progressed.

In 1970, a Nigerian minister, Bro. J.U. Etuk, wrote: “The Church in America really has a moral and spiritual duty to give an untiring “mighty push” to young congregations in Nigeria. There should be no holding back whatever…. We may be right in principle but wrong in practice, if we have nobody to direct.” The reality of this statement has proven itself many times over in various missionary efforts.

Tom MelotBro. Tom Melot left home on January 3, 1975 and flew to Nigeria to labor with the native ministers for approximately six weeks. He visited 24 congregations in three states. Bro. Tom taught more about the operation of the New Testament Church. He wrote “…not everyone is hungry for the truth.” Bro. Tom met some wonderful saints in Midwest State where Bro. Titus Enu was pastoring. He also found fellowship with saints in Tombia and Port Harcourt.

Bro. Melot’s trip marked a change in the direction of support that was going to Nigeria. Bro. Wayne Murphey wrote concerning this event: “In 1975, due to discord on the question of polygamy and other spiritual matters, the main focus and support of the saints shifted from Asana and more to Kwale, the congregation over which the late Bro. Titus Enu had the oversight.”

Bro. Titus Enu traveled to the United States in 1976. He spent a number of weeks during the summer attending various campmeetings throughout the U.S. and becoming more acquainted with the saints in America.

On December 18, 1979, Bro. Jefferson Pierro, along with his wife and daughter of California, arrived in Lagos, Nigeria. They were responding to an open invitation for saints to come and visit. The Pierros spent time with Bro. Titus Enu traveling around to various meetings and congregations.

Bro. Robert Eckenwiler of Kansas, flew to Nigeria and was with the saints from Novermber 6, 1980 until around January 16, 1981. Due to a lack of information, not much can be written about this trip. Bro. Robert did spend time with Bro. Enu and witnessed much good being accomplished.

Bros. Jefferson, David, Jonathan, and Joseph Pierro went to Nigeria on November 22, 1983 and returned home on December 28, 1983. Once again, they spent time with Bro. Enu and made several trips to meet and worship with various congregations. They proved to be an encouragement to the native saints.

Bro. Anieite Essien contacted Bro. Wayne Murphey in 1999 requesting the saints to resume their efforts in Asana. Bro. Essien had been a young boy during the early missionary efforts in Nigeria. Although a member of the Assembly of God church, Bro. Essien was desirous of the saints to come and help restore the truth in his native village of Asana.

Michael SmithIn response to this call, Bro. Michael Smith flew to Nigeria on December 8, 2000 after a six-week missionary trip to Ghana with his family. He traveled with Bro. Essien and visited the Church of God congregations in Lagos, Kwale, Port Harcourt, and Tombia. He found fellowship in some of these places and then continued on with Bro. Essien to attend a four-day convention in Asana. Many congregations from the surrounding area were in attendance. There were hundreds of people that attended the meeting and Bro. Michael found many honest souls. He had the opportunity to visit 13 of the congregations in the local area. He arrived home on December 23.

Bro. Michael was thankful to have made the acquaintance of Bro. F. Naths-Igbanibo who is the pastor of the Port Harcourt congregation. Bro. Naths-Igbanibo, as well as some other ministers he met, seem to be rooted and grounded in truth. Unfortunately, Bro. Michael found that an exalted spirit had overtaken some of the ministry that had previously been supported by the saints. With the exalted spirit, came a compromising attitude on some doctrinal points. Thankfully, there are still ministers and congregations in Nigeria that are living the truth and worthy of support.

Bro. Michael flew to Ghana on November 29, 2001 and following a stay there, he proceeded to go on to Nigeria. He spent most of his time laboring in the Asana area. Bro. Michael conducted a three-day ministers’ meeting with the gospel workers. There was a large group in attendance and much doctrinal truth was taught. Following, there was a four-day convention. Over a hundred people sought the Lord for salvation in this meeting. Bro. Michael returned home on December 25.

Annually there is a meeting that is being held by the established Church of God congregations in late December. Unfortunately at this time, that meeting is being held at the same time as the Asana convention. It seems that it would be optimal if the brethren could work together from these different areas since the door is opened in Asana. I don’t know how long that door will remain open, and the saints need to pray that the truth would go forth in power carried by humble ministers. It has been the pattern throughout church history, and nothing has changed, that many times it is the leadership that hinders the working of the Spirit. How imperative it is that ministers are humble servants of the Lord–living blameless lives before God and man.

In the latter part of 2004, enough funds were saved to purchase a vehicle for the use of the evangelistic work in Nigeria. Bro. Michael placed the vehicle in the charge of Bro. Naths-Igbanibo of the Port Harcourt congregation.

The fields are white and ready to harvest in Nigeria. As in the United States, there is a ‘spirit of religion’ that permeates the Nigerian society. May God work and bring about true unity of spirit and faith among all honest seeking souls.

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