BY ALLEN OLATUNDE
Baptist missions in Nigeria had been on the road of development since the pioneering work of Thomas Jefferson Bowen of 1850 which however keeping growing from era to era by diverse leadership who drove the vision for decades. Nigerian Baptist was born as a result of Baptist Missions and the growth gives birth to a lot of developed and highly intellectual foreigners and nationals to prolong the vision and mission of reaching the unreached with the gospel. Adedoyin documents the appointment that was made during the convention in session. A Promotion Secretary was appointed and a Home and Foreign Mission Board was inaugurated and a missionary, Rev. John Mills was the first secretary of the Mission’s Department. He was succeeded by the Rev. W. N. Claxon. After Claxon, Rev. Dr. Paul Ehbomielen, a national, took over the leadership of the department. His successor, Rev. E. A. Udoh is the incumbent director of the department. Adedoyin further writes the testimony of Cecil Roberson on the progress of the board as at that time that Home Missions Fields in the country and the Foreign Mission Fields in Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast bear testimony to the work of this department in the period covered by this history (38-39). This paper shall be limited majorly to the leadership, strategy, progressive historical work and achievements of Nigerian Baptist mission from the date of creation of Home and Foreign Missions Board of 1953 in Annual Convention held at Jos till the era of E. A. Udoh.
IN THE BEGINNING (1850 – 1914)
The Southern Baptist Convention was organized in 1845 as a missionary Convention “to promote Foreign and Domestic Missions and other important objects connected with the Redeemer’s kingdom….” This vision prompted the Convention to make up with the assignment of the Lord by training and sending able missionaries across other continents with full support and funding (Hill 25). However, Thomas Jefferson Bowen, was sent to pioneer Baptist work in Nigeria and to plant churches with indigenous self-governing congregation. He came alone without anyone to receive him yet he worked among the natives smoothly, learnt the language and promoted good grammar, assisted in making peace during war, and later founded Baptist work in Ijaiye, Lagos and Ogbomoso (Bowen 120-121).
The Mission was reinforced by the arrival of Mr. and Mrs. Phillips of Georgia, and Mr. Beaumont of Alabama who went to Ogbomoso. In 1857 there arrived on the field with their wives Messrs. S. Y. Trimble, J. H. Cason and R. W. Priest. Mr. Clark, also about this time, while in Ogbomoso, baptized Mr. J. C. Vaughan, but he himself was soon compelled to retire from the field. Also in 1857 Rev. J. H. and Mrs. Cason and Rev. J. T. Beaumont retired, while Rev, S. Trimble and Rev. R. W. Priest with their wives remained only two years longer (Clark 73). In 1874, Rev. W. J. David was appointed a missionary to Nigeria with Rev. W. W. Colley a black minister. David visited mission stations in Lagos, Abeokuta, and Ogbomoso.
In 1875 the number of native workers and missionaries were 16. David led a group of fifty-two baptized members to organize the First Baptist Church in Lagos (Southern Baptist Convention Annual, 1876). On January 25, 1877, Moses L. Stone, one of the native workers, began to serve as the pastor of Ogbomoso station. Colley left Lagos church, resigned his appointment with SBC and led the black churches to form the National Baptist Convention. In 1881 the Foreign Mission Board commissioned Mr. and Mrs. Eubank, Mr. and Mrs. Harvey, S. M. Cook and C. E. Smith. David opened Baptist Academy in Lagos with Mrs. Sarah Harden in 1886. Disagreement between David and Stone led the native, Ladejo Stone to withdraw his membership from First Baptist Church Lagos and SBC to start another church, Ebenezer Baptist Church, not far from the first one (Southern Baptist Missionary Journal, 1889). In 1894, Mojola Agbebi assumed the pastorate of Ebenezer Baptist Church. He started Independent Group to evangelize fellow Africans (Olayode 1985).
Educational Department of the Southern Baptist Convention notes that the Abeokuta Baptist enjoyed the ministry of Rev. & Mrs. W. T. Lumbley while Mr. C. E. Smith directed work in Ogbomoso. Under Smith’s leadership, in 1897, he established the Theological Training School which served as a training school for the native workers, mainly teachers and preachers (29). In the same Ogbomoso, Dr. George Green opened the First Baptist Medical Center in the basement of his house in 1907. Three years later, Dr. Lockett brought his skill as a surgeon and later established “the Camp of Hope” for treating leprosy. 1920, Miss Ruth Kersey joined the hospital staff and later started her great work of mercy in establishing the “home for the motherless children.” Finally in 1912, A. Scott Paterson opened the Baptist Academy at Ogbomoso but later moved to Iwo as a teachers’ college in 1939 (Patterson 50).
PROGRESSIVE HISTORICAL REPORTS OF NBC MISSIONS (1953 – 1993)
It was duly noted by John E. Mills, the first foreigner to head Home and Foreign Missions Board that reports from churches and schools all over the convention territory unusual interest in the first Home and Foreign Missions week. The suggested programmes were followed with keen interest. Generous offerings were taken in many places. The widespread interest in this new work indicates a bright future for the mission work. The board started with a week of mission emphasis started formally in July 13-19, 1953, when sound motion picture films on the life of Jesus Christ and on stewardship were made available. The attempt was made to translate the films to Yoruba language by Mr. E. A. Tugbiyele who studied in America. The board made the projection gadgets available for use. The response of every Nigerian Baptist is interested (Mills 2, October 1953). John E. Mills reported that Evangelism should be done by the members in diaspora. He facilitated evangelism in the North through Rev. I. A. Adejunmobi, the convention Evangelist, who visited Northern Nigeria and reported good result from the church there. It was that June that the Board moved its base to Baptist Headquarter in Ibadan (Mills 3, October 1953). Due to the support of the system of Home and Foreign Missions Board, Mills stated that the Board is now making definite plans to begin its Home Mission work in January, 1954. Mills conducted services of revival in south western Nigeria, also embarked on social ministry through medical evangelism (Mills 2-3, November 1953). In December 1953, Rev. Ayo Bello was appointed as the first missionary of the Home and Foreign Missions Board of the convention beginning in January 1954 and served in Kafanchan to work among the Soso people of that area. This was the beginning of work (Mills 3, December 1953).
Book of reports of Nigerian Baptist Convention of 1959 through Mills reported that Rev. J. A. Ajani was also appointed field worker for the west. Mission work in Kafanchan got improved as Rev. R. A. Adegboye also joined the field. Mills reported that there was an increase from 10 more stations on 40 stations on ground, opening primary school and 15 different tribes or dialect preaching points in the land. Lawoyin, L. A. worked in Boriya field noted the progress in spirit of friendship and love among members. The field cared for school children, motherless babies, and also gave gifts of soap and clothes to people during Christmas period. Ishan mission field was opened in 1956 with alarming increase in attendance, the open air preaching in villages, and the visit of Baptist friends both African and American and a church building in Uromi. Baptist Hospital in Eku, gave more popularity and recognition to the work in Ishan (14-20). The mission work at this time made the converts committed, even giving all and be part of the work. Lawoyin reported in 1960 that the church at Boriya had begun to give cheerfully for the Lord’s work. However, the need for more workers was still higher in the era (14). Basically, mission in Ibadan continued with Hausa people living in Ibadan, they were Moslem. They reached them for conversion and in the process of migration back home they will influence their people to Christ (Malam Alkali 14).
Book of reports of 1961 states that most care for the outcast was done at the missionary’s house, especially Lawoyin in Batonu. Converts were encouraged to enter seminary. Kafanchan grew to have established up to 60 stations with erected buildings. However, the directive came from the board to move missionaries to Shendam for full concentration among the Ankwoi people. It was done due to confusion over responsibility and administration, the Ankwoi people were extremely needy, and the tribe of 50,000 pagans had had no evangelical work. Roman Catholics were the only Christians working in the area. Opening new station makes possible expansion of Baptist work into an area not yet reached with our message. It was also noted that Foreign Mission work in Sierra Leone was begun with Rev. & Mrs. I. O. Badejogbun and Rev. & Mrs. F. P. Boyo in Bumbuna which they sailed on 24 January, 1961 (27).
“Beginnings are never easy, but during the first year a solid foundation has been laid in which to build a lasting work”, E. Mills. Sierra Leone missionaries approached chiefs, people and other missionaries and with government authorities for the briefings. Church, schools and mission residence were the order of priority. However, people from Nigeria visited to encourage. Nevertheless, Home mission progressed among the Hausas in Ibadan with help of lay leaders. Ijaw field where Rev. & Mrs. H. C. Igwe served began operation in 1962. Igbe-Matoru was selected as the site of the first station. New converts on scholarship to seminary finished and returned to the field to serve. In Shendam, Adegboye reported the strategy of Adult Literacy classes began (Mills 19-20, Annual Book of Reports, 1962).
The growth of the work of the Home and Foreign Missions Board since its beginning had been exceptionally worthy. Ten years old work worth celebrated, W. Neville Claxon remarked. The southern Ijaw field which was the youngest then had made a good beginning though the wife of Rev. H. C. Igwe died soon after getting to the field; he had continued to carry on alone. During this era, the board projected a strategy of opening a Baptist Community Center in the Mokola area in Ibadan as “Pilot Project” to provide a spiritual, social and recreational ministry to a group of people from all parts of Nigeria in this area and not being definitely ministered to, however, limited funds disallowed the project to begin in 1962. In 1963, opportunities for expansion came for the Board into Dahomey as part of Foreign Mission and also had opportunity of receiving invitation to North Sierra Leone. Seminary students had volunteered to enter new areas such as Calabar, and other closed area, but the attempt awaited the Board response. There was a shift of office in which Claxon, W. Neville took position of secretary of the Board from J. E. Mills to return from furlough (Claxon 5-7, Annual Book of Reports, 1963). In 1964 it was reported that the Board indicated her willingness to go into Dahomey if and when funds are available. Also, the Community Center project was abandoned due to lack of fund and commitment (Mills 20-22, Annual Book of Reports, 1964).
The year 1965 opened in the history of the Home and Foreign Missions Board, for the first time a Nigerian, Rev. P. O. Ebhomielen, was elected to become the Executive Secretary of the Board. The board reports that churches in this era made encouraging contributions to both Home and Foreign Missions. The board approved the recommended policy for operating mission fields and also pleaded for more support from the convention churches. The disbursements of realized funds were made by the needs on the fields (Ebhomielen 43-44, Annual Book of Reports, 1966). The year 1966 was in the face of the national crises, a trying year for missions. Doubts were raised as to the possibility of reaching the goals for the year. There were economic trials in the country. In Batonu, some of the people who were sacred of by the ‘Moslem war’ of 1965 were coming back to the church at Boriya. Crises in the land positively increased the mission work among Hausa in Ibadan spread to Abeokuta with hope of starting Shagamu station. In Foreign Mission, USAID assisted the Board in supplying material in building primary school in Sierra Leone as part of effort the Board spent considerable sum of complete the building (Ebhomielen 44-46, Annual Book of Reports, 1966).
For the first time a retreat was arranged for the missionaries at Ikogosi Youth Camp on 31st January to February 2nd 1968. In Batonu, financial support was received by individuals to sponsor an outcast child. However, the Hausa work in Abeokuta was closed down due to migration of the tribe. In 1967, Shendam under the Board reported that usual disharmony among the workers was absent (Ebhomielen 65, Annual Book of Reports, 1968). The Board appointed Pastor & Mrs. Akano as Home Mission missionary to Batonu due to resignation of Rev. Lawoyin who created vacuum for 5 month. New fields were created; Awelu, Arogbo (West Ijaw Area) and Ohori during the year 1968, and budgeting sky-rocking to £9,000.00 for 1969 mission work. Ishan remained giant Home Mission field with speed of gospel proclamation from 17 stations in 1966 to 27 in 1968. In Shendam, one of the two trained pastor on the field died, Pastor David Bali in October 1968 (Ebhomielen 49-51, Annual Book of Reports, 1969).
The Board meeting progressively changed into 3 times in a year. Convention had another evangelist, J. A. Ebo, who conducted revival services, but later resigned to pastorate in which the Board reviewed the necessity to replace the idea of evangelist. That the post of Evangelist should be scrapped for office of Mission and Evangelism Department and Rev. Gordon E. Robinson assumed the new post in July 1971. Budget moved to £12,000.00 for the year at view 1970. In 1969, Ohori Home Mission field was opened and Rev. & Mrs. P. O. Adebanwi were sent. War in southern Ijaw field led to the absence of Rev. H. C. Igwe on the field, but the missionary and his family were spared in the process of war. Yet helping hands were sent to them for the work (Ebhomielen 22, Annual Book of Reports, 1970). Ebhomielen reported that the civil war in January 1970 brought hopes that it might be possible to have free access to all our fields and workers. He further noted that transfer of Rev. & Mrs. S. A. Akande to replace R. A. Adegboye in Shendam field and Rev. Igwe left the work of the Board totally due to war in the area (Ebhomielen 49, Annual Book of Reports, 1971). Rev. & Mrs. Etim A. Udoh and Rev. & Mrs. E. O. Odebunmi accepted the Lord’s call to Sierra Leone field (Ebhomielen 50, Annual Book of Reports, 1972).
During the year the Board addressed the mounting expenditure on the existing fields which in a way was hampering expansion to new areas; however, the Board placed some breaks on expenditures by increasing the financial responsibility of the local congregations to the pastors. The Board in her effort for the first time put out booklets stating definitely certain needs on the Home and Foreign Mission fields, hoping that churches, societies and even individuals would respond and meet the needs. Also a new method of distributing Week of Prayer Programme was introduced that orders should be made through Moderators, including the list of churches compiled in the associational budget to send the money in bulk. Deadlines were placed on the orders. The Board brought up conditions of service for missionaries at Home and abroad. New fields, Igala, Igbira, Ohaji, south eastern state, Echie in Ikweme were to be considered but yet concluded due to insufficient funds.
In early 1972, Arogbo field was adopted and the Board‘s responsibility was limited to the support of the missionary pastor, Pastor J. Monday, an indigene of the area. Batonu, the board’s oldest field was manned by Rev. & Mrs. Thomas Akano. In Shendam, smooth progress on this field was hurt by a wave of crises generated from Shendam township Baptist church. Crises raged around spirit of ‘ruhu’ movement, church management and tribal dissension. Convention officials went there to bring settlement to the crises. Later events showed that the matter was only partially solved. The year ended without any incident. In Sierra Leone, the arrival of Udoh and Odebunmi brought growth to the work on the field. The Udohs brought revival to the hearts of the people of Magburaka. However, the Board suffered financial recess when expenditure was greater than the funds realized (Ebhomielen 41-42, Annual Book of Reports, 1973).
The Board was engaged with evangelism campaigns in several cities in Nigeria. Laymen and American friends rendered good and selfless services during the campaign around February till December 1973. The Board adopted for 1974 a budget of N40,000.00 that covered the 8 Home Mission and a Foreign Mission field as at 1974 report (Ebhomielen 19-20, Annual Book of Reports, 1974). The Board decided to drop Ijaw Arogbo from the list of convention’s Home Mission fields on the ground that such a term would restrict the activities of the associational consultant. The field had implied greater responsibility on the part of the Board than she actually agreed to bear (Ebhomielen 22, Annual Book of Reports, 1975). It was dropped for administrative convenience, but the Board continued to pay the salary up to September 1975 when he resigned (63, 1976) The Board also approved a crash programme for doing limited Mission work on new fields which have long been appealing for adoption (Ebhomielen 23, Annual Book of Reports, 1975). Year 1975 opened with crises in two fields, Ishan and Sierra Leone. The Ishan crisis followed from misunderstanding about the procedure for the discipline of a pastor. The crisis in Sierra Leone arose from two different views of our Sierra Leone mission ought to be related to the Sierra Leone Baptist Convention. Two missionary couples favoured joining the convention but a couple was vehemently opposed and attempted resignation but the Board intervened into the matter. The Board decided to appoint a missionary, Rev. J. A. Pajiah for the Afenmai field as of January 1976. The Home Mission fields had reduced to 7 as at 1975 (Ebhomielen 63-65, Minutes of NBC, 1976). Church building was put up in Shendam and Ishan fields; church auditorium was built by Ukpilla Baptist Church under the leadership of Pastor Gabriel Ojebun. As at 1976, the Board had 53 paid missionaries and pastors on the field (Ebhomielen 60-61, Minutes of NBC, 1977).
In 1955, the Nigeria Baptist Convention set up a Home and Foreign Mission Board and now she celebrated her silver jubilee – 25 years of mission endeavor. In September 1977, after 12 years as secretary of the Missions and Evangelism Department and many more years of missionary service under the Board, Rev. P. O. Ebhomielen departed for further studies. This left a vacancy that would be extremely difficult to fill (Gordon E. Robinson Ag. 60, Minutes of NBC, 1978). Recognizing the pioneers, Rev. Dr. V. L. Seats, the Rev. John E. Mills, the Rev. Neville Claxon and the Rev. P. O. Ebhomielen, letters of appreciation and commendation were written to them all. Batonu field was annexed to Boriya Mission field. New fields were to open new work in Arogbo among Ijaws in the Okitipupa area and Funtua/Kastina in the North among the Hausa indigenes. However, Home missionaries requested for better condition of service, reduction on rate on pastoral aid deducted and increase in office and motorcycle allowances, but the Board made no change on pastoral aid deduction rate, increased allowances of missionaries’ wives from N30.00 to N60.00 as from April 1st 1978, N6.67 for motorcycle allowances and increased from N12.00 to N24.00 of annual office allowance. Rev. & Mrs. Udoh left Sierra Leone to create a wide vacuum and the field was void of ordained missionary preacher. All appeals for missionary volunteers yielded no fruit. Later Pastor & Mrs. Justina Ozurumba applied and got approved for the post (Oku 70-71, Minutes of NBC, 1979).
A missionary student, Pastor M. A. Ogulaza, requested for a loan of N100.00 for seminary education but the Board policy granted no loan to people except for transport purpose which would facilitate mobility for missionaries in the field. Later the request was granted neither as loan nor scholarship but as an aid grant on the basis the he would willingly return after graduation to the field. Questions from mission students to the Board brought out policy that appointment of single missionaries was not encouraged but in case of young unmarried people, who plan to marry, the young man should seek to serve in a church or school until his marriage is completed before seeking appointment to be a missionary. Concerning special qualification, the Board concluded that any missionary’s wife without special qualification was entitled to the regular monthly allowance, but with qualification should be allowed to work either within or outside the mission field. If she works outside the field, she would not be entitled to any allowance from the Board. The problem of transfer of funds for evangelical work in Sierra Leone posed a real threat to her existence there. The work was almost at the verge of collapsing, however, by the intervention of the Convention and the ministry of Finance funds were made available easily again. First Baptist Church, Kaduna founded Idoma and Funtua mission work and wanted to transfer to the Board, but the Board tactical redirected the responsibility to the concerned conferences (Oku 93-94, Minutes of NBC, 1980). As at 1980 the Board was coordinating 158 churches and preaching stations in the Home mission fields. The Board in the month of June 1980 appointed a couple missionary, Pastor & Mrs. Akolah Ogulaza to serve in the southern Ijaw Home Mission field; and Pastor E. M. Foloki was similarly appointed to serve in the Ijaw Arogbo Home Mission field on the month of July 1980. The Board gave missionaries opportunity of having car and motorcycle loans. Rev. A. Adegoke was transferred to Sierra Leone from Funtua to serve as interim missionary for Ozurumbas went on furlough (Oku 59-60, Minutes of NBC, 1981).
There was crisis in 1980 which split over to 1981 yet the body was not depressed; crisis of resignation, fund transfer and others. Idoma field was recommended to be part of Home Mission field as at 1984 and that Kaduna church partner with the Board based on 50% basis from 1983 till final take over by the Board, while Igala case was pending till sufficient fund was realized. Board accepted the report of a committee that secretary of the Board should make appeal to strong churches within the convention to adopt some stations in the Home Mission fields as their own mission station to render financial assistance where necessary (Oku 49-50, Minutes of NBC, 1982). The missionary residence at Shendam had been electrified by Benue/Plateau Conference. Ohori field was to be declared Foreign Mission field as soon as the Board concluded on the matter. Regrettably, Rev. Adegoke refused to give account of spending during his stay in Sierra Leone to the Board from November 1980 to April 1981. All attempts o persuade him to submit the account ended in deadlock. Therefore the case was passed to E. C. of NBC (Oku 84-85, Minutes of NBC, 1983).
Rev. E. Oku was allowed to attend Itinerant Evangelism Conference in Amsterdam, July 12 to 21, 1983. Since the tenure of his office, he had not been privileged to attend oversea meetings. The Board also passed a motion in cooperation with Southern Baptist Convention to join hands in Sierra Leone mission work. Rev. John Mills, the Director General of Southern Baptist Mission for West Africa, put down the proposals of the partnership between the two bodies into writing (Oku 104-108, Minutes of NBC, 1984). Rev. T. A. Akano proposed his retirement on service in 1986. Expiration of Foreign exchange approved for Sierra Leone started a renewal of contract for another year of agreement (Oku 51, Minutes of NBC, 1985). Pastor C. Obieje was employed as worker in Mission and Evangelism Department (Locke 54, Minutes of NBC, 1985). New Kombi Bus bought for Sierra Leone mission work was rotationally handed over from the General Secretary of NBC to the predecessor of the field to the current missionary, Rev. Ayanrinola (Oku 9, Minutes of NBC, 1986). The Board presently then controlled 11 Home Mission fields with a Foreign Mission in Sierra Leone with total of 20 mission personnel under supervision of Rev. I. D. Ayanrinola (Oku 17, Minutes of NBC, 1988). There were 181 churches then under the Board. Two new fields were declared opened by the Board during its October meeting: they were the Abuja City Mission and the Ogoja Home Mission field. New missionaries were appointed also, Rev. & Mrs. John O. Akah assigned to Ogoja Mission Field; Rev. & Mrs. M. O. Akpobome assigned to Shendam Mission field. Pastor & Mrs. S. O. Anaile for Afenmai Mission field, Rev. & Mrs. K. T. Zamani moved to Abuja City Mission, while Rev. & Mrs. J. B. Temako assigned as a coordinator for Batonu Mission field. Regard to 25years of missionary enterprise in the foreign field, Sierra Leone, it was unanimously agreed that a magnificent church auditorium be erected at the Lungi, the International entrance into Sierra Leone, and be called the Silver Jubilee Baptist Church. It was also reported that guidelines for withdrawal of Convention financial support in the Home Mission fields was done to enable the Board to reach out to other geographical areas of the country where there were needs, thus rendering the old mission stations self-supporting. That mission stations which had existed for 15 years from the day they were declared Home Mission fields must be withdrawn 50% of Convention financial support. This was done to enable them develop to the status of self-support. 16 years old Mission field would have 60% Convention financial Aid withdrawn. 17 years old Mission field would have 70% financial Aid withdrawn. 18 years old Mission field would have 80% financial support withdrawn. 19 years old Mission field would have 90% Aid withdrawn. 20 years old Mission field would have 100% financial support withdrawn. This took effect after December of 1986, but a three years notice of withdrawal of financial support would be given beginning from 1987 January as the Board ratified and accepted (Oku 64-65, Book of Reports of NBC, 1987).
The minute of the Board meeting further revealed withdrawal policy starting from 11 years old Mission stations with proportionately removal of 10% to 50% on basis of years of existence from 11 to 15 years respectively. This would continue for 20 years’ time. Dispute between the Yoruba Baptist community of Yelwa and the indigenous Baptist group of Yelwa was settled in Shendam by the Board’s sub-committee. Also in Sierra Lone, misunderstanding between a national, Rev. A. A. Bangwa and Rev. I. D. Ayanrinola was resolved. Ohori Mission field was treated as a foreign field and the matter was finalized and approved by the Government of Republic of Benin. Newly created state, Akwa Ibom was viewed as a place for evangelical work (Oku 103-107, Book of Reports of NBC, 1988). The Board had been able to send out about 50 missionaries from the time of its inception to the present date, April 1989. Rev. I. D. Ayanrinola appealed to the Board to establish Medical mission in Bumbuna, Sierra Leone (Oku 112-113, Book of Reports of NBC, 1989).
The Rev. Reuben E. Oku who had served the Board for the period of ten years and seven month, from October of 1976 to April of 1989, the Board Chairman, Rev. J. A. Olaniyan, expressed appreciation on behalf of the Board to the retiring secretary. The appreciation was held on April 29, 1989. The retiring secretary introduced the Rev. Etim A. Udoh to the Board as his immediate successor and he would fill the gap of the secretary to the Home and Foreign Mission Board taking effect from May 1st 1989. The Board made request for financial assistance to complete proposed Baptist Bookstore at Shendam. Also she was requesting for opening of New Mission fields in Kamukuland, Etche, Isoko and the Unreached People Group (Kambari). Four pastors in Ohori Mission field wrote accusing their missionary, Rev. S. M. A. Fajinmi for many things; among them were the no payment of salaries for three months and failure to give them good and effective leadership. After much investigation, some of the allegations were true and the Board wrote Fajinmi to resign that people do not need him again (Udoh 120-126, Book of Reports of NBC, 1990). The Board sent delegates to survey Akwa Ibom to see possibility of having Home Mission field. The report was accepted and declared a mission field with effect from April 1990. Baptist Mission of Nigeria donated a Kombi Bus to Ogoja Home Mission field. Volunteers’ workers policy was requested to formulate guidelines for the programme (Udoh 70-77, Book of Reports of NBC, 1991). Survey was conducted and recommended that Etche be declared a Home Mission field with effect from January 1992. Vacation workers form seminary, Kaduna were sent to Kamuku for two months, June-July 1991 and be paid N3,500.00 from the offering realized during Home and Foreign Mission hour. Miss M. Van Lear commented on the lack of proper care of Fulani Muslims who became Christians in Okuta area notably the payment of their pastor’s salaries. She stressed the interest of Baptist Mission of Nigeria to help and asked for information on the need and support to train pastors among them (Udoh 91-95, Book of Reports of NBC, 1992).
The Home and Foreign Mission Board was forty years in1992. For the first time, the Board published the first ten churches who gave N4,000.00 and above to Home and Foreign Mission offering. The Board historically started with one missionary couple in 1953. She had sent out 56 missionary since its inception to the present date. The Board had 12 Home Mission fields and one Foreign Mission field from 1953 to 1992. More than 400 Baptist churches, including preaching stations were in the Mission fields with 190 trained pastors. However, it was planned that two Home Mission fields, Ishan and Shendam, to be self-supporting. Etche in Rivers State was to become a new Home Mission field. Financial support of N10,000.00 to be given each to Kamukuland, Isoko and Ogba/Egbema/Ndori fields. Cote d’Ivoire was to become the second Foreign Mission field. Rev. Ayanrinola went on study leave in USA while Evangelist & Mrs. M. B. Ojo was sent as an Interim missionary with Rev. & Mrs. Victor M. Awowo who volunteered to serve as permanent missionaries. Later Rev. E. A. Esuola arrived Sierra Leone to relieve Ojos as Interim Missionary. Rev. Udoh reviewed the project programme of the Board over years that Capital Projects on the fields were not taken into consideration because of financial constrain, however, less than N5 million would solve the problem as forecast (Udoh 103-105, Book of Reports of NBC, 1993).
This progressive historical report covers only 40 years of mission endeavours of the Home and Foreign Mission Board of the Nigerian Baptist Convention and the activities of each Secretaries and the Board in terms of strategies, method of world evangelization, church planting, appointment of missionaries, dispute management, international relation, welfare of the missionaries and administration. The good, the bad and the ugly of the Board are an eye-opener for future mission enterprises for our Convention. The choice of leadership gives better approach to expansion. Did the growth and development achieve from 1953 till 1993 are still intact and progressively maintained against declining by the successors? The foundation well laid with individual differences still needs historical facts reflection to know the underlay structures before new blocks are laid. Nigerian Baptist mission work had cradled, staggered, stumbled, crawled, yet still on the move with hope of having visionary missionary as leader and full financial support from everyone concerned. History will guide us to make right, the error of the past.
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