Creationism in Nigeria
At the invitation of Rev. Adamu Maga, Director of the Evangelical Church of West Africa (ECWA), Andy McIntosh recently visited five Nigerian cities – Abuja (Nigeria’s capital), Miango, Jos,Kaduna and Gindiri – to present the message of biblical creation. This is what Andy writes …
In Abuja, I spoke in the home of Elesa Bitrus who works for the Ministry of Agriculture and who, together with his wife Rhoda, has many contacts. Not all who came were believers.
At Miango to the west of Jos, I spoke over the weekend at a Christian School called Kent Academy. When asked, the great majority of the children said they believed that dinosaurs lived millions of years ago. They are picking up this erroneous teaching from the media, which have increasing influence (even poorer people often acquire a TV before other things).
I spent four days in Jos – 3000-4000 feet up on a volcanic central plateau, where rocks are piled up in strange positions, possibly due to the action of receding flood waters 4400 years ago. Due to its cool climate, Jos has been a natural centre for Christian mission.
Here I spoke several times at Bingham University – ECWA’s Christian University, at present convening on the campus of Jos Evangelical Theological Seminary (JETS). About 200 students came to the three meetings, when I spoke on ‘Flight, fossils and design’.
The acting Vice Chancellor, Felix Anjorin, is encouraging students to think from a Christian perspective. ECWA welcomed the creation message as the basis of all learning in the humanities and sciences. I really felt at home teaching there.
I also taught twice for the JETS seminary itself, and twice at Evangel Hospital in another part of the city.
From Jos I was driven 200 miles north west to Kaduna (the old colonial English capital) to spend the weekend at the Ungwar Sunday Church. The special morning service lasted two and a half hours, with about 500-600 present.
We drove back to Jos and then to Gindiri where we visited a church of the Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN). While ECWA arose out of SIM in the 1950s, COCIN arose out of SUM in 1904.
COCIN have their seminary in Gindiri, close to Mangu. We were there by invitation of seminary staff member John Ilya Kachalla. It was good to meet him and his wife Salome, Provost Obed Dashan and his wife Phena, and Daniel Manjang who lectures in Hebrew.
I think this was their first exposure to creation teaching, but they understood its significance and were very appreciative. Over 200 students listened to all four talks with rapt attention. The provost showed me the area around the large campus – which was originally a swamp when the local chieftain gave it to SUM missionaries and the Gindiri College of Theology was established in 1934.
I was shown the original huts. Even now some of the accommodation is very simple and most manage on meagre resources. I was impressed by the spiritual vision of the Provost and his wife.
But there is opposition. Daniel Manjang, now at Gindiri, lost his father and another member of his family in the riots in Jos in 2002, when tensions between the Muslim and Christian communities erupted. The enemy is wily and there is resistance to gospel outreach in Jos, Kaduna, Zaria and Kano.
Whilst going through Kagoro on the way to Kaduna, we met a young man called Bello, who studies at the ECWA seminary and has been a believer for five years. He is the only convert from his village, near Katsina – all the rest of his family are Muslims.
He first heard of Christian things when speaking to a Catholic lady, who directed him to an ECWA pastor – who led him to Christ. His quiet confidence in Christ spoke volumes of the power of the gospel.
We should not take safety for granted. We nearly had a head-on collision while driving to Gindiri, and on the journey back to Abuja were forced off the main carriageway by a car speeding towards us.
A few days after leaving Kagoro, we heard that Silas and his son had suffered an armed robbery. Silas is Deputy Provost at ECWA Kagoro and we had been in his home. They are now recovering with apparently no lasting effects. Others tell horror stories of highway robbers and it is dangerous to travel on country roads at night. But despite it all, the Christians are eager to evangelise.