PORT HARCOURT, NIGERIA:Evangelistic Campaign Leads to Thousands of Baptisms
PORT HARCOURT, NIGERIA : Evangelistic Campaign Leads to Thousands of Baptisms
From October 20th to November 3rd, 2023, Hope Channel International's Senior Evangelist, Pastor Christopher Holland, led a satellite crusade from Port Harcourt, Nigeria. A total of more than 8,000 souls were baptized from 2,515 downlink centers throughout Eastern Nigeria and Cameroon.
In Port Harcourt, 1,010 out of 5,645 people in Eastern Nigeria were baptized. In Cameroon, 2,520 souls were baptized from 305 sites. The Almost Home campaign is a wind of Pentecost 2023. This powerful wind conveyed a message of hope to a broken world. While the overall statistics are still being consolidated, the Church expects thousands of baptisms in the various sites, just over 10,000, in the 22 countries of West and Central Africa.
Eastern Nigeria was able to mobilize 2,210 sites in churches, homes, school and university campuses, and offices. .... Reports came in from Canada, USA, Europe and even Asia. It was a campaign worthy of African village evenings. There was good music and most of all good stories. Stories of miracles and conversions.
We were told of a conversion in a village called Ubimini. This village is known for its roots in demon worship. It is called the Indian Village of Nigeria. I googled "Ubimini" and found nothing. I asked ChatGPT and this is what I got: " As of my last knowledge update in January 2022, I don't have specific information about "Ibumini." It's possible that "Ibumini" could refer to a location, a cultural term, or a concept specific to a particular context or region."
The artificial intelligence asks us to help it enrich its data. We went to this village, more than 65 km from Port Harcourt. We met James Enuada Didia, a 58-year-old who has decided to give his life to Jesus and to destroy the altars handed down by his ancestors. Threatened with death by the secret society to which he belonged, he persevered to the end. Here we are.
At the entrance to James's house, we saw the image of a goddess carrying a serpent. Her followers had been busy all night and all day with their worship rituals. All eyes were on us. We entered the sacred room. We toppled the two earthen statues: a god (Ibudu) and a goddess (Nwanyi) linked by a sacrificial altar. We toppled the idols and set fire to the symbolic objects of worship (clothes, bonnets, talismans, bells, etc.). It was deliverance in the name of Jesus.
The next day James Didia and his wife Ugechi were baptized at the main site in Port Harcourt. He told us: "I slept "coolaee" (which means peacefully) after your visit yesterday. We haven't had peace for a long time. There was noise at night. Explosions on our roof. The evil spirits made life impossible for us. I'm very happy and free.”
There are also answers to prayer. One listener testified, "Pastor Holland made an appeal for job opportunities. I interceded for my older brother and today he called me to tell me that he got a job. Sick people were healed as a result of the lifted prayers”.
A visitor who suffered from frequent urination testified of his healing. He now only goes to the bathroom once a night. Peter who had difficulty lifting his left arm was also healed. He went through the free medical consultation held on the grounds of Mile 3 Church. After prayer and application of a balm, he regained full movement. In just a few minutes, he received what he had sought in vain in several hospitals for years. He was among the first to be baptized in Port Harcourt.
Valentine Ekpelle is not an Adventist. He summed up what thousands of others have experienced: "I expect a lot from this program. Today, I learned a lot. The preacher was very, very peaceful. The place was calm, the room was very serene. I was able to listen and learn. He was able to have a positive impact on me. So, I'm looking forward to coming back tomorrow and I'll attend till the end of the program."
Engineer Worlu Chidi, one of the members of Deeper Life Church, a Pentecostal church in Port Harcourt had discovered the truth about the Sabbath while watching Hope Channel International. He opened the doors of his home to make it a downlink center where he invited about twenty people. He and one of his children got baptized at the campaign's closing. But before him, his wife and six other family members were baptized bringing the number to nine who are now part of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
They have been attacked mystically, following a practice very common in this part of the world. Enemies send a hive of bees as a premonition of certain death. The Church prayed against this diabolical plan, and within 24 hours, the bees disappeared from their village home. This sign of victory convinced his extended family of God's power and Worlu Chidi's good choice. They are so happy to be living in the truth.
Many have experienced God's blessing and sealed their covenant with Christ through the waters of baptism. Every evening, souls responded to the call of grace. Many of these people were baptized. At the main church site, around 100 people had been baptized.
Hope Channel Africa and Hope Channel International broadcast the signal in French and English respectively. Hope TV Ghana relayed the program in English throughout its distribution network. Other African languages such as Hausa, Ibibio, Igbo, Ijaw, Pidgin and Yoruba were broadcast live on the ENUC Pentecost 2023 YouTube channel. A dynamic social media team was deployed to cover the event and capture the main quotes from every presentation.
Nigeria is a perfect illustration of the state of our economically and morally sick world. Recent floods have left thousands dead and millions homeless. The country is going through difficult times.
The choice of venue for this campaign is no accident. The President of the Adventist Church in Eastern Nigeria, Pastor Bassey Udo explains. "The city of Port Harcourt, capital of Rivers State, Nigeria, is known as the oil-rich Garden City and is home to 3 universities, various new religious movements and followers of indigenous African religions.
It's a multicultural city. Apart from the city of Lagos, it is one of the fastest-growing cities on the African continent, home to the wealthy class of society. Hence the need to enrich them with the Good News of the love of Christ Jesus."
Pastor Holland recounted how the people of Lagos saved the life of Farida Sobowale, a wealthy young businesswoman well known in the Lagos cosmetics industry. She had attempted suicide by jumping from a bridge into a lagoon. Recent research shows that people commit suicide in Nigeria more than in any other African country. “Jesus was homeless. Jesus was hungry. Jesus lacked money. Jesus understands you," said Pastor Christopher.
God used His servant in a mighty way during these two intense weeks to deliver a message of hope. He combined his American accent with the rhythm of Pidgin and other Nigerian languages to win over a completely captivated audience. “I was actually quite excited about it. I had no idea the impact that would make on the people. And then as I learned some of the greetings in the different languages, I had no idea how this would touch people”, said Pastor Chris.
More than 600 people packed the compound and courtyard of the Mile 3 Adventist Church each night. Dressed in African garb, the messenger really blended in and contextualized the messages well. He didn't fail to borrow from the locals to enrich his vocabulary. "Nyafo nyafo" means abundant; "Wahala man" means the devil. It was so impressive to young minds that one child, among the many who adopted Pastor Christopher, approached him to ask what "NYAFO NYAFO" meant. An American taught a Nigerian how to speak Pidgin.
The program did not go unnoticed by the authorities. The Chief Judge of Rivers State received the preacher in his office. He watches the crusade every night at home on Hope Channel International. He was proud to receive the servant of God and asked for prayers for the state and the nation. On the radio, on billboards, the Almost Home program has saturated the public space in Nigeria.
Pastor Bassey Udo believes the program should be repeated. "We want to organize it every year (with Pastor Christopher Holland as the speaker for the next three years). Pastor Holland was humble enough to learn some of the local languages, eat and dress like the locals. He visited homes and businesses. We found that he deeply loves Jesus Christ, that he loves the people, and that the people love him.
This successful outreach is the culmination of teamwork. On the technical side, special support came from the East Central Africa Division (ECD). The team included Francis Kamau, Godfrey Jonathan, Benson Joseph Mwalutondwa, Elihaki Simon Mmakasa, and Abel Sebastian Kinyongo from the Tanzania Adventist Media Center.
The leader of this delegation, Francis Kamau, shares his experience. "I had some difficulties getting a visa, but still my time in Nigeria was great. I was truly blessed by the local team of volunteers who wanted nothing more than to be associated with the Hope Channel brand, and I pray that God will reward them for all their selfless work. There was also a team from Hope TV Ghana, WAD Media Abidjan and the WAD Media Center of Babcock University. Most importantly, there was an army of highly motivated local volunteers.
It wasn't easy, but through fervent prayer, God sustained everyone's efforts. Francis Kamau shares one of the lessons he learned. "I learned that sometimes you have to take a very firm stand on certain issues, sometimes you have to be willing to negotiate, and sometimes you have to let others do what they want. Sometimes you have to put aside what you know and let other ideas take center stage, but above all, it's important to work in unity for the glory of God.
For an event of this magnitude, challenges were to be expected, direct attacks from the enemy. It wasn't easy for the local organizing team, led by elder Azukoye Amadi. They faced enormous setbacks and financial constraints, which were quickly overcome with the support of the West Central Africa Division (WAD).
The preacher, Pastor Christopher Holland, had lost his voice a few days before the campaign. And during the campaign, the enemy tried to disturb his serenity by attacking his family in the United States. But God showed His omnipotence. He had all His voice and everything was back in order at home.
The electricity was so unstable just a few minutes before this program started. The internet connection wasn't the smoothest at all. But God provided beyond our imagination. The weather was under control. Satellite signal was uninterrupted.
At the meeting on the evening of November 3, 2023, when the lanterns had gone out. It was hard to accept that the program had come to an end. There were still baptisms to be conducted by District Pastor Samuel Iroulor. Those in the Valley of Decision responded to Grace's final invitation. The pastor's voice was pleading. It was irresistible. The last strongholds of the enemy were finally falling!
A few miles from Port Harcourt, in the city of Aba, the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Eastern Nigeria concluded its centennial celebration. The event was attended by General Conference President Ted Wilson and his wife Nancy, General Conference Treasurer Paul Douglas, and the trustees of the West Central Africa Division (WAD). The Governor of Abia State, Alex Otti was also present.
And on that day, hundreds of souls were baptized at the Enyimba Stadium in the presence of more than 60,000 people, as if to mark with a white stone this centenary of the Adventist mission in Eastern Nigeria. A beautiful adventure of faith continues in Africa's most populous nation. With more than 220 million, Nigeria has nearly 300,000 Adventist members in the three unions that operate there.
The president of WAD, Prof. Robert Osei-Bonsu, said at the end of the program: "The impact of the campaign is immense. It has not only revived the faith of God's people, it has also drawn many souls into the Kingdom of God. It was a true Pentecost experience for many in and outside the Church. The testimonies received are breathtaking and heartwarming. Many lives have been touched. The messenger was sent by God for such a time as this.”
As for the original goals, Pastor Udo admits he didn't hit the mark. "We didn't achieve our goal of baptizing hundreds of thousands of people, but we did achieve our goal of engaging our members in prayer and mission. We also fulfilled one of our dreams of having a Hope Channel studio in Port Harcourt. Thank you to the General Conference, Hope Channel International and the West Central Africa Division.”
Pastor Holland expressed his wishes at the end of the series. “what I would love to see happen is emphasis on media in the Eastern Nigeria Union. I would hope to see that this would explode, expand and make an impact for the kingdom. I hope, and I pray that our church members will come and support those newly baptized and help them to develop into disciples of Jesus Christ and that evangelism would explode.”
Prof. Osei-Bonsu continues in the same spirit of gratitude. "We praise God for the ministry of Hope Channel in the Adventist Church and in our Division. It is a door that opens with new perspectives for media ministries. I would like to thank Hope Channel for the support and thank our members for their commitment to the Mission. God bless you."
Hope Channel Coordinator
West-Central Africa Division