March 4, 2018
Nigeria: The Need to Build Spiritual & Moral Strength
NIGERIA GRAHAM 1960. American evangelist Billy Graham holds an impromptu blessing with three taxi drivers on the steps of his hotel in Lagos, Nigeria, Jan. 28, 1960. (AP Photo/Dennis Lee Royle)
Posted by Ambassador T. Brikins
''The flight from Ghana to Lagos, Nigeria, in the middle of the night was one of the most harrowing I’ve ever taken. The Ghana Airlines DC-3, an old Dakota plane, had previously been owned by several other airlines, their names still visible under successive coats of paints.
An English Lord in Bermuda shorts was sitting beside me on the plane; I tried to witness to him, but he was not interested in the slightest.
In mid-flight the pilot, who was European, came back to talk to the non-Africans on the plane. While he was chatting, the air-craft entered a violent thunderstorm. As he returned to the cockpit, the lightening flashed razor-bright. The plane shook, rattled, and rolled; in fact, it did everything but turn over. I didn’t think the wings could possibly remain attached to the fuselage.
The English man grew as nervous as I, and he asked me to repeat what I had said about salvation earlier. I asked him if he would receive Christ. He said, he would give it a thought.
Charlie Riggs was sitting across the aisle from me, trying to talk above the storm to a well-dressed African. But the African was yelling back; certain that we could crash in the storm, he was praying that we would not crash over water; if his body could not be found, his heirs would not inherit.
We faced hostility, however, from another source. At our first Crusade meeting in Lagos, with 25,000 people present, pamphlets written in Yoruba language were distributed without our consent to the crowd. Originating from the office of the chief Muslim missionary in West Africa, they essentially denied all biblical teachings about Jesus. We objected, and the hostile literature did not show up again. The Muslim leader attended our services, but we did not accept his challenge to a public debate. I was not there to argue; I just wanted to preach the Gospel.
With independence coming in the fall of 1960, Nigeria was nervously looking forward to an uncertain future. While talking drums reverberated between the villages, television antennas were rising in the cities of Nigeria. So, as I spoke to 40,000 at the second service, I urged the need for building spiritual and moral strength in the nation.
I felt the excitement of the transition in all six Nigerian cities we visited-Lagos, Ibadan, Kontagora, Kaduna, Enugu, and Jos-especially in the 5,000 inquirers who came forward to make commitments at our meetings.
University College, Ibadan Library ,1960
While in Ibadan, he spoke at the University College, which according to his description, ’was built along the British design. The architect was English, and hence the buildings were designed to withstand cold weather. But we were close to the Equator, the temperature nearing one hundred degrees. The auditorium was beautiful, and it easily held a thousand students, but I nearly burned to a crisp.
I gave the college audience the Gospel. Some of my listeners were disgusted with what I was saying, but others were receptive. When I asked for hands to be lifted up at the Invitation, several hundred people responded.
…a town, ’’situated in the Muslim-dominated area of northern Nigeria. There I was privileged to say a few words and help dedicate a new hospital given by the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board, on which I was serving at the time; we were told there was only one fully trained doctor for every 200,000 people in that part of the country.