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PROBLEMS AND PROSPECTS OF CHRISTIANITY IN NIGERIA

By the end of this unit, you should be able to:
• state and discuss some of the problems the early Missionaries had to contend with in the cause of their missionary expeditions
• explain prospects of Christianity in Nigeria.

3.1 Christianity and Some Traditional Rulers in Yoruba Land

The planting of Christianity in Yoruba land had problems at the initial stage of its introduction to the people of Yoruba. For it has been stated that the coming of the Missionaries to Yoruba land was accompanied with the political situation of the area. For instance, when the missionaries arrived Badagry and its environs some traditional rulers agreed that they should be allowed to stay in their land to establish mission stations. While others kicked against the settlement of the Missionaries in their territory on the ground that they were the representatives of the British Colony that was out to seize other people’s land by force, and that they used to wage war against those who refused their authority. Some chiefs in the Yoruba kingdom were strongly against the planting of Christianity, which they called the White man’s religion. This was the reason why the Ijebu people refused to grant permission to the Missionaries to enter their land around 1888. 
Furthermore, some of the Yorubas who enjoyed slave trade in their land also kicked against the coming of the missionaries whom they learnt preached against such trade. They see their coming as an end to slave trade. 
The anti- Christian movement was led by Akitoye, the King of Lagos land around 1845. On the other hand, king Sodeke of Egba land welcomed the Missionaries to his Kingdom. He received Thomas Birch 
Freeman a Wesleyan missionary to settle in his land. b Freeman established Mission stations in Egba land. He was told by the king to invite other Missionaries and legitimate traders to Egba land. 

3.2 The Ogboni Society and the Planting of Christianity in Yoruba and Ibibio Land

According to Ayandele, the Ogboni Society was the school of oratory and jurisprudence in the Yoruba land in the olden days. He further claimed that among the Egba and the Ijebu people, Ogboni was the court house that tried criminal cases and any one that was found guilty was sentence to death by the body in the Yoruba land. Moreover, the Ogboni body served as checks and balances on the power of the Yoruba kings. 
In the Ibibio land, the Ibibio women formed the secret society to check indiscipline among women of their land. Offenders were punished. For instance, any woman that was caught stealing would be punished by them. But, when Christianity was introduced in the Yoruba and Ibibio
lands, it preached against the acts of the society. For this reason, the Ogbonis were strongly against the planting of Christianity in their lands. 
The spread of Christianity in the above named places suffered a set back hence a few people accepted the religion in such areas.

3.3 The Problems of Workers and Schism in the Churches

In 1905, the Emirs of Kontagora and Katsina sent message to the Church Missionary Society to come to their areas and establish Mission Stations to spread the Gospel to their Subjects, but the Mission turned their requests down because it lacked workers. Besides, it was reported that Lugard also sent to the same Mission to send Evangelists to Kano 
and establish Mission station in the town. But the Missionary could not respond to the call because it lacked workers. Besides, the Mission also lacked capital to recruit more evangelists for the spread of the Gospel to all parts of Nigeria. Apart from the above problems that confronted the spread of the Gospel in Nigeria, the restriction of Samuel Ajayi Crowther’s activities to the Southern parts of Nigeria by the Church Mission Society in Nigeria, also contributed to the set back for the 
spread of the Gospel to other parts of Nigeria. 
According to Babalola, a leadership issue was a major cause of schisms among Christians in Nigeria. This is because African Churches had quarrels with some doctrines and practices of Christianity in Nigeria. 
They claimed that European leaders in the established Missions monopolized leadership positions among themselves. They did not place Africans in the Church leadership positions, but, they do place them in subordinate positions to the Europeans. Besides, polygamy was another problem that faced established Churches in Nigeria. Mission kicked 
against polgamy in Nigeria. Many Africans who cherished their culture and tradition left the Orthodox Churches for indigenous ones. Mention could be made of the Cherubim and Seraphim Movement where many lovers of polygamy came to join. This is because the Movement accommodates some of the African traditions which the established Churches kicked against. In the Anglican Church, many adherents who opposed infant baptism were expelled from the Church. Those who were sent away from the Church joined the Christ Apostolic Church or the Celestial Church.

3.4 The Attitudes of People to Islam in the Northern Nigeria

It has being noticed that Islam was more acceptable than Christianity for the people of the North. This is because the religion accommodated the marriage style of the Northern people. But Christianity did not. For this reason, the Northerners were against Christianity. Apart from the above 
mentioned fact, it has being said that the Europeans that brought Christianity to Nigeria were reported to be drinking and importing gin that could cause intoxication for people that drank it. The religion of Islam opposed the drinking of alcohol which the Christian Missionaries trade in and also imported to some parts of Nigeria. That if they were allowed to gain access to the Hausa-Fulani areas, that they would compromised their people. For this reason, the Northerners were against 
the establishment of Christianity in the North. 

3.7 Prospects of Christianity in Nigeria

With the spread of Christianity in Nigeria, it is hoped that activities of witches and wizards will be minimized if not totally eradicated since many of them have confessed and repent of their evil deeds as members of the named societies as they accept Jesus Christ as their Saviour. The Aladura Churches, the Christ Apostolic Church and the Cherubim and Seraphim Movement that accept some of the traditions of Nigerians would in future gain more ground in Nigeria than the established Churches that reject such practices.
Now that the restriction of the planting of Christianity in the Northern parts of Nigeria has been minimized, many indigenes of the area are now engaged in the planting of Christianity in various parts of Northern Nigeria; it is hoped that many people in the North will accepted Christianity. 
As many people have now accepted Christianity in Nigeria, it is hoped that they will continue to live godly lives and have peaceful homes. At a lower level, If Christian couple continues to live godly lives, more people will be drawn into the kingdom of god. It is hoped that the 
establishment of Christian institutions will also draw more people into God’s kingdom. 
The characters of many Christians in Nigeria could also influence many none members to become Christians in Nigeria at all times. For example, in Ikare- Akoko, Ondo State, Christians do exercise love 
among themselves with all sincerity. They demonstrate this in some practical ways. The Anglican members called themselves ‘Arakunrin’ that is’Brothers’ and ‘Arabirin’ that is, Sisters, as a sign of oneness in 
Christ and fidelity. They visit one another regularly.
Those who are well to-do should continue to help the needy. Further more, it has been observed that the character of Lennon who was a Priest in St. Stephen’s Church, Ikare, in Ondo State, between 1920 and 1946, did encourage many people in the Yoruba and Ebira lands. It has been said of him that he loved both Christians and Muslims in Akoko�Ka a District area where he ministered as a priest. The Retired Bishop Haruna who was once an adherent of Islam religion told us that Lennon sponsored some Muslims Children including one of his late sister, a brother of his who built St. John Anglican Church, Obangede in Okehi Local Government Area in Kogi State. He later returned to the religion of Islam for his life was threaten by some members of his family that 
were Muslims[ names withheld] and himself at Ikare- Akoko between 1934-1942 in the Jubilee Central School, Ikare- Akoko in Ondo State. 
The training of Bishop Haruna by Lennon encouraged many Muslims in Nigeria converted to Christianity. Likewise, Bishop Haruna has also established a Nursery- Primary School at Okene town in order to use it as a means whereby Muslim Children area could be attracted to accept 
the religion of Christianity. It is assumed that in the future, when those Pupils that are being trained in the various established institution by the adherents of Christianity grow up, some of them would later accept Christianity and their generations would continue to be Christians.
The training of the indigenous people in various Theological Colleges in Nigeria by various denominations for the spread of their faith, would increase the numbers of evangelists and this would further encourage the spread of Christianity. For this reason, it is assumed that in the future, Christianity would gain upper hand over all other religions in Nigeria.
Many people in the country would accept Christianity as the method of evangelism and training of church workers continue to be improved upon. It is assumed that those who continue to receive theological 
training in Nigeria will continue to spread the Good News. 
Another hope for the continuity of the growth of Christianity in Nigeria in the future is that it has been observed that many people who used to go to the witch doctors and priestesses that served as intermediaries between them and gods to help them find solutions to their problems 
which they could not solved, but, find solutions to their problems through Christians faith, now abandoned those doctors. Such people now go to consult some evangelists to help them solve their various problems that they are facing in life. 
Another factor that would probably contribute to the spread of Christianity in Nigeria is the room that various Missions give to their adherents to tell others what Christ did for them in their lives. There, 
some of them do tell how God do help them overcome their problems in 
life. Besides, the printing of such testimonies and its distribution to 
various people in Nigeria could also serve as means for the continue growth of Christianity. The use of mass media such as Television and Radio in preaching the Gospel in Nigeria would probably help to spread the Good News.
Another hope for the growth of Christianity in Nigeria is that it has been observed that many people who used to go to the witch doctors and priestesses but have now become Christians will encourage others to come to Jesus Christ who is the only one to solve their problems permanently.
Another factor that would probably contribute to the spread of Christianity in Nigeria is the opportunity that various Mission give to their adherents to tell others what Christ did in their lives. Besides, the Printing of such testimonies and its distribution to various people in 
Nigeria could also serve as catalyst for the growth of Christianity. The use of mass media such as Television and Radio in preaching the Gospel would probably help the spread of the Good News.
House to house evangelism that are earmarked on by Christian in Nigeria is another means of promoting the spread of the Gospel. The visitation to prisons by some evangelist
Furthermore, teaching of religion studies, especially, Christian studies in Primary, Secondary and Tertiary institutions in Nigeria is assumed would aid the continuity of the spread of the Gospel in Nigeria.
Apart from this means, the outreach programmes to places such as the 
Orphanage homes by various Denominations in Nigeria seems to 
promote the spread of Christianity in Nigeria now and in the future.
The distribution of Christian tracts and Literatures to people in the country by various Missions, would aid the continuity of the spread of the Gospel in Nigeria.
The formation of various Christian Organizations, such as, ‘The full Gospel Business Men Fellowship International, The Young Women Christianb bAssociation,b bTheb bYoungb bMenb bChristianb bFellowship International Association, The Christian Council of Nigeria, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, The Boys Brigade Companies, The Girls 
Brigade, The Bible Society of Nigeria, The Gideon Society of Nigeria, The Christian Association of Nigeria and The Scripture Union of Nigeria, among others probably means for the continuous means for 
the spread of the Gospel.
Finally, the freedom of worship and association that are included in our 
Constitution of Nigeria of 1999, for Nigerians to use probably would encourage the continuity on planting of Christianity to all parts of Nigeria.
The continuity of Church ceremonies. Such as burial and wedding in Nigeria by Couples would encourage the spread of the Gospel in Nigeria now and in the future. 
The provisions of Counseling units by Missions in the country which people who has problems run to as means where their problems were solved by Christian Counselors would also encourage the continuity of the spread of the Gospel in Nigeria.

SELF ASSESSMENT EXERCISE
Discuss the possibility of the continuation of Christianity in the future in Nigeria.

4.0 CONCLUSION

The planting of Christianity in Nigeria faced many problems that you have learnt in this unit. Despite the problems, the Church in Nigeria has achieved many good things for Nigerians. Among such things are the economic, social, health and education. Further more it has open the 
eyes of many people in Nigeria to engage in evangelism as their means for livelihood. For example, some people who are founders of the indigenous Churches has no other means to survive but through the evangelic mission. Besides, the planting of Christianity in Nigeria has 
also opened the eyes of some people to political posts in the country hence they had taken after some Missionaries, such as Philips and Lennon who once engaged in the politics of Nigeria and brought 
economics and social amenities to the people of Yoruba, namely, the Ondos and the Ikares in Nigeria.
The engagement of some Nigerians in the Evangelical works in the country would probably encourage the continuity of the planting of Christianity in Nigeria.

5.0 SUMMARY

You have studied the following points during the course of your studies:
Christians in the country has liberated many people from various problems. Among such problems are sickness, confrontation of evil spirits, wizards, witches, slavery and illiteracy. They have won many souls for Jesus Christ in Nigeria. The planting of Christianity in Nigeria has brought civilization to Nigerians. The formation of some Christian Associations in the country would probably enhance the continuity of 
the spread of the Gospel in Nigeria. Further more, the use of the mass 
media means for the spread of the Good News in Nigeria would encourage the continuity of the Good News in the country. In addition to the above mentioned points, the method of allowing people to give testimonies in crusades, and other Christian services that take place in every denomination in Nigeria would probably encourage the continuity of the spread of the Gospel in Nigeria. The availability of the Holy Bible in the country is an opportunity for every body who wants to purchase the Good News does so, this would probably contributes to the 
continuity of Christianity in Nigeria in the future. The calling of many Nigerians by God to spread the Good News to people in Nigeria would probably aids the continuity of the Gospel in Nigeria now and in the 
future. Teaching of the Gospel in Schools, Colleges and Tertiary Institutions in Nigeria would probably aids the spread of the Good News in Nigeria in the future. The freedom of worship in Nigeria is probably hoped to encourage the continuity of Christianity in Nigeria in the future.

6.0 TUTOR-MARKED ASSIGNMENT

1. State the bodies that encourage the spread of the Gospel in Nigeria. 
2. Explain the roles of Missionary Educational policies in Nigeria.
3. Discuss the role of media in the spread of the Gospel in Nigeria.
 

7.0 REFERENCES/FURTHER READINGS

Olu Osokoya, (1987). 6-3-3-4 Education in Nigeria. History, Strategies, Issues and Problems. Lagos: Bsinaika Educational Publishers and Printers. 
Daniel I. Ilega, Religion, (2001). The key to National Survival in Nigeria, in the ‘Religions of b a Journal of the Nigerian 
Association for the Study of Religions’ Vol. 13 and 14. Nigerian Association for the Study of Religions.
Omotoye Rotimi Williams, (1993). Religion and Service to Humanity; 
A Case Study of the Contribution of Bishop Charles Philips to Ondo [1875-1906] in the ‘Religion and Service to Humanity. 
Nigerian Association for the Study of Religions.
Jacob Awoju Owolabi, (2005). The Growth of the Anglican Church in ‘Akoko- Kabba District’ of Nigeria 1920-1996, Ph.D. Thesis, Department of Religions, University of Ilorin, Unpublished. 

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