OUR OUTREACH EFFORTS into Africa began more than eighty years ago. A missionary named Frank Hein received Gospel tracts from the Apostolic Faith while living in the Sudan and Nigeria. After returning to America, he came to Portland to meet the people who had published those tracts. He loved what he found here, and God called him to stay and work in the church printing plant. He translated Gospel tracts into the language of northern Nigeria, and these were sent to various areas of western Africa.
A single tract fell into the hands of Peter van der Puije, a man in Gold Coast (now Ghana). He received his deeper spiritual experiences, and began establishing Apostolic Faith churches in that country. In 1948, he attended our camp meeting and presented the needs of his people, pleading for someone to come and help believers in Africa. During that convention, George Hughes, a minister at the Portland headquarters, made a consecration to the Lord. Noted in his diary on July 3, 1948, were these words: “Volunteered for service in Africa—or anywhere in the world.” His offer was accepted, and in October, he left for a seven-month trip to Africa. Services were held in mud-walled, thatch-roofed churches, or wherever an opportunity arose.
A man in Lagos, Nigeria, Timothy Oshokoya, had received some Apostolic Faith literature. In it, he found the answer to the longings of his heart for holiness and the baptism of the Holy Spirit. He began to distribute the papers and soon established a place of worship. He organized the first camp meeting in Lagos, held in 1949, and visited the Portland camp meeting in 1951 and 1956. Upon returning home in 1956, a printing plant was established and construction was begun on a tabernacle. The vision of “Africa for Christ” grew in his heart and the work in Nigeria continued to expand.
Literature received in other parts of Africa drew others to Christ and the Gospel light spread. Today, there are more than 700 Apostolic Faith churches in Africa. Their motto continues to be “Africa for Christ,” and God is abundantly blessing their efforts to publish the Gospel.
The concept of publish was chosen as the third key in our mission statement. It reads: “We publish the Gospel through the printed word, the spoken word, and through our personal lives, daily looking for opportunities to spread the message, “Ye must be born again.” One of the most effective phases of evangelistic work carried on by our organization has been that of printing Christian literature. After a century of publication work, the Gospel message has circled the globe, and has proved instrumental in leading thousands of people to God and establishing congregations around the world.
1. What role does the Spirit of God have in our personal attempts at publishing? In our corporate attempts?
2. Do we “publish” the gospel only to unbelievers? Explain your answer.
3. Name five instances in Scripture when God’s Word was “published.”
4. Who first published the Gospel to you? To your family?
“I grew up on a farm in Virginia. My mother had been seeking the Lord, and had gone to all the churches in our area, hoping to find what her heart craved. Then she received a paper from the Apostolic Faith. She found out that she could have her sins forgiven, and know when it happened. One day she went to pray in the barn, and when she came back to the house, her face was shining like an angel. She told me the Lord had saved her. Although I was only a child, I shall never forget the look on her face. We continued receiving the papers, and how God blessed us as we read them! The Lord showed us that He had a people in Portland who were preaching the whole Word of God and were living it, and we became well versed in Bible doctrines by reading those papers.
“My father was suffering from cancer and doctors could not help him. My mother said, “Let’s send out there and have those people pray for you.” About six days later—in those days it took about six days for a letter to get to Portland from Virginia—when the people of God prayed, the Lord instantly healed my father. He said, “We’ve got to go out there to see those people.” He sold the farm and we came to Portland. In time, I gave my heart to God at these altars of prayer, and for many years I was privileged to work in the printing plant at our headquarters office.” — Lloyd Ashwell