West and Central Africa Strategic Outreach Efforts
Organized Gospel outreach into neighboring countries is a concerted focus at the headquarters of the Apostolic Faith work in West and Central Africa (WECA). Located in Anthony Village, Lagos, Nigeria, the headquarters staff is composed of two main management teams: one team having oversight of implementing strategies to spread the Gospel to the twenty-two countries in the WECA district, and the other supervising outreach efforts in the Lagos region and the nation of Nigeria. Both teams are led by WECA District Superintendent Adebayo Adeniran, with some staff overlapping in duties.
In November of 2016, Reverend Darrel Lee, Superintendent General of the Apostolic Faith organization, visited Nigeria, Ghana, and Benin, all of which are part of the WECA area. On the first day of his visit, November 2, activities included a formal welcome reception at the Anthony Village campground where the WECA headquarters is located. The welcoming committee included about three dozen senior staff members who represented the two management teams.
WECA Outreach Team Efforts
Among the responsibilities of the management team supervising outreach efforts into countries in the WECA district are the translation, printing, and distribution of Gospel literature. Several of the countries are English and French speaking, and literature is produced in a number of African languages as well. Sunday school booklets, hymn books, tracts, and a variety of other materials are also printed at the WECA headquarters.
The outreach team has seen great progress in recent years. In Ghana, for example, where Reverend Lee visited on November 3 through 6, there are now thirty-nine churches and Bible study centers. The work there continues to grow, expanding from the south of the country to the central and north. In the city of Sege (a ninety-minute drive from the Ghana headquarters in Accra), a new church building is to be constructed that will be about four times the size of the current one. This is greatly needed as the saints there have far outgrown the building they are in; during their combined meetings, only one-third of the congregation can be seated inside.
Ayisah is about a half hour away from Sege. The Apostolic Faith Church there is regularly attended by up to three hundred, and during a recent youth retreat, it was filled to capacity. The Faith Kope church is another that is under construction, where nearly one hundred currently gather for services in the partially completed building. A new campground site has been purchased for Ghana, but work on the facilities has not yet started.
The Republic of Benin is another area where the WECA work has seen tremendous results. Reverend Lee visited our work there on November 8 and 9, where he met with district church leaders and visited three churches.
The Benin headquarters church is located in Cotonou, where a recent workers’ meeting included over 200, overflowing the room where they gathered. At the last Benin camp meeting, the Pk. 14 campground hosted six thousand attendees, which is the capacity of the tabernacle on site. The saints have a long-term development plan to modernize and it includes a new tabernacle that may seat ten thousand. This is a very ambitious proposal, but there is no doubt God will help them bring it to pass if Jesus tarries.
Lagos Region Team Efforts
The Lagos team at the WECA headquarters in Anthony Village offers support to 115 branch churches and 85 Bible study centers in the Lagos region alone. The high number is the result of intentional decentralization of the Lagos region work. Because the price of fuel is high in Nigeria and the commute time to the Anthony Village headquarters is long for most of the church attendees, the saints are encouraged to attend the more local branch churches.
A Resource Development Center was dedicated at the WECA headquarters complex in January 2015. It houses several pieces of new equipment and is in full operation now, printing the latest issue of our flagship publication on site. Through the use of electronically delivered files, the printing staff is now able to print on the same schedule as Portland, and produce up to four times the number of issues that the Portland headquarters was previously able to ship to them. On a continent where there is a hunger for Gospel literature, the demand will still exceed what can be produced.
The Apostolic Faith work in WECA continues to thrive. At the last annual camp meeting in Faith City, Nigeria, attendance rose to 20,000, and included twenty-four monarchs with their wives and entourages. In addition, connections to the Apostolic Faith WECA website were made from thirty-six countries as over 7,000 tuned in to the live webcasts at www.apostolicfaithweca.org.
Rumuomasi, Nigeria, Church Dedicated with a Resounding "Amen"
In addition to his visit to Ghana and Benin, Reverend Lee also visited several Apostolic Faith churches in Nigeria. A dedication service was held on November 11, 2016 for a new Apostolic Faith Church building in Rumuomasi, Port Harcourt, Nigeria. The work in that area began in the late 1980s with a few saints gathering for prayer meetings. By 1994, there were sufficient numbers to hold Sunday evening services, with ministers sent from the District Headquarters to lead the meetings. In 2001, land was purchased for a permanent church, and a children’s hall was the first building constructed on the site. Most recently, the sanctuary and prayer room were added.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony for the beautiful new brick building included the declaration, “We cut this ribbon and dedicate this church in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” At each phrase of this statement, a resounding “Amen” was heard from the congregation. Then the orchestra began to play a processional song and, along with the choir, led the way into the sanctuary.
The dedication service began with a children’s program depicting the construction of the Temple under Solomon’s reign and his prayer at its dedication. It continued with a brief history of the Apostolic Faith work in the Rumuomasi area, and several music specials. The culmination was a vocal solo of “Bless this House” and the dedication message by Reverend Lee. The dedicatory prayer was given by Reverend Adeniran, followed by the choir singing Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus.” The service closed with the congregation singing “To God Be the Glory” and then going to prayer. A tour of the new facility was given after the dedication service.
The Long-Anticipated Dedication in Sagamu, Nigeria
November 14, 2016 was the date of the dedication of a new Apostolic Faith Church in Sagamu, Nigeria, which is about a two-hour drive north of the Anthony Village headquarters complex. The dedication service was an answer to longtime prayers of veteran workers in the area.
The Sagamu group began with a small group of four families who lived in Sagamu, but traveled weekly to Ijebu Ode for Sunday services. In 1982, they began holding Bible studies and prayer meetings in the home of one of the brothers. Full church services began on October 22, 1995, with a congregation of forty people.
When the congregation continued to grow, land was purchased for a church building. Bulldozing of the site began in 1999, and in June of 2000, construction of a church facility was initiated. A dedication service took place on October 6, 2002, marking the first time services were held on the current site. Two adjoining pieces of land were purchased in 2011 and 2014, making a plot of ground that was adequate for the expansion and provision of the new Sagamu facility. Branch churches in the area came together with the saints in Sagamu to help with the construction, and their supportive efforts were greatly appreciated.
Present at the dedication service were a number of local dignitaries, including chiefs and kings. The ribbon-cutting ceremony was simple, and concluded with the orchestra and choir performing “To God Be the Glory” as they led the way into the sanctuary. The room quickly filled to capacity with about 350 of the 1,036 in attendance finding a seat, while the rest of the congregation went to the basement to watch the service via video feed.
The orchestra and choir played a number of selections throughout the service. One favorite was the choir, accompanied by the brass, singing in Yoruba (the native language of the congregation) “E Fi Lyin Fun Oluwa Nibi Mimo Re,” which roughly translated means, “The Lord Placed a Few Saints Here.”
Reverend Lee gave the dedication message, which was followed by a dedicatory prayer given by Reverend Adeniran. Then the choir sang the “Hallelujah Chorus.” After a closing song and altar call, nearly everyone knelt in prayer, including many of the local dignitaries.
Minna Church Dedication
During November, a church was also dedicated in the city of Minna. Opening with the processional song, “Our Hearts are Full of Joy Today,” a spirit of thanksgiving marked this occasion as well. The initial services in Minna were held in 1978 in the home of one of the sisters. Minna was the first Apostolic Faith branch church established in the Kwara District, though it is now the headquarters church for the Niger District. The foundation for the new church was laid in May, 2011, and the dedication service on November 16 was full of great rejoicing that the edifice had been completed.
Reverend Lee’s trip concluded with a ministers and workers meeting in Abuja, where the theme of “Unity” was again emphasized as it had been in previous meetings during this trip. He noted, “It has been a great trip in every respect. We thank God for His presence in the services, safe travels, and wonderful fellowship together.”