May 28, 2021

Jengre Seventh-day Adventist Hospital

The Jengre Seventh-day Adventist Hospital began as a dispensary in 1934 following the establishment of the first missionary station in northern Nigeria by John J. Hyde and his wife, Louise, from England. The initial dispensary consisted of three temporary grass huts. The dispensary was run by Louise, who was a trained nurse. Hyde recounted:

We were having thirty to forty patients to dress each day and our rags were finished. The Government sent us six dozen bandages. They were used. Everything in our wardrobe that needed mending or looked as though it needed mending soon was ended instead of mended, even down to khaki clothes. And what medical person would dream of putting khaki cloth on a wound! We were reduced even to that. With what joy, then, did we behold the linen from our churches at home! . . . Last year [(1933) the record of patients that were treated in the dispensary] was 8,968, [and just within two months in February (1934) the treatments recorded were] over 2,600 patients.[1]

Jengre Seventh-day Adventist Hospital [Courtesy of the General Conference Department of Archives, Statistics, and Research]It is hardly necessary to stress the significance of health ministry as one of the most important arms of spreading the gospel by the Adventist Church. The combination of the two ministries at the Jengre Adventist mission station is summed up succinctly by Hyde: 

Our patients attend the dispensary an average of twenty-one days each. During that time they learn to sing hymns, they hear the commandments, the Lord’s prayer, and the good news that God is their Friend and that they can become friends of God and His Son Jesus. They are carrying those thoughts back to their homes, and now for miles around the people are singing our hymns. Yes, it is true that their verses are formed of lines taken at random from all the verses of the hymn, but what does that matter! Their singing is wonderfully in tune and the words usually make sense, and they are very happy to be able to sing. . . . This is sowing time in this area. No other missionary has ever been among them. Reaping time will soon follow, and then; what joy![2]

Despite the commendable record in the number of patients that were treated at the mission station, it took some time before the Jengre station started to reap the first fruits of the gospel. The first harvest of 28 souls was baptized in 1927. In 1933 Hyde wrote an urgent plea from northern Nigeria:

Our work here in this new field is forging in a most unexpected way. Government officials once told us how many years of careful work would be needed before the primitive pagans would trust us or come to us. We looked at these naked people and believed what we were told. And now, with less than two years’ work behind us, what do we see?

We have a group of patients and their parents or friends who cook for them, numbering sixty, staying on this station with us. The Government has built six of the huts in which they stay. An hour ago two new patients arrived and brought today’s total to seventy.[3]

With the support of the world church, the construction work on Jengre Adventist Hospital started in 1947. The hospital was officially open for the public in 1948 with Dr. John Ashford Hyde, the son of John and Louise Hyde, as the first medical director and superintendent of the Adventist Mission in Northern Nigeria. Besides the administrative block, which housed the operation theater, there were two wards in the 36-bed-capacity hospital. 

With the establishment of the hospital in 1948, the record of the in- and outpatients over the years was ever on the increase. In 1953 “nearly 450 patients were cared for in beds and on mats on the floor. This was besides the 18,000 out-patient attendances.”4 With the support of the world church, the dedication of the workers to the delivery of health services has earned the hospital a good public image that continues to attract patients from all over northern Nigeria until the present time. 

This article is from the Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists, which is available online here

Chikwendu Amaike, director of Jengre Seventh-day Adventist Hospital since 2013, was born in the eastern part of Nigeria. He holds a medical degree from the University of Jos, Nigeria, and is also a Fellow of the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria in the Faculty of Public Health. 

1 John J. Hyde, “An Urgent Plea from Northern Nigeria,” The Missionary Worker, vol. 39, June 1, 1934, p. 2.

2 Ibid.

3 Ibid.

4 J. A. Hyde, “Medical Needs in Nigeria,” The Missionary Worker, vol. 58, no. 5, Mar. 1953, p. 2.