In Nigeria, Massive Worship Service Kicks Off a Week of Celebration

The Seventh-day Adventist Church turned 100 in the Eastern Nigeria region.

Marcos Paseggi, Adventist Review
In Nigeria, Massive Worship Service Kicks Off a Week of Celebration
Church members at the Ikot Ekpene Stadium wave as General Conference president Ted N. C. Wilson and his wife, Nancy, walk by at the start of the one-week centennial celebration of the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s presence in Eastern Nigeria. [Photo: Marcos Paseggi, Adventist Review]

Thousands of Seventh-day Adventist church members, leaders, and special guests made their way to the Ikot Ekpene Stadium in Eastern Nigeria October 28 to kick off a week of celebration of 100 years of the church’s presence in the region. Guests included General Conference president Ted N. C. Wilson and his wife, Nancy, regional Adventist leaders who have traveled for the October 29-31 Year-end Meetings of the West-Central Africa Division, the governor of Akwa Ibom State, and several members of his cabinet.

The Governor’s Visit

Several choirs, a youth musical band, Pathfinders groups, and members in uniform according to their region brought sound and color amid a muggy morning as governor Umo Bassey Eno and his entourage arrived at the stadium.

Wilson, who had visited the governor at his office a couple of days before and gifted him a Bible, thanked the governor for his presence at the Adventist celebration and assured him that they are praying for him. He also congratulated the governor for his ARISE agenda, an initiative he’s implementing that focuses on agricultural revolution, rural development, infrastructural maintenance/advancement, security management, and education advancement.

“In Isaiah 60, we are also told to arise and shine with the light of God,” Wilson reminded the governor, who served as an evangelical pastor and in all official documents is still addressed that way.

Wilson also announced that, in consultation with local and regional Adventist leaders, the Adventist Church will launch plans to provide a new school in the area. “We will pool our resources to help accomplish this because education is the foundation not only for personal growth but also spiritual growth,” Wilson said. “We will dedicate our efforts to this assistance to the community.”

Governor Eno then approached the podium, and after reminding the massive audience that “this is church,” he led the congregation in singing “To God Be the Glory” before delivering briefs remarks. In his message, Eno called Adventist members to give all the worship and glory to God as they give thanks for the 100 years of Adventist presence in the area. He also called on them to keep carrying a gospel of peace for everyone as they pray for him and his administration. “Thank you for your prayers and your support to our vision,” Eno said. “I wish you a very happy celebration.”

The regional church gifted Eno a special cloth commemorating the centennial of the Adventist Church in Eastern Nigeria, and Wilson gifted him a special illustrated copy of Ellen G. White’s The Great Controversy. “This is an important book that shows that in the battle between good and evil, God is in control,” Wilson told him. “We know that soon this conflict will end, and Jesus will return in the clouds of glory to take us home to be with Him.”

Almost Home

During the later worship service, Wilson reminded church members of the moments Adventists are living in and of their missional responsibility. “We are almost home,” Wilson said, echoing the motto chosen for the centennial celebrations. “Jesus will come soon, and we want every member to invite many more people to be part of this amazing Adventist movement… It is a wonderful thing to be part of God’s worldwide family.”

Wilson also emphasized that the work of sharing the gospel with the whole world won’t be finished by the General Conference or other world fields. “It will be finished by the laypeople, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.” He added, “I want you to recognize that God is calling you in a very special way” for that mission.

Against that background, Wilson explained, the centennial celebration should be an opportunity for the Eastern Nigerian Union to be “ablaze with God’s great proclamation of the three angels’ messages and Jesus’ very soon return.” In that sense, he added, “God is calling you to understand that there are no limits to what He can do through you. You are a vital, absolute part of His outreach in these final days with His mission.”

Festivities will continue with Wilson’s visit to Adventist landmark sites in Eastern Nigeria on November 1, and several other official events, including a massive convocation in Aba, Abia State on November 4.

Marcos Paseggi, Adventist Review