Mass Worship, Baptism Crowns Centennial Celebration in Eastern Nigeria

The Seventh-day Adventist message reached the area in 1923 and is now spreading fast.

Liz E
Mass Worship, Baptism Crowns Centennial Celebration in Eastern Nigeria
Every pastor in the area brought candidates for a mass baptismal ceremony at the Enyimba International Stadium in Aba, Abia State, Nigeria, on November 4. [Photo: Marcos Paseggi, Adventist Review]

Tens of thousands of Seventh-day Adventist church members, leaders, and special guests thanked God the forecasted rain was delayed as they met to celebrate 100 years of Adventist presence in Eastern Nigeria in Aba, Abia State, on November 4. Worshippers filled every available seat at the Enyimba International Stadium, and thousands more followed the proceedings from outside the venue.

Special guests from the General Conference (GC) included president Ted N. C. Wilson, treasurer Paul H. Douglas, associate treasurer George Egwakhe, and their wives. Abia State governor Alex Chioma Otti, who is an Adventist member, and representatives from other faiths were also among the distinguished guests.

Notable among the special guests was former Abia State governor Okezie Victor Ikpeazu, also an Adventist member, a fact Wilson pointed out. “I don’t think I have ever spoken to an audience where the current governor and the former governor are Seventh-day Adventists,” Wilson said. “The two of you, working together under the power of the Holy Spirit, can bring about amazing forward progress and reconciliation to help the people of the great State of Abia. I want to pray for both for you.”

“Brothers and sisters, we are almost home; Jesus is coming soon!” Wilson told the crowd at the beginning of his message. “The devil is going to try anything to distract your focus, but God has a special mission for all of you. You have been chosen for mission.”

Drawing Every Person to Jesus

Wilson called members to reflect on the meaning of Jesus’ words in John 12:32, where He said, “If I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” This is not a boastful statement, Wilson explained. “It is a statement of salvation only through Jesus Christ. It is a prescription for us to follow in the mission of the work” everywhere, Wilson said.

He also called attention to the service of the sanctuary in the Old Testament, where everything represented and reflected on Jesus. “The sanctuary service, with all of its aspects, [and] the killing of an innocent lamb … represented Jesus. The blood that was then poured out, represented Jesus. The high priest who then went to plead before God … Jesus is also our High Priest. Jesus is our all in all,” Wilson said. “We have no excuse for not being saved by the blood of Jesus. He has done everything possible for us to be with Him. It is our job to tell others about it. Everybody must hear this message … Lift up Jesus in all [that] you do.”

Eyes Focused on the Goal

Wilson then quoted Paul’s message to the Philippians, where he called believers not to get distracted but rather press on. “One thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus,” Wilson read, as he called every member to become involved in the “last cry” of God’s message to the world.

“God is calling every one of you to keep your eyes on Jesus, to keep your eyes on the final goal.” Wilson said.

The November 4 event also included a mass baptismal ceremony, in which many pastors in the area brought candidates to be baptized in six makeshift pools on the stadium’s grounds. Wilson urged the newly baptized members to keep their eyes on Jesus. “Don’t let anything interfere with the focus on God’s mission for your life and for His church,” he said. “Don’t let anything take your eyes off your mission. Let there be no distractions … God has a purpose for each one of you. We are almost home, and Jesus is asking you to be a vital part of His last day’s proclamation.”

Special Recognition

After a tropical downpour in the afternoon, the special Sabbath that crowned the centennial celebrations in Eastern Nigeria ended with an evening ceremony at the nearby Nobik International Event Centre in Aba. In a two-hour program that included participation by several Adventist choirs and special musical selections, Eastern Nigeria Union Conference leaders distributed awards and recognitions to those who supported the work and development of the Adventist membership and infrastructure in the area.

“We are thankful for what God has done in these 100 years,” regional church leaders said. “But our greatest hope is that we don’t need to celebrate another centennial anniversary. We are almost home.”

Liz E