The Niger Missions

It’s CMS Anniversary!

July 27th, 1857 – A ship, boarded by men from Britain landed on the River Niger shores. They had the same colour as the colonial masters, they spoke the same language, they had the same attire but a different heart. They were the Christian Missionary Society.

In 1841, about 50 men who initially embarked on this mission died. This was a death the locals would always attribute to a curse from the gods against intruders. However, it was malaria, something most black Africans had grown a level of immunity for.

Years later, these men would defy all odds in the company of former African slaves who had been converted to Christianity. They risked their lives and family, not just against the disease but against pirates, just to bring the gospel to a place they believed would need the light.

Aside from these men who came with the Bible in their hands, there were other groups of people who were also ready to risk their lives but only for the material things, they would gain. They were only interested in business! Nothing more.

In fact, George Goldie, the administrator of Royal Niger Company was unhappy with the works of CMS in the Niger, especially with Crowther who super-headed the missions. While CMS in London may not have been critical of George Goldie, the CMS missions in Niger was. This is just to explain that the Christian Missionary Society in Niger were not serving the ultimate purpose of the colonial masters.

While Royal Niger Company wanted control of the people, the Christian Missionary Society wanted Jesus to reign in the hearts of men. Their desire was to see men saved. Would I say they had everything well figured and played out? The answer is no!

You see, the gospel spreads on the wings of imperfect men. God uses men to spread himself regardless of their weaknesses. The joy is that the gospel was spread despite the weakness of men. This mission didn’t only preach the gospel, they brought free education and healthcare which gave some of our fathers the privilege to become educated beyond the indigenous knowledge they had.

This brief is not meant to go into details of the activities of the Christian Missionary Society, it is just a reminder that the mighty community of believers we have today was a seed men sow in the past. It also opened the way for other missions!

CMS Anniversary is a celebration that is supposed to be recognised not just by Anglicans in the Niger region but by all Christians in Eastern Nigeria! No matter how much we try to overlook this, no matter the critical views we hold of these missionaries, we are the fruits of their seed.

It was the mission of CMS that established Christianity in Igboland. It was this mission that paved the way for our liberation from the shackles of darkness by the power of the Holy Spirit! It was God working through feeble men for his eternal purpose.

Come to think of it, men and women leaving their comforts and the beautiful places in England to sojourn in a land of the unknown where it was believed that human eaters and wicked elements lived. They weren’t coming to buy and sell by their RNC counterparts, they were here as a living sacrifice.

They counted not the pleasures of this world but the eternal reward that awaits them and they regarded not their own lives even unto death but decided to live for the gospel…

There were records of men and women departing from the worship of nonexistent gods to the worship of the one true God, men and women turning from their evil ways; ways they thought was right. When we look back at the missions of CMS, we will see unselfish people whose hearts were pure towards others.

The selflessness of the missionaries should be an example to us today.

They did much more…

Isn’t that miracles?

This should always be for us a time of motivation unto good works! It should be a time we are encouraged for massive soul winning.

The entire region needs to be shaken with the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ! For me, this day tells me “there is more land to win!”… It motivates me to go out of the norm, to go out of my comfort and do more for the kingdom!

Today, this same gospel is thriving!

Happy CMS anniversary!!!!

The Church marches on!