The report of the delegate to the Foreign Mission Board of the Christian Reformed Church was delivered to the Classis of Chicago South on May 21, 1969. Rev, Jobn Bylsma, vice-president of the Christian Reformed Board of Foreign Missions, included in his report to Classis the following concerning the work of the church in Nigeria. I will quote the whole of the Nigeria section of the report because it is very informative and presents, I believe, the most eloquent argument for honoring the request of the Tiv Church for help in the formation of a seminary in their own region. Here follows the report of the vice-president of the Christian Reformed Board of Foreign Missions to Classis Chicago South:
“In Nigeria there are two denominations with national pastors and evangelists. Our work there began with the Hausa-speaking people, and their church is known by the initials EKAS. Some years later we took over the work among the Tiv people. and their church is called the NKST. The growth of this church has been phenomenal and it is now much larger than the church in the Hausa section, as the following statistics reveal:
Places of Worship 203 (EKAS) 1,505 (NKST) 1,708 (Total)
Organized congregations 33 (EKAS) 35 (NKST) 68 (Total)
Average Sunday attendance 28,247 (EKAS) 199,014 (NKST) 227,261 (Total)
Classes (districts) 5 (EKAS) 7 (NKST) 12 (Total)
Ordained Nigerian pastors 22 (EKAS) 36 (NKST) 58 (Total)
Evangelists 94 (EKAS) 80 (NKST) 174 (Total)
Communicants received in 1968 728 (EKAS) 2,452 (NKST) 3,180 (Total)
Total communicant members 9,800 (EKAS) 14,381 (NKST) 24,181 (Total)
Children baptized 371 1,807 2,178 Total offerings $13,060 (EKAS) $78,604 (NKST) $91,664 (Total)
It is interesting to note that in the Bible Institutes, training centers, and other educational institutions there are 28 missionary teachers, 32 Nigerian teachers, 869 male students and 200 female students. At present there arc six doctors serving in Nigeria, 13 registered nurses, 10 registered midwives, all missionary personnel.”

A cursory consideration of this report indicates that there is a phenomenal growth in the church in Nigeria and in particular in the Tiv section of that church. For this we can all be thankful for the power of the Spirit is in abundant evidence.

A consideration of this report makes it very plain, also, that the concern of the Tiv church for a seminary to provide pastors in their own area is well founded. They have 1,505 places of worship and only 36 ordained Nigerian pastors and only 80 evangelists to serve in these places. There are over 1400 “vacancies.” Their average attendance at Sunday worship of 199,014 is over 7 times that of the Hausa section. In 1968 2,452 communicants were received, and 1,807 children were baptized. Is it any wonder that the Tiv church is looking in our direction and crying “HELP.”

Add to all these things the fact that the Tiv church is concerned to have a seminary which is committed to the Reformed faith in ALL of its teaching and there is even more reason to quit stalling. Our denomination, from the very first, entered into the work of TCNN with reservations. We involved ourselves in the Theological College of Northern Nigeria to the extent that we loaned onc man for teaching in that school because no other option was available to us. Another option has been presented to us which is in harmony with our determination to maintain the creedal commitment of our denomination and its work. This is exactly what we have been waiting and praying for. It is an indigenous movement arising out of the Nigerian church and its concern to minister to God’s people who have come to faith in Christ Jesus.

It seems to be apparent that there is no time for delay, We had best be aware of the phenomenal growth of the Tiv church, listen to their call for help. and get on with the business of doing the work of the Lord.


Rev. Rein Leetsma is pastor of the First Roseland Christian Reformed Church, Chicago, Illinois.