Abbeokuta, Africa, Oct. 1, 1850.
Dear bro. Taylor,—I have arrived in Yariba [part of modern-day Nigeria]. … Abbeokuta is a large city on the east bank of a small river Ogee, 80 miles north-east of Badagry. It is ten or twelve miles in circuit, and contains at least 50,000 people; some say 100,000.
Here are four missionary stations—one Wesleyan and three Episcopal. The number of disciples exceeds 300, a good many of whom are from Sierra Leone. From this place the influence of truth is perceptibly spreading, chiefly by means of native traders. Both Christians and [idolaters] tell the news wherever they go. The mass of the people still cling to their false gods, but it is evident that idolatry is losing ground. All classes of people occasionally profess their convictions that Christianity is superior. At Ihorara, near Abbeokuta, the Chief, next to the king, voluntarily told me, before men, women, and children, that idolatry makes them poor, and that if I would teach him the right way, he would do it.
At Aibo, as I went to the Iketu country, a young man professed great joy at seeing me, and publicly declared that he desired to be taught, and that Shango, one of their gods, could not hear, and that Eshu could not save him. When I arrived at Ijale, the governor was so unwilling to receive me, that I was obliged to sit at the gate from sunset until 8 o’clock; but after he had heard the gospel, he appeared really to love me. One of the head men in this town, when I had preached to him as far as to the commission, said to me, “some people believe and I believe.” After awhile he asked me if a man who believes must be baptized. I told him yes. When I left, he followed me some distance beyond the gate, and sent a man with me, because there was a report out that some of the Iketus intended to rob me. Thus, on every side, I met people who know the gospel. Yariba will be a Christian land.
Originally published as “Letter from Brother T.J. Bowen” in The Commission, April 15, 1851, p. 15.
Bowen’s prediction came true. In the year 2000, the Nigeria Baptist Convention celebrated 150 years of Baptist work in Nigeria. Read our September 2000 article from The Commission to learn how the gospel spread through Nigeria and into other parts of Africa.