170 years of Methodism in Nigeria and strengthening partnerships in Togo

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Olubunmi Olayisade writes that "Methodism arrived at the shores of Badagry in Nigeria on 24 September 1842 as a result of an official invitation from the indigenous people. Following the release of freed slaves at Freetown in Sierra Leone, some of the liberated slaves wished to return to their motherland. Consequently a party of 'Yarriba' from the slave coast of Guinea purchased a condemned slave vessel from their earnings and engaged a white man to navigate towards Badagry. They arrived at their native country in 1839 and were well received by natives; however the party that landed at Lagos were not so fortunate. It was interesting to note in the Wesleyan Methodist Mission that the slave-ships that carried people away from native shores would return in the same vessel owned by liberated slaves, now as messengers of the gospel of peace through the very port from which they were taken.

Many of the returned slaves began to spread the good tidings of the gospel of salvation and Chief Warraru of Badagry decided to support their effort by countersigning a letter dated 2 March 1841 from one of the church members who took up the name James Ferguson at his baptism. He addressed his letter to Rev Thomas Dove, his former pastor in Sierra Leone. Upon receipt, Rev Dove then wrote a letter dated 24 November 1841 to the Wesleyan Methodist Church with a request for a minister to serve in Badagry. Rev Thomas Freeman along with Mr and Mrs De Graft (Africans from the Gold Coast) accepted the offer to serve in Badagry. On the South Eastern coast of Nigeria, the Primitive Methodist Society entered Nigeria in 1893 - 94 from Fernando Po. These two mission stations later became separate overseas districts and merged just before autonomy in 1962 to become the Methodist Church Nigeria."

In Togo, she met with Connexional Team staff, including Nationals in Mission Appointment postholders (whose posts are funded by the World Mission Fund) and Michael and Sheila Holland, Mission Partners serving the Eglise Méthodiste du Togo. She also visited the church's community clinic which serves over 60 out-patients per month at very low cost to patients, and the women's empowerment work in a growing church in Vogan.

Read Olubunmi's visit report here for all the latest partnership news in Nigeria and Togo.

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