How does Christianity spread to Nigeria?
The history of Christianity as a religion dates back to the early days of the Gospel of Christ when Jesus Christ himself commanded his disciples to take the good news about the
The salvation of lost Souls and Faith in Him to the ends of the Earth. Jesus Christ gave this instruction after he resurrected from death and appeared to his disciples.
This instruction recorded in the book of Matthew 28:19-20 reads ” go ye therefore and make followers in all nation baptizing them in the Name of the Father, the name of the song, and in the name of the Holy Spirit instructing them to take note of everything I have declared until you. And do not forget that I am with you always, even to the end of time”.
After this instruction, the first set of Christians preached the Gospel of Christ in all nations of the world including the territory now called Nigeria.
In order to make it very clear on how Christianity came to Nigeria, this is important to indicate that the territories we know as States in Nigeria today, was initially divided into certain regions and these regions had their social factors and economic factors which either encouraged the spread of Christianity or hindered it.
South Nigeria and Christianity
In those times, the southern part of Nigeria was majorly ruled and dominated by the Yorubas and the Edo people. They had specific rules and laws guiding their society, they had their system of administration and the huge influence of traditionalists.
Another vital fact is that in the Western part of this region, Slavery was the order of the day then, so many people were enslaved.
And this also affected the country in a great measure. Sad enough, there were countless conflicts and military crises that happened then, so the situation in these regions was quite unpleasant which served as a major reason for the late introduction of Christianity into the region as it only came in around 1840.
At about the same time the people who were living in the northern regions were compelled by the Fulanis and jihadist to support Islam but in the eastern region they had no set of laws, no structure, they were regarded as a region with no political system.
By the time the Christianity religion got to the Southern part, there was no hindrance whatsoever in the spreading of the good news and good enough for the religion, Islam didn’t get to this region until sometime around the year 1970.
Christianity In The Northern Region
In those days, the Hausas and the Bornu people dominated the Northern region, though over 250 ethnic groups both Muslims and other religions. In this region, the Muslims commenced the slave trade just like the Europeans.
The people who lived in the middle belt region were then regarded as pagans their effect was high in evil spirits and tho gs associated with spirits. However, Christians were given access to this territory in the year 1930.
The Hausas And Religion
The Hausa people were known for their quick acceptance of different religions. Scientists and religious activists had a high interest in them and that is why they had contact with people around the globe especially in the times of the middle ages.
The Birth Of The Christian Church In Northern Nigeria
The commencement of the Church of Christ in the Northern part was greatly troubled by the popularity of certain Islamic raids who wanted their opinions to count most, it was also troubled by pagans who held onto their traditional beliefs as against faith in Christ.
Lastly, the emergence of the church also struggled with the new systems brought in by the British Colonial masters.
History Of The Christianity Religion In Nigeria
A first attempt to introduce Christianity to the now Nigerian territory was made within the years 1470s to 1620s but the result was not quite impressive even with the efforts of the missionaries from Portugal.
Then the efforts brought forth fruits when the Americans and British agreed to set the slaves free.
So it happened that those people who were formerly under slavery but were later given their freedom had the high tendency of supporting the Christian religion, so they could return to their homes in order to share the Goodnews.
So basically, the first set of Christians was majorly from the Yorubaland, Cross River, Niger, the West Coast of Africa.
During the period of the 1970s, several Missionaries made their way to Nigeria in order to spread the good news of the Christian faith here and as a result of their strong faith and their hard labor, 45% of the Nigerian population became Christians.
In the western part of Nigeria, the first set of Missionaries were methodists and Baptists and in the eastern part, the first Missionaries were Catholics and Presbyterians.
Through the effort and fight of Sir William Wilberforce who struggled so hard in order to ensure the Freedom of slaves, Christian Missionaries began their work in the Niger areas of Nigeria. Sir William began this huge campaign in Great Britain declaring that slaves should be given freedom.
However, his campaign in Great Britain really ended well and as a result of this, the British authorities sent in three big ships bringing in people who were to create a healthy trading alliance and to restore peace to the people in Niger State.
To further enlighten you on the history of Christianity, the goals of the missionaries, and the works of Missionaries in Africa, below lies a quote from a unique work:
“At the end of the Victorious time, (years 1832-1900), Missionary activities had commenced already in other regions of the Globe which are China, India, South Africa, Korea, Japan and several other countries asides Sudan”
As of then, in England and North America, the common theme and goal were “Sudan: the most terrible mission field in the globe”. This theme was so popular in several conferences held by Missionaries, particularly the Keswick Assembly held in England and Canada.
More so, there was a high anti- Islamic movement amongst the Christian folks in Europe and North America as the Islamic religion was regarded as the worst known evil which served as a threat to the goodness of Africa especially.
The major purpose of the Missionaries was in two ways, first to totally end the widespread and influence of the Islamic religion in Africa and secondly to practically winning souls for Christ in Africa before it got too late.
Missionaries Method Of Reaching Africa
In a bid to share the Goodnews of Christ, the missionaries who came to Africa then applied different methods in demonstrating the unconditional love of Christ to Africans.
They helped to create a better health care system. There were several viruses and epidemics which took the lives of many people so the entrance of Christianity really reduced the death rate then as they brought up good health care support for people.
The entrance of the missionaries also brought a good education system to Africa as they intentionally battled against illiteracy through the creation of good educational bodies.
Lastly, they created new missions in order to continue the good work laid down to them.