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 (Manna 85: TJC at 100 – Towards the Triumphant Church)
God Protects His Church throughout the Storm
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Robinson Bini—Delta State, Nigeria


In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, I testify of the past twenty years of God’s grace upon the True Jesus Church (TJC) in Nigeria.

The TJC in Nigeria is celebrating her thirty-ninth anniversary this year. Between 1979 and 1992, the church membership grew to approximately ten thousand members. However, a wild storm then swept a vast number of members off the ship, leaving a remnant of only a couple hundred souls. It was as though the glory of God had left His church.

The Lord brought me into the ministry in 1993, while His church was still weathering the storm. Few faithful workers remained; many had departed and, tempted by material gain, led other members away to form their own churches. Others even sold the church grounds and church property. In short, many members wavered or strayed in their faith.

During this time, the church administration was inefficient, perhaps because the members were not adequately trained, spiritually, to hold key offices in the church. After we petitioned the International Assembly (IA) of the TJC in 1995, Preacher HH Ko visited us the following year. However, as far as I am aware, between the period of 1997 and 2002, we received no visits from overseas church workers to support our spiritual cultivation. We were greatly discouraged, as the hearts of many ministers and workers had been darkened by fear, pride, greed, the lust of the flesh, and so on.

THE LORD PRESERVED HIS CHURCH

The church suffered much loss during this period of spiritual decline. However, our Lord, in His infinite compassion, restored her. Permit me to share my testimony.

In 1993, a year after I finished my secondary school education, I entered the ministry as a part-time worker—the youngest worker at the time. After six months, I became a full-time worker. I was moved to embark on a full day of prayer, alone and with no human contact. That night, the Lord spoke to me in a dream, saying, “You have all sinned, particularly the workers, the board members, of the church.” He revealed to me three names.

Thereafter, I spent seven days in fasting prayer, pleading for the restoration of the church in Nigeria. On the eighth night, I had a vision of the heavenly hosts descending, and the phrase “666 now in the West.” God had revealed to me that false prophets were working in the Western world. Hence, with great zeal, I began to evangelize concerning our sins and weaknesses, and rebuked the three board members God had named. One repented, but the other two refused to heed and turned against me, even attempting blackmail.

During this period, God’s grace led me through many trials. The first was a serious illness—a lump was discovered in my stomach. Although an operation was scheduled, the doctor told me that the chances of success were slim. A few hours before the operation, I prayed earnestly within my heart to the Lord.  When the doctor came to prepare for the procedure, he found that, miraculously, the lump was gone. The members who had visited me in hospital were doubtful that I would be able to attend church after the operation, so they were shocked and praised God that I was able to worship with them that Sabbath.

Times were hard and I found it difficult to pay for food and rent. But thank God, some church workers, such as the late Deacon AA Chuku and Brother Obadiah Francis, stood by me and supported me financially during those stormy days.

In 1995, we wrote to the IA to recommend that the national church board be dissolved. Preacher Ko came the following year to fulfill our request, which helped to manage the situation.

THE MEMBERS HELD FIRM TO THE FAITH

Initially, the remaining church members were not entirely devoted. However, the Lord preserved us through a program of spiritual cultivation organized by the church. From 1999, we began to hold an annual interstate combined spiritual convocation. This usually took place at the end of the year, and would last for three days. Members from various states would gather in the church at Port Harcourt, Rivers State, and feed on the manna of God’s word day and night. We sought to increase our faith in God and the true church, and learn the importance of earnest and regular prayers.

After my ordination as a minister in 2012, this combined spiritual convocation also served as a ground for baptism. During each convocation, we would witness the power of God bringing love, peace and, most importantly, strengthened faith, as many members testified. In 2014, we replaced this annual event with twice-yearly seminars at Port Harcourt. From this year, we are planning to hold seminars in both Port Harcourt and Delta State.

Port Harcourt now holds Bible studies every Monday and Saturday, and a fasting prayer each Wednesday. Every summer holiday, we hold a children’s seminar, in which many devoted children, as young as five years old, receive the Holy Spirit. A youth seminar is also held in summer, and has been running for about four years. Youths from across Nigeria gather to learn about the word of God from His servants; to know and understand each other better in the peace and love of God; to learn about their roles and responsibilities in the community of faith; and to study the doctrines of the church, in order to be rooted and established in the truth.

Many students have testified of spiritual experiences during these youth seminars. In 1997, a brother from the church in Delta State witnessed a vision in prayer: an ark was sinking in the waters, but as he prayed, it was gradually lifted up to stand on the sea. In 2016, a sister named Jennifer saw, during prayer, writing on the altar: “Christ will come soon. Baptize those who are due for baptism.”

CURRENT CHURCH ORGANIZATION

Currently, we have about 400 to 450 members in Nigeria. There are five churches: two churches in Port Harcourt, Rivers State (Elimbgu and Aluu), two churches in Akwa Ibom State (Iwukem and Omumunyam), and one in Delta State. We have three prayer houses: two prayer houses in Rivers State and one in Lagos State, all set up in members’ homes.

In previous decades, the church lacked dedicated workers, and the church organization was informal and inadequate. Thank the Lord, the Nigeria Church Board Council (NCBC) has now been established, comprising a chairperson, an IA advisor to the chairperson, a secretary, an assistant secretary, a treasurer and a financial secretary.

Religious Education

Similarly, the religious education (RE) system was not clearly defined in the past, because we lacked RE teachers and teaching materials. But since the Lord has brought many souls into the fold, we saw the need for a better system. Around 2012, the NCBC started giving RE teacher training to some devoted and God-fearing members, especially youths of good reputation. In 2016, the organization was formalized, with classes for toddlers (kindergarten class), children (junior class), teenagers (youth junior class), young adults (youth senior class, 20–35 years), adults (36+ years), and truth-seekers.

Evangelism

Lately, the church in Nigeria has stepped up in her evangelism efforts. The third Sabbath of each month is now devoted for evangelistic services. Thank God, the faithful prayers of the members have empowered our works and made them fruitful. On October 23, 2017, thirty-five truth-seekers were baptized into the fold, and six received the Holy Spirit.

The Upcoming Generation

When the church in Nigeria was re-establishing herself after the storm, the majority of the congregation were young families. God be praised, eighty-five percent of the youths in church today were baptized as infants. Nurtured by the church, they have learned the church doctrines since they were in kindergarten.

The few members who joined the community of faith as youths are currently undergoing RE classes on the basic beliefs and doctrines of the church. Thank God, the majority of these youths accept the truth and are willing to forsake the doctrines of their previous churches.

In November 2016, a youth forum, based mainly in Port Harcourt, was formed to unite the youths and facilitate their participation in holy work. Activities include monthly spiritual revivals, evangelism, and visits to orphanages, prisons and hospitals. This forum is still fresh, so we welcome guidance from the IA on how to actively encourage and involve youths in religious activities beyond routine worship.

POTENTIAL FUTURE CHALLENGES

Financial Capacity

In 2017, the church in Elimgbu (Port Harcourt, Rivers State) demolished its church building and remodeled the church compound, at an expense three-times its former value. The property needs continual maintenance, to minimize the possibility that larger and more costly repairs will be required down the line. Thank the Lord, a few members were able to contribute financially to support the work, since the majority work in low-income jobs. We pray that God will empower more members, especially the youths, to be able to offer more in future.

Manpower

Currently, the TJC has five churches and three prayer houses in Nigeria, with a membership of between 400 and 450. However, there are only one ordained full-time minister, one deacon and one deaconess to pastor all the members across the country.

Nigeria has thirty-six states, and numerous local government areas in each state. Of these, the TJC has reached only four states. Just as it is written: “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few” (Mt 9:37). We pray that the Lord grant us an increase in order to spread the gospel of salvation within our country, and beyond to our neighboring countries.

Most importantly, we pray that God’s power, His Holy Spirit, continues to abide with us as we continue in faith. May our Lord be blessed for preserving the church in Nigeria through the stream of time. Amen.

Reflections on Our Church in Nigeria

Michael Chan—Leicester, UK

I first visited the True Jesus Church (TJC) in Nigeria in 2002, together with a fellow worker.

Since the late-1970s, I have heard much about our church in Nigeria from ministers who had served in pioneering work there. Nigeria was the first African country to receive the truth, as preached by the TJC, and the first in which the TJC was established. Many ministers from overseas have testified of the signs and miracles they witnessed in the early days of the church in Nigeria. God had blessed the Nigerian brethren with much grace, and they showed great yearning for the truth.

In the mid-1980s, I had the opportunity to meet several Nigerian workers when they came for training in the United Kingdom (UK). The seminar was held in Edinburgh, UK, at the church now known as Gifford Park. I remember arriving to church early that day, after a long overnight journey. As I was resting in one of the classrooms, the Nigerian workers were having their morning prayers in the church hall. The sound of the praying was like that of blowing wind; I was amazed—Jesus’ description of the Holy Spirit as the sound of blowing wind came to mind (Jn 3:8). That was my first experience of such prayers.

The Period of Decline

Although the churches in Nigeria had witnessed God’s grace, sad news reached us in the 1990s: many unfaithful workers and members had fallen away from the truth. Over a tumultuous period, those without a genuine heart for the truth departed, and influenced others to turn away too. Some even led groups of members away to form their own churches.

My first visit to Nigeria was in 2002, when the church was recovering from her lowest spiritual ebb. Only a handful of churches remained, with a couple hundred members. There was only one full-time worker for the whole country. But thank God, this young worker had grown up in the church, and had a strong faith in the truth. He did not have an easy life, but he showed no signs of quitting.

My fellow overseas worker and I hired a taxi and visited the churches in the Port Harcourt region. The trip was challenging and we suffered from dehydration and diarrhea, which disheartened us further. We wondered if there was any hope for the churches in Nigeria. Would God continue to care for His church here? Were there any true believers left? But God knows the heart of man, and truly cherishes His church. We visited the church in the home of the aforementioned young worker and, to my surprise, the faith of the members was strong. The way they prayed and listened to the word of God, and their warm reception, reassured us that there was still a faithful remnant in the Nigerian church.

Whenever I think of my time in Nigeria, one incident comes to mind. We went to visit a certain sister, whose father had forced her to leave her husband because of a dispute over the dowry. The father was a non-believer, so he forbade her from going to church, which was far from where they lived. We informed her that we would visit her during this trip. When we arrived at her village, she saw us coming from a distance, and came out of her house. She ran to greet us, like a young girl welcoming her father home. Her affection towards the workers touched me deeply. After we encouraged her to remain strong and not to give up amidst these troubles, she sent us off with many tears.

Witnessing God’s Revival

Early in 2017, fifteen years after my first visit, I returned to Port Harcourt to conduct a seminar for the Nigerian and Ghanaian workers. I was not quite sure what to expect this time. When I arrived, a few workers greeted me; among them was the young worker whom I first met fifteen years ago. I noticed a great change in the atmosphere—it was not the same as when I first visited. Although I did not have the opportunity to visit churches in other areas, I was able to have fellowship and discussions with members from across the country, and I felt they were now stronger, more faithful and more zealous, especially in the prayers they offered to God.

Now there are around 400 to 450 members in Nigeria—not only first-generation believers, some of whom I recognized from my first visit, but second- and even third-generation believers. This shows that faithful members have firmly held on to the truth. Over the last fifteen years, the International Assembly (IA) has been unable to send many workers to pastor the local members, because of difficulties in securing travel visas. Yet, God has trained the members and strengthened them by His grace during their decade in the wilderness. He led and taught them in His own way. The true church is thriving in Nigeria!

A Bright Future

The church in Nigeria is preparing for the future with plans to build new churches, and a training center in Port Harcourt. Although these projects are costly, the Nigerian members have not asked for a single penny of financial assistance from the IA or overseas churches. On top of this, the local members funded the expenses of the seminar I conducted in 2017. Such financial independence has yet to be seen in other countries on the African continent. Nigerian workers are also sent to pastor the churches in neighboring countries—such as Liberia and Ghana—and assist the work there.

May God continue to bless the churches and all the faithful workers in Nigeria, so that more wonderful and good work may be done for the glory of Jesus Christ. Amen.

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Author: Robinson Bini & Michael Chan
Publisher: True Jesus Church
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