History of Nigeria
History of the CLC’s work in Nigeria (NCLC)
(A Story of Human Failure and God’s Mercy)
In the early 1970’s Oscar Erpenstein of St. Stephen’s of San Francisco came into contact with certain Nigerian students schooling in the USA. He showed them the truth from God’s Word. When they returned to Nigeria, contact did not stop with these students of the Word. Oscar continued to correspond with them and their friends in Nigeria on the basic teachings of Christianity. From this correspondence a request came from Nigeria to come over and teach us.
In answer to this request, which was forwarded to the CLC Board of Missions, a visitation team of Pastors Carl Thurow and Norbert Reim traveled to Nigeria and visited the churches and individuals that voiced interest in the CLC through Oscar. It was determined by this visitation that here was a mission field in which we should work. Very near the outset of our relationship with these churches, they numbered around 2500 souls in 44 congregations. It appeared that there was much work to do to train these people in the pure Word.
Pastor E.E. Essien and several stations that he served addressed a letter to the CLC inquiring of affiliation. Pastor Essien had been trained at the old Synodical Conference school at Obot Idim. It seemed this would be a real doctrinal boost to the group now calling itself the Nigerian Church of the Lutheran Confessions (NCLC). None of the preachers or pastors who now made up the NCLC was trained Lutheran, and only one congregation had been Lutheran previously (Synodical Conference).
Patrick Udo with his wife and infant daughter arrived in the USA to begin his studies at Immanuel Lutheran College to prepare for the ministry. He had been chosen by the visitation team to come to the USA for training. At this time also, it appeared difficult to get a missionary into Nigeria from our CLC, although investigation began as to the possibility.
The NCLC had applied for a government registration number. This was a prerequisite to eventually apply for overseas missionaries. After much work and time on the part of NCLC members, the church was incorporated and registered with the Federal Government.
Recognizing that correspondence was not doing the job of keeping in touch with our sister church, a visitation team of Pastors Egbert Albrecht and P.F. Nolting visited the churches and held discussions with the leaders. The number of congregations had declined to 27. There were serious internal problems in the church. After assessing the report, the convention of the CLC that year reaffirmed its desire to continue the work there and to have a missionary on the scene. The visitation team stressed the importance of establishing a school for the preachers with two of our men staffing it. If this were not done, there could be little hope of an orthodox church there in fellowship with us.
The situation within the Church was not improving due to several factors, one of which was that no resident missionary was present. A visitation team of Pastors Norbert Reim and David Koenig visited the remaining congregations and held discussions with the leaders. A split within the NCLC was manifest, both before and after the visitation (this finally culminated in a separation between the two groups after the resident missionary arrived). The convention of that year, as always, affirmed the importance of a missionary. The CLC Board of Missions deemed that the India mission field in Andhra Pradesh State was a better field to enter and a missionary was to be called there. He would make periodic trips to Nigeria.
Calling a missionary to India began. Pastor David Koenig accepted the call. When it appeared that we would not be able to get the missionary into India, the Board of Missions decided to send the missionary to Nigeria instead.
The CLC’s first resident missionary arrived in Nigeria to take up the work. Pastor David Koenig, his wife and five children located at Efa Anyam, Etinan, Cross River State. The congregations and preaching stations numbering 12 were visited. Meeting after meeting was held concerning the split. In early 1987 the Ibeno group was clearly no longer with the NCLC. Meetings were held with Patrick Udo to determine his sincerity in serving in the NCLC.
Classes at the Lutheran Bible Institute began. This school was set up to train pastors for the ministry in the NCLC. Pastors Essien and Koenig taught with the help of Mr. Patrick Udo. It was to have one year of preparatory studies followed by a three-year course of a modified seminary program. Of the 12 students who began, eight completed the year’s studies and were passed into the three-year program. During this year, two new preaching stations were started. Students went on weekends to serve these as well as the other stations.
It was determined that Patrick Udo was sincere in his desire to serve the Lord in the NCLC ministry. The NCLC Board aurhorized his ordination, which took place at the Nya congregations.
The Bible Institute began its second year of operation with three students in the first year (one completed the course and was passed into the next year) and with eight students in the second year. During this year, two new preaching stations were started.
In February of this year, the government notified the Institute that the state government must approve it. In December the state government gave notice of its approval.
Ever since the arrival of the resident missionary, the work with the government was going on to obtain a church missionary quota number. Without this number, no foreign missionary could work with the NCLC. The missionary could be required to leave Nigeria at any time. Finally, all necessary papers were completed and forwarded to the Federal Capital at Abuja. Now we await the government’s assigning of the number. We await this with prayer. Once the number is given, then the missionary may apply for residency. After that, work can begin in earnest on a second missionary.
Pastor Norbert Reim, who had served for fifteen years in Nigeria, and Mr. Lee Krueger carried out a visitation. At the conclusion of this year we could look back and praise God that the Missionary/Expatriate Quota Number was granted by the Nigerian government and that the missionary gained resident status.
The two evangelists who have served with Pastor Essien for 14 years and completed part of the Institute program were ordained.
Pastor Koenig left the field, having resigned for personal reasons.
Pastor Paul Gurgel, his wife and three children arrived on the field, having accepted the call. Pastor Gurgel served for two terms, having been called once and then again by the Mission Board. During his service, the Bible Institute graduated the first class to go the five years. Several men also graduated in the succeeding years. A children’s home was started. A fifty-year lease was signed for a parcel of ground on which to erect a Bible Institute. Business operations for the students were attempted of farming and cassava grinding. Kinship begain supporting the children’s home in 1998.
Pastor Gurgel ended his term of service. The Mission Board decided to try to have the mission operate without a missionary present.
Seminarian Todd Ohlmann and Pastor Koenig carried out a visitation. They recommended to the Board of Missions that a resident missionary be again called.
Pastor Koenig accepted the call to Nigeria, with time also to be spent each year in India.
A preliminary visit was made by Pastor Koenig to the field to prepare to move there.
|(March 1998 – early 2000 information currently being updated)|
Pastor Essien Michael, who had been trained in our five-year program in Nigeria but had left us, asked for re-entry. After doctrinal discussions, he was admitted back into fellowship in the NCLC. For this and much more, we praise our Lord.
Pastor and Mrs. Koenig visited contacts in Togo (Ghana), Mike evidently would not be joining us. Further discussions were held with Gideon. We also met with Daniel, the proprietor of a private school where Gideon was the sole religious instructor. Daniel asked for assistance with his 350-student school. Work with Gideon will be carried on by correspondence courses and visits, culminating in recognizing him as a Lutheran pastor.
The first volunteers for the NCLC arrived to help in Nigeria. Martin and Larry Hansen worked for a month, completely remodeling a house for a second missionary. Up to 18 Nigerian volunteers helped each day.
The NCLC board called, among others:
First Missionary to Lagos – Pastor Bassey
Teacher to replace Pastor Essien at the Bible Institute – Pastor Edwin
Missionary to Badagry – Pastor Essien Michael.
|April 27, 2001
The new buildings of the NCLC at the new site in Efa were dedicated to the glory of God. The cost was well under $5,000.
Missionary trip involved the following locations:
NCLC has 900 members, 14 workers, and 13 students in the Bible Institute.
|December 7, 2001
After 7 or 8 calls were extended for a second missionary, the Mission Board asked Mike and Mary Thom to come to Nigeria as missionary helpers. They arrived in Port Harcourt on December 7th and left from Lagos on April 6, 2002.
|December 15, 2001
A retirement service was held for Pastor E.E. Essien, who had been trained in the old Synodical Conference mission and had served in the NCLC since shortly after April 1974. At the age of 86 he will continue to serve in various capacities, although not regularly preaching and teaching in the Bible Institute.
Classes began at the Bible Institute with: 3 new students, 12 in the four-year program, 1 in a six-month program to determine if he could be recommended for the ministry, having completed nearly the full five years.
|January 25, 2002
Whle for the first dedication of buildings at the new site, around three hundred people came for the service and goat meal, the teacher’s house for Pastor Edwin was dedicated to the glory of God with the pastors and students in attendance. Mike Thom carried out the dedication.
|January 26, 2002
Pastor Ndua was buried, his soul having been taken by the Lord to Himself. Ndua was one of the men in the first group of students in the Bible Institute which began in January 1987. He graduated five years later.
|April 1-4, 2002
Mike and Mary Thom and over a dozen NCLC people carried out our first Vacation Bible School in an attempt to do child evangelism. The final attendance was 187. This first VBS was carried out at Efa.
|April 6, 2002
Mike and Mary Thom, mission helpers, left Lagos, returning to the USA.
|December 14, 2002
Graduation service for Benedict and Antai from the Bible Institute.
|January 27, 2003
Began new school year with 3 first year students and 11 four year students.
|May 8-July 2, 2003
Pastor Karl Stewart was in Nigeria teaching and preaching, in the absence of Pastor Koenig.
The second house at the new site, for Pastor Udo, was dedicated to the glory of God by Pastor Stewart and the students and pastors.
|December 13, 2003
Graduation service for Ukpong and Patrick from the Bible Institute.
|January 26, 2004
The school year began with eleven in the four year program and no new students in the probationary year.
|April 4, 2004
Patrick Johnny was ordained to do work among the Muslims in the north. Previously, he and Ukpong had graduated.
|March 16, 2004
Pastor Matthew Gurath, wife Priscilla and son Jed were in Nigeria for three months.
|August 13-15, 2004
A catechism contest was held at Efa for all congregations to send three students each. VBS continued this year also.The NCLC has 780 members served by 16 pastors. Institute attendance was eleven.
|January 11-May 26, 2005
Mission helper Scott Schiermeister functioned in a variety of ways in Nigeria among the brethren.
|February 12, 2005
Five graduated from the Institute, one of which (Eyo) it was hoped would go to work at Lagos.
Missionary Patrick Johnny Ekpo was sent to Bauchi to do outreach.
|December 10, 2005 Three graduated from the Institute.|
|January. 7-May 31, December 2-15, 2005
The missionary was on the field.
Seven enrolled in the Institute with a change to come in January 2006/
|2006 At the close of ’06 there were: 20 pastors, 4 students in the institute, and 8 children in the children’s home. We continue with the four supported missions: Lagos, Port Harcourt, Bauchi, Badagry. The visit of the missionary was postponed to Jan. of ’07 due to visa problems.|
|2007 There was a visitation to the field by the missionary in Jan-Feb.|
January ’08 Pastors Ude and Koenig visited the field and went over the work we do jointly with our brothers. Three graduated from the institute and two students remain in the five year program. Work at Bauchi among Muslims was ended as there was no result. Pastor Matthew Ude will now be taking over the yearly visitation and contact with our brethren.
Pastor Matthew Ude returns to Nigeria. He visits Lagos and Port Harcourt as well as a few weeks in Efa.
Pastor Matthew Ude returns to Nigeria. Pastor Eric and Pastor Essien Michael join Pastor Ude in an open pastoral conference in Lome Togo. Plans are made to make visits regular between Togo, Ghana, and the western churches of Nigeria.
Pastor E E Essien president of NCLC is called home to his Lord.
Pastor Matthew Ude returns to Nigeria early to be there for the victory service of Pastor E. E. Essien. Due to militant activity Pastor Ude’s normal visitation routine is disrupted, but thanks to God there is no more serious problems. Nse graduates from the Bible Institute in Dec.
|January 2012 – 1st West Africa CLC Pastoral Conference
Missionary Matthew Ude joined the pastors and members from our fellow church bodies in West Africa for a joint conference in Badagari Nigeria. Members from the NCLC in Nigeria, the EELCT in Togo, and one young man from Ghana were present. Following is a list of the essays that were given:
Mission Work in the Apostolic Age and its lessons for Today
Financial Difficulties of African Churches
The Apostle’s Instruction Regarding Division in the Christian Church
Preaching the Gospel to the Unchurched
The Divine Call
Is the Devil Real?
An Introduction to the Gospel of John
The Bible Institute held graduation on December 2010. During which Nse Sunday Elijah graduated. Graduation was held also December 2011. During which Okpan Monday and Anthony graduated. All three students have now been assigned churches. There is the possibility of three new students coming at some point this year.