‘For 60 Years, We Have Reasons To Thank God’

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The New Lagos Baptist Church Surulere is clocking 60 this month, in the interview with Sandra Ukele, the Senior Pastor of the church, Adegboyega Manasseh Adetunmibi, talks about the ministry’s journey so far

How long have you been with the New Lagos Baptist Church Surulere?

I have been here only for seven years but we are celebrating the 60th year existence of our church this month. God has been faithful to the church and we want to recognise the work of our founding fathers and we want to continue to build upon their good works. This is the bottom line of our celebration.

We know that everything in this world is by His Grace, nobody can accomplish anything by his own strength so we tagged our theme for this celebration as “60Years Of God’s Grace.” In this theme, we celebrate His goodness, mercies and grace. The church was founded on October 28, 1956 but was organised on the January 20, 1963. Organisation in Baptist context means that the Church has become a full-fledged Baptist Church.

Can you talk more about the growth of the church in the last 60 years?

One of the things we know about the church is that it is an institution of transition where people come in and go out. By the grace of God, the church attendance is around 400 members. Initially it was more but because of relocation of members to their personal houses which has affected church membership a little bit. However, we thank God that the church keeps growing. Spiritually, we are moving on, financially God is helping us and morally we are making progress. We depend on God’s grace for all these things and we are trusting God for more.

As I mentioned earlier, we are building upon the foundation laid down by our forefathers. Presently we are planning to add more values to the lives of worshippers and our community. The church has been involved in many projects. So for 60 years, we have many reasons to thank Godand for this anniversary, we want to have educational project in commemoration of our 60th year.

What does this educational project entails?

There are two ways of looking at it. First of all, we want to have primary school education as an effective medium of evangelism. This is because education is costly in this area. In fact, from our statistics, this church charges the minimum rate in terms of school fees. This is because we want the low-income earners in this vicinity to sponsor their wards to school. For this reason, we are considering having a good structure to provide quality education and to complement government’s effort in providing basic education. Secondly, we would be using this building for our Sunday school classes, discipleship, membership class and other areas to empower the teaching ministry of the church.

Speaking about education how can you describe the Nigerian educational system?

Nigeria is trying its best but it is not like the original intention of the missionaries. The missionaries brought education to Nigeria; they were not charging an exorbitant fee in the past, which was the reason why many people were able to afford good education. Presently, even churches charges for school are too high for many people to pay. To me, I do not see progressive means of education here now because of the cost.

The federal government is doing its part but federal government cannot do everything, the church should be able to collaborate with the efforts of the government and those who enjoyed free education should be able to contribute their own parts so that the less privileged would be able to have access to qualitative education.

How would you compare the church in the 50’s and the present day church in terms of training and education?

I am a trained Baptist pastor from The Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary, Ogbomoso. I attended the University of Ibadan for my first and second degrees. I also went to Holland to study Reformed Theology. In those days, I could see the zeal for righteousness but now it is the zeal for prosperity.

The church has become a kind of social club where people talk more of socialisation without consciousness of heaven. In those days people valued rapture, heaven, holiness and characters are been molded but presently it is the issue of prosperity theology. The disparity is wide. In our church, we tell members that heaven is the ultimate; whatever you accomplish in this world if you do not make heaven it is a waste.