Echoes of revival… New Nigeria resonates as Elton turns 87
For many people who understood the legacies of British missionary to Nigeria, Ruth Elton, dedication, selflessness, love, total obedience and commitment to revival as well as a new Nigeria are priorities.
Ruth Elton, daughter of Sydney Granville Elton (Pa Elton), who is referred to as one of the founding fathers of Pentecostalism in Nigeria, had approached a Kaduna court and nationalised as a Nigerian.
At old age and despite the happenings in Nigeria, she still holds in high esteem her father’s prophecies that although Nigeria could be known globally for corruption, it would only for a while as new dawn would beckon when the country would be known worldwide for righteousness and prosperity.
Even at 87, Elton, who spoke to The Guardian at her Ilesa home in Osun State as well-wishers gathered to celebrate her, remained resolute about humanity, the desire for people to embrace the love of God and the need for the nation’s leaders to live selflessly.
Recall that Elton had relocated to Nigeria with her parents in 1937 at the age of three. Like her father, Elton became a missionary and served in Okene, Koto Karfi and other areas of Kogi state before retiring to Ilesa from active missionary work.
Elton, who remained single, believes that she has made a true mark in the country and apart from her missionary work, she sees her efforts in taming infant mortality, especially in Okene, Kogi state as a generational impact.
Relating her experience on infant mortality in the country, Elton noted that many newborn babies had passed on due to lack of proper care and hygiene, adding that the practice of force-feeding babies contributed to the challenges, especially in the face of poor awareness.
“Many children at that time died because hygiene was very poor. The children lacked proper care. So, I started by teaching the women how to change some of the practices they were used to. There was a change and drastic reduction in infant death,” she stated.
Elton is not pleased with some of the practices in some churches in Nigeria today, insisting that while the gospel must be about repentance and the need to prepare souls for the Kingdom of God, there has been a shift to things and teachings of lesser priorities.
She noted that the fear of God has been waning as most people only go to church but are not sincere about the love of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Comparing Christian practices in those days and now, Elton said: “In those days, if you believe in Jesu, your heart is changed but today so many people go to church but their hearts are not changed. They only profess that they believe in Jesus. They don’t. Sometimes, when you ask them when they were converted, they can’t give you an answer.”
She expressed worry about religious tolerance in the country, insisting that works of anti-Christs are manifesting rapidly in the country while stressing the need for the church to understand the undertones and take necessary actions.
For her, Nigeria would be great but Christians must not allow activities of anti-Christ to take over the country, adding that leaders, especially political leaders, must also understand the spiritual dynamics of the current challenges bedevilling the nation.
A missionary, who spoke at the ceremony, Dayo Adeyemo, noted that the life Elton lives is totally different from what the new generational men of God display, adding that there has been ‘Americanisation’ of the gospel in Nigeria.
He sees Americanisation as a development, which is corrupting the church in Nigeria, adding that Elton had warned against such development but most church leaders in the country failed to take caution.
“The message is that there is a need for the body of Christ to return to the ancient landmark. We need to adjust what we do today in the name of Christianity,” Adeyemo said.
The late wife of John Adelega, who founded Kingdom Gospel Mission, Tinuola Aladega, stated that the lifestyle of Elton is totally different from most Christians in the country, noting that while the woman is living selflessly, most Christians do not exhibit such a lifestyle.
According to her, the efforts of the Elton family would continue to speak volumes in the country as the missionaries remained mentors and an elixir to many Christians in the country.
A missionary, who has worked closely with Elton, Tayo Ojueromi said the British woman pioneered the largest indigenous evangelical church among Ebira people of Kogi state and instead of serving as a General Overseer, handed the church over to the people and moved on.
Ojueromi, who added that it was worthy to emulate how the woman served the country diligently, instead of Britain, said: “Christian and political leaders need to understand what it takes to make a trans-generational impact by making sacrifices that touch the very heart of God.”