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Revival and reformation




Forerunners Of The Pentecostal Movement In Nigeria

History must give credit to those men and women through whose passion, daring faith, perseverance and unswerving commitment to faith Pentecostalism that was bred and nurtured in Nigeria. These forerunners include Garrick Sokari Marian Braide, Sophia Odunlami, Joseph Sadare and D.O. Odubanjo of the Precious Stone Society; Joseph Babalola, Bishop James Johnson, Augustus E. Wogu; Evangelist Jonathan of the Spirit Movement and many others.

Born about 1882 in Abonema, in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria, Braide embraced the Christian faith at eight, and was mentored in the rudiments of the faith by Rev. Moses A. Kemmer, who was the Minister-in-Charge at St. Andrews Anglican Church, Bakana. Right from a tender age, Braide had an unusual passion for God.

His obvious dedication to the things of God made Kemmer to single him out and give him all the necessary encouragement to enable him answer the call of God. Under Kemmer, he got all the mentoring that prepared him for the ministry. Apart from Braide’s devotion, Kemmer became convinced about the call of God on him when his prayer led to the healing of his (Kemmer’s) wife.

Braide pioneered the faith healing ministry in Nigeria. As early as 1914, when faith healing was anything, but popular in the world, the Lord had launched him into it. How he got into the healing ministry is not known, other than to believe that it was by personal revelation and the study of the word of God. He believed that there was a relationship between sin and sickness and seemed to have had a personal revelation about the efficacy of the blood of Jesus Christ to heal the sick. This was obvious from the five-fold steps he advocated that his audience should follow to attract their personal healing. He urged them to ‘cast away their idols if they had any, to forsake the wearing of charms, to abstain from using medicines, to confess their sins and to rely on the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ, to heal them of all sins and diseases.’

Braide was not a man who shied away from a power encounter, be it with the political authorities or with traditional evil powers during his ministry. ‘He challenged traditional priests in a rain-making contest and then bested them by invoking the Christian God.’ Braide taught on repentance from sin, the need to accept Jesus Christ, as one’s saviour, the necessity to destroy and give up all traces of idolatry and the drinking of alcohol, and the need for absolute faith in divine healing.

Many reasons were responsible for the growth of Braide’s ministry. His ability to mobilise the people to pray, the introduction of indigenous songs, which vitalised the mode of worship, his outright condemnation of idolatry and his ability to heal the sick through prayers. Within a few years, Braide had gathered thousands of converts in the Niger Delta and beyond.

By 1916, the ministry was already showing signs of decline. Various factors were responsible for this unpleasant development. As a young man, he fell victim to pride and public adulation. His public self-acclaim to be the second Prophet Elijah only attests to the pride in his heart. Braide’s ministry validates one fact: revivals, in no small measure, contribute to church planting and church growth.

For details consult: “The Best Is Yet to Come: Pentecostal and Charismatic Revivals 1919 to 1990s.”

In this article:
Austen C. Ukachi
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