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Scripture union and the charismatic revival in Nigeria




“Scripture Union’s evangelical and ecumenical religious culture was a suitable medium for the expression of revival Christianity…The Civil War Revival was a radical response to perceived deficiencies within existing Christian communities, and the SU provided a safe environment for these sentiments to be expressed,” Richard Burgess.

The Charismatic revivals that occurred across the nation happened amidst the background of political uncertainty, and social disruptions among the youths in the nation. Eileen Lageer captures the mood of the nation in the years preceding the revival in these words: “From a church leader came this sentiment, ‘Many of our young people once looked to politics to be the great moving force in our country. How quickly and devastatingly that has all been swept away! They are now looking for a more stable and lasting force to make Nigeria what it should be.’”

One pastor re-echoed the hunger that was so prevalent in the Church at that time this way: “When I look at our denomination, all I can think of is Ezekiel’s valley of dry bones. Yes, we have had the message, but oh, how we need a great revival to stir up our love – a wind that will blow upon the dry bones of our ritualism and bring sinews and flesh to our worship once more.” Therefore, the Charismatic revival came at the right time to satisfy the yearning in the hearts of many in the society.

The Scripture Union (SU), the New Life For All (NLFA), the Fellowship of Christian Students (FCS) and the Nigerian Fellowship of Evangelical Students (NIFES) – all four Christian organizations at various levels were actively involved in the harvest of the teeming population of youths. The Scripture Union worked in the secondary schools in the South; the FCS worked among the university and secondary school students in the North; while the NLFA mobilized the entire Church across the nation, but majorly in the North, to reach out to all who needed salvation.

The Scripture Union (SU) contributed immensely in laying the foundation for the Charismatic revival in Nigeria, especially in the southeastern part of Nigeria. It started in Britain on June 2, 1867, as the Children’s Special Service Mission (CSSM), and by 1885, its ministry had reached Nigeria through a CMS missionary, Rev. Charles Henry Vidal Gollmer.
Phases of ministry work

In January 1958, John Dean resumed duty as the pioneer traveling secretary for the Union. Dean was an energetic traveling secretary, who traversed the length and breadth of Nigeria for the cause of the Union.

By 1962, Dean moved up to northern Nigeria to join the Fellowship of Christian Students (FCS), while Peter Edwards stepped into his position. The same period, Jane Sutton joined the staff of SU as a new traveling secretary. By 1964, Bill Roberts also joined the team of SU traveling secretaries; he was to play a major role in the revival that started off in the East soon after the civil war. 1966 was a landmark year for the work of SU in Nigeria, because in the same year the Union became autonomous.

In the same year, 1966, Bill moved to the eastern part of the country. Few months after Bill Roberts arrived in the East, a civil war broke out that God used to harvest many souls in that region of the country. Bill’s decision to stay back in the East during the civil war, proved very timely and strategic to God’s revival programme for the East. For Contact: pastor

In this article:
Austen C. Ukachi
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