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The Nigerian civil war years and scripture union work


Austen C. Ukachi

Austen C. Ukachi

God can use any kind of situation to His advantage. History confirms that revivals have broken out during peace, as well as war times. The Nigerian civil war was the tinderbox God needed to ignite the flame of revival in the Eastern part of Nigeria. War times are abnormal and unusual times, characterised by devastation, suffering, uncertainty, lack, and fear. The secession of Biafra from the rest of Nigeria was a result of a prolonged political crisis that engulfed the nation in the 1960s.
War Time Activities

Once the secession was declared, a war ensued between the Federal Government forces and the young army of the new Biafran Republic. As the months went by, the Biafran enclave came under unprecedented pressure and hardship. Schools were permanently closed down, businesses and work were seriously disrupted. Many young men were conscripted into the army.

Once the civil war started, Bill Roberts relocated from the Methodist College, Uzuakoli, where he was based to the Methodist Manse, Mission Hill, Umuahia. From here, he began to reach out to the many young men and women who were out of school during the civil war. He held Bible studies, guest services, games, and other programmes where young men and women were invited to hear the gospel. He encouraged and strengthened Pilgrim groups in villages surrounding Umuahia at Umuda Isingwu, headed by Obidike Maduako; one at Ossah Ibeku, headed by Uchenna Emezue; another at Amachara, Olokoro, Amuzu Ukwu Ibeku and Ohia.

From the weekly and monthly fellowship meetings at the Mission Hill, Bill Roberts discipled and built up a team of dedicated Christians who became the arrowhead of the revival that broke out immediately after the civil war ended in January 1970. Bill Roberts’ disciples included such people as Sam Nnamuo, John Onuorah, Chris Onuoha, Pauline Ihejiofor, Uchenna Emezue, Gilbert Nwokolobia, Ume Kalu (now Dr. Okwun), John Nwangwu, and many others.
Conversion Of The Arrowheads Of The Revival

Bill hardly knew what role God had destined him to play in Biafra when he decided to stay back during the civil war. In 1969, a young man in his twenties, Stephen Okafor, who was desperately searching for God, came to meet Bill. Their meeting each other was providential. Stephen was a member of one of the many prayer houses that operated by so-called visionary prophets during the civil war. Stephen was already a cross bearer in one of these groups, but felt deeply dissatisfied with his life. He knew he needed God, and his search for God brought him in contact with Bill Roberts, who eventually led him to Christ. Stephen was destined to play a significant role in the revival that started off in the eastern part of Nigeria soon after the civil war. Once he accepted the Lord Jesus Christ, “a mighty passion for lost souls rested in Stephen’s heart. Bill, seeing his zeal to evangelise started taking Stephen to many Scripture Union meetings. That same year, 1969, Bill Roberts left for home.”

The war ended in January 1970. In the meantime, Stephen, like the biblical Andrew, reached out to some of his colleagues at the Ufuma Prayer Group, and that resulted in Raphael Okafor and Arthur Oruizu answering the call of God upon their lives. “Raphael and Arthur’s buried talents were unearthed. Like Stephen, they were ablaze with taking the gospel to many souls.” The three formed a team of evangelists and took eastern Nigeria by storm soon after the civil war.

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