pROJECT TOPIC- GROWTH AND EXPANSION OF PENTECOSTAL CHURCHES IN TIVLAND 1975 – 2005
The work is on Growth and Expansion of Pentecostal Churches in Tivland 1975- 2005. The work adopted phenomenological method and Tiv ethnic group was used as a case study. The growth of Pentecostal churches that seem uncontainable is
demonstrated in the dense presence of these churches almost everywhere in Tivland. The study is concerned with the factors responsible for their successive growth and expansion.Phenomenological method focuses on the detailed description of acquainted experience without alternative to assumption or preconceived supposition. The method used enabled the researcher to observe Pentecostal activities in an objective way and to interpret the experience without
bias and ambiguity. Oral interview was also conducted and information gathered was interpreted analytically. The study revealed that Pentecostal activities started in Tivland in 1972 as a fellowship meeting that was later converted to a church. After that many other Pentecostal churches began to come through government workers, church workers and pastors. There aremore than two hundred different Pentecostal churches in Tivland as of the time of research. These churches expanded very fast because of their enthusing style of worship and theology. Also, Pentecostal churches appear very fascinating and the people patronize them in great numbers because unlike mainline churches, they allow a greater degree of lay participation.The study shows that Pentecostal churches face challenges such as lack of finance, manpower and converts that will stand the test of time. The work recommends among other things that, pastors should be encouraged to undergo
theological training for better grooming. They should lead as shepherds, avoid competition and encourage teamwork, emphasis soul wining, and extend hands of friendship to other denominations as brothers in the Lord. In conclusion,
Pentecostalchurches have made substantial growth and expansion in Tivland more than their predecessors.
1.1 Background to the Study
The topic growth and expansion of Pentecostal Churches in Tivland, 1975- 2005 needs alittle explanation. The word growth in this thesis is used to imply origin of Pentecostalism in Tivland. Expansion is used to denotethe spread of Pentecostal Churches from simple form to more complex stage.
Growth and Expansion therefore mean how Pentecostalism started and developed, while expansion concerns thewidespread of the movement in Tivland.On the other hand, tThe term Pentecostalism is linked to the doctrine of subsequent and initial evidence, which, originated in the United States of America at the turn of the 20th century. It is also refers to the experience of the baptism in the Holy Spirit.Pentecostalism is seen as one of the fastest growing movements within Christianity in Nigeria and the world at large.
The term Pentecostalism is linked to the doctrine of subsequent and initial evidence, which, originated in the United States of America at the turn of the 20th century. It also refers to the experience of the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Anderson
(2004:10) shares this view when he affirms that those who have post-conversion experience speak in unknown tongues.This kind of Pentecostalism has influenced the mainline churches as well as non-Christians. Achunike (2004:12) confirms.This
when he asserts that the mainline churches adopt different names for Pentecostalism.
For instance, in the Catholic Church, it is called Catholic Charismatic Renewal of Nigeria.It operates as Evangelical Fellowship in the Anglican Communion and in Methodist Church it is called Methodist Evangelical Movement. In the same line of argument, Johns (1993:63) points out that Pentecostalism is multifaceted. Some of them are the Trinitarians and non- Trinitarians, while others are Adult Baptism practitioners and some baptize both infant and adult and it is not all Pentecostals that speak in tongues.
Pentecostalism in Nigeria was inspired by new Religious Movements in Nigeria, which share some common features with them. Gaiya (2002:para.4) buttresses this view that “during an influenza epidemic in 1918, revivals flared within Mission Churches and the Aladura Churches expanded”. For example, the Cherubim and Seraphim Society was founded in 1925 as well as the Church of the Lord(Aladura) in 1930 respectively.
The Anglican form of prayer known as the Precious Stone Society came up to heal the influenza victims in 1918.The group left AnglicanChurch in the early 1920s and was affiliated with Faith Tabernacle Church based in Philadelphia. Also Joseph Babalola of Faith Tabernacle led a revival that converted thousands of people. The movement initiated ties with the Pentecostal Apostolic Church in Great Britain in 1932, but the ties were dissolved over the use of modern medicine. Pew Forum on Religion (2011: para.1) reports that the Celestial Church of Christ also came into western Nigeria from Benin and rapidly grew and expanded across the northern region.
Later it became one of the largest Aladura Churches in Africa. Pa Josiah Akindayome, one of their members later established the Redeemed Christian Church of God. The Redeemed Christian Church of God “became increasingly Pentecostal in theology, practice and growth” Pew Forum on Religion (2011: para.2). It has become very large and their churches cut across the globe including United States.
Another form of revival emerged between 1930 and 1960 which included both Charismatic and Pentecostal movements. Kalu (2008:34) maintains that this wave of revival includes “the Charismatic Youth Movement among the youth of various denominations that occurred in different parts of the country; challenging the parent group which allegedly suffered from power failure”. The group aimed at re- evangelizing the mainline churches and converting new souls for God.
Forum on Religion (2011: para.2) confirms that the 1930 and 1960 revival aided the evangelical revival of the 1970s.This was a wave of Pentecostal expansion that started operating as fellowship but was later transformed into the establishment of
new Churches. One of the leaders of such Churches was Benson Idahosa, who established the Church of God Mission International in 19782.
Then the Pentecostal umbrella organization, Grace of God Mission was founded in 1974 and
William Kumuyi established Deeper Life Bible Church in 198273. The New Charismatic Churches or Pentecostals grew throughout the 1980s and 1990s. David Oyedepo founded one of such Churches in 1988 known as Living Faith Church
According to Otonko (2005:30), there are numerous Pentecostal churches in Nigeria today.Some are very large with thousands of members of the congregation across the country. One of them is the Redeemed Christian Church of God. On the other hand, Kalu (2002:123) says that, the Pentecostal Churches of the 1970s were well known by their teaching on personal ethics, sanctification and the adaptation of strict separation from the worldly activities.
In the 1980s the teachings assumed a different dimension with the faith movement and an increased number of prosperity preachers. A higher growth pattern continued into the 1990s but with rational return to holiness. Achunike (2004:13) opines that the Pentecostal fervorpassion and activities are on the increase in such a way that television and radio stations are employed to propagate the gospel.
Signboards of different Pentecostal Churches are seen almost at every strategic place. These churches operate at any empty space such as classrooms, uncompleted buildings, garages and so onetc. Pentecostals have numerous ways of reaching out or preaching the word of God. They organize crusades; carry out outreaches in which pastors and members preach the gospel to people on the streets and market places.
In a case report by Agu Mashika (Personal communication6/5/2013), the Pentecostal wave came to Tivland in 1972, in Gboko the prime and political city of Tiv people through some university students who became born again at different higher institutions.
Among the students were John Ornguze and Joe Chul who were influenced by Pentecostal teaching. He said David Pilah was a Methodist and himself a member of Nongu uU Kristu uKen Sudan kHen Tiv NKST (The Church
of Christ in the Sudan among the Tiv) was himself not satisfied with the teachings of their churches.Therefore they decided to leave their Churches and joined these students and they formed a fellowship at Christian Youth CenterCentre in Gboko.
This was a central body for Charismatic group, popularly known as “born again.”
In 1974 they were led by the Spirit to go and invite Benson Idahosa of the Church of God Mission for a crusade. He accepted the invitation and attended the meeting during which very many people became born again and added to their numbers.After the crusade, a revival broke forth in Tivland.
Besides, David Pilah points out that (personal communication 6/5/2013) National Youth Service Scheme also promoted the spread of the movement in Tivland through corps members that were posted in the area. When the group became big, there was an administrative leadership problem and John Ornguze separated from the group with some members and established Christian Centre Church in Gboko. This was the first Pentecostal Church established by an indigene in Tivland. David Pilah also left the prayer group later and established Salvation Formatted: English (U.K.)
Mission Church. Pilah further explains that some churches were established as a result of workers who were transferred to Makurdi, the capital of Benue State.
Some workers who were on transfer from other places to Benue State also founded some other Churches. For example, Benson Odogu, a military officer who was on transfer to Makurdi, founded the Gospel Church.Lastly, some Pentecostal Churches were established by the indigenes that separated from their parent Churches and founded their own for one reason or the other.
Observation shows that Pentecostal Churches have grown to a staggering proportion virtually in every part of Tivland. Some scholars such as Kalu, Ojo, Achunike,Otonko are of the view that the rapid growth of Pentecostal Churches is because of their expressive theology, liturgy and worship, gender participation, prayer and fasting, prophecy, healing and deliverance, among other things.
However,Pentecostals also believed that their growth is due to the working of the Holy Spirit that inspires them and not human efforts. That is why Hoover (1948) says:
I believe that the true secret of the whole thing is that we really and truly believe in the Holy Spirit-We trust Him-we really honour Him- we really obey Him-we really give Him free rein-we really believe that the promise in Act1: 45 and Joel 2:28-29is for us. (pP.31. 31).
The Pentecostals believe in the Holy Spirit baptism and the manifestation of speaking in tongues, holiness ethics, the emphasis and authority of the scriptures and evangelization, which helped the growth and expansion of Pentecostal
churches not only in Tivland but the world in general.
PROJECT TOPIC- GROWTH AND EXPANSION OF PENTECOSTAL CHURCHES IN TIVLAND 1975 – 2005
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Since its inception, the Pentecostal movement since has experienced tremendous growth in terms of the proliferation of its churches and its membership strength. Indeed, the explosion of the movement in Nigeria and elsewhere is a glaring reality. Recognizably, Pentecostalism has penetrated the mainline churches.
Obviously, Pentecostals are proliferating almost on a daily basis and are winning many converts. The growth of Pentecostal churches, which seemsuncontrollable, is substantiated in the heavy presence of its churches in every nook and cranny of the
Nigerian society. Tivland is not left out in this. In fact, Pentecostal activities in Tivland appear very inspiring. People patronize Pentecostal churches in great numbers in Tivland with diverse needs and everybody is involved.
One cannot help but onders what the attraction to these churches could be. While the seeming nonlively moods of service in the mainline churches may, in part, account for the success of growth of these churches, the study is concerned with the nature of this incessant and untiring growth and expansion.
It is the speedy growth and expansion pattern of Pentecostal churches in Tivland and elsewhere that constitutethat seem constitutes a major problem. This problem will be thoroughly studied and investigated in order to highlight the key factors that are responsible for this rapid growth and expansion. Thus, it is on this account that the researcher desires to study the growth and expansion of Pentecostal churches in Tivland.
1.3 Aims of the Study
This research work is motivated by the desire to investigate into an aspect of Pentecostalism that has been unattended to by scholars. The study is prompted by interrelated aims, which includes:
(i) To examine the origin of Pentecostal Churches in Tivland.
(ii) To determine the factors that gave rise to the expansion of Pentecostal churches in Tivland.
(iii) To study the doctrine of Pentecostal churches in Tivland.
(iv) To examine the impact of Pentecostal churches in Tivland.
1.4 Significance of the Study
The research work is both imperative and significant in the following ways:
(i) A work on the growth of Pentecostal churches has not been properly documented in Tivland. Therefore it will serve as a reference point
for the Pentecostal churches in Tivland and the society.
(ii) The impact these Pentecostal churches have on the lives of Tiv people in particular and other peoples in Benue State in general are enormous and cannot be wished away.The study is significant because of the claims that Pentecostals share the same experience of the disciples on the day of Pentecost.
(iii) An appropriate understanding and appreciation of Pentecostalism as a branch of Christianity in Tivland is of utmost importance and this understanding and appreciation provide a window into the activities of these Pentecostal churches.