In 2003 the main campus in Ibadan and the satellite campus in Lagos began to train gospel ministers in the Southwest States of Nigeria. The pioneering teachers of the School are myself (Makinde E. Olufemi), Okon S. Udoh, Dairo Abiodun Joseph, late Ebenezer Aiyela, Emmanuel Olu Adediran, Philip Okome and Stephen Okesami. The school is the fulfillment of my 1989 dream when I was a student in the Ministerial Department of Nigeria Christian Institutes Uyo, Akwa Ibom State. The school was founded with 50% of my support from Joel Coppinger of World Bible School of Tulare County, California. Beginning in 2008 Douglas M. Wheeler began to raise scholarships for students in Ibadan. SWSE only provides our teachers with their transport expenses.
The School began in a World Bible School classroom in Onikokuri-Ibadan with five students before moving to a twelve-room block built by the Makindes in 2006. In December 2012 we moved to our permanent site at Butubutu Village via Badeku/Jago, Ibadan. The cost to train a student in Ibadan is $600 per year and between $1500-$2000 for our weekend campaigns and evangelism. Tuition is provided. Students do not need a houseboy or maid and will not be allowed to have one on campus.
The aim of the school is: (1) To indoctrinate the students so that they will remain faithful to Christ (1 Tim. 4:11, 9-16); (2) To train tomorrow’s leaders (2 Tim. 2:2; Rom. 10:14); (3) To prepare God’s people for service so that the body of Christ may be built up (Eph. 4:12-16). Supplemental goals are to teach students to love each other, count others better than themselves and always have a humble dependence upon the Lord.
Full-time students in Ibadan study one year/two years; part time students in Lagos study for three years. However, the time of study may be longer depending upon the student’s maturity and performance both in the field and in the school.
Much has been accomplished during the first ten years of SWSE, but more needs to be done. The school has been involved in the planting of 50 congregations in the Southwest States of Nigeria. Over 100 have graduated and are serving as evangelists in the Lord’s church in Nigeria and other African countries. A goal of the director and board members is to improve the knowledge of the instructors as well as promote wiser and more effective students. To this end, Chad Wagner of BVBI and Douglas M. Wheeler of the Westside congregation in Norman, Oklahoma helped us develop an association with the Bear Valley Bible Institute of Denver, Colorado in May 2012. Since that time, Doug Wheeler, Ron Pottberg, Joel Coppinger, Bill Pennell, Steven Ashcraft, Ralph Williams, Denton Landon, Bill Stewart and Gary Fallis have taught in the Southwest School of Evangelism in Ibadan.
SWSE graduated 18 evangelists on August 24, 2013. At the same time, 32 new students began the 2013-2014 academic sessions in a study of God’s Word. Those who satisfactorily complete their studies will receive a Diploma in Theology from SWSE and Certificate from the Bear Valley Bible Institute of Denver.
Our conviction is that we expect to pass through this world but once; therefore whatever good things we can do, let us do them now!
Makinde E. Olufemi
THE JOURNEY TO NIGERIA
I had previously taught on four occasions in Abakaliki in Southeastern Nigeria. This was my first sojourn into the Southwestern States. I did not know when I left for Ibadan that I was in the largest city in West Africa aside from Cairo.
I arrived on time in Lagos Saturday evening. However, the luggage conveyer belt quickly broke down amid our fears and consternation. An hour and a half later I had my luggage. A lady born in Nigeria, who is now living and working in the states, said that it breaks every time she returns home.
Things rapidly improved after that. Makinde, the director, was there to meet me with our chauffeur and a board member of the school. We worshipped in Lagos the next morning, had lunch with the preacher and then traveled to Ibadan. The Southwest School of Evangelism is located about fifteen miles from Ibadan near the village of Butubutu on one of the roughest roads ever. The new campus is well planned, consisting of an administration building, classroom/auditorium and a dormitory. The dormitory is not yet completed so the students are living in rooms within the administration building.
The SWSE ministries are many! Weekend evangelism is a staple. Teachers and students preach in area congregations. World Bible School courses are distributed and graded. Brethren plan to begin printing the Voice of Truth in Nigeria, thus saving thousands of dollars. (Jerry Bates, who works with the Voice of Truth and BVBID, arranged with Makinde for this addition). Steven Ashcraft, West Africa Coordinator of BVBID, has encouraged American Christians to provide two new laptop computers and high quality printers for academic and evangelistic purposes.
I had a warm welcome from everyone. I taught “Scheme of Redemption” the first week and “Hebrews” the second week. Both teachers and students comprised a class of about 40 students. An African custom is to allow questions at the end of each class period. This keeps the teacher “on his toes” as all questions may not be on the subject of the class. I did, however, try to guide the questions back to the discussion of the Biblical writer.
The First Graduation and Lectureship at the new campus in Butubutu-Ibadan was the highlight of the trip. Approximately 200-300 Christians gathered for the three day event. Special lectures were given by guest preachers Thursday and Friday. Students graduated on Saturday. No one can celebrate like our African brethren. They had not “killed the fatted calf,” but they had bought the fatted goat. I rode back from my hotel with at least a half dozen slaughtered animals ready for the cooking pot. Makinde Olufemi, the Director, was the chief butcher, preparing the animals for the meals. Everyday there was a potluck lunch for members and their guests. An American may have wondered, “Who was supposed to bring the casserole?”
Fifteen students graduated. These Christians came from several Nigerian states, some from Eastern Nigeria and at least one from the more dangerous northern Nigerian states. Lectureship speakers came from Lagos, Ibadan and adjacent states. I delivered the commencement address, representing the Bear Valley Bible Institute. My text was Ezra 7:10: “For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel.”
I had also presented a lecture entitled “The Pattern of New Testament Christianity” on Friday. It has been many moons since I have had as many opportunities and such a diverse group of studies on one mission trip. I am indebted to Makinde E. Olufemi who made my stay comfortable and my return memorable.
To see Gary’s report with pictures from Nigeria, please click here.