Today, getting the gospel to unreached people groups is a missional priority. While the language is new, the concept is not. Southern Baptists have been sending missionaries to difficult places to launch gospel movements for a long time. One of those is a significant missional success story.
In 1850, Southern Baptists sent Thomas Jefferson Bowen as a missionary to Nigeria. He preached the gospel, baptized the first converts, and organized the first churches. The result was the Nigerian Baptist Convention. It is now the third largest Baptist convention in the world with more than 3 million baptized members. Weekly attendance at Nigerian Baptist churches exceeds 6 million. They are self-supporting and self-propagating, using their version of the Cooperative Program (yes, they use that title) to fund their work. Their mission work has resulted in churches being started and conventions forming in several other African countries.
For those of you starting gospel movements among unreached people today, be encouraged! This is what can result in 150 years of steady progress. Not only are there now millions of converts in thousands of churches, they also have a major hospital, a university with 3,000 enrolled, a seminary granting masters and doctoral degrees, and multiple other ministry training centers across the country. God has blessed Southern Baptist mission-sending work with ample fruit of the gospel.
While you are reading this, I am preaching multiple messages at the annual convention and related events for the Nigerian Baptist Convention. Pray for me and pray for Nigerian Baptists as we work together to further the gospel’s impact across Africa.