The beginning of Baptist work in Nigeria can be traced back to 1850, when late Rev. Thomas Jefferson Bowen first arrive Badagary, Nigeria, to start his missionary activities. The spread of Baptist work was faster in western Nigeria than in the East. In 1893, Baptist work started in Buguma, Rivers State, Nigeria, and this was later organized as a church in 1898. By 1929, the First Baptist Church, Port Harcourt, was founded and later, five more Baptist churches were established in Port Harcourt.
The youth of these six churches formed the Port Harcourt Baptist Youth Council and began to work together for the purpose of evangelism. They held crusades and began to open churches in Port Harcourt neighborhood and beyond. These youth were much encouraged by Late Rev. Godspower Ogorgor Isaiah of Faith Baptist Church, Port Harcourt.
Newlife Baptist Church (NBC) is a Christian community in Rumueme, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria, with a vast building containing a worship hall, a children’s department and offices. It has an average attendance of over six hundred worshippers every Sunday. It is a Baptist evangelical church belonging to the Rehoboth Baptist Association, Rivers Baptist Conference and the Nigerian Baptist Convention.
Newlife Baptist Church, Rumueme, Port Harcourt, had a humble beginning. First Baptist Church, Diobu (now Faith Baptist Church, Port Harcourt) under the leadership of Late Rev. Godspower Isaiah identified Mgbuoshimini in Rumueme as a viable place for church planting. Rev Isaiah then approached the Port Harcourt Baptist Youth Council to partner with his church and plan a crusade at Mgbuoshimini market square to usher in the new church. Deacon Ngiangia was the preacher for the three-day “Jesus is Lord” Crusade. This was in 1985 and after the crusade, the church was born.
The first Sunday worship service was held in one of the open halls in Chief Echem’s residence in Mgbuosimini village and subsequently, some members of Faith Baptist Church were visiting the new church every Sunday to strengthen and encourage the new brethren until they could stand on their own.
The church remained in Chief Echem’s compound until 1986 when the church could lease the present site for two years, in the first instance. A make shift structure of about 18 x 36ft was constructed with corrugated iron sheets on this site. This was unbefitting for a church, so people in the neighborhood nick-named it “the fowl house.”
The first Sunday service worship in this temporary structure recorded four persons in attendance –two adults and two children. These adults were Sister Esther Eshiet and Brother Vincent Slaboh.
Towards the end of the two years leasing agreement, the land together with a small adjourning land belonging to the Echem’s family was purchased and surveyed. God raised men from the Faith Baptist Church who readily helped the church to raise the needed money.
Like a mustard seed, the church germinated and became a preaching station of Faith Baptist Church, Port Harcourt. Later, more people began to join and the new church began to bud and grow, but slowly.
This slow growth stemmed from the challenges the young church faced, chief amongst which was the issue of pastoral leadership. The earlier pastors that responded to the call to the church had very short tenures.
With the efforts of the various church leaders, the church held to life tenaciously during her early years. In such a weak state, she could only turn in rather than reach out. Eventually, she was organized into a full autonomous church in 1992.
The church continued to earnestly pray for a pastor that would really stay to shepherd the flock and give them a direction.
As Deacon Apapa would put it, “God heard our prayers and a young pastor was contacted in the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary, Ogbomosho, to come for a vacation programme in the church. This Pastor, a Master of Divinity student came and spent his vacation, in Newlife Baptist Church and at the end of his vacation, it was clear to the church that this was the man God has for the church.”
Deacon Apapa continued, “A call was extended to this pastor, gentle man. Upon his graduation from the seminary on June, 1998, he resumed as pastor of Newlife Baptist Church, Port Harcourt. This is no other person but Rev. Thomas Olusegun Abiodun Adeleke.” He settled down to pray and work. He was already equipped with the direction God was leading him and the church.
Hence the entire church began an intensive and meaningful discipleship programme on “Purpose Driven Church.” It was an eye – opener. At the end of it, all participants were re-admitted into NBC membership as stipulated by the church. And indeed the church began to be more purpose driven!
Having got the church on the right foundation and purpose, NBC’s focus mand energy became better directed.
NBC had earlier on planted Grace Baptist Church, Woji Port Harcourt (now The Divine Grace Baptist Church). Through Reverend Adeleke’s leadership, we began to plant churches. In this series was the planting of four daughter churches in Port Harcourt environment on various weekends.
- Newlife Baptist Church Kpite, Tai
- Goodway Baptist Church, Eligbolo, Port Harcourt
- Goodland Baptist Church, Rumuigbo, Port Harcourt &
- Goodtidings Baptist Church, Mgbuoba, Port Harcourt.
Thereafter, the NBC began to embark on a more vigorous church planting. On one weekend, we were able to plant six daughter churches.
NBC is still the business of church planting. She has planted sixty-seven daughter churches across the country. These include churches in Bayelsa, Delta, Bauchi, Nassarawa, Imo, Lagos, Rivers States and Abuja NBC pays the pastors of most of these churches, builds church structures for them and supervises them until they are strong enough to be autonomous.
A new church pastor was called
A new church pastor was called to take over mantle as the senior church pastor.
A call was extended
A call was extended to this pastor, gentle man. Upon his graduation from the seminary on June, 1998, he resumed as pastor of Newlife Baptist Church, Port Harcourt. This is no other person but Rev. Thomas Olusegun Abiodun Adeleke.
The church was Organized
The church was organized into a full autonomous church
The church was born
Newlife Baptist Chuch was born