By Clement Adeyi, Osogbo
The city of Ilesa, Osun State, came alive recently when Christians from different denominations assembled to commemorate and celebrate the legacies of a British missionary who left his footprints in the sand of time while carrying out evangelistic activities in the South West Nigeria.
The faithful who travelled from different parts of the country under the platforms of different Christian organisations and churches to join a teeming number of other brethren in Osun State and Ilesa in particular for the one-day programme, believe that the missionary legend fondly referred as Pa Sydney Granville Elton who arrived Nigeria in 1937, lived and carried out missionary work in Nigeria for 50 years.
For them, he had made indelible marks in the firmament of Nigeria’s Christian preoccupations and deserves to be honoured 50 years after his demise in 1987.
It was praise, worship and prayer galore by the participants to appreciate God for raising the missionary and helping him to carry out landmark missionary work that put Nigeria on the world map of Christian activities.
Daily Sun gathered that some prominent Nigerian Christian leaders such as the late Benson Idahosa, David Oyedepo, Francis Wale Oke, Fred Adegoke were discovered and raised by the missionary patriarch who also anchored campus fellowships across Nigerian universities in the 60s. Through that, he was able to raise generations of church workers who have grown to become general overseers of churches in Nigeria today. The story of the spiritual heritage of Nigeria cannot be complete without mentioning the name Pa Elton, following his sojourn in the nooks and crannies in search of souls for the kingdom.
As the progenitor of Apostolic Church in Nigeria, he played prominent roles in the emergence of pentecostalism in the country. He was one of the earliest people to preach and teach the doctrine of Holy Ghost baptism otherwise known as speaking in tongue.
Before the late Pa Elton came to Nigeria, he had been an apostle and prophet in The Apostolic Church, a pentecostal church organisation in Britain. But he came to Nigeria after receiving a call from God to leave his country and specifically settle in Ilesa, which remained his base until he passed on.
Daily Sun gathered that before he heeded the call, he had named his dog Ilesa to be able to remember the name when he came to Nigeria since God specifically instructed him to settle in Ilesa.
Apart from evangelising and winning souls for Christ, Pa Elton also established churches in the name of Apostolic Church. He also established educational institutions, especially Teachers’ Training Colleges in the name of the church where people were trained to advance the cause of his evangelistic activities.
When Pa Elton arrived Nigeria in 1937, the term ‘born again,’ Holy Ghost baptism, speaking in tongue and lifting up hands in worship were not common among believers. But he was able to inspire knowledge about the practices through meticulous teachings and later collaborated with the late founder of Christ Apostolic Church (CAC), Ayo Babalola, to take the evangelistic work to the next level.
Daily Sun gathered that about 15,000 were converted to Christianity through his evangelistic activities.
Though he passed on at a ripe age, the missionary guru’s evangelistic activities lived on as his only daughter, Ruth Elton, continued the legacies in the Middle Belt Region.
The lady missionary who is now 83 years old but has spent 79 years in Nigeria, told Daily Sun that her passion to continue her father’s missionary legacies made her forfeit marriage and child bearing. She now lives a celibate life.
According to her, she spent most part of her life in the hinterlands in the Middle Belt, particularly Kogi State, winning souls for Christ.