Missionary Involvement in Nigeria (Historical & Current)


Written by julia.oates

Nigeria has one of the largest unreached people groups in the world with the Fulani people having over 15 million people. When I learned about the Fulani people, I became curious as to how missionary work has been done in Nigeria over the decades and started researching missionary involvement among the Nigerians.

How have missionaries been involved in Nigeria? Missionaries have been involved in Nigeria during the late 1800s through training young men as evangelists and helping women’s rights improve among the tribal people. Today, missionaries have brought Holistic Development Centers, education, and medical care into Nigeria with the purpose of spreading the Gospel.

The history of missionaries living among Nigerian people dates back to the late 1800s.

Historical Missionaries to Nigeria

Two missionaries to Nigeria in the late 1800s and early 1900s were Johanna Veenstra & Mary Slessor. Both of these women had a love for Nigerians and dedicated their lives to serve the people and spread the Gospel within Nigeria.

Johanna Veenstra

Johanna Veenstra was a missionary to Nigeria in the early 1900s. Before journeying to Nigeria, she attended a Union Missionary Training Institute at the age of nineteen. Johanna felt a call to serve the people in Nigeria, so she set sail to the continent of Africa. While on the way, she feared the ocean would kill her.

She finally arrived in Africa in January 1920. There, she feared she would be killed the in deeps of Nigeria. Her fear did not stop her from sharing the Gospel.

She was the first missionary sent through Christian Reformed church and served along with one other woman. She had a passion for women and raised up many Nigerian women to be leaders and see the value they brought to the Kingdom of God.

Another passion of hers was for making disciples of the young people. She encouraged these young people to find the call God had on their lives and serve Him with their whole hearts. While on the field, she continued to write letters to the Christian Reformed Church in North America. She wrote to them about the importance of the work she was doing.

She passed away in 1933, but her legacy still lives on to this day. Seven years after she died, the Chrisitan Reformed Church officially adopted Nigeria as their mission field. They even have a seminary named after her called, “Veenstra Seminary” in Donga, Nigeria.

The Christian Reformed Church of Nigeria is still going strong to this day. Her love and passion for the people in Nigeria affected the people in her church and encouraged them to carry on the work she started.

Her life motto was Joshua 1:8-9,

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.

Joshua 1:8-9

Mary Slessor

Mary Slessor dedicated her life to serving the people of Nigeria in the late 1800s and early 1900s. She was the first solo women missionary in Nigeria.

Mary felt called to missions at the age of 26 after hearing about David Livingstone’s life as a missionary in Africa. She became a missionary teacher through the United Presbyterian Church. In 1876, her dream became a reality as she set sail for Nigeria.

During her first three years, she worked to end the sacrificing of human life among the tribal people. Mary felt she had to stand against this evil and show them the value of children.

Years later, Mary was appointed the judge by the British consul in the Okoyong territory. Mary was able to protect the tribe she had become apart of against the British consul. The consul sought to take away the tribe’s culture in order to end the violence. Mary fought to allow them to keep their culture and transform the people within the tribe with the love of Jesus Christ.

Mary Slessor was a brave woman who fought against injustices taking place among tribes in Nigeria. She had a love for the people and laid down her own life so they would have the opportunity to hear the Gospel. She also helped to transform the British culture to see the Nigerians as people. Her impact on Nigerian continues on to this day.

In one of her journal entries, she wrote,

Lord, the task is impossible for me but not for Thee. Lead the way and I will follow. Why should I fear? I am on a Royal Mission. I am in the service of the King of Kings

Mary Slessor

Current Missionaries to Nigeria

Two missionaries serving in Nigeria currently are Katie Morrison with Mission Africa & Youth with a Mission (YWAM). Both of these missionaries are working to share the Gospel with the Nigerian people.

Mission Africa – Katie Morrison

Katie Morrison is a missionary with Mission Africa in Nigeria. Her position at Mission Africa is to oversee the short term mission teams and to help with outreach. She moved there after visiting Nigeria on mission trips and has worked with Mission Africa since 2010.

One of the main goals of Mission Africa is to reach the Fulani people in Nigeria. They are one of the largest unreached people groups in Nigeria with over 15 million people. Their Islamic beliefs lead to persecution among Christian.

Their ministry is also working to provide medical resources, training churches, and working with vulnerable women. The reason behind these ministries is to share the Gospel among the people.

Katie Morrison and Mission Africa are working to bring the Gospel to the unreached Fulani people. They also work to help provide schooling and medical care for Nigerians. Their ministry is focused on spreading the news of Jesus Christ within Nigeria!

You can read more about their ministry here.

Youth With A Mission (YWAM) – Nigeria

Youth with a Mission Nigeria is one of over 1,000 YWAM bases over the world. It’s located in Lagos, Nigeria with a population of over 16 million people.

God moved on Paul and Blessing Davo hearts in 2010 to be strategic and in how they extend God’s Kingdom. From this call, they planted a base within Lagos, to spread the Gospel message to Nigerians.

This YWAM base is also known as a “Holistic Devoplement Center” because of its focus on human development among young people. They work to help Nigerians grow mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

YWAM Nigeria is raising up youth in Nigeria to follow Christ and dedicate their lives to serving His kingdom. They are equipping young people and training them on how to live out their relationship with Christ!

You can read more about their ministry here.

Missionaries have dedicated their lives to serving the Nigerian people since the late 1800s. We can be encouraged when we hear the stories of how Mary Slessor and Johanna Veenstra loved and served Nigerians. They truly gave their lives to Christ and allowed Him to use them wherever He wanted.

Katie Morrison and YWAM Nigeria are both examples of how God has been faithfully sending workers to Nigeria. His work is not done in Nigeria and we can continue to pray for more workers to be sent there to live among the people.

Lastly, let’s remember to pray for the Fulani people in Nigeria. Pray for workers to be sent and for the people’s hearts to be open to hearing the Gospel. Pray believing that God will move among the Fulani people!

Free Download

How to Know If You Are Called to Missions PDF Guide

Subscribe to this blog to get this free guide to bring clarity to your calling.

Get the Guide