The Church Missionary Society (CMS) of the Church of England was the first to bring the gospel to Nigeria. The society arrived in Badagry in 1842 and eventually set up a mission base in Abeokuta in July 1846. Listen to this account by Sarah Tucker about Abeokuta in 1854:
Their idols are of clay, or wood, or metal, and several are generally placed in one particular room in the house, where they receive some kind of adoration morning and evening. It can, of course, be no spiritual worship that is offered to their imaginary deities; no confession of sin, no prayer for pardon, no supplication for the Holy Spirit, and no thanksgiving for redemption can come from their hearts or lips, for of these things they have never heard. “Make me rich,” “Make me healthy,” “Give me children,” “Avenge me of my enemies,” are the only petitions that a poor Yoruban [sic] ever offers to his god.
Friends, we should be horrified that 160 years later, the Nigerian church is still praying exactly like our animist forefathers. A Christianity that sees God as an evergreen Father Christmas does not lead to eternal life.
A Christianity that is identical to the religion practiced in Africa since time immemorial is an offense to God and misrepresents Him. We have nibbled too long at the table of the world. Our souls are stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great.
I pray our eyes will open to see the wondrous light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. If we see that light, if we behold that glory, then the things of this world will grow strangely dim and we will find in Him only our all in all.