Article: The Awakening up the Cross River. Published in the Women’s Missionary Magazine [April 1905] [April 1905]
Dundee City Archives
This article gives a full description the dedication of the new church at Akani Obio, which was held with prayer, hymns, and tact and cheerfulness, and with a good collection. There was a deputation from another place begging for a church in their town, which she had visited the previous Friday. She is also planning a visit to Akani Obio where a lad from the Itu church was working.
An article from the Women’s Missionary Magazine of April 1905?
The Awakening up the Cross River, by Miss Slessor.
I have been up the creek to the farthest town. I cannot pretend to tell you about the dedication of the church at Akani Obio, up this lovely little sub- creek, because there was that subtle something which will not be caught by language and put on paper, but which is as real as one’s very personality, pervading all the service and all the atmosphere, lifting one into something like an upper chamber, separated from all the mists and wrangle of this world. All the chiefs from the district were invited, and the hospitality was so lavish, and yet so chaste and even refined – such a lesson to the heathen from one of themselves, living under the same circumstances. Grace does so much for the human as well as for the spiritual side of us! Truly there is no refinement so thorough or so true as that springing from converse with Christ.
Mine host was dressed with care, in a black suit, black silk necktie, and soft felt hat. His wife was also neat, and her yard and his house as fit for my comfort as for that of the native – that says something for a man who two years ago was a heathen, in a place which was not known to any but trader natives.
At the dedication the scholars sang, and there was prayer, and everything that there would have been in a home church under the circumstances, and yet I know that not one heathen chief felt uncomfortable or “out of it,” it was done with such tact, and cheerfulness, and meekness. It was just, “Stand still, and see the salvation of our God,” for it it was not of our doing, except in an indirect manner. If you had seen my host’s intelligent behaviour at the prayers and service, you would have been surprised. He said to me: “Some men have their women-folk dragging them back, but God has been good to me, and my women, small and big, are *eager*, and if they have one rod[Note 1], or if they have ten, they give it gladly to God’s work.” He is a very stern disciplinarian, too – a born ruler, and is chosen by the Consul as president of the Court.
A bottle with coins, and a paper with the names of the ruling chiefs, and the ministers in the Mission, the three missionary magazines, etc., were buried where the pulpit will be. Their collection was good, and, after I was ready to go, my host came with a Calabar friend, and, with a deal of blushing, held out a handful of florins to me, asking if I would buy some food for myself, as they did not know what kind of food I liked. But, of course, I told him to put them away, and that I had plenty of food lying at Efik.
At the service there were rows and rows of nicely- dressed women with hymn- books, though they do not know their letters, putting their “Amens” in the right place, singing every hymn heartily, and leading off in the Lord’s Prayer, as well as filling the collection plate. It was a tribute to Christianity, for they had the benches, while the men, other than chiefs, had only logs and the ground to sit upon. May all those women be won really for Christ. They need our prayers, for Satan tries hard to spoil the work. Some of their tribe do not approve at all, as no Egbo[Note 2] or funeral rites can live.
A deputation was there from a bigger town further on. Two men were begging with heart and soul for a start for God’s Word and a church in their town; but the old chiefs do not like to be second, and they would do nothing. Nevertheless, those who wanted God met Sabbath after Sabbath and held service. I sent word to them to send a canoe for me, and I went up on Friday last. The old chiefs told me in open palaver their reasons for not going in with the few young and “half slave;” and, with as much tact as possible, I tried to meet both views, with just a scintillation of blame for each: and the starting of church building is to take place at once, and, I think, on a lasting basis, but the question of a school is left over for the present. The two old men are very affectionate in their manner to me, and the church party are jubilant at the victory so easily gained. I charged them to walk and speak with meekness, and so win those without.
I also met a section of people at Akan Obio, among whom an Itu lad has been working. They were not attending church, nor caring for school; but the lad has been here to-day with a present of fish and bananas, and he says both men and women are now turning out well to meeting and church. I hope to go up there this week; they will paddle me in my own canoe.
I have had four women from *beyond* that same town to-day, with a complaint against it, that the people have taken their fishing grounds and farming land from them. As the case has been in the native Court I can do nothing for them. But I should like to get hold of those women for God. What crowds there are of them, and no one to teach and help them!
1] Rod = the local currency
2] Egbo = the name of a powerful secret society