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- The verbal inspiration, infallibility and inerrancy of the Old and New Testament Scriptures as originally given and their final authority and sufficiency in all matters pertaining to faith and practice.
- The unity of the Godhead and the eternal co-equality of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit; the sovereignty of God in creation, providence and redemption.
- The Lord Jesus Christ as true God and true Man; His deity, incarnation, virgin birth, sinless life, atoning death and physical resurrection.
- The work of Jesus Christ in His life, death and resurrection as Representative and Substitute; His atonement for sin thereby securing righteousness, forgiveness and eternal life for all who are united to Him by faith.
- The ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ, His intercession at the throne of God, His coming again personally and visibly in glory and power.
- The Holy Spirit’s deity and personality; His essential work as the sole Author and Interpreter of the Holy Scriptures and in regeneration, conversion, sanctification and Revival.
- The Creation of man in the image of God, his sin and fall, the consequences passing to all humanity, extending to every part of the human nature and resulting in the universal guilt of mankind before God.
- The personality of Satan, his opposition to God and His purposes and his corruption and enslavement of man.
- Salvation is solely by the grace of God, accomplished by God the Son and applied by God the Holy Spirit; appropriated by God-given faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; and including regeneration, justification, sanctification and final glorification.
- The bodily resurrection of the just and the unjust, the one to eternal life in heaven and the other to eternal punishment in hell.
- The one holy, universal Church which is the body of Christ to which all true believers belong.
THE COMING OF THE REFORMED BAPTIST CHURCH INTO NIGERIA
Rev. Aniekan Robert Ekpo left his family and village Abiakpo Ikot Abasi Eduo, Obot Akara L.G.A. Akwa Ibom State, as a young boy of fifteen years old after his first School Leaving Certificate, to the city of Port Harcourt in April 14, 1975. He reluctantly, and temporarily halted his academic pursuits as it were. He served as an apprentice under D. Udoh & Bros Technical Engineering works from 1975-1977 and qualified as a welder, fitter, blacksmith etc. He got baptized by immersion in 1975 in his home village District of Qua Iboe Church, a church planted in Akwa Ibom State in 1887 by Rev. Samuel Alexander Bill of Presbyterian church, Belfast, Northern Ireland. Incidentally, as Samuel Bill was studying in a Mission Bible College in London, he had come in contact with Rev. C.H. Spurgeon of the Metropolitan Tabernacle, A Reformed Baptist Church in London. He had a rethink of infant baptism as having no place in the New Testament Scriptures. Therefore, in his Church planting work, he had given to the indigenous church a Baptistic Foundation while the administration and practice remained Presbyterian.
Ani, after his apprentice graduation, was employed by his director from 1977-1981. In 1981, Ani opened his engineering company at 20A Elechi Beach, Diobu, Port Harcourt called “ROBANI TECH. Engineering Works”. Services offered were welding, fabrications, fitting, blacksmithing, installations of roller shutter doors, aluminum sliding doors & windows, swing doors, collapsible gates, overhead garage doors, general repairs and general contractors. By 1978-1979, his Christian life has also developed tremendously. He had begun to study the Effik Bible his father gave him alongside with the Living Bible he bought for himself.
The Lord had convicted him of Sabbath breaking and now he is a serious Sabbath keeper every Sunday. He stopped attending Cinemas and Disco dancing. His eyes became enlightened to Spiritual things. In 1980 at the New Baptist Christ, Abiakpo Ikot Essien, Ikot Ekpene, where Ani went for a field work, there a woman stood up declaring that God has called him to be a Pastor. Ani rejected being a Pastor outright. But in 1982 he bought Mathew Henry’s commentary. Through reading and study with much prayers he had prepared himself for the response to the call. Same 1982 he requested from his Pastor, Rev. B.B. Usoroh to be given a place as a Sunday school teacher. At once, the Pastor said to him, “we need young men like you in the Lord’s work”. He was eventually called to the full-time ministry in April 1984 and was moved to his 1st state in June 8th of the same year. Here he started to study and read many books. He met his wife Grace in December 1984 and married her January/February 1985.
Ani left his wife, Grace, with a four months’ pregnancy of their 1st daughter to the Bible college on the 9th of August, 1985. There in Samuel Bill Theological College, Ani fulfilled his dream in studying and reading so many books. One day after the class, Rev. Graham Chessman, now of Belfast Bible College called him aside and asked if he had gone to any Bible College before? When Ani said he had not, he added, “but you seem to understand everything we are teaching here. “There Ani said to him that he like to read and study. In the college also Ani began to enquire of Calvinistic teaching. Sometimes, the lecturers would not want to explain fully in the class but would take him aside to explain to him. Many of the white missionary lectures became Ani’s friends. Donations of books followed with encouraging words. In the class he was singled out as example of a studious and serious student.
One day in 1990, while in the class, one of his white friends, Martin Kingsley Bussey, a lecturer of New Testament Exposition of Romans, came and suggested to Ani, that his long-time friend in Stock Port, Manchester, Stephen Rees by name, a Pastor of Grace Baptist Church would want to be communicating with a pastor in Nigeria. So eventually when the white missionaries are gone, he would continue to contact the church in Nigeria through this Pastor. He had chosen him to be his pen-friend. Ani accepted and drafted his profile with news from the college and his distant young family from the college.
This friendship continued until a letter arrived in Nov. 1993 from Pastor Stephen Rees and his Grace Baptist Church, Stock Port, Manchester, England, inviting him to England for the first time. He travelled in April 14, 1994 and was welcomed at Gate Wick Airport by one of his friends and former lecturer, Rev. David Peter Field. He was taken on tour to London and to the Metropolitan Tabernacle and Buckingham Palace. Before travelling, there was a strong impression in his heart that says “you will find a Seminary you will continue your Theological Seminary for the work in Nigeria. “On the 18th April, 1994 Ani met Stephen Ree at the university of Leicester for the Banner of Truth Ministers Conferences. About four hundred Pastors attended. The teachings were excellent and the fellowship fantastic. Ani met two Nigerians at the Conference, one from Ibadan and the other from Kaduna, both studying in the UK for their Masters in Theology. He inquired of them the procedure for admission and obtained the addresses of the colleges.
However, at his first preaching at Stephen V. Rees Church on 1st May, 1994, a man with his wife, Rev. and Mrs. Michael Harley, met him immediately after preaching and appreciated him for his preaching. Rev. Harley said that he heard Ani’s sermon very well and offered him on admission, being a Registrar in London Reformed Baptist Seminary within the Metropolitan Tabernacle-Spurgeon’s London.
On Ani’s return to Nigeria, Mr. Harley wrote him and offered the admission form in 1995. However, none of the admission letters sent three times reached him, being taken from the church’s post office box and preventing it reaching him. Eventually, in October 1996 he was in London. With his academic fire rekindled even though he arrived two weeks after the reopening, he read and meet up with all the assignments. His purpose was to study the Reformed Faith and understand it accurately.
The admission which was for one year was extended by Dr. Peter Masters and the faculty to be two years. In May 1998, while studying the booklet Baptism, the picture and its purpose by Dr. Masters in London Reformed Baptist Seminary, Ani was convinced to cast his lot with the Baptists after considering the conclusion of the booklet – some historical facts about Baptists. Since then his ministry focus changed for better. On 22nd July, 1998 as he was preparing to leave London for Port Harcourt the following day, Dr. Masters invited him to his office. The meeting lasted for 45 minutes. Among the things he said, “Ani you are preparing to go back to Nigeria. If you would return to Qua Iboe Church, you will continue to fight with those elders and fight a lost battle. At the end of your life you will have nothing to show for the ministry the Lord has called you into due to unwarranted transfers from one station to another. If God would grant you wisdom to see with me, I would say, as you return, set up a new church. I am not saying it is going to be an easy work. But eventually the Lord will bless your labors and give you peace as you labor among your people. We are not promising too much, but we will back you up and support you in our little way as we are able.” He then prayed with Ani and they both parted.
Ani returned to Nigeria on 23rd July, 1998. The same day the elders’ central session of Qua Iboe Church, Port Harcourt met. One of their decisions was a transfer of a young man, Udeme Mbride, whom they have set over Ani’s congregation without any information to him while in England. The young pastor was to be sent to a very small church. He was not happy about it. He complained to Ani, who now consoled him. With the knowledge of what the Lord has put in his heart – a new church plant, he told him to take heart and be prepared to continue with this congregation as the Lord Himself had given him a transfer from Qua Iboe church.
Eventually, a unique church was born and inaugurated by God on 30th August, 1998 with 35 in the morning and 40 in the evening. Sunday school also started the same Sunday at 3pm in three classes, Pastor Ani’s class, his wife Grace’s class, and Abraham Shekoni’s class. Pastor Ani’s children Peace, Judah, Hosanna and David formed the nucleus of our Sunday school.
On Monday 1st September, 1998, prayer and asking meeting started immediately at 6pm and Wednesday Bible study on 3rd September of the same week. Sunday September 7th was the second fellowship of the Reformed Baptist Church in Nigeria, 76 persons attended. Within a year the Lord provided two plots of land. Membership was formed, the 1st Lord’s supper took place early in 1999. Many showed signs of a renewed life and sought to be baptized. In March, 1999, seventeen converts were brought to water baptism by immersion with a clear testimony. On the day for the 1st Lord’s supper, pastor Ani read his Children’s testimony of salvation and was prayed for by the fellowship as the pastor in charge of the congregation.
At the 1st Anniversary of the Church in September, 1999, the Metropolitan Tabernacle sent Mr. and Mrs. Tunde Odumala to visit the church. They brought encouraging words to the church fellowship. In April, 2000, Pastor Ani Ekpo visited England, there the Metropolitan Tabernacle made a decision to help in the building of the Reformed Tabernacle Sanctuary and some personal support to Ani. Over these years, they have been faithful to their word. The foundation of the building was laid on 20th July, 2000 at its present site in Rumuodara, Port Harcourt. And the dedication of the sanctuary took place on 2nd May, 2010. The registration of Christ’s Reformed Church took place in March 2001 in which the certificate of incorporation with the Federal Government of Nigeria was issued but the file for the church was not found and warranted a new registration with the name “The Reformed Baptist Ministry Incorporated” 24th April, 2013 with CAC N0. 60816