The centenary celebration of the Pilgrim Baptist Mission, has ended with a call for the sustenance of the uncommon legacies of the founder of the Mission, Rev. Dr. S.W. Martin.
Grand finale of the week-long event was held on Saturday August 27, 2022 at the Pilgrim Baptist Cathedral, Issele-Uku in Aniocha North Local Government Area, Delta State.
It was the gathering of eminent personalities across the globe who, one way or the other benefitted from the Mission works of the late founder.
Conference President and Spiritual Leader of the Anioma Delta Baptist Conference, Rev. Dr. Friday Paul Anyasi delivered the Centenary Lecture with the theme, “One Hundred Years of Pilgrim Baptist Mission: Celebrating The Life and Times of Rev. Dr. S. W. Martin, at the event that had the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Ndudi Elumelu in attendance.
Also in attendance was the member representing Aniocha North State Constituency in the Delta State House of Assembly, Hon Engr. Emeka Nwaobi, former Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Victor Ochei, the traditional ruler of Issele-Uku, Obi Agbogidi Nduka, Old Boys and Girls of the various schools of the Mission as well as eminent Sons and Daughters of Issele-Uku that included Mr Bazim Sally.
In his lecture, while calling for the sustenance of the legacies of the Mission, Rev.Dr. Paul Anyasi, x-rayed the achievements of late Rev. Dr. S. W. Martin, and said that the founder of the Pilgrim Baptist Mission employed a tripartite approach of evangelism, education and health care to leave a lasting impact on the lives of people around him.
He stated that Martin handled proceedings in the Mission with strong missionary dedication until death came calling.
“Rev Martin pioneered the Pilgrim Baptist Mission and built it with every sense of dedication, passion and spirituality. His sense of commitment was never in doubt and he never drifted in his mission. He was deliberate not only in the spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ among his people, he was as well deliberate in contributing to the socio-economic emancipation of many persons. Some of these persons are still living while some have gone into eternity.
“Martin was Passionate about everything he committed his hands to doing. He built a great Mission which has remained ever appreciated in the minds of those who value lasting legacies. It can be adequately assumed that the life of Samuel Martin is synonymous with the history and development of the Pilgrim Baptist Mission,” the Baptist Minister stated.
He described Rev Dr. S. W. Martin in relation to his works, as an Evangelist, Mission Frontier and Church Planter, an Education Enthusiast, a Vocational Mobiliser, and as a Healthy Life Crusader, saying that he was a man of great empathy, which he noted to be a useful attribute of a servant leader.
“Martin’s primary motive was the evangelization of his people. Every other step of development he engaged was all in a bid to strengthen, enlighten and empower his converts and the rest of the society who embraced these other social actions,” Dr. Anyasi continued.
He noted that within a period of about fifty years, Martin founded and built about thirty-seven churches and declared that his efforts were unprecedented considering the difficulties of that time.
“He founded over forty institutions of learning across many towns and villages in the Midwestern part of Nigeria. These schools cover elementary (primary), secondary (High Schools) and an adequately equipped Teacher Training College at Issele-Uku.
“In his philanthropic and godly gestures, Rev Samuel Martin awarded scholarship grants to very many persons from elementary to the highest level of study. His schools are found in Asaba and all the locations where he established his mission assemblies,” Rev. Dr. Anyasi said and lamented that many beneficiaries of his scholarship grants and other gestures abandoned him even before his death.
He further noted that Rev. Dr. S. W. Martin was equipped with positive minds to help humanity come to terms with modern commerce and indigenous self-support.
“Martin realised that one of the ways African natives could be able to live improved lives is when they are engaged in activities that may earn them improved living standards. He established three Technical Colleges at Issele-Uku, Uromi in Edo State and at Ofagbe in the Isoko region of Delta State.
“He introduced some improved varieties of fruits and species of food crops. For instance, he established a palm plantation at Issele-Uku. Some of the people who knew him well attest that the oil proceeds from this palm plantation were being used to feed students of the Teacher Training College at Issele-Uku.
“He opened a maternity centre at Issele-Uku community. He nursed a vision of a full-scale hospital in 1961 and by 1965; a large Pilgrim Baptist Hospital equipped with modern medical facilities was opened in Issele-uku as well.
“This hospital served the health needs of many people from both far and near. Within a few years after his death, the mission hospital collapsed and eventually ceased to function due to the inability to sustain his vision by his successors, Today, health care services had resumed at some levels in that hospital, Dr. Anyasi noted and appreciated the Governor of Delta State, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa for his input in 2018 towards the resuscitation of the hospital.
Dr Anyasi therefore, called on Nigerians to draw great lessons from the life and times of Rev. Dr.S.W. Martin, and said that in adopting his lifestyle, emphasis should be on charismatic and transformational leadership, sacrifice and passion for the well-being of others, trust and integrity, even as he called on those who have benefitted from the Mission works of the late sage and other good-spirited individuals at large to rise and keep the spirit and vision of the Pilgrim Baptist Mission sustained.
In his remarks, the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Ndudi Elumelu who was represented by the former commissioner for Humanitarian and Community Support Services in Delta State, Barr. Bridget Anyafulu, congratulated the Mission and appreciated them for using the centennial event to honour and celebrate the life and times of Rev. Dr. S. W. Martin.
Elumelu commended the Guest Speaker, Rev. Dr. P.F. Anyasi for doing a thorough x-ray on the life and times of Rev Dr Martin and said that the lesson drawn from the life and Mission work of the founder of the Pilgrim Baptist Mission remains worthy of emulation by leaders at all levels of human endervour.
“As a people, there is no doubt that we have benefited immensely from the fountain of this great Missionary and Iconic Spiritual Leader and we will continue to build on the solid foundation that he laid,” the Minority Leader assured.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Moderator of the Pilgrim Baptist Mission, Rev. Moses Ekene Okolie, said that the gathering was to remember and honour the life of a sage, an iconic leader and a trailblazer who in his life time yielded himself completely to the service of God and humanity.
“The development drive of our late Dr. Martin was indeed geared towards liberating our people from the shackles of unimaginable illiteracy that had hitherto blunted their spiritual, psychological, emotional and intellectual development.
“We are very delighted to say that our Father, Rev. Dr. Martin, was a Man who believed in human capital development. Time will fail us to enumerate his numerous achievements but permit me to say that he was a great Man, love personified, a selfless being,” the Moderator stated and pledged the resolve of the Pilgrim Baptist Mission to carry on with his legacies.
Rev. Ekene used the occasion to appreciate the State Governor, Senator Dr Ifeanyi Okowa for donating towards the sustenance of the work of the Mission few years ago.
“I have the honour and privilege to inform you that the fund has been judiciously expended. The Pilgrim Baptist Hospital, Issele-Uku has been resuscitated, renovated and is today functioning to its full capacity while a block of Six classrooms with modern facilities is conspicuously sitting in the Rev.Dr. S.W. Martin Memorial Mixed Secondary School,” he revealed.
Highlights at the highly successful event were the impressive presentations of the Pilgrim Baptist Mission Mass Choir, the hymn rendition by the Old Boys of Pilgrim Baptist Grammar School, Issele-Uku and the unveiling and presentation of the repackaged autobiography of Rev. Dr. S.W. Martin by Rt. Hon. Ndudi Elumelu who led other dignitaries to lunch the highly regarded book.