Nigerian makes pilgrimage to Natchez

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 5, 1999

Nigerian minister Frederick Okhimamke made a pilgrimage to Natchez this week to New Hope Missionary Baptist Church.

A native of Auchi, Edo State of Nigeria, Okhimamke has his own ministry in his hometown which includes 10 churches and a Bible college.

He arrived in Natchez Nov. 3 to visit the Rev. Stanley B. Searcy and his wife, Brenda. Searcy is president of a network of 14 churches worldwide and focuses attention on outreach ministries at churches like Okhimamke’s.

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&uot;There is something binding our hearts together,&uot; Okhimamke said.

In March 1998, Okhimamke first met Searcy at an international minister’s conference in Atlanta.

&uot;I prayed before the conference that God would order my steps and allow me to meet good men of God,&uot; Okhimamke said.

Shortly after that meeting, Searcy invited Okhimamke to visit with him in Natchez.

&uot;Of all my stay in America, I loved Natchez best,&uot; Okhimamke said. His tour of America at that time included Atlanta, New York, and parts of California in addition to his trip to Natchez.

During that visit to Natchez, Okhimamke said God showed him in a vision that Searcy’s ministry would bring preachers from around the world to Natchez.

In March 1999, Searcy, his wife and four church members from New Hope Missionary Baptist Church visited Okhimamke in Nigeria. &uot;It was complete culture shock,&uot; Searcy said. &uot;At that time, the country was under military rule and there were people standing around with AK-47’s.&uot;

On the six hour ride from the airport to Okhimamke’s hometown of Auchi, Searcy said he could see Okhimamke’s work – churches and schools in the counties surrounding him.

&uot;He is loved by the kings and dignitaries of his country,&uot; Searcy said. &uot;He has done tremendous work with very little money.&uot;

Married and the father of four, Okhimamke’s family is in Nigeria. Okhimamke will remain in Natchez until Nov. 15. While in Mississippi, Okhimamke will speak in Edwards, Vicksburg and Mobile, Ala.

Okhimamke said he is looking forward to meeting as many people as possible during his visit.

The next major project for Searcy and Okhimamke is to talk with local churches who may not yet have mission programs and invite them to join in supporting the existing work in Nigeria.

Okhimamke’s message is a strong one.

&uot;I would say this word to the American church,&uot; he said. &uot;Time has come for the church in America to work together as a force. Elements of jealousy or strife should not be in the church.&uot;

Okhimamke also believes the American church must take a stronger role in preserving marriages. &uot;In Nigeria, people stay married 20, 30 or 40 years – the marriages stay in tact,&uot; he said. &uot;The church has a great role to inculcate Christian virtues. I&160;feel there is a danger is this is not quickly checked.&uot;