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Africa Almost a Catholic Priest By David Maskey—Nigeria Most churches in Nigeria are evangelical now. Yet, there are still many Roman Catholics since they were among the first missionaries to come many years ago. Innocent Ukpong was a young man who grew up in a Catholic family and attended one of those Catholic churches in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. He eventually became an altar boy and a Mass servant to the priest in order to prepare for the priesthood himself. However, when his father died unexpectedly, his training was delayed for financial reasons and he became discouraged. God used this setback in Innocent’s plans to cause him to ponder his direction and his religious beliefs. In spite of being very devout to his religion, he had begun to perceive that much of it was just empty ritual and there was something missing in his life. He started attending some of the many Charismatic churches but they did not seem to have the answers he needed. One time, he walked into one of those churches and felt dizzy and fainted. When he woke up, the pastor was standing over him and told him he had been “slain in the spirit” and that he had received a 24 “special anointing of God,” but still he knew something was not right. In the meantime, a friend had been inviting him for about a year to come and visit our church but Innocent would always have an excuse not to come. Finally, one Sunday he did come. He considered himself to be “saved,” but in truth he was just trying to work his way to heaven, as he had been taught in his church. That Sunday for the first time he heard from the Bible that salvation is not by works or by doing rituals but by grace through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ. He knew in his heart that this was the truth. After attending for several more weeks, he finally responded to the invitation one Sunday in 2007 and did receive salvation. Since then, he has become one of our most faithful members (usually one of the first to arrive for the services!) and is now a student in our Bible institute. He is an ardent soul winner, a committed bus captain, and one of our best preachers—a man who almost became a Catholic priest! Pray for Innocent and all our Bible institute students that God will use them in a great way to spread the truth in Nigeria and beyond. W