‘There you are!” Naomi Hunt yelled when she saw Sylvester Imogoh standing at her doorstep recently.
It was the first face-to-face meeting for the 89-year-old church member and the Nigerian evangelist. But thanks to decades of handwritten letters — sent across the vast ocean between them — they are as close as family.
“After 30 years of correspondence, after prayers and wishes and dreaming, finally I got to meet my World Bible School teacher,” Imogoh told church members at a recent fund-raising dinner for the Cedar Park, Texas-based ministry. The dinner was part of a month-long visit to the U.S. by Imogoh and Monday John Akpakpan, follow-up coordinators who work with World Bible School.
Imogoh was 15 years old when he and two friends enrolled in World Bible School, a free Bible correspondence program that pairs students with individual teachers. The Nigerians began receiving Bible lessons and personal notes from Hunt, then a member of the Airline Drive church in Bossier City, La.
After several studies, “we reached the conclusion that we cannot ignore the truth of the message of the New Testament,” Imogoh said.
The Nigerians sent a letter to Hunt, asking to be baptized. She wrote back, directing them to a preacher in their home state.
After his baptism, Imogoh continued to study and began ministering to his community. Hunt kept sending him letters, encouraging him to stay focused on the Cross — and to find a wife.
“He’s my spiritual son,” she explained.
By age 35, Imogoh had a wife, Sandra, and had helped plant congregations throughout central Nigeria. He continues to minister in the city of Igarra. Missionaries in Nigeria credit hundreds of baptisms to Imogoh’s ministry.
Hunt, meanwhile, continued to grade World Bible School lessons and correspond with students — just as she had since 1970 — until poor health forced her to quit a few yeas ago.
“I wore out my hands writing,” said Hunt, who lives in a retirement village in Fort Worth, Texas.
Kevin Rhodes, World Bible School’s vice president for development, praised Hunt for her role in the conversions of Imogoh and countless others. “Few can match what Naomi has done over the years,” Rhodes said.
Sylvester and Sandra Imogoh hoped to name their firstborn “after my mother in America,” the Nigerian minister said. “To our disappointment, it was a boy,” he joked.
Instead, the couple named their son after Hunt’s son, Alfred. In 1997 Sylvester Imogoh wrote a letter to Alfred Hunt about the decision — and the role Naomi Hunt played in his life.
“She is the one that God used to start a mighty work in a small man,” he wrote. “We will ever remain thankful to her for the great gift of salvation she has given us — not just to the three of us, but to hundreds, even thousands of others through us.
“I want you to know that in our eyes there are few women like her. She is our virtuous woman. We rise up and call her blessed.” FOR MORE INFORMATION, see www.worldbibleschool.net.