Interview with George Faile Jr, 1978
The following is an interview of Dr. George M. Faile Jr. conducted by Gene (last name unknown) in Atlanta, Georgia on November 6, 1978. We are not sure what publication this interview was for or if it was in fact ever published.
Q. George, When were you and K appointed to Nigeria?
A. We were appointed in May, 1953.
Q. How did interest in Gold Coast medical work begin?
A. Dr. Ed Low attended the Gold Coast Baptist Conference in 1952 and made a report to the Nigerian Mission on the medical needs he saw in the Gold Coast.
Q. How did you personally get involved?
A. The Nigerian Mission was sending a committee to check out the medical needs and attend the 1955 Gold Coast Baptist Conference. I asked to be a part of the committee so was asked to attend with Dr. Bob Goldie and Ralph West. Ralph was to speak at the Conference and Dr. Goldie was also interested in checking on the medical opportunities found among persons with leprosy. We met with the Principal Medical Officer of each region and found that over half of the persons with leprosy lived in the north. Dr. McKelerie, director of Gold Coast Leprosy Service, wrote to the Nigerian Baptist Mission requesting our help.
Q. I note in the 1955 Mission Minutes that the committee’s report was approved and you were assigned to open the medical work in Ghana. Did you get to move immediately?
A. No. We had to wait for a relief to arrive. The mission set up a committee to select the exact site in Northern Ghana. We moved to Ghana just before our furlough in 1956. We went to Kumasi since the mission residence in Tamale was under repairs. While we were on furlough the mission committee selected Nalerigu as the site. Funds had already been requested for the first buildings.
Q. So you actually began medical work after your furlough?
A. Yes but we did it with a mobile unit at first. We lived in Tamale while the Cathers were on furlough. While the Nalerigu residence and main hospital building were being constructed I visited Nalerigu in a mobile unit. We started this in July, 1957, and by March of 1958 the residence was completed and we moved to Nalerigu.
Q. How did the Baptist work begin among the people of Nalerigu?
A. We preached while we were there with the mobile unit but our first regular services started in the carpenter’s shed when we moved to Nalerigu. By July, 1958, we were having services in the Council House of Nalerigu. In December of the same year we had the first baptismal service with our son, George III, being one of the candidates. By November, 1959, John Azongo, who attended the Abuakwa seminary, and Edward Mahama, who has become one of our doctors, were baptized.
Q. Soon you were reaching out into the villages. How did you develop workers for these places?
A. Missionaries would go to the villages with members from the Nalerigu Church. These members would interpret and help in the work.
Q. How did your training program start for these African leaders?
A. The first attempts were made by Sid Flewellen when I suggested that he give some lessons to these young men going to the villages. Frank Ashworth was very interested in doing village work and instigated our two weeks dry season schools. He came in October, 1958, and started the first school in March, 1959. He worked with this until he left in 1970. When Bill Norman came the school was increased to once a quarter due to his interest. Then when Urban Green came as field evangelist the training was enlarged.
Q.What courses were taught in these early two weeks schools?
A. We would have one missionary to help them in Bible studies. One would help them in sermon preparation and delivery. We had health classes to help them understand basic hygiene and preventative care. Also parts of the studies would be on how to minister to the people and how to witness.
Q. Do you see any results from these early days of training?
A. One of the earliest students, James Ojuwade, came from Walewale. He is a Yoruba that speaks Mampruli fluently. We sent him on the Vernacular Course in the Ogbomosho Seminary. I mentioned John Azongo. Earlier, who after finishing the Abuakwa Seminary, was our pastor in the Nalerigu Church and then the first Home Missionary to the Frafra people in the Upper Region before his death. Then there are Pastor Diibo Boako who was a graduate of the Tamale Training Center and is now serving churches in the Nalerigu area. Pastor Samuel Olatunji did not attend our studies but we did give him Mampruli lessons so he would be more effective as a Yoruba pastor of the Nalerigu Church.
Q. TEE has become a vital part of the recent instruction, hasn’t it?
A. Yes, Urban has developed this by getting some of the missionaries to teach courses and by requesting a journeyman to help in teaching and field work.
Q. How do you evaluate the recent move to a resident school for these students during the dry season?
A. This has happened since we came back to the States on furlough. When we get back to the field I can evaluate this better.
Q. Let me ask what you remember about the beginning of indigenous Baptist work in the various areas of Northern Ghana. Do you know how our work began among the tribes where we now have churches?
A. In Bolgatanga the Yoruba Baptists started preaching among the Dagombas. Mr. Alasade would do much of the preaching.
Q. Do you know when the mission first started a training program for the leaders in Tamale?
A. In 1957 Doug Cather would gather students in his washrooms for classes. In 1956 he might have had some classes before he went on furlough. It was in early 1958 that the first unit of the present school was dedicated. He could give you more information on that.