A History of the Church of the Brethren Mission in Nigeria and the Emergence of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria, part 3

Courtesy of the Brethren Historical Library and Archives

CBM programs

Among the CBM programs that developed over the decades:

  • establishment of churches through prayer meetings, teaching, and preaching. Often a congregation developed first as a preaching point, and once a congregation became established it sent out evangelists to more preaching points in order to plant yet more churches.
  • building and staffing of schools including elementary and secondary schools and Bible schools. The main Bible school was Kulp Bible School, which has now become Kulp Bible College. KBC offers post secondary training for EYN ministers and is located at the EYN headquarters. Hillcrest School, a 1st-12th grade mission boarding school offering an American style education, was first established to serve children of mission families but then began accepting Nigerian students and other expatriate children living in Nigeria. To date it continues as an international school on its original campus in the central Nigerian city of Jos.
  • building of dispensaries and hospitals to provide medical care. Hospitals were located in Garkida and Lassa and Ngoshe. Dispensaries and clinics were built in many other places as well. The Leprosarium in Virgwi served people suffering from leprosy or Hansen’s Disease, and housed them as they received treatment.
  • the Lafiya rural health program was inaugurated in 1971 to provide basic health care and health education through a network of Nigerian staff who worked in village settings. Lafiya “has been widely recognized for its practical service and excellence,” noted an article in the Brethren Encyclopedia.
  • rural development became an integral part of CBM program beginning in 1930 under the leadership of Harold Royer. From 1957-1969 the “mixed-farming loan” program, led by CBM’s Von Hall, with his wife Elsie. The program worked to help farmers realize the benefits of working with draft animals, and provided small loans to purchase oxen and plows, as well as other farming supplies. Improved farming methods were taught at Kulp Bible School and graduates were employed as agriculture extension agents.
  • community development. In 1969 the rural development program shifted to community development, according to an article by M. Ularam S. Thliza, supervisor for the Uba District Intensified Community Development Program, published in the Lardin Gabas 50th anniversary yearbook. Still under the leadership of the Halls, “the program will endeavor to reach all the people of the community regardless of tribe or religion,” Thliza wrote, using an open democratic process that encouraged communities to analyze the needs, decide what problem to work at solving, and taking a major and responsible part in carrying out the work. Community development work included the repair of roads, digging of wells, village clean up, market repair, clinics for children, and more. In 1972, 13 Village Trained Workers were assigned to areas throughout Uba District.
  • a well digging program for communities in need of access to safe potable water emerged from the community development program, and was led for many years by American Brethren missionary Owen Shankster.
  • a technical school in Garkida that offers training in mechanics, vehicle maintenance, etc. After US mission worker Ralph Mason was killed in a car accident in Nigeria, the school was named in his honor.

A developing mission philosophy

Shifts in mission philosophy and policy occurred over the decades of the Church of the Brethren Mission in Nigeria. One major shift occurred in 1942 when American mission leaders re-evaluated their approach to education in Nigeria, after some 20 years since the start of the mission effort.

At an annual conference of CBM in Garkida on Nov. 28-Dec. 9, 1941, the mission decided to close all existing mission supported schools primarily because of concerns about superimposing their system of education on Nigerians, the prospect of alienating children from their elders and breaking down community, and detrimental effects on the local economies. Instead, they decided to work on a program of adult education, which had already begun in a small way. “Their aim was to produce literate communities in which adults and children are united in common program and tribal controls are valid,” said an article by M. Pindar Banu in Fifty Years in Lardin Gabas.

As a result, for a period of a year and a half, from 1942-43, there was no school program. However, in 1943 a meeting was held with Nigerian leadership to talk about re-opening the elementary schools. Representatives from the Nigerian Brethren communities in Lassa, Marama, and Garkida attended. “They decided that elementary schools were to be opened to provide the children of the Christian communities with education but that other children could also attend provided their parents complied with the conditions laid down by the church as the schools were to be church operated and church controlled,” Banu wrote.

Elementary schools in “the large stations”–Garkida, Lassa, and Marama–were reopened in 1944, managed by local school boards. The success of the elementary schools led to the opening of middle schools and secondary schools. As the mission schools were recognized by the government, the government began assuming the bulk of the costs of the schools.

By the time the schools were transferred to government via Local Education Authorities (LEAs) following Nigerian independence, in 1968, the Church of the Brethren had founded and organized a total of more than 40 schools.

Previous<<         >> Next