By Zakariya Musa, EYN media
The Mubi zonal celebration of the 100th anniversary of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) held March 2 went well. Nine District Church Councils (Mubi, Giima, Ribawa, Bikama, Hildi, Gashala, Hong, Kwarhi and Lukuwa) converged at the Local Church Council (LCC) Lokuwa auditorium located in Mubi South Local Government Area, Adamawa State.
While addressing thousands of participants who came from 84 LCCs, the EYN President Rev. Joel S. Billi expressed appreciation for the efforts of pioneer missionaries Dr. Stover Kulp and Albert Helser, who started the church on 17th Match, 2023 under a tamarind tree.
“They made us what we are today” Billi said. “I bring you centenary greetings from EYN Headquarters, Kwarhi. I would like to start by acknowledging and appreciating the goodness of God for what He has done for us through His servants Dr. Kulp and Helser.
“We thank God for their time and efforts. They worked around the clock, as if there wouldn’t be tomorrow. They gave up everything for the church, and that is why we are here today celebrating our centenary. If they were cowards, lazy, nonchalant, if they loved the pleasures of this world, they wouldn’t have come or after their arrival seeing the jungle, and being rejected by the then-leaders, driving them to jungle where there were hyenas, leopards, cheetahs, lions and cobras—they were not discouraged.
“Fetching unfiltered water from streams, leaving pipe water in their homes in America. We so much thank them for coming to establish the church, for opening our eyes, and for bringing the Good News and the good tidings to our doorsteps. That is the reason today we are sited here. All the doctors, professors, politicians, elites, farmers within this zone, we are what we are because of these missionaries. The light of the gospel immunized us and shone on our environment. And we have rubbed shoulders with people who received the gospel and worked as missionaries thirty or a hundred years before the arrival of other missionaries to this zone.
“As I said earlier, His Excellency, the Ambassador Garkuwan Fali, he is what he is today because of the missionaries. If the missionaries have not come to Mubi zone, he wouldn’t have been educated today, he would have been illiterate and probably by now he would have gone. So time and space cannot be enough for us to celebrate and to appreciate what the missionaries have done to us.
“Having said in few words our appreciation and thanksgiving for what the missionaries have done in our lives, we also want to appreciate the indigenous leaders. We have the history of this zone. The first evangelists, the first leaders somewhere and so on, when the battle was handed to the pastors and leaders, they too worked relentlessly around the clock, one day after another. And interestingly I even witnessed when members who were not on the payroll of the church, traveling from one hamlet to another, one village to another, one town to another preaching the gospel. They were not expecting any allowance from anybody. Nobody was responsible to pay for their transportation costs. They were doing it willingly by themselves to win souls unto Jesus. And to some of us church workers today, we can’t sacrifice one day out, let alone our allowance overnight. These guys were working freely, without grumbling, without complaining, without malice but to win souls into the kingdom of God. Zealous they have been for the gospel, commited to the gospel. They did all this to reach the unreached. We thank all our pastors, leaders, our evangelists from that time, we thank all the members who were committed.
“They were making local instrument, to sing unto the glory of God, without anybody giving them any form of money. Today, if a talking drum happens to be damaged, people have to wait, to apply to the church elders just to repair a talking drum.
“The more civilized we become, the more educated we become, the more digital we become the less committed we become. Zeal of the digitalized people is not as the zeal of the analog. Commitment of the digitalized people is not like the commitment of the analog people. Why? Because we all have become familiarized with Jesus. Bibles are almost everywhere in nooks and crannies in our homes. We have study Bibles, we have topical Bibles, we have whatever versions. And classes have become so cheap to us and we have taken him for granted. But when the Bible was not available to everybody, only the evangelists had the Bible. If they said, ‘God said this,’ everybody would nod their heads in agreement. Nobody argued, nobody questioned anything. So long as something had been read from the scriptures, it was welcomed and accepted.
“We want to thank all the leaders who had served at the national level, since the missionaries handed the battle to their hands. All of the them tried their best, and gave us their best to the best of their abilities, and we are so humbled; the current leaders are so humbled that today we are in the season of celebrating centenary and we are the leaders. To our minds and understanding, we don’t deserve it, but whatever God does in his infinite mercy, whatever God destines, you have no other option but accept it. And if not for God’s doing, Joel Billi, Anthony Ndamsai, Daniel Mbaya, and the members of the national standing committee are not worthy, we don’t deserve that centenary should be celebrated during our leadership, but God did it.
“And all of us seated here, we don’t deserve to be alive, we don’t deserve even to be celebrating centenary, but it is because of God’s goodness. Don’t take it for granted.”
A sermon delivered by Rev. Johnson K. Abi also reflected on the coming of missionaries, where we were, and what we worshiped. He encouraged the gathering to sustain appreciation for God’s faithfulness.
In attendance were members of the EYN National Standing Committee from the EYN Headquarters, a few past EYN Leaders, the Ambassador to the Czech Republic who happens to be an EYN member, a traditional ruler from the zone, and a former EYN Director of Finance, as well as His Excellency Ambassador Kevin Peter who also expressed his joy:
“It gives me joy attending this celebration. I celebrated the 75th anniversary in Garkida. It’s true that I trekked barefooted about 10 kilometers to primary school daily. And I remember vividly the day I was invited to attend an interview for employment as an accountant at Kwarhi, and today I am representing this country in another continent in a European country and, of course, not just representing Nigeria, but representing Nigeria very well.”
The event, which was colored by special centenary dress, included traditional displays of dancing, singing, special cultural food, and much more to the glory of God.