The Old Borno State was the largest state in Nigeria covering about 116,589 square kilometers in area. The larger part of the region is made up of arid and sandy plains. This is the same area covered by the Anglican Diocese of Maiduguri.
Islam became the predominant religion earlier in Borno because one of the early kings of Kanem-Borno Empire, Mai Hume Jilme adopted Islam about the year 1090.
The first recorded case of Christian influence in Borno was as a result of the scattering of the last Christian Kingdom in Nubia which is now Sudan. Reports of the influence of these remnant Christians from Nubia soon reached Rome through freed salves and occasional travelers. Some Roman Catholic missionaries based in Tripoli soon began to develop strategies for missions for the region of Lake Chad and Borno, but there was no successful visit to Borno despite trans-Saharan attempts in 1703 and 1710. However, according to the Catholic historians, there was an Italian Franciscan based at the monastery in Tripoli who heard that a Catholic family had settled in Borno, and decided to visit them; His name was Philip da Segni. He travelled, despite the heat of the Sahara desert, from Tripoli via Murzuk and Bilma to Kukawa. He arrived in 1850 and was warmly received by the wise Sheikh of Borno, Shehu Umar. Amazingly, he made no attempt at establishing any mission or planting a church.
After Philip da Segni\u2019s trip, the missionary route diverted to the Coast as River Niger had been explored. Missionary trips were done from the south rather than crossing the dessert. The earliest but abortive attempt was made by Rev. Allukur Sharpe, a freed Kanuri slave who became a Methodist minister. His hope to return to his people of Borno was dashed when he died at Egga mission station on the Niger in 1884.
Stover Kulp was born in 1894 in Pennsylvania, USA. He was minster with the church of the Brethren Mission which was part of the Anabaptist movement. Kulp arrived Lagos in 1922 (December), accompanied by his colleague Rev. Albert Helser. His vision was to establish a mission anywhere North- East of the country. Another vision was to set up a line of Christian missions in the Savannah region of Nigeria where Islam had already taken some root.
Kulp started with the Bura people of the Biu Plateau in Borno. He arrived at Biu on 12th February 1923. The Biu people however were repulsive to the missionaries because of the bitterness against the colonial government who placed them under Muslim Emirs. Kulp opted for Garkida, a small village separated by the River Hawul from the rest of the Biu community. There, the first Christian mission station in Bornu province was dedicated on 17th March 1923. A small school and medical clinic were opened in Garkida in 1924 with Dr. Homer Burke, a missionary doctor, supervising.
It was only in 1930 that another site for a new mission station was chosen at Marama on Biu Plateau. The building was to be done the same year. That was when the real evangelization of the Buras began. Kulp and his group established other mission stations among the Marghi 1927, where Muslim mason by by the name Mr. Risku had been converted to Christianity in 1926. He worked hard to translate the prayers and Bible stories into Marghi and opened the first mission school in Lassa where a mission hospital was later built. Other stations were: Chibok in 1941, Gulak in 1948 and Uba in 1955. The mission at Marama was opened in 1931.
Mission stations were also opened in Wandali in 1930 and Shafa in 1950. Many new primary schools were opened and this led to the opening of Waka Teachers\u2019 College near Biu in 1952. It is this Church of the Brethren Mission (C. B. M.), that later came to be known as Ekklesiya Yanuwar a Nijeriya (E.Y.N).
A young Canadian named Rowland Bingham had the inspiration to found the Sudan Interior Mission (S. I. M.) He set out in 1893 and arrived at Lagos. The first station of the S. I. M. was opened in Kukar Gadu, near the border with Bauchi province in 1935. Between 1935 and 1971, the S. I. M. in Borno and Bauchi were merged and later formed one district. The present day E.C.W.A (Evangelical Churches of West Africa) was established from the former S. I. M. Churches in May 1954. They founded stations in Potiskum, Damaturu, Biu, Gashua, Kukawa (the old Kanuri capital) with headquarters in Maiduguri.
The mission of the Sudan United Mission (S. U. M.) started first as a medical outreach. Permission was granted late in 1936 for S. U. M. to open a small leper colony in Molai, a small village near Maiduguri the S. U. M. was founded by Dr Charles Kumm a young German born in 1874, The S. U. M. used this humanitarian ground (of health services) as a base for evangelism since they were not allowed to preach openly in Kanuri villages. They came to Molai in 1937. Dr. Priestman was of immense help in establishing the leper colony which was officially opened in April 1938 by the Shehu of Borno Umar Sanda Ikarimi.
Because of the restrictions, the S.U.M. established a bookshop in Maiduguri in 1945 where people could at least go and read about the gospel. Fellowship of Christian Students (F. C. S) was established by the staff of S. U. M. schools in Gindiri in 1957 and from there, it spread quickly to the old Northern region. The S. U. M. also opened mission bookshops in Bama in 1949. Similarly, bookshops were also opened in Nguru and Geidam in 1950. Other bookshops were opened in Biu and Gwoza.
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