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Lodam, Da Dusu
1899 to 2002
Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN)
Nigeria

Da Dusu Lodam, an ordained minister with the Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN) was the first indigenous chairman of the Tarrayar Ekklesiyoyin Kristi a Nigeria (TEKAN), which means Fellowship of Christian Churches in Nigeria. In 1959, this group founded an ecumenical college called the Theological College of Northern Nigeria. The fellowship consists of over thirteen church denominations that are mostly mainline churches. In 1955, the Sudan United Mission (SUM) in Bambur decided to hand over the leadership of these churches to the indigenous converts who were also actively involved in running the church in Nigeria, and Da Dusu Lodam was appointed the first chairman or president of that body, with H. Smith, a missionary, as his secretary. [1]

Da Dusu Lodam was born to the family of Da Rwang Bot Dam and Ngwo Vou lo Kyeng in 1899, at Du. He was born and raised at a time when the gospel was not accepted among the Berom people. Most of them were traditional worshippers who clung adamantly to the gods of their forefathers. Despite heavy missionary activities in Berom land as early as 1907, when J. M. Young, H. W. Gyey and A. Emlyn were in the stations at Gyel, Du, Bukuru, and Foron, the indigenous people resisted the gospel. There was no hostility towards the missionaries, but the people were indifferent and ignored them, except when they wanted something.

This indifference was reflected even in the life of their house help, Tumbi, who refused to accept the Lord. A local man by the name of Yohanna Sanda, a Tarok, was sent there to evangelize them, but it was futile. This forced Rev. E. Evans and the Danns to close these mission stations among the Berom. When C. N. Barton came in 1913 and started up missionary activities in the area again, he stayed at Foron, where he eventually made one convert, Da Toma Tok Bo by name, who kept hiding his new identity. It was not until the coming of T. L. Suffil, who replaced Barton, that he and three other youths made public their conversion. The gospel then began to penetrate Berom land, mostly through these indigenous converts.

Da Dusu's father, Da Rwang Bot Dam, was a war slave. He had been captured during one of the Berom inter-tribal wars, between Du, in Jos South, and Heigpang, in Barkinladi Local Government Area, all in Plateau State. After being captured, he was brought to the family of Lodam, and being a good and hard working young man, he won the heart of the family head, Da Dam, who later accorded him full rights in the Lodam family. As a sign of goodwill towards the young man, he gave him a young lady named Vou lo Kyeng in marriage. The union was blessed with three children: Dusu, and his two sisters, Yom and Shom.

Having obtained his freedom, Da Rwang Bot Dam wanted to return to his own people and leave the Lodam family, but he was prevented from going with his wife and children. Since he came alone he had to go back alone, because as a tradition, his wife and the children belonged to the Lodam family. He decided to leave his family and went on ahead, marrying another lady. They had one daughter, Yop, who later came and stayed with the Lodam family and married at Du. So, Lodam and his sisters spent the latter part of their lives without their biological father.

Da Dusu Lodam grew up to be a good and hardworking young man like his father. He was a farmer as well as a tin mining laborer. This dedicated young man also won the hearts of his foster parents, who loved him and treated him like their own child. In fact, they had great pride in the young man, and had nursed the hope that he would continue in the ways of their forefathers, but Da Dusu Lodam became a Christian.

We are told that Lodam was led to Christ through one of his friends, Dan Tsoho. Both of them worked at a small mining pond called Rafin Tenti, at Dorowa Gindin Dutse, near the Police Staff College, Bukuru. Dan Tsoho had a Berom translation of the gospel of St. Mark, and during their break time in the afternoon, he would read some of the stories to his co-workers. One day he read the story of the baptism of Jesus. Lodam then asked his friend Dan Tsoho, "Who is Jesus?" [2] He was told that Jesus is the Savior who came and died for the sins of humanity. For the rest of the day, he was troubled in his spirit about his sins and all the wrongs he had committed. He was in church the following Sunday, and after hearing the preaching of Da Dusu Gyang, an indigenous missionary, Lodam answered the altar call and publicly confessed his sins, accepting the Lord as his personal Lord and Savior at the age of twenty-two in 1921.

His conversion to Christianity was not taken lightly by his foster parents, because they had hoped that he would remain a traditionalist. Most of the people who converted to Christianity during that time were severely persecuted. Their families sometimes refused to give them food, they were ostracized by their friends and acquaintances, and if they were engaged to someone who was traditionalist, the engagements were broken off by the bride-to-be or by the family. Lodam's father in-law advised him to revert to traditional religion if he wanted to marry his daughter, but he remained very resolute in his decision to follow Christ. They enticed him with money and material things, but he had made up his mind, and there was no turning back for him. In view of his resolution to remain a Christian, the parents of his fiancée had to refund the bride price he had paid on the young lady, and they married her off to another young man who was a traditionalist.

The issue of getting spouses for the new converts became a concern for the church, and the believers and missionaries had to fast and pray in these cases. However, Lodam later met another young lady named Chundung Gwong, who had also experienced severe trials and persecution because of her faith. They were married in 1933, and were later baptized. The marriage was blessed with eight children who are all currently thriving in their chosen professions and vocations. (2010)

Lodam wasted no time in sharing his new faith with others. As soon as he was converted, he started witnessing for Christ in the neighboring villages of Zawan and Shen, in the Jos South Local Government Area of Plateau State. He was zealous for his newfound faith, and was never ashamed to share the gospel with non-believers. His boldness, zeal for the gospel, and commitment, made the church think of recruiting him as one of their indigenous evangelists. So, in 1934, he was sent to serve as an evangelist and teacher in Gyel, four kilometers away from his village, also in Jos South Local Government, Plateau State.

Lodam did not attend any conventional primary schools, but learned how to read and write through Yaki da jahiki (an adult education program of the church which aimed at fighting illiteracy and ignorance among its members). Later in 1935, the church decided to sponsor him for a two-year training program at the Teacher Training College in Toro, and Da Hwere was left in charge of the church. He was also very zealous in sharing his faith there, and he witnessed to Da Rwang Pam, the first Bwong Gwom (paramount chief of Jos) and Mallam Pam Gyang, the Wakili of Jos (former administrator of Jos). Da Rwang Pam had received a scholarship from the tin mining company he was working with, which is how he met Lodam in Toro. With the help of Lodam and Gyang, this man was led to Christ, which turned out to be a big blessing to the church.

In 1937, after finishing his studies, Lodam was sent to work at Ganawuri. In February of 1942, he and his wife were sent to Gindiri Bible School for one year, to attend a course for evangelists, since he was now doing full-time Gospel ministry. Mallam Musa Jurawa was left in charge of the church. Later in 1945, he and his wife returned to Gindiri again for another course which was two years long, but he took the first year at Foron Bible School before going to complete the remaining year at the Pastor's College, Gindiri, Mangu Local Government Area of Plateau State. He graduated from Gindiri in 1947, and came back to continue his work at Ganawuri. Gindiri Bible School is now Gindiri College of Theology, a degree-granting institution affiliated with the University of Jos.

When Lodam was first posted to Ganawuri in 1937, certain events almost threw him off balance. The first was the sudden death of his mother, which came as a great shock to him, even though she had become a Christian. The second was his wife's ill health. In 1940, she developed heart problems and was admitted to Vom Christian Hospital twice, but despite treatment, her health did not improve, and this confused Lodam. When her illness persisted in spite of the medical attention and care, doctors Barden and Chadler advised her to go live in a cooler climate. So, in 1950, Lodam was posted back to Du, his native village.

Lodam had served the church in many areas. Though he had to return home because of his wife's illness, he was still supervising Ganawuri because there was no pastor for that station. He shuttled between Du and Ganawuri for six years on a monthly basis, in order to give communicant members Holy Communion, until Rev. Mallam Song Jong was finally sent to relieve him. It was at Ganawuri that he was ordained in 1947. In 1949, just before Lodam left for Du in 1950, the church in Ganawuri land was marked by the conversion of the chief of Ganawuri, Mallam Chai Mang, along with his entire household. This led many others to give their lives to Christ.

Lodam could best be described as a travelling or itinerant pastor, because he was always on the move attending to his duties. Since there was a shortage of personnel at the time, he was quite busy. In 1957, when Barden had to go on furlough, Lodam acted as the administrator of the hospital, and was also taking care of the church at Vwang, a village around the Vom area, all in Plateau State. When another missionary named Churchman was on leave, Lodam relieved him and graciously served as the teacher and clerk till he returned, one year later. These places were far apart, and the only available means of transportation were bicycles or walking. Because of the large areas he had to cover, he was often away from his family.

The next station he was posted to after Du was the COCIN at Chwel-Nyap, in 1960, which was the first COCIN church in Jos town. In 1957, he made a request to the chief of Jos for a piece of land to build a church. This request was granted, but the Muslims wrestled the land out of his hands and erected a mosque on it. This is where the Massallacin Juma'a, the "main mosque" in Jos is now situated. He went back to complain to Da Rwang Pam, the chief of Jos, and another parcel of land was secured through the joint efforts of Mallam Pam Gyang Jok, Wakilin Jos, and Mallam Bot Gong, the chief forest officer, and his wife. In February of 1960, four plots of land were approved by the Ministry of Land and Survey at the present Tsarki Mangu Street in Jos, with all its surrounding rocks. He later opened another congregational church at Langtang Street in Jos in 1963, and started construction on the new site in Tsarkin Mangu Street in September of 1963, while worship continued in Langtang Street. The Tsarkin church was built with gifts from individuals, Christian organizations, and the Foron district church. It was completed in 1971, and officially dedicated in 1972. Many thought of naming the church after Da Dusu Lodam, but he vehemently objected, saying that the church belonged to all people and that the owner of the church is Christ. He asked them to name it COCIN, Jos. Lodam was working in Gigiring, Chwelnyap, Angwan Rogo, and he became chairman of the Distict Church Council (DCC), Chwelnyap and Kabong. When Daniel Goncin died in 1985, even more work was added to Lodam's existing workload.

Lodam served the COCIN church faithfully until he retired in 1980 at the age of eighty-one. He returned to his home in Angwan Rogo, but even so, due to a shortage of staff in the COCIN at Jos, Rev. Manjang asked him to come out of retirement. He acquiesced, but pleaded with them not to take him far away from home. He was assigned to a church within Jos, and he continued to work there until he finally retired in 1989.

Lodam also gave the church a piece of land where the Theological College of Northern Nigeria (TCNN), Bukuru is situated. When the Sudan United Mission (SUM) missionaries decided to establish an ecumenical college to train indigenous converts to take up the ministry, they agreed that the site of the college should be near Jos. Mr. Bristow and Harry Boer were given the responsibility of getting the land. After they consulted with the principal of the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary in Ogbomoso about logistics, they went to the white man who was an administrator in Jos to help them get land around the Dogon Dutse area, but the owners refused to sell. In March of 1957, when they were returning from a TEKAS meeting in Bambur, they had a stopover in Jos, where Boer told Lodam of his disappointment about their failure to secure the plots of lands in Jos. He responded by saying, "That serves you right, for asking a white man for a black man's land. If you had come to me, I'd have shown you a place." [3] They agreed to meet two weeks later, at which time they went to Dan Mangu Road, where a vast tract of land was given to them free of charge. Both of them were satisfied with the offer and gladly accepted it. They shook hands with Lodam, and Boer said, "Church and mission made their first handshake standing on what is now TCNN [Theological College of Northern Nigeria] ground." [4] On May 14, 1957, TEKAN leaders, (with Lodam as president) along with their missionary counterparts, went to the site the church had received, even though the Land and Survey Department refused to issue them a certificate of occupancy, because there was no fund to pay for the government charges. However, an anonymous person later paid the £2,000 and the certificate of occupancy was issued.

Lodam served as chairman or president of TEKAN for seven years, from 1955 to 1962. He was among the first four trustees of COCIN when it first became an indigenous church that was "self supporting, self-propagating, and self-governing." It was incorporated as "Ekklesiyar Kristi a Sudan (EKAS) Plateau da Bauchi Yamma" in 1958, under the Land Perpetual Succession Act, Chapter 98, registered as No. 493. This name was latter changed to EKAN (Ekklesiyar Kristi a Nigeria), Plateau and Bauchi, meaning "Church of Christ in Nigeria." [5]

Da Dasu Lodam was in the habit of going to his home village, Du, every January 1st, to preach the gospel. It was a day when people came together after worship services to dance, play games, and share ideas and experiences. This interaction between the elderly and the youth created a very good rapport between the younger and the older generations.

Lodam was a bold, honest, and transparent person, and a strict disciplinarian. He prepared his sermons and his teaching well ahead of time, and he did so for each age group. His great contribution to church growth and development is fondly remembered by TCNN. One of the four houses in TCNN, Lodam House, was named after him. He was a visionary leader with a vision for training indigenous people for mission work in Nigeria, which is why he donated the land where TCNN is located. Another mark of his visionary leadership was the planting of a church in Jos Township. He was committed to missionary work: he never complained when he was posted, and never selected where to work. He worked well with everyone, and was respectful towards his colleagues.

The main challenge in Da Dusu Lodam's life was his children. They were wayward and the complete opposite of their father, which did not please him. When one of his sons died in a motor vehicle accident after getting himself drunk, he did not give him a decent burial. According to Chuwang, Rahwol, Lodam "buried the son like a dog, with little respect shown for the corpse." He was quoted as saying, "there is no befitting burial for those who refuse Christ." [6]

On December 6, 1999, his wife took ill and was admitted to Jos University Teaching Hospital around 5:00 p.m. She passed away and was buried two days later. Her funeral service was held at Tsarkin Mangu Street Church, Jos. Lodam died three years later, in 2002. Other Sources:

Yosi A. D. Maton


Sources:

1. Jordan Samson Rengshwat, Leadership (President, General Secretaries): Churches in Fellowship: the Story of TEKAN. Mark Hopkins and Musa Gaiya, eds. (Kaduna: Baraka Press, 2005), 111.
2. Kpam Chuwang Rahwol. "Rev. Dusu Lodam: The Man God Used" (B.D. thesis, Theological College of Northern Nigeria, 2000), 28-30.
3. Harry R. Boer, History of [the] Theological College of Northern Nigeria 1950-1971. (Grand Rapids: Christian Reformed World Mission, 1983), 85.
4. Ibid, 86.
5. COCIN Constitution (Jos: COCIN Publication, January k2001), 1.
6. Rahwol, 29.


Other Sources:

COCIN Constitution. Jos: COCIN Publication, 2008.
Crampton, E. P. T. Christianity in Northern Nigeria. London: Geoffrey Chapman, 2004.
Gutip, Nanwul. Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN): Birth and Growth. Jos: Crossroad Communication, 1998.
Sharwa, Dr. Dan'azumi Bukar and Genka, Bidi Gopep, eds. (et al). The Gindiri Mission Compound: An Overview of Its Establishment and Development. Jos: Selidan Books Printing Press, 2005.
Face the Challenge: Sudan United Mission - Action Partners 1904-2004. England: Action Partners, 2004.

This story, submitted in 2010, was written by Mrs. Yosi A. D. Maton, a Ph.D. candidate at Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary, Ogbomoso under the supervision of Dr. M. L. Ogunewu and submitted by Dr. Deji Ayegboyin, DACB liaison coordinator.