Bulus Marwa was one of the twenty-first century Christian martyrs killed by Islamic fundamentalists in northern Nigeria. Prior to his death along with two of his church members, Bulus Marwa was pastor of Victory Baptist Church, Alamuderi, Maiduguri, Borno State of Nigeria.
Marwa was preparing for Christmas Eve worship on December 24, 2010 and two of the church youth, who were members of the choir, were practicing on their instruments when Islamic fundamentalist came to the church at about 6:00 p.m. On seeing them, the security guard at the gate fled. The attackers entered the church and killed the young men, Philip Luka and Paul Matthew, on the altar inside the church and then set fire to the church using explosive devices and petrol. Marwa was caught on the church premises and slaughtered while another Christian brother from Deeper Life Bible Church who was coming to see the pastor was also killed at the gate. The Islamic fundamentalists were identified as members of Boko Haram (meaning “Education is forbidden”), an Islamic sect that preaches against western education and wants only Islamic Law to be practiced in all of northern Nigeria. Many Christians and pastors have been victims of this group which has also destroyed many church properties.
His Birth and Education
Bulus Marwa was from Hmikey in Michika Local Government of Adamawa State. He was born on November 19, 1973 in Michika, Adamawa State to Mr. Marwa Jatau and Mrs Kwaji Jatau. Marwa began his primary schooling in Kwashi Primary School Mubi in 1982 and finished in 1987. He later went to Teachers’ College and obtained a Grade II certificate on September 16, 2004. He was admitted to Gombi Pastors’ School on January 11, 1997 and finished his studies there on December 4, 1999. Bulus Marwa was admitted to Baptist Theological Seminary, Kaduna for his degree in theology and had completed his first year just before he died.
His Spiritual Journey
Although Marwa came from the northern region of the country, he was fortunate to be born in a Christian family in a state that is predominantly Christian. Nonetheless, he struggled living as a Christian. In 1988, he gave his life to Christ and the struggle continued. However, in 1992 he rededicated his life to Christ and embarked on a spiritual journey with his Lord. This reached a high point in 1992 when he was ordained church evangelist by First Baptist Church Mararaba Mubi in Adamawa State of Nigeria. From then on, he served as church evangelist for church planting and mission work from 1992 to 1997 when he was admitted to the school in Gombi for pastoral training.
He married Mrs. Maryam Marwa. After their marriage, the couple waited for the Lord to grant them children. Unfortunately, Bulus Marwa died without biological children. Even though it was very difficult for them Marwa and his beloved wife maintained a great testimony. Their life and countenance always reflected the joy and glory of the Lord in spite of their lack of children.
After training at the Pastors’ school in Michala, Gombi in Adamawa State of Nigeria, Marwa was called to Haske Baptist Church, Tilli. He served there as the church pastor from December 20, 1999 for five years and four months. On January 29, 2005 he became the pastor of Victory Baptist Church Alamuderi, Maiduguri, where he served until his death.
Marwa endured a series of challenges after he began work as the pastor of the church but that never kept him from leading the church in such a way as to overcome their challenges. Right from the start, he confronted the issues of Islamic fundamentalism. During the February 18, 2006 crisis, his church was one of the many churches that were burned down. Furthermore, the pastorium and all his properties, including his library, were burned, leaving him and his wife with only the clothes on their backs.
He was a fearless preacher and his sermons usually woke his church members from their slumber. Before he began his ministry, the church was unable to provide for their pastor. However, during his time there, he changed their perspective on Christian stewardship. Transformed, the church began to grow and flourish thanks to his fearless sermons and Godly leadership. He also led the church in the project of rebuilding the pastorium and the sanctuary that had burned down. New, modern equipment was purchased to replace what had been destroyed during the February 2006 crisis. He also led the church in the purchase of additional land for church expansion and had a fence built around the entire church property which included the land, the church building, and the pastorium.
Before his death he served as the assistant moderator of the Borno Baptist Association and treasurer of the Borno Baptist Pastors’ Fellowship. He was the chairman of Dalla Christian Fellowship in Maiduguri. He served for three years as chairman of Borno Baptist Pastors’ fellowship. Until his death he was a member of Fellowship Baptist Conference nominating committee. He was also an active member of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Local Government and State chapter.
Bulus Marwa was a dedicated servant of God, who served the Lord very faithfully, undeterred by the circumstances and challenges of his particular context. Marwa thought he would still have more time to serve the Lord and he was doing everything possible to be ready when he was murdered by Islamic Fundamentalists on December 24, 2010.
Adediran G. S. Adekunle
Materials from the church secretary of Victory Baptist Church, Alamuderi, Maiduguri.
Interview with Baptist pastors in Maiduguri.
Personal relationship as one of the pastors in Maiduguri and an eyewitness to what happened on December 24, 2010.The writer was one of the pastors who took over the affairs of church at the death of the Bulus Marwa and also preached at his burial and those of the two members assassinated along with him.
This story, received in 2012, was written by Adediran G. S. Adekunle, a student at Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary, Ogbomoso, Nigeria, under the supervision of Dr. Michael Adeleke Ogunewu and Dr. Deji Ayegboyin, DACB liaison coordinator.