by Sunday & Grace Bwanhot | ECWA formerly launched its foreign missions during the centennial celebrations in December 1993 when its own ‘three pioneer couples’: Simon & Ruth Yako, Joshua and Joanna Bogunjoko, and Sunday & Grace Bwanhot were commissioned at the Jos township stadium.
ECWA grew out of SIM’s ministry (formally Sudan Interior Mission; Now: Serving In Missions). It began its work in Nigeria in December 1893 through the pioneering efforts of Rowland Bingham, Thomas Kent and Walter Gowans. The Church planted then was called SIM church but it was handed over to nationals in 1954. ECWA was registered in Nigeria as Evangelical Churches of West Africa on June 11, 1956. Later the name was amended to be: Evangelical Church of West Africa and now: Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA).
With the exception of some EMS (Evangelical Missionary Society) missionaries working in some countries in West Africa and the few churches in the USA and Britain, ECWA has largely remained a Nigerian church. It is to be noted that EMS of ECWA is the single largest indigenous mission agency in Africa. Although ECWA, through its mission agency, EMS, has a foreign mission policy, the policy continues to remain in the back burner of ECWA.
Officially, ECWA formerly launched its foreign missions during the centennial celebrations in December 1993 when its own ‘three pioneer couples’: Simon & Ruth Yako, Joshua and Joanna Bogunjoko, and Sunday & Grace Bwanhot were commissioned at the Jos township stadium. The Yakos proceeded to Togo (Now in Nigeria), the Bogunjoko’s to Niger (Now in USA) and the Bwanhots in the USA. God made the move in spite of ECWA’s non committal to global evangelization. While God was using Rev. James Gabis to initiate ECWA’s ministries in the UK, God worked also through individuals here in the US to establish the ministry. Currently Israel and Gambia are the latest mission fields where ECWA is engaged in church planting.
ECWA Church New York
This is the first ECWA Church to be planted in the US in 1987 through the inspiring work of Elder Francis Dada’s father in-law. The church uses a rented facility located at 966 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, NY. Attendance at its peak averaged 60 to 75 people. The biggest challenge of this church has been a lack of a resident pastor. They have had several people fill in for brief periods of time. There was a conflict that led to several leaving the church and till today the church is yet to recover from that. Attendance currently is about 10 people.
ECWA Church Maryland
This is the second ECWA church planted in the US in January 1997 and it is currently the largest of all our churches with attendance in the neighborhood of 75 or more. The church bought a property that is being used for worship services and is located at: 5526 Marlboro Pike, District Heights, MD 20747. Rev. George Adekeye has been the pastor of the church since its inception.
ECWA Church Chicago
This is the third ECWA church planted in the USA on June 1, 1997. The church has been meeting in the lower level of Uptown Baptist Church at 1011 W. Wilson Avenue, Chicago, IL 60640. Attendance is between 40 and 50 and members come from several different countries. On January 7, 2007 Rev. Dr. Isaac Laudarji took over as the pastor from Rev. Sunday Bwanhot who started the church and pastored it till then.
First & Second ECWA Church Louisville
This is the fourth church planted in the US and is being pastored by Rev. Dr. Stephen Awoniyi. The church was officially inaugurated April 15, 2001. The church worships at 5007 Southside Dr. Louisville, KY 40214. Although attendance has declined from the average of 40 in the main church, the blessing of having the 2nd ECWA Church – Swahili speaking congregation under the leadership of Rev. Jean Nzeyimana is highly appreciated.
ECWA Church, Atlanta
This is the fifth ECWA Church in the USA. It was officially inaugurated on Sunday September 2, 2007 under the leadership of Rev. Innocent Nwaobasi. The church currently meets at the home of Elder Josiah Osasona. Attendance is still low – under 20. Property was purchased early this year and Lord willing the church will move to its permanent site in due course.
While several Prayer houses have been started across the country, there is a general struggle to keep these prayer houses going:
- Prayer House, Columbia SC, 2006
- Prayer House in Los Angeles CA,
- Prayer House in Dallas/Fort Wayne TX
- Prayer House in Houston, TX, 2012
- Prayer House, Xenia, OH, 2012
- Prayer House in Minneapolis/St. Paul’s area, MN.
We need to pray for these Prayer Houses to stand.
How We Got Organized
The first two churches planted came about because of the efforts of some ECWA individuals who felt the Lord leading them to do that. There was no organization, no plan or strategy for church planting for ECWA here in the US. The two churches existed independently of each other and of ECWA Headquarters.
Rev. Panya Baba (former ECWA President) visited the US and he and Rev. Bwanhot had a discussion. The outcome of which was a February 15, 1997 meeting in MD with the following in attendance: Rev. Panya Baba, Rev. George Adekeye, Mr. Sunday Buge, Rev. Innocent Nwaobasi, Elder Henry Bello, Dr. James Angbazo, Rev. Joseph Obielodan and Rev. Sunday Bwanhot. Our agenda was to consider our role as ECWA members in the spiritual well-being of our people and others in the US. A Sub-Committee was appointed to plan a big ECWA Family Reunion for July 2-5, 1999.