NKST Beginnings: How Pastor Zimmermann brought the Gospel to Sai

Christianity came to Tiv through a Dutch South African missionary called Karl Zimmermann. He came to Sai in Shitile, Katsina Ala LGA of Benue.

His coming was facilitated by DRCM (Dutch Reformed Church Mission, a missionary arm of Dutch Reformed Church)

In 1904 DRCM sent people to Nigeria to carry out feasibility studies for missionary work. Among those sent was Dr Kumm. Kumm happened to interface with Tiv people at Abinsi, near Makurdi. He was interested in Tiv. On going back he recommended Tiv nation as one of the places where mission work be done.

DRCM swung into action and missionaries arrived. A prominent one was Zimmerman.

Zimmerman and his team spoke to Akiga’s father, Sai Dekpe. Sai gave them his son Akiga to serve them as an “erand boy”. Akiga turned out to become the first Tiv to be a Christian, be baptized, and to be a pastor.[1]

Zimmermann and Akiga are arrowheads of NKST beginnings and the birth of the gospel in Benue.

NKST officially recognizes 17 April 1911, the day Zimmermann started a gospel station in Sai, not only as the day the gospel came to Tiv and Benue state but also as the day the NKST church started.

Some NKST pastors at a function in Kyado, near Zaki Biam [2]

Towards the end of 1911 another missionary in Zimmermann’s fold, Pastor Judd joined him in Sai. Judd wrote the first Tiv book.

Although Zimmermann started the work, his stay was not very long. After sometime he proceeded on holiday outside the country and was willing to return but couldn’t do so.

Later on DRCM handed over the missionary project to SUM (Sudan United Mission, a missionary body of Christian Reformed Church of North America)[3].

One thing led to the other and NKST was made independent. NKST having benefited from missionary works of DRCM and SUM also sends people for missionary work.

You too can be another Zimmermann by helping people come to Christ, helping people do the will of Christ perfectly.

In your daily discussions you can chip in gospel truths. So for now you must not necessarily go to Amazon forest, the West Indies or a new land to make converts.

Use every opportunity to bring people to Christ. Your phone, your knowledge, your everything can be channeled to push on with the great commission.

Stop wasting time, bring out the Zimmermann in you.


[1] Convafresh

[2] Ben Dzwa

[3] NKST