The Living Legacy of James Franklin Beckloff
(June 12, 1933-October 1, 2023)
WNCC in the last two weeks has been celebrating the legacy ou pioneer American missionary who passed on to his reward on October 1, 2023. James Beckloff was born in 1993 to poor farmers. James was baptized into Christ when he was 14 years of age. He was married to Ileta in 1960 with three children born to this marriage: Risa, Kent and Brenda. James was involved in evangelistic and leadership campaign in Ukraine (3 times), Kenya and Zambia. James taught for a semester at Nigerian Christian Bible College, NCBC in 1996 and his wife taught in 1999 during the Spring semester of 1999. The Beckloffs were invited to assist in the establishment of WNCC in 1999. Their teaching qualifications and experiences were needed at WNCC where he served as the college’s registrar from 1999-2005. Beyond his role as the college’s registrar, James was saddled with the responsibility of creating instructional structures for WNCC. James made sure that students spend time in the library and that exams reflected the objectives of the course outline. Jame facilitated the establishment of WNCC’s Information Communication Technology (ICT) centre with over 40 computers in the Computer Based Test (CBT) classroom and the student’s work room. This provided the platform for WNCC to stand as the cutting edge in ministerial training among its peers.
James authored and launched a text on evangelism titled, “Challenges to Traditional Evangelism” to commemorate the 20th anniversary of WNCC in 2014. Proceeds from the sale of the book were donated to the college. He started another book on evangelism and was on the brink of completing it when the sickness that eventually led to his death started. James donated a block of 4 flats with 3 en-suit bedrooms in each flat to the college which is nearing completion and scheduled to be commissioned as part of the 25th anniversary celebration of the college next year. James’ footprints are everywhere across WNCC campus. He had a hand virtually in all the buildings constructed when he was here at WNCC. From inception, he insisted on planting fruit trees to control erosion due to the nature of the College’s topography.
James’ legacy is spread across the brotherhood in the South-West region of Nigeria. As a missionary to the core, James contributed his means to making sure the frontiers of the kingdom of God continued to spread. He assisted several congregations to either procure their land for the church building or assisted churches who already had a landed property to build on it. There were also instances where congregations were assisted to buy the land and put up the building. Such were the cases of Mile Six church of Christ and Kajola church of Christ, both along Ajebo road, Abeokuta, and church of Christ Ijede, and church of Christ, Ebute, both in Ikorodu, Lagos. The preachers of these congregations were supported for at least two years before the new congregation took up the responsibility of supporting their preachers. Other congregations supported one way or the other included, churches of Christ at Ojodu, Onipanu and Egan, all in Lagos state. Congregations assisted in Ogun state include, Iyana Ilogbo, Bungalow-Ifo, Ado-Odo, Ija-Ofa Abeokuta, Obantoko Abeokuta, etc. Congregations across the region like the church in Gbongan-Osun state, Ore-Ondo state and several others benefited from the church infrastructural ministry of James Beckloff.
WNCC held a memorial service in honor of James and the service was packed with attendees whose lives had been touched positively through the ministry of James. The preacher of COC Ikorodu 1, spoke on James’ contribution to the construction of the foundation of the church building. He said James contributed 4 million Naira to the church project. An alumni, Tunde Oyedokun said James set him on course on his academic trajectory and career as a preacher. He also said James saved the church from a land tussle in the future by making sure a sum was paid for the church land denoted to the church by a brother. Another preacher, Olatunde from Ebute, Ikorodu, spoke on how James aided the leadership development of his congregation as well as contributed immensely to the construction of their church building. Kumayon, an alumni of the college, stated that he came to WNCC raw and unrefined. In his first semester, he was taught the course, Christian Home, that radically shifted his concern to see the home as God would have it and not as he had earlier thought about the home. He said James encouraged him to preach as well as set him on course on his academic journey. He said James sponsored him for 4 years in ministry and charged him to give back to WNCC. Sister Ekpodikpo, was taught by James and Ileta Beckloff at NCBC. Before encountering the Beckloffs she noted that she was deficient in English language. But through their assistance she scaled through and today she is a Master’s degree holder in English. Akinyemi, in his tribute stated that James selected him, mentored him, and supported him to be a preacher of the congregation for 5 years. Dr. Akintunde, preacher of COC Adigbe gave his tribute to James noting that James was a part of the congregation at her infancy, helping with evangelism and other activities of the congregation. He stated that James taught them evangelism by relationship which helped them to take their community for Christ and having the street to the church named after the church.
Adieu James Franklin Beckloff.