Chapter 2

JOANAH’S CHURCH PLANTING HISTORY

 

 

 

Joanah Omololo Ogunranti was a great church planter as seen in the previous chapter. We even examined her tactics in the said chapter and concluded they were unique as well as unconventional and very humble and down to earth. Let us now examine the history of how it all started.

 

1924-1945

Joanah was born on 29 January1924 in her home town Ondo in Ondo State. She is the fifth of the six daughters of Pa Emmanuel and Mama Esther Olamoju Akinyelu. She lost her mother at a very tender age and was brought up by her paternal grandmother. Her step mother, Mama Deborah Akinyelu also took care of her along with her six sons and daughters. During her childhood days Joanah grew up in an atmosphere of intense religious fervor. Her father was a prominent church elder in the CMS at Ondo. He was a convert from African traditional worship and hence a devoted Christian. He was the Are Baale of Ijo Ajihinrere CMS and her Paternal Grandmother was Iya Ijo of All Saints Anglican Church, Ondo. Joanah’s father tried to bring up his children in a God fearing manner and he succeeded. Five of these initial children were females who had the same mother – Esther Olamoju Akinyelu. Esther Akinyelu had first Mrs Pheobe Bolanale who died in 1998 at the age of 83 years, followed by 5 others. Joanah was the 4th of these five female children. All of them except one became nurses who joined their most senior sister that had migrated to Jos, the present capital of Plateau State in the early 1940s. Then Jos was the centre of European activity in Nigeria because of its pleasant temperate climate. Mrs Bolanle had gone to Jos with her husband to practice Nursing. The first to join her was Mrs Victoria Adelana. This was then followed by Joanah who joined her sister from Ibadan where she had practiced midwifery in 1946. Before Joanah joined her sister in Jos, she had received extensive evangelical[1] education. She knew the Bible inside out and could understand and appreciate the principles of the Christian faith having been baptized and confirmed in the CMS church in Ondo. What Joanah felt deficient was the Holy Spirit.

Joanah received her Higher Elementary Certificate in Ondo where she had her Midwifery training. She proceeded to Ibadan to practice her midwifery at Alafia Hospital Ibadan. She suddenly received a call from her sister Mrs Bolanle to come immediately to Jos and join her. And join she did!

 

1946-1949
Joanah, the young midwife joined her sister in 1946 at Jos. She was initially employed as a midwife at the new hospital which was then General Hospital Jos but is now University of Jos Teaching Hospital. She later started her nursing training in this same General Hospital Jos in 1946 and qualified as a Nurse in 1949.

 

1949-1951
Joanah suddenly fell ill after her qualification in 1950 in a strange twist of fortune, which turned her to become CAC member till she died. She had contacted typhoid fever,
[2] an incurable disease by the year 1949 at

Jos University Teaching Hospital (former General Hospital) 2006

 

least in Nigeria. She lay dying on her bed at the General Hospital Jos. Her senior sister was devastated. She had just lost her immediate sister two years earlier. She was not in the mood to loose yet another one. As Joanah lay in bed, Mrs Bolanle roamed the city of Jos looking for those who would help her since she, being a nurse, realized that western medicine at that time was useless. In her roaming, she found a church at the centre of Jos Dilimi called CAC Dilimi. This church had been existing in the location since 1945 and is still there in Dilimi today. She walked in and found some women praying. She requested them to pray for her younger sister. As they were praying one of them claimed she had a vision in which the sister (i.e. Joanah was healed by God). She was then told that Joanah must come to church after her healing in order to praise/thank God. The next day, Mrs Bolanle reached the hospital only to find her sister, Joanah sitting up on the bed and alive. She was obviously feeling much better and instead of seeing her corpse, she was just recuperating. She was overjoyed and thanked the God of heaven. After a few days her sister was discharged to go home. It was at home that Mrs Bolanle shared the story of Joanah’s miraculous healing with her junior sister.

 

1950; Joanah’s conversion[3]

 

Out of curiosity, Joanah decided to check the church out. She went to the church which her senior sister had described to her. She again found herself in the middle of a prayer meeting which was being moderated by a young catechist who later became President of CAC. The then Catechist Olutimehin prayed fervently and successfully for the deliverance of the young lady.

CAC Dilimi Jos where it all started

She became born again, was baptized in the Holy Spirit the same day and started a new life in the Lord in Jos. Her life never remained the same after these miraculous encounters with God. She believed that God miraculously healed her of an incurable disease and not just that, also gave the gift of the Holy Spirit baptism. She could now prophesy and indeed prophesied that same day. She had joy she had never experienced and began learning to grow in the love of God and of man. Her new Christian experience was to shape her future life and development for a life of ministry.

 

1951: Joanah’s wedding
Young Joanah got married to her husband Mr Godwin Oladejo Ogunranti. She had met him in the choir of her new church. Godwin was born into the CAC. His (Godwin’s) father was one of the founding members of the old Faith Tabernacle which later became the Christ Apostolic Church. The faith tabernacle and its metamorphosis the CAC believed in divine healing and did not believe in the use of western or other medicine to cure ill health. Joanah was later to imbibe this doctrine with some modifications, given her career as a nurse and her experience with the Holy Ghost.
[4]

Joanah later got married to her late husband (Mr Godwin Oladejo Ogunranti) in the same Dilimi church in Holy Wedlock in 1951 at Jos by Apostle J.O. Babalola the revered founder of CAC worldwide[5]. The marriage is blessed with six children.

 

1951-1956
Joanah has always had a spirit of excellence, kindness and selfless service, which made her stand out in service to humanity as a Nurse and a servant of God. Her nursing career started at the General Hospital Jos where she qualified and worked till 1956. During this period she became strong in the Lord and in her new found faith and theology which was later to shape her life and ministry. She learnt how to pray, how to receive from God; hear from God in prophecies and even dream dreams. She was now ready to take her theology to the greatest heights.

In 1956 she had a great experience of seeing her first daughter Funmi amongst those to receive the Royal Guest to Nigeria, Queen Elizabeth II, who came to visit Nigeria after her coronation in 1956. Funmi was amongst the children to carry flowers in honour of the great Queen and she was filmed with the others. It was a story which she would say many times after for she was so proud of her daughter. She was of course not to know that some day she herself would personally write letters to the same Queen of England in her epistolary function within the ministry God had entrusted in her hands.

 

1957-1962
Joanah transferred to Ilesha to join her husband who had moved to the gold city to mine. She got a job at the famous Cappa in Ilesha which was then the Women’s Training College- a Government teacher raining college for women in those days. It was like a University. Later this Women’s College was to become a Government Teacher Training College (GTTC) while she was still there. While at the GTTC Ilesha, she was to man a Sick bay and live in house close to the sick bay with her family. Those days saw the separation of sick bays from the main centre of activity because of infectious diseases which were the commonest. It was not different in Ilesha and hence the sick bay at GTTC Ilesha was placed close to the bush because of the common communicable diseases of those times. It was too lonely and dangerous. Wild animals and snakes plagued the residence which then made her to request for a change of accommodation. But these snakes had their theological significance. They taught Joanah to rely on her God for everything. There were also stories of demonic infestation of the forest etc. She was able to cope by simply praying and her God always seemed to rescue her from all dangers.


Sick bay and first house at GTTC, Ilesha


Second house at GTTC, Ilesha

 

She lived in this lonely sick bay however for a period of 3 years with her young children who were now Funmi, Jonni and Bimbo. Sometimes she would see the young children playing with snakes. It was while she was living in this house that she experienced a great uplifting of the Holy Spirit. She had joined the CAC Okesha Ilesha as a member and walked the long distance to the church every Sunday with her family. Because of the distance she was always invariably late for service. She also arrived from service equally late every Sunday. But she survived and moved to the next residence which was closer to the entrance of the school. She was in Ilesha with her family up to 1962 when she again transferred to Ibadan and this also meant changing her church to an Ibadan based one. Today the Government Teacher Training College of Ilesha has been converted to the Federal Science and Technical College, Ilesha. While in Ilesha, Joanah made many friends who are still her friends till today. Some were very caring and very good; others were mischievous. She was able to obtain some converts in Ilesha and there developed skills for witnessing which was to stand her in good stead in the years to come in Ibadan. She developed her talent to prophesy during this period and was seen to prophesy very often during church services or revivals. This talent or gift to prophecy in church service probably was what earned her the title ‘prophetess’ when she began her ministry and she kept that gift far unto her ministry career.

 

1962-1963
Joanah transferred to Ibadan to the then University of Ife, Ibadan Branch at the time the school had just converted from the Nigerian College of Arts Science and Technology to University of Ife. The strategy for the then Western Region was to convert this College to the University of Ife, (now Obafemi Awolowo University) which will then gradually move to its permanent site at Ile-Ife within a couple of years. Joanah started her work as Staff Nurse in this University in 1962. Earlier, her children had transferred to Ibadan where they lived with her elder sister- Mrs Bolanle at Abadina, University of Ibadan. When their mother came back they joined her at University of Ife which is now The Ibadan Polytechnic. At University of Ife, Ibadan Branch Joanah was given the house of the former matron which was attached to the only female hall in the university. She acted as Matron at the same time as nurse in those early University years. She now had the rare privilege of beginning the first house fellowship at University of Ife, Ibadan branch and she did. Her first taste of ministry work began in 1963 at the house she lived in at the picture below.


Federal Science and Technical College which was formerly GTTC, Ilesha


CAC Okesha, Ilesha

 

She had her fellowship/services on days other than Sundays. On Sundays she attended CAC Oniyanrin which was her first contact with CAC in Ibadan. Again transportation was not easy. To get out of Ife campus was very difficult and to get back equally difficult. But Joanah brazed the storm because of the fervent desire to serve her God. She raised her children who were now a little grown up to understand the gospel, in this campus. She told them about Jesus who died on the cross of Calvary for the sins of men- her very favourite topic. She told them to repent of their sins; otherwise they end up in hell. Joanah actually started to learn to preach by preaching to her own children. In those days, all good Fridays must be observed with fasting by her family and she would spend the whole day talking about the death Jesus died for all sinners. She wrote her first tract for evangelism in this campus tiled ‘Is God a liar?’ She later changed the title of her tract to ‘Is God a liar? No!” when some persons interpreted her tract to mean that God was a liar. After this first tract she would not relent. She would continue writing until her dying day and these writings (including the first one) has been placed in this book for Christian posterity.

 

 

1962: Encounter with Apostle Egabor

 

It was in Ibadan at the University of Ife Ibadan branch that Joanah consolidated her initial interaction with Pastor Apostle PAA Egabor. Pastor Egabor, as he was known in those years, had started a revival at CAC Okesha, Ilesha in 1962 shortly before Joanah left Ilesha, for he was a CAC Pastor. He was later to be given the post of Assistant General Evangelist of CAC, assistant to the well known Babajide who was the armour bearer of Babalola, the first CAC General Evangelist. It was at this revival she met this man of God in Ilesha. She admired this man so much; his zeal and fervour for the Lord and His ministry, and wanted to be like him. Apostle Egabor trained Joanah in the ministry and began this training at Ibadan. He had started another visionary revival at CAC Oniyanrin, which went on for a long time. Joanah attended all the revivals of Pastor Egabor. She saw in this man of God great humility, great abilities and great strength. Pastor Egabor demonstrated amazing knowledge of the scriptures, was unassuming and very learned by the standard of the world in those years. He had attended Teachers College and was a distinction student, having demonstrated rare ability to learn. He was very much interested in world evangelists like T.L Osborn, Gordon Lindsay etc and introduced Joanah to literature for evangelism which came from these workers of God based in the USA. Joanah was to later learn from these American preachers how to evangelize, write Christian tracts and minister as she also learnt from Pastor Egabor. The relationship between Egabor and Joanah was to continue well into the many years of her stay in Ibadan and was still on when she died on March 6, 2007. Joanah transferred her service to University of Ibabdan 1963 and there began her Ministry for take off.



 

House Joanah lived with her family at University of Ife Ibadan
Branch in 1963. It is now Ibadan Polytechnic, Ibadan.

 

1963-1966

 

In 1963 Joanah joined the services of University of Ibadan as Assistant Nursing Sister and worked selflessly for 15 years after which she retired into full time service in the Lord in 1978. She worked at Jaja Health Centre which is still there today at the University of Ibadan. Joanah first lived with her sister at her sister’s residence in Abadina, University of Ibadan. She then transferred to her own residence at D9 Abadina, Ibadan. It was at D9 of the University of Ibadan that her vision to start Bethel CAC was given in 1966.


 

Mrs Bolanle’s house at Abadina where Joanah lived in
1963 seen from a car
.


Joanah’s house where Church began in 1966 at University of Ibadan Abadina


Church moved to this house in 1969, University of Ibadan, Abadina

 

Training
Joanah in these years continued her training with Pastor Egabor. She was very excellent pupil and learnt very fast. She started to digest the word of God voraciously so that until her death she was a concordance on her own right. The training from Egabor was an informal one and only happens when Egabor was in town and very often far apart. But Joanah was a very willing pupil. She wanted to know about God, do the will of God but she was not ready for what happened next. She was to be a full time worker of God. Even after she knew about God’s call for her to do full time, she resisted until in 1978, when she threw in the towel and retired voluntarily from the services of the University of Ibadan after 15 years, to face the work of God full time.

 

The Ibadan Vision

God gave Joanah a great vision in Ibadan University. She saw sacrifices at junctions as is common practice in fetish worship, especially of the Yoruba god Esu[6] where sacrifices are made at junctions to serve the god(s). She wept as she walked to her place of work daily seeing these kinds of things in a University of learned peoples. She knew then that the devil was very much available in the environment and vowed to pray to God for the conversion of these souls in the University- both lectures and students. Was it not the same God who healed her of incurable disease in 1951 in Jos? It was this experience that fuelled her evangelical zeal and shaped her ministry for the future. With this vision to evangelize the University community she prayed to God and the answer was Bethel. She summarized in her own words how she turned her vision into action.

 

My burden for souls grew even more after noticing fetish sacrifices at cross roads in the University of Ibadan as she walked to her place of work. I did not stop at praying  I started distributing gospel tracts to as many as come her way. I even boarded commercial vehicles preaching gospel and distributing tracts.

 

But much later, the Ibadan vision was transformed to a world wide vision for Joanah.

 

1964; Conversion of Dr A.M.A Imevbore

 

Let us use Joanah’s words to describe the conversion of this humble man of God who is now a well known retired Professor of Zoology formerly of Obafemi Awolowo University, CAC Pastor and also the Chairman of Special District of CAC created to cater for Bethel churches planted by Joanah and her associates.

 

Meanwhile the Lord brought the then Dr A.M.A. Imevbore my way by divine arrangement. He was meek and lowly at heart enough to be taught the scriptures and the way of the Lord by a woman (a feat that was uncommon then as it is still now).

Subsequently, he received the baptism of the Holy Spirit through my ministration. Unknown to both of us, God was preparing me for a bigger Ministry and Dr Imevbore (now Pastor Prof A.M.A. Imevbore) as my assistant.

 

Dr Imevbore, as he was known at the time received the baptism of the Holy Spirit through the ministration of Joanah in 1964. He then became a convert of the CAC and attended the CAC, Oke-Iyanu Church with Joanah and others until 1966 when the Bethel started. Professor Imevbore was to remain a pillar of strength to Joanah through out her ministry. He was a loyal disciple, lieutenant and a very humble man. His humility in God’s work made him a legend in his own rights. In those days, it was impossible to see a PhD man openly confirm that the baptism of the Holy Ghost was  real and that he had received it for invariably baptism of Holy Spirit with such church practices of the CAC, like clapping hands, dancing and shouting alleluia were associated with poverty, misdirection in theology and false prophecy. This was because the pentecostalists called  aladura of old had used these liturgical methods to such large extent that roving prophets abounded everywhere, covering themselves with sack clothes, wearing white garments, wearing beard and carrying bells (some to simulate the methods of Joseph Ayo Babalola, the most successful rural evangelist and of course canonical prophets) and shouting alleluia in most cases in a funny way  with such abbreviations as allello, allellu- allelu. Such practices became synonymous with falsehood. Aside from this, a very learned man in those years was rare to find and for one who had a PhD to confirm these Pentecostal testimonies was a great boost to faith of pentecostalists who were invariably poor and common people. The CAC was actually a haven for the poor and the downtrodden in the society for years and it remains largely so till today.[7]

 

1966 Birth of CAC Bethel

 

The D day now arrived in 1966. As Joanah was praying with Dr Tony Imevbore, together with Tony’s uncle and wife, the message came out of her own mouth in form of prophesying ‘Hear the word of God’ -that a church had begun that day. This prophesy was to later confirmed by


First church expansion next to Joanah’s house 1969


Second church expansions 1978


Third church expansion 1985


Inside church at 2006


Thanksgiving service for Joanah 31 Dec 2006 at church

Apostle PAAA Egabor who said the Spirit of the Lord spoke to him and confirmed the choice of Joanah as the vessel to be used for the Bethel ministry. The Lord preferred Joanah because he could not find a useful vessel amongst the men in the University of Ibadan and indeed the whole of the Western Region of Nigeria of that period.

 

Joanah’s Mission

 

Now that the church has been formed, Joanah’s mission was to evangelize all Nigerian Universities in order to teach academics that God was sufficient. This remained her main mission till her dying day. Because of the experience of fetish in the University, she had greater burden for academic souls than others and hence her preference to establish churches within campuses and round the intelligentsia, even abroad. God raised up Professors, and doctors to assist her and today evidence abounds of her sojourn with academic people, when she herself is not one of them, and the many God has raised up for her ministry, are testimonies of the fact that her mission had been accomplished before she died. She used aggressive method of evangelism in the University of Ibadan, preaching with tract, rallies and open campaigns, for which she often obtained permission of the University authorities.

 

Rationale
Why another church when the landscape was full of many other churches, some fake some good? Why not just join one of the churches and assist in consolidation of the joined church? These were some of the questions many people placed before Joanah. Most of the questions came from chauvinistic minds of men who felt God could not have called a woman in this modern age when men were many. Moreover in those days, only jobless, never to do wells tried to set up churches, especially Aladura pentecostalism.
[8] Educated people rarely did that. Joanah was an educated nurse. She had her full time job. Why dabble into theology which she was not trained to do and also do something she knew very little about? Aside for this, Joanah herself had grown up as a very shy young woman. Where would she get the boldness to lead a church? She spent all her life battling with these tensions as follows - her natural shyness and her new spiritual nature to lead. She was never ordinarily interested in lording it over others; nevertheless she was very stubborn in doing what she considered right even if everyone else disagreed! This was why it was necessary for Apostle Egabor to come to her aid by making public his own vision on the subject of call of Joanah. Unfortunately for many years after this corroboration from Apostle Egabor, no one heard of him (Egabor) until he arrived one day in the early 80s. He never left since then, helping to shape the new ministry and be its father, counselor, mentor[9] and adviser to this day. He has lived in Ile-Ife since 23 January 1982.

Joanah summed up her vision for starting her church in her own words as follows

 

The Lord expanded my ministry by instructing me to gather people and preach the message titled "You need to serve God".  Lives were touched and many started attending churches within and outside University campus. A fellowship group soon emerged in my sitting room which later moved to a class room at Abadina Primary School, then to my house at D9 Abadina and then to CAC Bethel Church auditorium Abadina still being used today.

 

Interval of 1968

 

Between 1966 and 1968 Joanah attended her own church in her house but also attended other churches in town such as CAC Oke-Anu where the then legendary Pastor Durojaiye led his congregation and also later at CAC Oke-Iyanu, Sango, Ibadan Titun. It was this latter church that she became close to in latter years of founding her own church. It was a rapidly expanding church and contained several members of the intelligentsia, the military middle class and the nouveau riche in Ibadan. The congregation was led by fiery Pastor Akinade who was given the nickname Budaale for his ability to pray for long hours in public. It was to this congregation that Joanah turned her attention in the early parts of 1968. She had volunteered to be the midwife of the new maternity centre set up at Sango without pay, and she moved her things to occupy the building reserved for the midwife. She lasted for one year while her church at Abadina suffered. She came to her church one day for service at Abadina to find no one available. She prayed together with her son Bimbo whom she had taken along to accompany her, and the two called upon the name of their God to answer them and restore the church. God answered that prayer. Not long after then, a dispute arose between the authorities of the Oke-Iyanu church and Joanah had to leave exactly a year after she began her midwifery job in that church. She returned to Abadina and lived at her residence where the church first started. By 1969 she was transferred to a new house close to the bush where the church can be built and expand. It was built attached to her house and still exists today with such attachment to the same house. It expanded towards the bush until it reached its present state.


CAC Oke-Iyanu, Sango, Ibadan


Joanah lived at the ground floor of this building in 1968.

 

1969 Birth of Wednesday Group and the Pentecostal Movement of the University of Ibadan

In late 1969, Professor AMA Imevbore, then Dr A.M.A. Imevbore, was called to lead Mission to University by SCM known as Student Christian Movement of the University of Ibadan. It was rare in those days to get a PhD to believe in God and preach Him with the fervour which Imevbore demonstrated. The topic of his Mission was as controversial as it was topical- You need the Holy Spirit. Imevbore invited Joanah to support him during the mission. He had seven days of Bible exposition to these young undergraduates of Ibadan and convinced some of them, most of who were evangelicals of the born again groups of the University. That is to say, they were born again Christians who wanted to know whether the doctrine of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit was true as well as correct. They came in large numbers for this Mission of Imevbore and before long many received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Before Imevbore left for Ife after the mission, (for he had now transferred with the Obafemi Awolowo University -then University of Ife- to Ile Ife town from the Ibadan branch campus). Imevbore handed over these young Holy Spirit adherents to Joanah for more teaching. Hence the Wednesday prayer meeting of the Pentecostal Group of the University of Ibadan was formed. It continued its existence until 1970 and stayed on for a period of exactly one year. During this period, the group was led by Joanah at the Chapel of Resurrection of Ibadan University. She used the same liturgical style as is used in Bethel, mainly choruses for praise worship, biblical exposition, and prayer for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The young adherents loved this method and saw it as a welcome and exciting diversion to their very rigid methods of worship in the hard core evangelical circle. They used to come to Abadina Mount Bethel church which always had a longer service compared to other churches, on Sundays after attending other fellowship groups or churches. It was common for them to come to Abadina, after 11.00am on Sundays, according to them, to dance and praise God in the manner well known to CAC, which today has become common place for neo-pentecostal and non Pentecostal alike in the liturgy of many churches in Nigeria. But in those days it was a symbol of pentecostalism and indeed aladuraism which were derided for falsehood by most!

 

1970 The birth of CAC Students’ Association

 

The Pentecostal movement continued for a one year until a spectacular event occurred at the University of Ibadan- the establishment of the CAC students association (CACSA) within the Pentecostal movement. This movement was led by a young undergraduate in Ibadan at the time, who was also a member of the Pentecostal movement and the Wednesday Group- Olu AriJesudade. AriJesudade, who was then Arogundade, was a well known conservatist, a man who hailed from Ilesha, whose father was a CAC member and a living witness of the Babalola revivals of the 1930s. He still stands today as one of the most conservative in the church and has risen within the ranks, having nurtured his CACSA to the point of even setting up churches which are more than 60, called CACSA churches. Pastor AriJesudade remains the life President of the CACSA which he formed himself in 1970, according to him, as a result of revelation that he received from God. He summoned all members of the CAC who were in the pentecostal group at the time in Ibadan and told them his revelation. Amongst them was Ayo Omideyi, who was later to become the Pastor in charge of the Bethel Church in London, the very first CAC assembly in London. It remains in Kingsland road today in East London. Others included Akin Akinsoyinu, who today is a respected Professor of Animal Science in the University of Ibadan and also an ordained Pastor Bisi Ogunsina, who is today also Professor of Linguistics and many others. They gathered together at Abadina CAC Mount Bethel church University of Ibadan in June 1970 to start this association. They chose their officers which included President- Olu AriJesudade, Secretary- Ayo Omideyi. Subsequently they decided to go to all CAC schools to establish the same CACSA groups in all the schools and higher or tertiary institutions. The old rickety Volkswagen car of Joanah was borrowed for this purpose and the following constituted the team that went round the country to establish the said association branches.- Ayo Omideyi who drove the volkwagen, Olu AriJesudade, Tosin Ajayi, then Oni (a female), Tony Falode, Tunde Adefarakan and a young fellow Oluwole Ogunranti (author) who at the time was just a school leaver. They took the car and began to comb the western part of the country to set up the association branches. They started from Iperu where there was a CAC Grammar School, and then to the CAC Teacher’s College in Efon, Alaye, Babalola Memorial Girl’s Grammar School at Ilesha, CAC Grammar school in Akure and finally CAC Grammar School Ibadan. They also took the opportunity to request CAC members in the Universities like Ife to set up their own branches. The last port of call before Ibadan was Adeyemi College of Education Ondo to help set up its own branch. In Adeyemi College they were met by the wife of the Principal of Ibadan CAC Grammar School- Pastor Ayo Ogunranti- who assisted them to set up this branch in the Ondo College. While there at Ondo, Mrs Ayo Ogunranti asked a theological question- what is the role of the Christian Union in the understanding of Christian tradition and Christian life to which the President replied- The Christian Union does not believe in the Holy Spirit and therefore should be educated about it. At the time, this was a bold assertion and represents till today the main area of disagreement of the CAC and some other pentecostal groups with main line evangelicalism. Some do not see this as a major difference, but the CAC and indeed its sister Bethel see this major problem and tend to avoid each other based on this doctrinal difference.

Pastor (Dr) Ayo Ogunranti, Member
Supreme Council, CAC

Ayo Owosheye retired educator and
Principal of many schools-nursed
to by Joanah



 

 

The CACSA that went round the country in 1970 from Ibadan succeeded in establishing groups all over the country, including CAC Grammar School, Akure but failed only in one place and that was in Ibadan. The principal of the school, the then young and energetic Pastor Ayo Ogunranti felt it was unnecessary to change the old order in which CAC Youth movement had been formed for the same mission as the CAC student association. He, in fact, it was who was in charge of this same youth movement which held its convention every year. But he was extremely nice to the group that came to him. Nonetheless, the group was very disappointed and this issue remains the major area of difference between the CACSA and the main line faction of the CAC today- to be or not to be. That is to say, what is the role the CACSA was to perform which the Youth movement cannot do? This issue has made the permanent President Olu AriJesudade to fall foul of many of the committees of the main line CAC till today. But he remains stubborn to his vision and resolute and hence the CACSA continues its role in the CAC till today and like we said earlier, has more than 60 churches to its name. What is to be emphasized is that it had its beginning in Abadina and Bethel of 1970 and that Joanah was the one who trained these young people at the Wednesday Pentecostal group of the University of Ibadan. They have been successful the way most other church planters have not been! In 1972 due to the recommendation of Joanah Ogunranti to the then President of CAC world wide, Pastor Latunde ordained AriJesudade and Ayo Omideyi and they joined the group of soldiers of Christ in Bethel. Professor Imevbore had earlier been ordained in1968 by the recommendation of Budaale, the fiery and charismatic Pastor of CAC Oke Iyanu, Ibadan. Ayo Omideyi was later to leave Nigeria for Britain in 1973; he still resides in London today where he is head of the CAC (Bethel) London at Kingsland Road with numerous branches in England. He was replaced as General Secretary of CACSA by Dr Bisi Ogunsina who is Professor at Ilorin today.

By the time the first convention of the CACSA was to take place in 1971, prominent members of the association had come to join the association as officers from Ife and they included I.O. Osafehinti and Ayo Owoseye. Osafehinti, who is now a distinguished

Pastor Ayo Omideyi (London)

 

Professor of Science Education in one of Nigeria’s Universities is a fiery no nonsense man whose father was one of the followers of Babalola in the early days of the revival from Akoko. Ayo Owoseye had a terrible fire accident in 1972 which he himself narrated in his book ‘Knocked…not out.’ He was nursed by Joanah.[10] The CACSA had its first convention (conference) in Efon Alaye where Pastor Alokan, the principal of the school hosted them. The second took place in Ilesha in 1972 at Babalola Memorial Girls Grammar School. Every one who was important attended the two conferences, including Joanah who was a major resource speaker. It was in 1972 conference that Joanah met the now very popular lady evangelist and singer Dr Bola Are. Another conference followed up in another city- this time in Ile –Ife in 1973 and subsequently many others. In 1972 and 1973 CACSA under Ayo Omideyi acted the play To the devil a daughter. In 1971 Olu AriJesudade started a programme whereby University undergraduate members of the CACSA would give their assistance in teaching free during long vacation to CAC post-primary institutions. The first, he led himself to Babalola Memorial Girls Grammar School Ilesha where I joined him. Together we gave service free to these young apostolic students and helped to consolidate the CACSA at that school. It was from this school that we organized the first (Efon) convention of the association. This experience itself helped in no small measure to consolidate the association in many schools, most especially the school at Ilesha, which was a girls school at the time. As a body, CACSA has been very successful for clarion call to all young Christ Apostolics, even though entrenched in controversy in latter years. CACSA’s tactics for evangelism and church planting had been similar to the method of Joanah who trained them, and their liturgy of service similar. In short, they are Bethel in essence.[11]

 

Decline of Pentecostal group Ibadan

 

But we must not forget what happened after the exit or indeed the formation of the CACSA as a splinter group of the original Pentecostal group of the University of Ibadan. It simply collapsed. For most of its members were derived from the main line, student evangelical movements on campus, such as the IVCU (Ibadan Varsity Christian Union) and the SCM which actually instituted the Mission that led directly to the formation of this group. Many of these felt slighted by the move of CAC members to carve out for themselves an association without having regard to the interdenominational nature of the new group being formed (i.e. the Pentecostal group). They felt that the setting up of the CACSA was contrary to the interdenominational spirit of the group. Aside from this, it would have the effect of creating a group within the group of those who felt their liturgy of worship was superior to the others- a holier than thou group. This seemed to be true, for some of the members of the Pentecostal group who were also members of the CACSA felt arrogantly that these members of Pentecostal group were only parasites, feeding on the liturgy of the CAC but refusing to join it and in fact looking down on it. When some members of the Pentecostal group challenged the sectional interest of the CAC members of the group, their leadership (AriJesudade) answered by appealing to the membership of some of them, if not all, in such sectional groups like the Baptist Students Union etc. and felt they were guilty of double standard in their judgment and practice. The two groups could not reach a consensus and the debate went on for a couple of months before the final collapse.

 

1970: Final collapse of the Pentecostal group.

 

One day two members of the Pentecostal group in Ibadan University challenged the validity of the pneumatological baptismal experiences of the members of these pentecostal groups calling them spurious. In a write up which was circulated around members, the two members argued that most of the so called Holy Spirit experiences being manifested in the group meetings were spurious, false and baseless. They polemicized that the group was emphasizing religious experience over and above righteousness. When it was time for the next meeting of the pentecostal group after this crippling write up which Jonah faithfully attended, no one was at the meeting. This was the final demise of the Pentecostal group. No one knows for sure why the trend occurred the way it did. Was the reaction of members not to come to the group meeting any longer precipitated by their resentment of the formation of CACSA, thereby shutting non members out or was it that they did not believe any longer in these religious experiences which still characterizes pentecostalism till today- such as speaking in tongues, vision experiences, dreams, prophesying with interpretation etc? Indeed it was the example of speaking in tongues that the dissident writers used to make their argument of spuriousness of religious experience of baptism of Holy Spirit. They argued that those who claimed to be speaking in tongues were only babbling anything that came to their mouth or tongue, which did not or does not resemble any known language. According to them, for an experience of  tongue speaking to be valid, it must be shown as it was in Acts of Apostles (Ac 2), that the tongue should be a known language which must be verified by someone who can understand that tongue. Those who believe in the art of tongue speaking maintain that such validity was not necessary for after all a speaker of tongues may be speaking in the tongue of angels which cannot be verified by any human being (1 Cor 13:1).What ever be the case, the group disbanded till today.

 

Effect of the Pentecostal group

For a religious group to collapse suddenly seems to suggest falsehood and many said so. First, the religious hierarchy of those days had accepted the unthinkable. For pentecostalism to be main line and to dominate main line theology of about one year is unthinkable. Many highly placed religious men of those days, like the enigmatic and charismatic traveling secretary of the Scripture Union based in Akure then, Mike Oye,[12] attended one session of the Pentecostal group while it was in existence. That did not make sense since main line evangelicalism of those years did not accept Pentecostalism as a true liturgy or indeed ecclesiology. When the group finally collapsed, some people felt it was a satanic group which was shut down by God.

Joanah did not bother herself with an explanation. She simply went on to continue her work in Abadina Mount Bethel where followership was increasing astronomically and was reaching fever peak, most especially from members of the university community, by and large from amongst undergraduates. At these times these converts actually came into the church directly and were completely denominational and not interdenominational like the previous members. That is to say, the new converts accepted the doctrines of the CAC and became baptized CAC members within the Bethel family and stayed put in the church. The older group members were typical evangelicals who did not have any specific church and hence went from one place to another to worship. While some believed this was the right way to serve God, many felt you should have a church, settle in the church as a worshipper and help to build it up, was the right to serve God.  In retrospect, the miracles of today within Bethel would never have reached this fever peak proportion, without the experience of the Pentecostal group and the Mission to University that led to it. But was this the end of Pentecostalism in University of Ibadan? The answer is no for not long after the Wednesday group collapsed another Pentecostal group emerged in Ibadan called the Tuesday group. This effectively took over from the Wednesday group and had its roots in the restoration ministry of the mid-70s. The new pentecostal group was also to collapse in the years ahead. But by then Benson Idahosa had come to Nigeria from USA with his brand new pentecostal movement like a great tornado. From then on, it was now ‘take your pick’ between pure evangelicalism and one with a Pentecostal flavour in the theological scene- a pluralistic world par excellence.

The most important effect of the Pentecostal group was the formation of the CACSA which has benefited CAC as a whole till today. Rightly or wrongly this association has influenced the development of evangelistic zeal amongst the youth in the CAC. It was also an act of providence for the future of Bethel, for the church never experienced anything like it again. Almost all the prominent members of Bethel today can trace his/her roots to his singular event in Ibadan; those days in the Pentecostal movement and subsequently the CACSA. They include Professor Bisi Ogunsina, Professor Akin Akinsoyinu, Professor Bunmi Oshun (present Vice Chancellor of JABU- Joseph Ayo Babalola University), Pastor Ayo Omideyi, Pastor Olu AriJesudade, Sister Tosin Ajayi, Professor Kunbi Omideyi, Professor Oluwole Ogunranti,  to name a few. The pentecostal group event was to be the most profound in the history of Bethel church planting and the most spectacular of the activities performed by the indefatigable Joanah.


 

Pastor Professor Bunmi Oshun, Vice Chancellor, JABU.
One of the earliest members of Bethel and CACSA.

 

1971-1972- Ife

 

Joanah, after consolidating the church at Abadina, University of Ibadan, now turned her attention to the development of churches outside Ibadan. The first on her list was of course Ife. Long before now Imevbore who had now become a full-fledged Professor in 1971 had started the Pentecostal group at Ife in 1968. He was assisted by the then Dr Bisi Afolayan who is now a retired Professor of English Language and Literature from Obafemi Awolowo University. Both of them nurtured this group which had been formed by another brilliant display of the manifestation of Holy Spirit baptism. Young Dr Imevbore in 1968 had called a group of students together in the dinning room of their hall of residence, to pray with them, when suddenly the Holy Spirit fell on many who then began to shake and scream and fall to the ground. Students passer by, attracted by the noise went to the venue of this manifestation only to see a learned man like Imevbore directing affairs in a most disgraceful manner, according to them. Imevbore was challenged by an Assistant Registrar and even insulted openly. Whatever be the case, this was the birth of the Pentecostal movement in Ife. Today such manifestation as described above are common place and are even shown on television as if to present their validity originality and/or genuineness. So much has changed!

Again a metamorphosis was inevitable as Joanah came to the scene in Ife. She immediately requested that a church be formed and its name be CAC Mount Bethel as she insisted this was instruction from God. A fellowship group carved out of the Pentecostal group now met for service, mostly on Sunday evenings at the residence of Prof Imevbore and this continued until the venue was changed to the Sports Centre of the University every Sunday morning. The group was requested to ask for land in the University campus. This was not given and the group therefore had to look for land outside the University. This land was found at Ede Road just close to the University Gate. It was to become the church at Ife till today.


The CAC (Mount Bethel) at Ife

 

The formation of the Ife CAC (Mount Bethel) by Joanah also had its own problems. The Pentecostal group collapsed. Some opposed the formation of the CAC (Mount Bethel) as being not a genuine revelation from God within the Pentecostal group and some in fact broke away genuinely believing God did not want a split. These genuine Christians were surprisingly mainly CAC members. They came back later when they saw clearly that their vision must have been incorrect since the church was marching on- oblivious of the gates of hell! Only time could have judged what happened with this church now having four different branches in just Ife alone and being very clearly flamboyant in its array of glory-(Ede Road Assembly- Head-Dr Pastor J.B.Arubayi; Adesanmi Assembly- Head-Pastor Prof Adegbulugbe; Temidire Assembly- Head-Pastor Prof Obisesan; Parakin Assembly –Head-Pastor Engr B Olaloluwa; Ife City Assembly- Head-Pastor Dr I.O. Abayomi). It has more than justified its own existence and proved itself to be from God! Not only that, it has over the years trained many more students than any other centre and indeed staff. It boasts of many Professors, lecturers etc in fulfillment of the objective and mission to academics as was made to Joanah which we shall examine below.

 

1973-4 London


After the success in establishing Mount Bethel churches in Ibadan and Ife, Joanah now turned her attention overseas. The first place to come to mind was England where one of her earliest disciples had

 

 

 

CAC Mount Bethel, Kingsland Road, East London

 

 

emigrated. Ayo Omideyi had gone to England for further studies. It was he (Ayo) and his wife (Kunbi, now Professor of Economics in Ife) who invited Joanah to set up her church in London in 1974, the very first CAC assembly to be established in England. Again Joanah used her erstwhile church planting method, starting with house fellowship, hiring churches, etc until now that the church stands on its own in the middle of East London. I lived in the church in 1987 for three months. It is one of the largest churches in England being initially a High Church of England of East London.

 

1975-7 Birmingham


A man called Bolaji Adedimeji was a convert to the Bethel Church in Ife in 1974. He was born into a muslim family. Bolaji left Ife for Birmingham for further studies in 1977. He, it was, who invited Joanah to Birmingham to assist in establishing a Bethel church in Birmingham. The church in Birmingham is growing, and has several branches. It also remains a testimony of God’s faithfulness to his people today.

 

1980 Port Harcourt
In a dramatic turn Joanah turned her attention to Port Harcourt. She had known Mrs Etta who was postgraduate student in Ibadan since 1970 just after the war. She (Mrs Etta) was a member of the initial Pentecostal group and also a member of the CACSA. She left Ibadan to get a job as lecturer in the new College of Science and Technology, Port Harcourt in 1975. Joanah went to Port Harcourt in 1980 and established the Mount Bethel Church in Port Harcourt that year. Initially she stayed with Mrs Etta and supervised the growth of the new church fellowship for 8 weeks. She then oversaw the establishment of a shed to serve as church, attached to Mrs Etta allocated house in the College before she left for Ibadan. Later the College became the Rivers State University of Science and Technology till today. Unfortunately the University authority did not also allow the church to establish itself within the campus. Land was obtained in the town and the church grew big and is one of the biggest churches of the CAC (Mount Bethel) today. Some of the great members of this church include Mrs Lizzy Dikibo (sister to Mrs Etta) and her mother (Mrs Inyang), Mrs Koko (a prophetess in the church) and later the fiery, disciplined academic Dr Ernest Fubara.

 

1981; Dr Ernest Fubara

 

It was in 1981 that Dr Fubara gave his life to Christ and he said bye bye to Satan and joined the fold of God. He in fact left his lucrative job as Associate Professor of Biological Sciences of the University of Science and Technology to become a full time worker of God. He had theological training at the CAC Seminary and was attached to Apostle PAAA Egabor as his disciple to learn and be trained. He completed his training and was ordained a minister of the CAC. Since then he had been the official head of the Port Harcourt Bethel. Dr Fubara saw in Apostle Egabor a man of humility and wanted very much to learn from him. Together they have been able to uphold the Bethel foundation under the tutelage of Joanah (for Fubara). Dr Fubara is a practical and disciplined man who has a lot of wisdom to give out. Today Dr Fubara lives in Port Harcourt, a testimony of what the power of God can do in lives of men when they are dedicated to him. The book he co-authored with Apostle Egabor – Drop the sword of sin and take the sword God[13] is a monument of revelation and inspirational strength.

 

Pastor Felix Adunyame in CAC Mount Bethel Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

 

 

 

1980-90 USA

 

By the same 1980 Joanah had extended her missionary journeys to the United States of America. Some of those who were used for church planting in the America included Dr Adeyemi, Pastor Toluwase, Pastor Dr John Oluwatimilehin (District Superintendent of CAC Bethel, District of North America).Today the church is also found in Toronto, Canada, and in Roxbury.

 

 

Children at the Bethel Fellowship Centre Maryland, USA

 

 

1985-87 Victoria Island, Lagos:Gabriel Oduyemi

Rev Gabriel Oduyemi, 1994


Joanah began her missionary journey to the Oduyemis as early as 1983-84. She began a church in their living room in
1984. By 1987 the church had started to ask for funds to build a wonder city at Lekki peninsula. It did and the effect was electric! The church became very famous in Nigeria and by 1994 had begun to preach by satellite on television in the country. Pastor Gabriel Oduyemi who was the Pastor in this church was trained by Joanah; so also his Cameroonian born wife Pastor (Mrs) Oduyemi. Pastor Oduyemi was actually converted also by Joanah who had preached to him while he was a taxi driver in New York City in 1980. In 1981, Oduyemi came to Nigeria and visited Imevbore in Ife. That helped to cement their relationship for they were to become great friends in the future. A year later, by miraculous change of fortune, Oduyemi became a multimillionaire. When Oduyemi came back to live in Nigeria in 1982 he used to attend Abadina church in Ibadan with his wife, coming every Sunday from Lagos. He himself became a preacher in 1987 and began to take care of the affairs of his church. He was the first multi millionaire to become a Pastor after obtaining his millions. His influence on people was electric and he inspired several rich men to God with his simple gospel preaching and his simple flare for slaying in the Spirit. By 1992 he had started World Evangelistic crusades which took him round the Nigerian country. His style was decidedly Bethel but he had a new shade- he was telling everyone that God was a rich God. God could stamp out poverty. He maintained that in his church no one was poor for God provided for everyone. Those who genuinely got converted where prophesied on for riches. Many became rich in his church, fulfilling an earlier prophecy that his generation would be blessed through him given at the time of his birth in Ilesha. Oduyemi and many other Bethel Generals were unique and stubborn in their own ways. They were used by God the way He (God) sees fit. They have followed Joanah’s teaching and stubbornness and may be her marathons. They have achieved the impossible, the unimaginable because of stubbornness to the will of God even to the unconventional.  This is thrilling story of Bethel and the woman who was used by God to bless it- Joanah.

 

1990-2007. Retirement?

By 1990 Joanah was worn-out mentally? She was not physically tired though. She wanted to continue her work but it was no longer as easy as before. Firstly many established churches did not want her to come for they did not agree with some of her stubborn methods. They still wrote to her making prayer requests. A great problem now arose. She could no longer obtain visa to go abroad; this was easy in the past in most cases. She attributed this to the plan of Satan to thwart her plans and destroy her ministry. She continued in prayer. But there was another problem which was rearing its ugly head out. Joanah’s children were having difficulties and problems. These problems of the children were to consume her in her latter years for she had to struggle through in prayer, not wanting to believe that her great God had forsaken her. She now spent most of her private times praying for her children and her Bethel ministry- spiritual and physical children. In the meantime the Headquarters which had been bubbling with a lot of activities by members, excited at the God of Bethel, was also becoming weaker. Many began to leave the church to other CAC assemblies, or to other churches. Initially this was blamed on Joanah’s habit and penchant for marathon preaching and prayer. But it became obvious later that this was not the case for after then she withdrew into the privacy of her room and was not seen in church as often as before. According to her, she wanted to give chance to the young people to lead services and make them short so as to encourage many who had left or wanted to leave the church to come back or at least not go away. It had the opposite effect. It devitalised the church and brought in charlatans pretending to be clergy. The church lost its penumatological vitality. Many no longer saw the magic of old in the Bethel head quarters and left. By the time Joanah died the church had reduced considerably. Nevertheless she maintained a very strange relationship with those who left the church. Many still referred to her as their Mama and came to see or visit her, or indeed consult her. The most spectacular of it all was that she was never angry at any one leaving the church. She had insisted many times that Bethel was training ground like a University. If you are trained in a University, she would say, you don’t remain there. You leave to go to other places and make your newly acquired knowledge useful. It should be noted that this exodus did not affect the branches of Bethel she had founded. For example Ife was growing bigger and having more assemblies, those in North America and England had scored many more branches some up to 20-30 new branches.

It was during these later years that the schism which engulfed the CAC began. Joanah and her Bethel group of churches were accused of running illegal ministry for which she had to provide explanation. Having no explanation to give Joanah did not attend the inquiry. Later she was to leave that job for her capable assistant Professor AMA Imevbore who defended her and the church vigorously. He was rewarded with a creation of a CAC (Special district) of which he is now chairman. This district was to cater for all Bethel churches and others and that arrangement has remained till today. Imevbore himself tried hard to keep up with main line CAC which has been very kind to him. The numerous talents of this great man was recognized and the CAC effectively put it to use, especially its establishment of a University for the church; a great achievement for the 21st century CAC.

It is true that Joanah was a little frustrated in her latter years with her ministry. But this did not stop her goodness and her dedication to her God. She was ill but she still prayed and called on the name of her God. She wanted money to give to those who wanted it; she wanted time to help solve the problems of her children. In this regard one can make comparison with the great miracle worker Kathrine Kulman of America in her later years or indeed Joseph Ayo Babalola of the CAC himself who was Joanah’s greatest role model. Joanah was just 6 years old when the great 1930 revivals started in Ilesha. She used to hear about it in Ondo where she was at the time and saw many who traveled by foot to Ilesha and back just to obtain water which had been sanctified by Babalola. But in her later years she remained steadfast to her God believing that she would succeed in her mission to evangelize the world through her Bethel. The devil had hatched all sorts of rumours to discredit this woman of God and some had started to believe some of the rumours which were all unfounded. In this regard the evil one used members of her family. Joanah never gave up hope and she did not want to die. She wanted very desperately to live so that she can continue her work. But Almighty God who felt she had had done enough and wanted to save her from the Devil, showed mercy on her and took her away at the right time at the ripe old age of 83 years. She died at the time God wanted her to come home completely exonerated of all charges, six month after the charges were brought against her by the devil himself, who is called the accuser of the brethren in the Johannine apocalypse (Rev 12:10).

 

Farewell speech of 2004- Return to Bethel


Joanah did not know she was going to give her last speech to her church in 2004 December. That speech is copied verbatim et literatim in the chapter 8 on her letters to her church. The reader is left to appreciate her concerns about her ministry, see with surprise that she was not speaking like one who would die soon. Joanah wanted to live; she has never liked death. In her last speech to her church she spoke of people who had left the church ‘return(ing) to Bethel’. That theme will keep on ringing in our ears as she is being buried; as a juggernaut of Christian evangelism is being laid to earth.

 

2007; Death of Joanah

 

Joanah died on her bed at 5.30 am of 6 March 2007 a day before the birthday of one of her children. She was surrounded at her death with love and great appreciation and intense sense of loss by those who saw her looking so beautiful on her deathbed as if she is sleeping, but with great gratitude to God and satisfaction for a life well spent. No doubt she is still thinking about her children, physical and spiritual, and telling them to ‘Get close to God’ as she marches to heaven in glory!

 

Bethel training centre

 

Joanah had repeatedly mentioned that Bethel was a training centre and she was right. She and some of her associates, like Imevbore had trained so many people and they were doing so well in all parts of the world that it is impossible to find her own match in this ability to train and succeed.

 

Bethel Annual get together

Joanah had instituted annual get-together of all Mount Bethel churches before she died two times a year. She used to attend this get together which was always at the anniversary of her University of Ibadan branch and they were events that made her extraordinarily happy.

 

Her Vision for Universities

 

It was this experience of seeing educated people being fetish that was the straw that broke Joanah’s back, as mentioned earlier. She could understand the hypocrisy that made a very educated man ashamed of pentecostalism which was associated with falsehood and poverty and yet embrace fetishism which was at a much lower level, albeit covert, hidden and intensely secretive. She began to pray fervently and ask for vision for educated people of this country of Nigeria. She got the vision and was given the mission. The mission was to tell the educated not to follow fetish since God could save them from all sorts of fetish activities and deliver them from the devil. Many listened to their glory today.

In a way this somehow limited her initial momentum of evangelism for when she attempted to follow only the model of Ibadan, Abadina in which the church was planted inside the campus it restricted growth in some campuses momentarily. If she had from the word go attempted to pursue church planting in any location together with campuses, her take off would have been stupendous, but nevertheless, the take off is still very phenomenal and is the main raison d’être of this book. To analyze a successful church planting career, albeit restrictive, and document its processes in a person as weak biologically as a female. But there is an alternative way of seeing the success. Perhaps if Joanah had dissipated her energy into another sphere of human endeavour rather than her vision for the lost academic, today she may not have gotten the big academic fish she now has loitering around Bethel. Today that seems to be the greatest achievement of that Ministry. To obtain the intellengentsia in such stupendous number is to make everyone green with envy at the marvel of God amongst his own people.


Pastor Professor A Akinsoyinu (Ibadan)


Pastor Bode Ojo (Ibadan)


Pastor Adewole (Ibadan)


Pastor (Dr) Emeka Onukaogu (Ife)


Pastor (Dr) John Oluwatimilehin (USA)


Dr Lanloye. Joanah’s doctor (Ibadan)

 

Vernacular versus English speaking liturgy

Joanah’s mission and church was the first amongst Pentecostalist in Nigeria to provide a liturgical language of English as opposed to vernacular. Whereas at the headquarters in Abadina, Ibadan the language was vernacular (Yoruba) the other churches had started with English. It must be said that this is very important in understanding Joanah’s mission. The early Pentecostal churches in this country were all vernacular speaking and these tended to limit their effectiveness amongst the educated and ipso facto, their acceptability amongst them. When the neo-pentecostal movements began in the early 70s with Benson Idahosa, it was purely English and therefore attractive to the rich and middle class and attracted many more people with a charisma of sophisticated model of liturgy which has continued till this day. Inability to achieve such has been the bane of the CAC which had always been vernacularized since the advent of The Apostolic Church from Wales. Today the CAC is trying to address this imbalance for it is clear to all that the difference between CAC and the neo-pentecostal is simply language. While certain liturgies may appear funny in vernacular; they seem sophisticated enough in English. The CAC were the first to begin prayer by using the phrase ‘In the name of Jesus’ or to say ‘Praise the Lord- Halleluyah.’ Today even the Seventh day Adventists and Anglicans use these expressions in their worship and sometimes praise/worship. This was unknown to the rest of the church until the neo-pentecostalist revivals of the 1970s but had existed in CAC since 1930. Dancing is now performed in ECWA or Baptist or indeed Anglican. But the liturgical language of English had started in Bethel long before these neo-pentecostalists and hence the neo-pentecostal movements were predated by that of Bethel. In any case, the Wednesday Pentecostal Group in Ibadan was English speaking in 1969 and that of Ife which began in 1968 was in fact before it.

In sum, Joanah had her vision for souls, most especially academic souls. She started a church in the middle of University of Ibadan to cater for souls. She started the Pentecostal Wednesday Prayer Group in 1969 at the University of Ibadan amongst students, which was the forerunner of University Pentecostalism in Nigeria. This prayer group led to the formation of the CAC Students Association in 1970 with Pastor Olu AriJesudade as the foundation President. She used this forum to train so many young people as pastors some who later became professors and great men in the society.  They all seem to follow the footsteps of the premier son- Prof AMA Imevbore. One of them is the present Vice Chancellor of the Joseph Ayo Babalola University (JABU) - Pastor Professor Bunmi Oshun. Other Professors trained by Joanah are as follows-   Professor O.A. Olaniyi (USA),Professor I.O. Osafehinti (Akungba), Professor (Mrs) Kunbi Omideyi (Ife), Professor Akin Akinsoyinu (Ibadan), Professor Adegbulugbe, Professor Yinka, Professor Kayode Ogunmoyela, Professor I.O. Obisesan (Ife), Professor Mike Omolewa, Professor Bisi Ogunsina (Ilorin) and Professor Oluwole Ogunranti (Jos) just to name a few.

 

Pastors Joanah has trained also -

Pastor Ayo Omideyi (UK), Pastor Olu AriJesudade, Dr Wilson Badejo, Rev Demola, Afolayan, Pastor Femi Adegbuyi, Pastor Ikudaisi, Pastor Ayo Owoseye, Pastor Ayo, Pastor Adejuyigbe, Pastor (Mrs) Llanloye, Pastor Segun Omideyi (UK), Pastor Dabi Omideyi (UK), Pastor T Oluwase, Pastor Bolaji Adedimeji (UK), Pastor Bode Ojo, Pastor Abayomi, Pastor (Dr) Onukaogu, Pastor Ola Oluwa, Pastor Arubayi Senior, Pastor Arubayi Junior, Pastor (Dr) John Olutiwatimilehin (USA), Pastor (Dr) Adeyemi (USA), Pastor Babalola, Pastor (Dr) E Fubara (Port Harcourt), Pastor (Dr) Okpon (Port Harcourt), Pastor (Dr) Bimbo Oluranti, Dr Yinka Afolayan, Pastor Babalola (JABU), Pastor Toyin Oshun, Pastor I.A. Akinola (Ife), Pastor D. Adebola and Pastor Dada to name a few.

 

And yet others are-

Mrs A.M.A.Imevbore, Amb Law Abisakin, Olu Ologan, Bro Ogunsola, Mrs Funmi Afolayan, Dr Lanloye, Bro Filani, Barrister Adenle, Sister Jane Camara, UK, Sister Osungbure, Elder Onabiyi, UK, Mrs Bolaji Adedimeji,UK, Elder Tanimowo, Mrs Adegbulugbe, Mrs Abayomi, Mrs Onukaogu, Mrs Ola Oluwa, Mrs Arubayi Snr, Mrs Arubayi Jnr, Mrs Adeyemi,USA, Mrs Yinka, Mrs Obisesan, Mrs Bimbo Hundeyin, Mrs Agun, Mrs Toyin Oshun, Mrs Sola Akinbobola, Mrs Femi Obembe, Mrs Odutola, Sister Koch, Lagos, Sister Oduyemi, Mrs Kayode Ogunmoyela, Mrs Koko, Mrs Lizzy Dikibo, Mrs Idowu, Dr Odutola (USA) Mrs Odutola (USA) Dr Tunde Ogunti, Mrs Tunde Ogunti, Dr Tunde Ogunti, Bro Filani, Jos, Mrs Bunmi Oshun, Engr Femi, Obembe.

This is just to name but a few.

 

Mission accomplished

The Lord promised by prophesy that He would raise Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Teachers through the church that He, the Lord would send forth to expand His kingdom. He also promised to raise many branches of the church.

 

The above is testimony of the faithfulness of God to Joanah. The Lord indeed raised up Apostles, prophets, evangelists etc for Bethel. This message was delivered in 1966 but has been fulfilled today in 2007, when Joanah was laid to rest, 41 years later.


 

 END NOTES

 

Some of the frontline churches under Bethel family. Total assemblies may now number up to 50 if not more.

 

Bethel Ministries in Nigeria

  1. Abadina, University of Ibadan, Oyo State
  2. Obafemi Awolowo University P.O. Box 1075 Ile-Ife
  3. Plot 128 Amadi-ama Residential Layout, Off Abuloma Road, Port Harcourt
  4. No 47 NEPA Lane, Off PTI Road, Effurun, Delta State
  5. No 35 Association Avenue, Technical College Bus stop Ikotun Lagos
  6. Ilawe Road Igede-Ekiti Ekiti State
  7. Steel Complex Ajaokuta Kogi State
  8. Bethel Worship Centre, Lekki Peninsula (Victoria Island) Lagos-Planted by Mama
  9. CAC Students’ Association

Bethel Ministries Overseas

  1. Sower International 221/223 Kingsland Road London E28AN, UK
  2. P.O. Box 994 Stone Mountain, Atlanta, Georgia 30086, USA
  3. 13430 Sairland Park Drive, Silver Spring, Maryland 20904, USA
  4. Oberlin Drive, Greensboro, North Carolina 27405, USA
  5. 59 Kidron Valley Drive, Etobicoke Toronto, Ontario M9V4L4 Canada 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

2nd Vatican Council Report (1962-65).

Egabor P.A.A.A. and Fubara Ernest Drop the sword of sin and take the sword God. Ibadan: Freeman Productions, 1992.

Grudem W. Systematic Theology, An introduction to Biblical Doctrine, Leicester: IVP, 1994.

Owoseye J Ayo. Knocked down..not out. Lagos, Juliet S Ventures, 2006.

Peel, J.D.Y. Aladura: A Religious Movement Among the Yoruba. Oxford University

Press/ International Africa Institute. 1968.


 

[1] What is meant by ‘evangelical’? This word will recur constantly in the course of our discussion in this book to warrant us defining it now. It has always been used to refer to those who believe in the good news (evangel). It therefore refers in this modern age to those who believe in the infallibility of the Bible. It can be applied to church or individual. When a church is said to be evangelical, it means it believes the Bible as the authority for everything in life. When an individual is said to be evangelical, it usually refers to fundamentalism on the part of that individual. He is probably born again Christian who holds the word of God as true. The reason there seems to a subtle difference lies in the fact that many churches today do not hold that every part of the Bible is necessarily true since they believe science can disprove some parts of it (this unfortunately also holds true for the Roman Catholic Church- which said ‘In view of the human situation prevailing before Christ’s foundation of salvation, the Books of the Old Testament…even though they contain material which is imperfect and obsolete, nevertheless bear witness to truly divine teachings.’) Second Vatican Council Document (1962-65). But of course the Bible is not answerable to science; it is the other way around. Hence anyone who believes in the authority of the Bible is an evangelical as opposed to those who pick and chose what to believe who are then called progressives, liberal etc. Sometimes a distinction can be made between Pentecostal and the rest of the churches and the rest may then be called evangelical, but that is a wrong usage and does no justice to the real definition of evangelical. All Pentecostal churches and individual members are therefore evangelical.

[2] Typhoid fever is caused by the bacteria – bacillus called Salmonella typhi. This bacillus enters into the gut and hence is transmitted by the faeco-oral route. It can equally be transmitted by carrier through nose by breathing,- e.g Typhoid Mary- but often by hand on food or indeed water but it always enters the gut. It can cause perforation of the intestine in complication of its life history in man. It is presently treatable by antibiotics but was then not treatable when Joanah contacted it in Jos.

[3] It is not easy to appreciate the style of conversion of Joanah and mentioned by she herself in her testimony. She received the Holy Spirit baptism before she had the great encounter of conversion. Although she was religious she felt that there was something missing in her life.  She received the Holy Spirit, Baptism according to her before she realized she was a sinner and then turned from her wicked sinful nature to embrace Christ and his word. This method seems to put the cart before the horse in the method followed or believed by the same church she was converted in, at least from their stated doctrines, although the practice id more akin to what Joanah described. Aside from this, how is it possible that a sinner would receive the Holy Spirit without confessing his/her sins. Many would even venture to say her experience was no conversion at all and that she was an unrepentant sinner before she entered the church and left still a sinner. It would be argued that her conversion or religious experience at the Jos Church was spurious or indeed demonic. Firstly, Jesus made it clear to everyone when he was asked how any one can know a religious experience is genuine or if a prophet is true. ‘Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruits you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs form thistles?’ Mat 7:15-16.  If Joanah’s religious experience was spurious or demonic, they would have no change in her heart and there would be no need to turn away from her sins and embrace Christ. She would in fact become more sinful with a great adamic nature which pursues sin rather than righteousness (Rom 5:14). This remains the validity of the conversion of Joanah. But interestingly, this same method of receiving the Holy Spirit before conversion was to be her own style of preaching or encouraging conversion long after her experience as she witnessed to others. Check her style of conversion in the appropriate chapter on her theology of that subject. But is this valid for this has been the major area of criticism of major pentecostal churches, especially the Independent variety churches like CAC and its Bethel offshoot? Is it valid biblically? While I believe the style requires revision I also believe it is still valid biblically. One only needs to appeal to the conversion of Cornelius to appreciate that God can and does give the gift of Holy Spirit baptism as a manifestation of His great power even before the individual is convinced of sin. He could still be condemned after this experience if He does not repent. An experience of Baptism of Holy Spirit on its own does not qualify to go to heaven. It is repentance that does. Holy Spirit is not a gift given only to the righteous. It can be given in large measure to even sinners and those who may be passer by when the Holy Spirit is moving. We may even appeal to typology to understand this kind of phenomenon; when Saul the King of Israel received the Spirit of God when he was not even a prophet  leading passers by to wonder, ‘Is Saul also amongst the prophets’ (1 Sam 10:11). This practice of preaching Baptism of Holy Spirit and replacing with repentance is very rampant in the CAC, although it is not part of their doctrine for the doctrine clearly outlines the procedure- which is call, regeneration (repentance, conversion, justification, adoption, sanctification), before baptism of the Holy Spirit. See Grudem W (1994) Systematic Theology, An introduction to Biblical Doctrine, Leicester: IVP. ‘While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.’ Acts 10:44-46.

[4] While there is no evidence in the entire Bible to justify the belief that using medicine is a sin, there are ample evidence of the ability of God to heal his people directly without any intermediary such as doctor or nurse. It is clear also that the Faith tabernacle believed in divine healing and that this was their major tenet. Also Babalola did not say God asked told him it was a sin to take medicine, but he personally felt it was faithlessness for when the original Faith Tabernacle synod met in 1930 to determine whether to tell its congregation to take medicine or not, the great revival with great healing occurred to the depopulation of the hospitals. Naturally everyone felt God had spoken and he wanted his people to rely on him for cure rather than medicine. It was in fact because of this great controversy that The Apostolic church split in 1939 to CAC and TAC today. Today the great revivals no longer exist- is it therefore justifiable to insist that taken medicine is a sin? Some have tried to resolve this theological debate by saying God encouraged his people not to take medicine in those days not because it was wrong to take medicine but because many did not know the difference between western and non western medicine in those years and rubber stamping medicine in general would invariably lead adherents to go to the native doctors to obtain the amulets and charms which are abomination to God, rather than the harmless western medicine which are simply herbs and chemicals some of which are taking anyway in food harmlessly.  Joanah had a different vision. She felt God was telling her not to forbid his children from going to hospital and she was bold to say this openly, thereby challenging the very tenets of the CAC openly. As a matter of fact, if such was to have been taken seriously, she would have been politely told to join the apostolic church which had similar doctrine.

[5] Joseph Ayo Babalola is the legend of the CAC and his memory is dear to all who claim to be CAC members the same way Ellen G White is to Seventh Day Adventists and possibly John Wesley to the Methodists. He was not the founder of the CAC per se but was used extensively not only to assist in mass conversion of the Yoruba who were mostly reluctant to embrace the new faith of Christianity because according to them, it was not superior to their fetish practices. Babalola also extended the membership of the CAC which was formed as a carve away faction of The Apostolic Church in 1941. He began a most unprepared revival in 1930 at Oke Oye Ilesha and started mass healing sessions during the revival so much so that his fame extended beyond the shores of western Nigeria, to cover all of Nigeria and later West Africa. He believed that it was his duty to go round the whole world, but he could not go beyond West Africa before he died in 1959. Babalola began his campaign in 1930 and before long the then colonial administration had to tell him to stop. The church hierarchy was then advised to call a Pentecostal group from colonial Britain to organize the church. Apostolic Church of Wales was called upon and it began the process for organizing the old Faith Tabernacle that actually sponsored the Babalola revivals in 1933. The union, between the new arrivals from Wales and the old Faith Tabernacle which was very shaky from the beginning because it was clear that the new were not committed to the greatness of God as much as the old, ended in 1939 when the two parted ways and the CAC was born, shortly after then in 1941mainly supported by the word of prophecy of Babalola himself. After then all his converts joined the new church CAC.

[6] Etsu as it is called in Brazil was imported from Ijebu in Nigeria and is the largest Pagan worship today in the entire world, with up 100,000 adherents in Brazil alone. Its main philosophy is its interest in killing and maiming people, so it must be worshipped in order to stop it from destroying you. You cannot request Esu not to perform evil; what you can do is to tell it to do the evil to someone else. This is the essence of Etsu worship which cannot be done even in the house but outside the house. No wonder the early Yoruba translators of the Bible identified in Esu the features of the fallen Lucifer of the Bible and therefore translated devil to Esu in the early translations and Esu has remained devil till today in Yoruba Christianity.

[7] Contemporary CACism is getting sophisticated, unvernacularised and modern. Also most of the neo-pentecostalists have amongst their membership a lot of the rich (including of course the nouveau riche), the powerful and the great. The best example was to be taken from Bethel itself. The multimillionaire Gabriel Oduyemi who became a Pastor/Evangelist and was converted and trained in Bethel with Joanah and whose congregation had more millionaires put together than any other anywhere in the world from 1987-2000.

[8] J.D.Y. Peel (1968) tried to define the Aladura which is name traditionally reserved for the CAC and the Cherubim and Seraphim churches or their likes but these two churches are miles apart in beliefs, doctrines and practices. In general definition he said ‘Aladura churches are well-named; adura, prayer, is the focal point of all their doctrines and practices. Prayer may be the supplication to God to fulfill the individual’s wishes and desires, or else a way of getting guidance from God, or, in religious terms, knowing His will.’ page 119. But Peel went on further to use the explanation of the then President of CAC Oba Akinyele in 1964 to handle problems in life as follows-‘1. Childlessness: remember that Hannah worried about his, but had the baby Samuel after promising to dedicate him to God. Do likewise and your prayer will be answered. 2. Worry about money: be rich in Christ rather than in worldly goods. 3. Sickness: God is the creator and he can cure your sickness. 4. Fear of not being saved: trust God’s Word that Christ died for our sins, so that if we confess our sins, we can be saved. 5. Prayers not answered: be patient, God cannot be forced. 6. General lack of guidance: carry on praying to Christ, the Good shephered.’  pg 120. In contradistinction to this practice is that of Akindele in 1962 for the Cherubim and Seraphim churches ‘ If an elder or a superior man is angry with you and wants to do you evil, go to the farm or wayside where you can secludedly pray at 6.30 o’clock a.m. before sunrise. Read Psalm 38 seven times with Psalm 39. Pronounce the following Holy names as you are reading it, ___ for 38 and ---------- for 39. Fast through the day, and you will know that there is God’ pg 121. The above shows the difference between the two Aladuras. Modern theologians  would see in the latter approach of the Cherubim and Seraphim a form of magic for it is only magic that will insist that its will be met without any condition, while the former approach is biblical, since the Bible teaches God answers prayer the way He wants. Also modern theologians would classify the two separately- the cherubim and seraphim would be labeled white garment church in reference to the white garments they wear, but some still erroneously lump the two together. It is therefore clear that the CAC aladura should take its normal place amongst all evangelicals, for it is actually evangelical, because its practices and doctrines are clearly derived from the Bible, but Cherubim and Seraphim can hardly be called evangelical for most of its teachings and practices are extra-biblical.

[9] Mentorship of Apostle PAAA Egabor is one of the evidence of manifestation of the divine providence of God in the ministry of Joanah for it is said in most Christian circles that every one except of course the twelve disciples (whose mentorships are derived directly from Christ Himself) must have a mentor if he/she wishes to make a mark in the ministry of Christ. This is said to be a sign of Holy Spirit leadership for in any system of administration, lack of mentorship leads to chaos. PAAA Egabor himself points to Joseph Babalola, the renowned roving evangelist of the CAC as his own mentor.

[10] In his own account in his Book he narrated his experience

‘After alighting from the aircraft at Ibadan, I did not know my bearing even though I had spent five years staying here and some eight or, more months earlier, I had driven through the same road. People increased their walking paces as soon as they sighted me! Some three boys wishing to help with my polythene bag ran for their lives when they saw my face! We eventually got a taxi that took us to Mama, Mrs Ogunranti’s CAC Bethel at Abadina, University of Ibadan, Ibadan. Mrs Ogunranti is the Matron of Christ Apostolic Church Students Association and founder of Bethel in U.I., Ibadan. Mama had gone out, we were told. Before the house girl could make up her mind whether I should wait or go into the church, I sank into the long chair and laid on my back.

Some time later, Mama and the church congregation came back from a baptismal service. Prof Imevbore was also there. Brother Bisi Ogunsina, a friend and the General Secretary of CACSA could not recognize me; he confessed some months later. Whereas some four weeks before the fire accident, we were praying together in his flat, during which another Brother, Akinsoyinu and his wife joined us. During the prayer session, and when praying for me, Brother Akin said he saw a coffin that was smashed into pieces. The revelation came to mind as soon as I sighted Bisi and Akin. Again, it was another inner assurance that I would not die…Mama Ogunranti could not figure out if she has ever seen me before! Arrangements were, however, made as to where I should stay pending my admission at the University Teaching Hospital, Ibadan. Akin’s house was the most appropriate but his wife had just put to bed. Another friend and classmate, Olutayo Adeniran had packed from his Coca-Cola Area house that I used to know. There was no way I could possibly contact him that day, so I had to stay with the Akinsoyinus.

Mama Ogunranti, being a Nursing Sister, took over the dressing of my wound because it took the UCH some three weeks to admit me. The wound had virtually healed up but I was now in much pain than before. There was pulling and shrinking of muscles. My shoulders were raised to my ears.

“There is not much we can do, young man. You should have been transferred here before now,” a Nursing Sister at the Teaching Hospital said.

“But I have been directed by one Dr. Buhari to see the Head of Surgery or the Professor—who specializes in skin graft in this place:” I replied.

“Okay, we will see,” she said. It really appeared there was nothing the hospital could do. The same idea was expressed when I saw the Consultant. He, in the meantime referred me to the Physiotherapy department. I was given appointment for two weeks later.’ Owoseye Ayo, Knocked down…not out. Lagos: Juliet S. Ventures  pp17-19.

[11] The original list of officials of CACSA are as follows

Pastor Olu Arijesudade           President

Pastor Ayo Omideyi                General Secretary

Bro. Tunde Adefarakan           Prayer Secretary

Miss Tosin Oni                       Treasurer

Bro. Tunde Osafehinti             Publicity Secretary

Bro. M. Oshunfowora             Ex-officio

Bro. Anthony Falode               Ex-officio

 

[12] Mike Oye was different! He was traveling Secretary of Scripture Union but believed very strongly in baptism of Holy Spirit. I was his ward at a time and he taught me many things which I have not forgotten. He was rigid about ordo salutis and the place of Baptism of Holy Spirit as third blessing following repentance, and sanctification. No one could fault him on that. During our tour of the CAC schools, when we got to Akure, I had to contact Mike Oye about the process we were adopting in setting up these CACSA and doing baptism of the Holy Spirit without repentance. His reply was curt “Don’t take poison.”

[13] P.A.A.A. Egabor and Ernest Fubara (1992) Drop the sword of sin and take the sword God. Ibadan: Freeman Productions