Celebrating God’s servant, ARCHBISHOP BENSON IDAHOSA
(September 11, 1938-March 12, 1998)
THE YEAR THE MANTLE DROPPED
The Archbishop Benson Andrew Idahosa left his footprints on the Sands of time. The timings of his life’s events were also significant.
Benson Idahosa became born again on a Sunday in January 1960, the year of Nigeria’s independence and few months after the departure to Glory of the reverred patriarch, Apostle Joseph Ayo Babalola in July, 1959. Idahosa sharpened his evangelical teeth under Pastor Oko at the Assemblies of God, the largest single pentecostal group in the world with over 60 million members. He was mentored by the likes of T.L Osborn, Gordon Lindsay, Oral Roberts and the likes.
Benson Idahosa brought a lot of firsts into Christianity in Nigeria and Africa.
He brought gospel to the screen in every home through the Idahosa World Outreach (IWO), this was heavily criticised by the orthodox churches though virtually every Church would jump at the opportunity to be on screen now including Deeper Life Bible Church who would not have anything to do with it in the past… through Idahosa, we enjoy the gospel on TV today. Benson Idahosa was excommunicated by Pastor Oko for buying a ‘motorbike’ as a christian.
Eventually he was reabsorbed into the Church after Pastor Oko used the same motorbike to carry his pregnant wife to the hospital. When he decided to buy drums, guitars and other musical instruments for praise and worship ministrations in Church, he was accused of turning the Church into a disco hall.
Heavily misunderstood even by Christians as a result of pervasive ignorance and lack of foresight in the church at the time, Idahosa, made us realise that Christians could drive good cars and watch or own Television sets without going to hell. He upped the ante when he bought a Mercedes benz and other pastors were sure he would go to hell as he was very vain. All of them have joined him today, especially the most virulent critics. He flew jets to preach in 145 countries in his 59 years on earth. He visited Russia to preach immediately the window was open as communism fell. He was that daring.
It is said of him that he preached to more blacks than any white man and preached to more whites than any black man. Benson Idahosa first mooted the ownership of Universities by churches in Nigeria, other churches may contest these, especially the orthodox ones, however he put his money where his mouth was and started the Christian Faith University (now Benson Idahosa University).
His last port of call before his ‘coronation’. Idahosa believed in raising the man as well as raising buildings…he neglected none. ‘Ba’ as he was fondly called was well rounded. He built hospitals (Faith Mediplex) schools at the four levels of education from nursery to university-Word of Faith, CFU.
Today in Nigeria, Churches alone own over 30 universities and many more hospitals, nursery, primary, secondary schools and even polytechnics.
He built the largest Bible school in Nigeria.
Foreigners taught and still teach as well as learn in these schools. He raised so many men, too numerous to mention-,the serious faces of Christianity in Nigeria today all had business to do with Idahosa, from Adeboye to Okonkwo to Oyedepo to Omobude to Oritsejafor to Oyakhilome to even his former ‘houseboy’, Apostle Johnson Suleman who reminds us of him from time to time.
He was threatened once about the demolition of the 2,500 capacity Faith Miracle Centre built in 1975 by the government. In the end, the government of the day succumbed…..there was a coup and the new government was too busy seeing to other matters.
Today, the Miracle Centre stands and ironically, the Nigerian Airforce (NAF) Church stands some metres away facing the airport in a position only Idahosa believed a church should be planted.
In contrast to the poverty of the Church of Christ manifest at that time of economic boom, today, there are hardly any poor church rats again, Idahosa made sure of that.
The Church in Nigeria is today one of the wealthiest institutions in Africa.
He ministered with power, dead were raised, blind eyes saw, the deaf and dumb were healed, the sick recovered.
The gospel of Christ came to us with flamboyance.
Today, the gospel of Christ is the best and most successful export of Nigeria to the world. Crude Oil may decrease and get exhausted but the Gospel will only increase. Expatriates come in to show us how to exploit the oil, today we teach the world how to explore the Bible.
In 1989, Idahosa led 1 million people in a crusade at the Tafawa Balewa Square in Lagos for the first time. Now, ‘The Experience’ a gospel concert by House on the Rock holds on the same grounds annually….the largest Christian concert in the universe. Leke Beecroft further reveals the significance of Idahosa’s departure.
1998 was the year the mantle dropped for Papa.
Early in the year, he restructured Church of God Missions and further expanded the Church operations.
By March he ‘Marched’ to be with Jesus.
The year 1998 heralded the beginning of gigantic revival strides across the world today by those who took his mantle….in not one but various ministries.
Indigenously established Churches in Nigeria launched into levels of expansion like never before experienced in Africa; Nation Churches were consequently birthed, churches from Nigeria are in virtually every nation of the world……. a move that Idahosa began by his 1977 crusade in Accra, Ghana.
Mountain of Fire and Miracles had just arrived the scene in 1989 and by 1998, she established the 200 acre MFM Prayer City at Mowe, Ogun State of Nigeria.
Deeper Life Bible Church already established at Ayobo went on to take possession of the 900 acre Deeper Life Conference Centre.
Living Faith Church secured a 530 acre property (now 17,000 acres) known as ‘Canaanland’ then commenced the 50,000 capacity Faith Tabernacle while the Redeemed Christian Church of God, led by Pastor Adeboye arrived the global stage on December 21, 1998 by leading 7.2 million worshippers at the very first HolyGhost Congress of the RCCG. Many argue that all these happenings within a very short period would have affected Papa negatively, I disagree.
I believe he would have been glad to see the ripening of fruits, the seeds which he planted.
Yes, Idahosa departed humorously at dinner while taking a glass of juice called ‘Pure Heaven’..True, his remains may lie still at the Faith Miracle Centre, but his baton, his mantle will continue to be transferred to future generations-If Jesus tarries.
Leke Beecroft is a historian, author, artist and Air Traffic Controller.