Perhaps, not many people know that the founder of The Redeemed Christian Church of God, Reverend Josiah Olufemi Akindayomi, was the head of the prayer warriors of Cherubim and Seraphim, a white garment church; that when he died the first time, he had to be brought back to life by God to settle his scores with The Apostolic Faith after being shown his house in heaven.
The life of this great man, who cut off from all family affairs towards the end of his life, is by no means full of mysteries as reflected in the spiritual growth of the church today.
Mrs. Deborah Akindele, daughter of the founder of The Redeemed Church
In this interview, the daughter of the founder, Mrs. Deborah Akindele, gives an insight into the private life of the man who founded the fastest growing church in Nigeria.
Insight into the family make-up.
My mother had eight children, with only three of us remaining now. That is Mrs. Titi Adewale, Mr. Ifeoluwa Akindayomi, and I. There are also two other surviving children, they are Mrs. Funlayo Olukowajo and Mr. Kolade Akindayomi.
Personal decision to become born-again?
As early as primary six, I was conscious of my parents as ministers of God. I joined the choir at 15. I answered the altar-call at age 20.
Those days, when you responded to the altar-call, you pray very hard, plead for God’s salvation. And you will know that something had happened to you, then you will begin to cry.
That’s why they used to call us Church awon to Sunkun (Church of the Sobbers.) And from that point on, it will really be very hard for you to do ungodly things. You see, I used to be a very tough and hard youth. Now I have cut off old ways, now I am born-again, and now a pastor.
What roles did your mother play in the church?
Mama used to deliver pregnant members of the church, though she had no formal training as a midwife. I believe she was taught by the Holy Spirit. Mama Pupa (also called Mama Olu,) and others helped Mama during deliveries. Whenever delivery proved difficult, Baba would come and pray, and the delivery would come easily.
Mama taught us the way of the Lord. She discouraged us from anything that Baba did not like. Being members of the church has affected our life-styles. That is why we are all humble and contented.
Reactions when Papa left the old church?
Baba was the head of the Prayer Warriors: He was called Baba Tonriran (the one who could see visions.) He just prayed for people, and would not demand money. Even when you received miracles and bring him money, he still would not take it. There were both physical and spiritual reactions from members of the C&S church.
One day, when our mother was feeding my elder brother, Joshua, he suddenly stretched his body, and got very sick. It resulted in a mental imbalance that lasted till his death at the age of forty. Also there was money problem all the time. So Mama resorted to selling provisions. I would sell before going to school. And it was the money that I made that we would use for feeding. Food was eba everyday, without meat.
There was no money for birthday or Christmas dresses. But like Apostle Paul, we could handle both abundance and lack. Baba reluctantly agreed to build a house, saying his house was already in heaven.
How did Baba receive his call?
He was not comfortable with happenings in the old church, where people would go to the cemetery to pray, and do fetish things. God told Baba that the C&S church was only a stepping stone. That He was preparing a greater ministry for him. He had the message that he had to move forward. But the leaders of the C&S church resisted.
How did Baba get the name The Redeemed Christian Church of God?
After Baba formed his own church, he named it Egbe Ogo Oluwa (Ogo Oluwa Fellowship). Later, he renamed it The Apostolic Church, but members of The Apostolic Faith Church said he took their name. He wrote a tract under the name of The Apostolic Church, and The Apostolic Faith Church opposed it, and he had to burn the tracts. It was a bitter fight that the first time he died, God had to send him back to life. He said God showed him his house in heaven, and told him that though he had done almost everything required of him, he still had to come back to settle his old score. So he quickly went to reconcile with The Apostolic Faith Church. The name Redeemed Christian Church of God, came to Papa in a dream.
When he was sleeping, the name appeared to him on a blackboard. When he woke up, he wrote down the words. He even pronounced it when he was telling his pastors, though it was in English. He added that the Lord said He would provide all the needs of the church, and that He would meet the church when He came back.
Founder of The Redeemed Christian Church of God, Rev. Josiah Akindayomi What kind of a father was Baba Akindayomi?
A disciplinarian. He was a no-nonsense man. When he is ready for church on Sunday, and you are not ready before he entered the car, you will have to find your way. And you must get to the church before him! and that included Mama. He used to cane people; his children, even members of the church, including pastors.
Anytime we were coming home from church, Baba would hide near the Casino Cinema to make sure we did not play away. Then he would just show up behind you. One day, I got into trouble with him after a fellow came to visit me during choir practice. I had to tell him not to come again after Baba caned me.
But Baba was also kind to his children. He really loved children. When I had my children, Baba would come to my house at 9, Willoughby Street. He lived at Mushin. He took my husband as a son. My daughter, Toyin, lived with Baba. We only brought her back for secondary school when it looked like Papa would spoil her. When I was working at Igbobi, Papa asked me to resign, and he opened a shop for me.
When I was selling food, Baba would come to help me. When I told him not to do that, he would sit down, and say he didn’t mind if anybody saw him there.
What was Baba’s attitude towards having boyfriends and how did you meet your husband?
My husband joined the church while he was living with his sister, Sister Alaba. He and I were in the choir with Sister Shade, now Mrs. Aderibigbe, and her husband, now Pastor Aderibigbe.
When I went for choir practice, I don’t talk to people, because of Baba. But maybe my husband was noticing me. He may have told Sister Shade that he had an interest in me because one day, Sister Shade said I should come to her house. I got there and met Pastor Akindele! They served drinks and biscuit.
Pastor Akindele talked to me, but I didn’t give him an answer. But he kept on talking about it until after one year when I relented. Baba had already told us to marry only born-again Christians, and also to marry within the Church.
But it was difficult to tell Baba about marriage so I told my mother and Baba Segun, now Pastor Ademulegun, who was then a policeman. He helped us tell Baba. Baba did not agree immediately, but he later agreed.
What was Baba’s conduct towards the end of his life?
Baba was very much liked by ladies. Some would not even mind if they had no children for him.
Towards the end of his life, Baba cut himself away from worldly affairs. He no longer got involved with family affairs, even though his children were living with him. And he made marriage restitution though it brought him problems. It was easy to do away with wives who had no children. But the one that had children, he told her to take anything she liked. He encouraged her to marry someone else. But he took care of all her children.
Pastor E.A. Adeboye’s succession as General Overseer?
Even at the beginning of the church, Baba had been making utterances that his successor had not come. He had said that his successor would be tall like him, and would even be able to wear the same size of his clothes. One day, Engineer Chris Fajemirokun, employer of then Brother Akindele my husband, brought Pastor Adeboye to church.
After the service, Baba told Mama that his successor had come, even though he had not talked to him. The following Sunday, Baba told his pastors. When he told them, after service that day, Baba followed Pastor Adeboye home, as part of normal visitation to new comers.
Pastor Adeboye was surprised. Later, he then sent for Pastor Adeboye, who was then afraid. Baba invited him to the house, and both of them went into Papa’s bedroom, and had long discussions, and Bible lessons together.
But when Baba finally told Pastor Adeboye that he would succeed him, Pastor Adeboye ran away to University of IIorin.
Each time Baba told him about the succession, Pastor Adeboye would thought Baba was joking.
On a trip to America, Baba asked those present to pray for Pastor Adeboye as his successor, but Pastor Adeboye was praying that God should make Baba to change his mind. But he finally accepted before Baba died.
Baba gave Pastor Adeboye one rod which he brought from Jerusalem, and he prayed for him.
When Baba was about to die, he knew it, so he sent for Pastor Adeboye, who could not come due to some reasons. But Mummy GO (Mrs. Folu Adeboye) came, and was there when Baba died. But later my husband, handed over the papers and everything to him,
Changes introduced by Pastor Adeboye?
Pastor Adeboye introduced clapping, and serious dancing into the church.
Baba would never allow it.
Even though we danced, but not like it is today.
Though the pastors and the older people resisted it, but the youth loved it.