I was born in the church on September 27, 1954

I was born in the church on September 27, 1954, at Osogbo, Osun state. In my early days, the only outing I knew outside my home was going to church. My mother made me attend early morning prayers at 5 a.m. everyday, dragging me along, half asleep and half awake.

I grew up addicted both to God and the church. My parents left me behind in the village with my grandmother, who also was a devout Christian in the Anglican church. She would go to church on Sunday mornings for the Holy Communion, and would always take her tithe along with her in a tin container. I remember asking her one day, “What is this money you take to church every Sunday morning?’’ She replied, “That is God’s portion, that makes the remainder meaningful.’’

My grandmother was a far –above-average woman in her own right. She was well to do, and took good care of all her children. I grew up in a spiritually healthy environment, with my grandmother as my first God-ordained mentor. She did a good job on me through her philosophical teachings. She taught me the following:

  • The dignity of labour
  • The futility of depending on one’s father’s inheritance
  • The burden of indebtedness or borrowing
  • The danger of keeping wrong company
  • The principles of commitment
  • The dignity of integrity
I was fed on very deep proverbial sayings as a little boy. She did a good job on me. On her death bed, when asked, “Are you owing anybody?’’ she said, “No!’’ “Are there people owing you?” she was then asked; and she drew out a long list of names and said, “If they pay back, take it; but if not, I forgive them, as no one rejoices with debt”. I also learnt several lessons from my parents. I remember when I spent my holiday with my parents, I discovered that it was my mother’s custom to serve meals to all the tenants’ children. There were about fifteen families in our estate. I asked her one day, “Why must you serve these children meals? Did their parents complain that they have no food?’’ I was bothered, because we were the ones washing the dirty plates. My mother answered, “Your own children would be somewhere tomorrow, and someone else would serve them.’’

It’s amazing how God brought me through this great lesson that would become an asset in my adult life. It was a lesson on the virtue and value of liberality. That is: what you make happen for others, God is also committed to make happen for you. It’s a powerful law that borders on sowing and reaping. That is, whatsoever a man sows, that he shall reap. Today, my wife and I are serving many children of other families through scholarships and education support investment. I salute her commitment to liberality. She eventually went to be with the lord in 2011 at the age of 97. She was an active member of the church, and served in the Sanctuary Keepers’ Unit.

My father was not much of a talker, but a doer. I still remember clearly that he hated to see dirt anywhere in the room. He had a small broom he kept wherever he sat, to take care of any piece of paper, mud or any dirt. He swept by himself any unwanted stuff on the floor. He had a commitment to neatness, which has reflected in my life as well.
Interestingly, between 1964 and 1967, I was practicing preaching, using my grandmother’s sitting room as a church hall, her soup cupboard as my podium and had five younger boys as my congregation. “What were you preaching?’’ you may ask me. Ask God!

Something mysterious happened in 1966. I asked a carpenter to make me rod. What kind of rod? The rod of Moses, with which I could divide the Red Sea and take people to the Promised Land. What humour, what a drama!

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