Pa Syndey Elton and the prophetic destiny of Nigeria
Dr. Sunday Adelaja.Pa Sydney Granville Elton was a towering apostolic and prophetic vessel in the hand of God specifically for Nigeria. This man lived in Nigeria for 50 years from 1937 to 1987, you can say he gave his life for Nigeria. Before he died he made this profound prophetic declaration about Nigeria.Pa Elton was no stranger to the prophetic. When he was a young man growing up in England God specifically spoke to him to move over to Nigeria and locate a town by the name of Ilesha. He searched and low and behold, he found such a town in Nigeria, it’ll be home for the next 50 years of his life.When he got to Ilesha, he became a part of an ongoing revival there led by Apostle Ayo Babalola. He ended up becoming a mentor to Apostle Babalola, and many other known Christian leaders in Nigeria. He was the spiritual father of Archbishop Benson Idahosa.Benson Idahosa testified of how God specifically gave him the name Ilesha and told him to go look for a white man there who will mentor him. There are other great names that came out of Pa Elton’s prophetic revelation to raise up future Christian leaders from Nigerian universities.The list of names that came out of that obedience is impressive; Pastor E.A Adeboye, W.F Kumuyi, Emeka Nwakpa, Gbile Akanni, Francis Wale Oke etc. His only daughter Ms Ruth, just like her father gave her life for the service of humanity in Nigeria. She got a Nigerian passport and refused to marry or move back to England.Listen to his prophecy about Nigeria and Nigerians: “Nigeria and Nigerians will be known all over the world for corruption. Your name Nigeria will stink for corruption but after a while, a new phase will come a phase of righteousness. People from the nations of the earth will hold to a Nigerian and say, We want to follow you to your nation to go and learn righteousness.”
I believe that just as this man saw it in the spirit years back, Nigeria is presently going through that phase of shame and humiliation. I hope we will not give up on ourselves thereby spoiling the purpose of God for us as a nation. The name Nigeria is not only stinking to those afar but as we see today that it’s now having a bad odour to Nigerians themselves, such that many are now clamouring for any other state other than Nigeria.If we however can only persevere through these hard and difficult times, I’m certain there’ll be light at the end of the tunnel. Every dark night no matter how dark will eventually end up in a new dawn. I believe better days are still ahead for Nigeria, I pray we shall live to see and partake in those days in Jesus name.Dear Nigerians, our population is one of the greatest things that has ever happened to us. Our population is our trump card. If we had not had the population we have, things would have been gloomy for us. It is a pity that Nigerians talk more about tribalism and other things dividing us instead of celebrating the beauty and the majesty we possess, thanks to the fact that we are together. It is a pity that some parts of Nigeria now talk of breaking away. It is a shame that some Nigerians now see fellow Nigerians as enemies.It is unacceptable that there is now fights for separation in Biafra, Oduduwa nations all over the land. This is unacceptable, for it is aimed at bringing down one of the countries that have the capacity of becoming one of the greatest in the world, just by diversity of size and population alone. In the case of Africa it will be detrimental because this is the only country that has the real potential to fly the flag of the black race to greatness.Just for comparison, let’s assume that the United States of America did not have the population it has, let’s say it had only 30 million people, there is no way they would have become the super power of the world that they are today, neither economically nor militarily.Small nations don’t become super powers, not economically or militarily. That is why when America was smaller and consisted of only 13 states, they embarked on a mission of buying and taking over more lands and territories for the purpose of becoming a super power in the future. That is what led to the addition of other territories like Texas, California, Florida, Colorado, Porto Rico, to the entity of the United States of America, making them a super nation on the earth.In the history of the world at large, almost all nations went to war only for this purpose to expand their territory and population. It was obvious to them then just as it is to us today that only countries with bigger populations and bigger territories will be respected and honoured in the world.Can you imagine Russia being a super power without its population? When Russia was a super power, there were about 300 million people as well. After losing half of that population, Russia is not the same anymore even though they are still a large nation of almost 150 million people. As the case may be, if Russia had 10 million or 20 million people, their production capacity would not have been able to pull them through to become a super power.Only large populations create large economies. I know there are Nigerians who will say they don’t need a big country neither do they need a superpower nation, that they only need to eat and drink now. What if the Chinese have said the same thing at their trying hour, what if Americans have been satisfied with only 13 states, none of them would have become the beacon of hope they presently are to the world.Egocentrism and selfishness are what have brought Nigeria to the state she is in now, and it’s that same selfishness that makes people say just give me what to eat I care less for a great nation. This mentality of instant gratification is what is killing Nigeria, no matter how many smaller nations we are divided into we will take this demon with us. Great nations we run to for economic refuge were not built by people who thought about themselves and what to eat or drink only.Hence JFK the former President of America says not to ask for what your country could do for you but rather ask what you could do for your country. This is the mentality we need to build a great Nigeria. We need to begin to see the big picture in regards to the future of Nigerian, we need to know that we must sacrifice today to get a greater tomorrow.By the way, what we call hardship in Nigeria today is nothing compared to the hard price paid by those who built the nations we admire today, be it in Europe, America or Asia. Government doesn’t build great nations, only citizens do. Nigerians must stop their mindset of waiting for the government to do everything for them and begin to take charge of their nation’s themselves, just as they do in developed countries.There are many factors that make great nations great. The most important of those factors is the population. Are you not glad that Nigeria has that in abundance, why should we break that away into smaller, insignificant segments whatever it’s called; Oduduwa republic, Biafra or Arewa republics? Apart from the production power of a huge population like China, there is also the vantage position of their purchasing power.Still taking China, for example, people used to say China has the largest number of poor people in the world, but that was only a matter of time. In fact, right now, the events of the last few decades and the rapid development of the Chinese economy has left no one in doubt that China indeed is the future of our world.It is on its way to overcoming the USA to become the strongest and largest economy in the world. The same thing with India. Even though there is a large number of poor people in India today, it also has one of the largest number of millionaires, the same as China. The same will be the story with Nigeria, the Nigerian economy will recover and become like China or India sooner or later.If China or India had given up on their nations while they were the capitals of poverty in the world then they won’t have the results they have today. The tide shall turn for Nigeria too, nothing remains the same forever, change is the only constant in life, we won’t be the poverty capital of the world forever. By 2050 Nigeria will become one of the largest economies in the world this is the projection of the World Bank.Today India, not minding the fact that it is a developing country, now ranks as the 4th largest economy in the world. This is all thanks to their population. Nigeria and Nigerians therefore should be rejoicing and bragging about their good fortune to have managed to live together with so many diverse nations under one umbrella.Have you ever heard of The European Union coming together? Why do you think they did so? Do you think they had no reason in doing that? No, my friends, it is because they know the power and the strength of numbers. They know the place of the population in human development. Small, small nations even if they are 50, scattered all over Europe, are weak and defeatable without the strength of a combined population. They are vulnerable economically and militarily.We don’t need to begin to go through that process of bringing tribes and ethnic groups together all over again in Nigeria. It is already done for us either by chance or default. Whatever the case might be, Nigerians should be some of the most hopeful people on the planet, especially if we get our act together politically and economically.It is my firm belief that our nation Nigeria is just on the verge of announcing her arrival on the world stage as the Rising Sun of the new age. This is not the time for us to begin to use tribalism to pull ourselves down. It is not the time for us to begin to lay emphasis on our old and outdated stereotypes, blaming one tribe or the other for all the woes of our nation.Lastly, some people tell me, “But you are in Ukraine and Ukraine broke away from Russia, why do you not want Nigeria to do the same? Yes. Countries that broke away from Russia were fifteen. But do you know by name any of them right now? They broke away into insignificance, troubles, and instabilities.Hope you know what is happening in Ukraine right now? Have you heard about the civil war in Ukraine after they broke away from Russia? As Ukraine broke away from Russia, some parts of Ukraine are now fighting to also break away from Ukraine. It has already happened in Yugoslavia, Yugoslavia was a respected country until the voice of secession began to raise its ugly head.Today, you can hardly remember the names of the new nations, their plight has only worsened the direct opposite of what they aimed to get. There is no end to secession, as seen in the example of Yugoslavia once a country disintegrates, it continues to disintegrate.It was Kosovo that started the call for independence, but that one secession didn’t stop there, it led to Croatia clamouring for their independence too, once they are gone Slovenia became the next one. Now we have Republic of Serbia, Montenegro, Republic of North Macedonia. Bosnia and Hercegovina, they all have one thing in common, once glorious now unnoticed, unknown, unsung and ingloriousIt is true, countries indeed broke away from Russia, but they all broke away into insignificance, some into oblivion. Russia, still remains great until now. When they were part of something big, their strength was unmatched and they could not be conquered.I have made a strong argument in this article against the disintegration of Nigeria. I am convinced that secession is not nearly the end of Nigeria’s problems, it would rather be the beginning.If God forbid Biafra or Oduduwa manage to break away from Nigeria, that might only be the beginning of sorrow, because they too might end up breaking down into smaller segments, it’ll be good if they do without bitter civil wars among themselves. It’ll be a tale of woes and gory.Throughout these 20 articles,(check my facebook wall for previous) I have tried to make a case for why Nigeria is better together. I have tried my best to present arguments why Yorubas are better off in Nigeria.There is no doubt that we can create a great nation, a world superpower together. If all the 371 tribes in Nigeria bring together their strengths we can make the case for the black race. We can overcome all our challenges. We can stick together to create a better and greater Nigeria.Many countries have stuck together to resolve their problems. East and West Germany were two troubled states, but they chose to heal from the bitterness and hatred that was passed down their throats. They chose to heal from the wounds of a bitter war.As a result of that choice, Germany is a world Superpower today. Nigeria too can do the same. Nigeria can heal from the wounds of our present divides. Nigeria can move from the pains of our economic failure, overcome the bandits and the kidnappings. Nigeria can choose to be a nation in brotherhood,if we do this, Nigeria will one day sit on the same table as America, England, China, France, India and other great nations as equals. It is our place to carry the flag for the black race and become the pride of Africa and all Africans everywhere.Dr Sunday Adelaja is the Nigerian born founder and senior pastor of the Embassy of the Blessed Kingdom of God for All Nations, an evangelical–charismaticmegachurch and a Christian denomination in Kyiv, Ukraine.
1902-1966 Church of the Lord (Aladura) Nigeria Multiple versions are available: (A)(C)(D)
Josiah Ositelu was the son of an illiterate pagan farmer from Ogere town in Ijebuland, about three miles west of Iperu. His mother hailed from Owo, but his father Asaye Dawodu belonged to the Lisa family, which is traditionally the second chieftaincy house in Ogere, and his grandfather was a highly respected person in the community.
The children born before Josiah all died at a young age, allegedly through the evil forces of witches and so when he was conceived, his parents consulted an Ifa priest who assured them that he would survive. Josiah was born on May 15, 1902 and was called Ifakoya meaning “Ifa has avenged my cause” . The Ifa priest prophesied that the boy would distinguish himself and would be endowed with spiritual authority and virtues.
As Ositelu was growing into boyhood, his spiritual endowment and mental alertness made him a very unusual child. He was reported to have prophesied about the future, revealed unknown secrets from the past, read signs in the sky, detected witches, and to have had unusual dreams of being taught by holy beings . His parents were anxious about these signs because they feared he might be under evil influence. Diviners however assured his parents that the signs were that of a great future, and also that Ositelu would lead both Europeans and Africans into the ways of the Lord.
When he was of school age, his parents did not want him to go to school because of the natural fear of losing him especially as an Ifa prophecy stated that he should not be flogged or sent on errands. Dr. Turner told the story of how this fear was overcome when he was eleven years old. He had been sent by his father to go and help on the farm and was punished when he played on the way. On the third day his father fell from a palm tree and was seriously injured and it took him two years to recover from the injury. This experience was given as a reason why his father sent him to school. If he could not help in the farm or be punished for his behaviour, he could not be of any use in the community . He was therefore sent to the Anglican school at Ogere, his hometown, in 1913 and completed his elementary education in standard five (the highest class at that time) in 1991 at Christ Church School, Porogun in Ijebu-Ode. He was thus able to convey his ideas, though not fluently in English.
It was almost automatic in those days for any child who attended a church school to be baptized and become a member of the church. Consequently, Ositelu was baptized on August 28th, 1914 by the Anglican minister at Iperu, and took the Christian name Josiah. He loathed name given to him at birth (Ifakoya) and preferred to call himself Oyenowo(“chieftaincy has honour”) and later still, Olunowo(“God has honour”). He thus became known as Josiah Olunowo Ositelu, the last being his grandfather’s name. In 1922, he was confirmed by Assistant Bishop Oluwole in St. Peter’s Church, Abeokuta. At school, Josiah had shown a peculiar interest in the spiritual realities of the Christian faith.
After his education in 1919, he was appointed a pupil teacher and taught in a number of Anglican schools, first at Orile-Imo (Abeokuta) and then at Asha, a town about fourteen miles from Ogere. He was at Asha from 1921 to 1923. While there he received training as a catechist under the clergy at Ishara, another Remo town, some ten miles away. From Asha he moved to Erunbe where he spent eighteen months before he was sent to Erukute to relieve a teacher-catechist who had gone for a year’s course at St. Andrew’s College, Oyo. Ositelu was made to believe that he was a prospective candidate for such a course.
At Erukute, he served as the only teacher in the Anglican School as well as the catechist responsible for conducting services and Bible classes under the supervision of Rev. D. M. George the clergy in charge of Ishan sub-district. He was also the secretary for the Ishan local church committee. The future actually looked rosy for Josiah in the Anglican Church but his boyhood experiences returned to change the course of his life.
Perhaps, the turning point in his life was his vision on the night of May 17th, 1925, when he saw a large eye “reflecting as a great orbit of the sun”  which was as big as the head of a cow. Although this vision might have represented God, Ositelu thought it symbolized the influence of witches in his life. He was so disturbed that he could not sleep that night and on the following day, he consulted the elders. On hearing the story they advised him to return home to Ogere for the vision might have caused tragic events in his family. When he narrated the vision to his parents, they were very much disturbed and it was said that his mother spent over a pound consulting with native doctors to make protective medicine for him. But all these initiatives produced no results and his fears increased. Disillusioned, he returned to Erekute, his station, and when the trouble continued, he was granted a long leave from his work to give him time to find a permanent solution.
It was suggested that an elder, Samuel Shomoye, who lived at Dada Village near Erekute could help him resolve his problem. Shomoye was a man of the Spirit and had been a follower of an evangelist, Aiyelabola. He told Ositelu not to have any fear and that his experiences were not a bad omen but indications that he was being called by God. He recommended that by reading the Psalms and through prayer and fasting he would overcome the evil powers haunting him. The Church of the Lord came to believe that God had sent evil forces to “whip Ositelu into the right way.” This phenomenon is not strange in the Christian church for examples abound like St. Paul the Apostle who was smitten with blindness on his way to Damascus where he had intended to persecute Christians . Although his blindness was later cured, he remained partially blind for the rest of his life . There are many modern church prophets who allegedly received such afflictions as a consequence of their reluctance to accept the call to preach . Shomoye advised him to do away with native charms and medicines which he did. It is the view of Turner that this simple gospel of faith in God alone, with prayer and fasting, become the working basis of the church that Ositelu subsequently founded .
Ositelu returned to his work at Erekute with this new conviction. Even though he had more evil dreams, he reported that he was helped by a holy man in his dream “who dealt the witches with heavy blows until they were turned into cows, horses, rats, cats and some deformed creatures” . On the 19th of June, 1925, he commenced fasting as Shomoye had advised and from the 27th of June, 1925, he began to hear voices that invited him to become a prophet and promised him divine authority and support. This continued for six consecutive months. He carefully recorded these messages in massive journals in which nearly ten thousand entries were made. The following are the central messages he heard between June and November 1925:
Your prayers are heard. After many afflictions. I will uplift you. Be not afraid. I am with you. (27th of June)
I will anoint you as my prophet, even as Elijah anointed Elisha with oil in the olden days, so it shall be unto you. (28th of August)
Gradually, the seals of power will come to you. Your good time draws on apace. (28th of September)
The Lord will give you a strong constitution and people will be streaming after you. (24th of September)
Thou shall teach the Oyo students, and those that are beyond the seas. (lOth of October)
The Elders will hold council to change your heart, but you will prevail. (4th of November)
I will build new Jerusalem in you. You are the one whom Jesus Christ has sent like the last Elijah to repair the Lord’s road and make His way straight. (5th of November}
I will give you a key of power like Moses, and will bless you like Job… I am the God of Kah… the God of Jah. (15th of November) 
Thus, the call of Josiah was predicated on God’s promises of authority, power and divine leadership to guide a group of people along the way of the Lord. The appearance of Elijah and the references to the “seals of power” and the new divine names thus formed part of the holy words found in the Church of the Lord, even today.
Throughout his nocturnal battles with the witches he continued to call upon God under such revealed names as Alljohnan or Anomonolnollahhuhah which he might have been taught by Pastor Shomoye. It is believed by Turner that some of the practices and taboos of the Church of the Lord seem to have their origin in this early period .
Ositelu could no longer remain in the Anglican Church or the Anglican Church could no longer tolerate (or contain) him. He was questioned about the innovations and “irregularities” he was introducing into the church. In addition to the problems he had with the authorities regarding his future in the Anglican Church, he had a very frustrating problem which had a direct bearing on his personal life and future. The girl he proposed to marry threatened to break up with him if he refused to change his ways and obey the orthodox (Anglican) way. To this, Josiah gave the same reply Peter gave to the Sanhedrin, that he would obey God rather than men [l2] and bade her farewell.
Further trouble began on February 2, 1926 when he was summoned before a group of seven clergymen at Ishan in the house of his immediate superior, the Rev. D. M. George, to defend himself against the charges of introducing irregularities or innovations into the church. There was no way he could win against a committee that was already prejudiced. No one who had made seemingly heretical statements in public about the beliefs of the church had ever won against the church leaders. Thus, Arius lost his case at Nicaea in 325 A.D. and many others after him. One is not surprised therefore, that Josiah was unable to defend himself against the allegation that he had made heretical statements. His suspension was subsequently announced by Rev. D. M. George on February 25, 1926.
On the 19th of April, 1926, the district council met at Abeokuta and decided to dismiss Josiah from the Anglican Church. This decision was communicated through Rev. D. M. George. Ositelu’s dismissal from the Anglican Church hastened the establishment of his church, the Church of the Lord (Aladura), even though this came much later.
After his dismissal he worked for some time as a clerk in one of his aunts’ shops but he spent most of his time there praying, fasting and recording the series of messages he received in dreams and visions. In fact, in order to have time to do these things he withdrew like St. Paul  from public view to ostensibly work for his aunt. The revelations continued and he made more and more entries in his journals until the more fully developed “holy script” appeared a year later. Like Arabic or Hebrew it was written from right to left. The script was said to be quite similar to both Greek and Syriac forms. The conjecture was that Ositelu might have seen a Greek Testament and some kind of Arabic text. The most significant of the messages he received was that of August 31, 1926, when he was asked to preach the gospel and give the water of life to those who listened and repented.
Even after a year of revelations as a prophet, Ositelu did not start evangelical work. In order to gain more experience and therefore more confidence, he decided to return to his spiritual master, Shomoye, to continue his apprenticeship. On the 13th of February, 1927, he returned to the small village near Erukute where Shomoye placed him under spiritual guidance for two years. Shomoye had identical experiences and he (Shomoye) was establishing Aladura churches for the surrounding villages. He later had a large church building at Dada and he trained his assistants to man the branches. Ositelu served his apprenticeship satisfactorily and developed his power of prophecy and continued to record many revelations.
One of his April 1927 revelations was his own personal holy name, Arrabablalhubab. He used the sign for the next twenty years as a personal signature. This formed the content of the Great Seal of the Organization described in its 1954 constitution. Other revelations confirmed the promise that “the fame of the glory of God’s name shall be spread up to Syria and America.” In reference to the church Ositelu was to found as the Church of the Lord, many coloured diagrams, drawings and symbolisms were revealed to Josiah during his stay at Dada, under the guidance of Shomoye. During this period, evangelist Aiyelabola who brought with him a follower named Daniel Ajayi Adefola, a young Ekiti man, visited Shomoye. Ajayi and Ositelu became friends and, consequently, Ajayi decided to stay back with Shomoye and later became Ositelu’s assistant when he started his ministry. They were both companions for a year until a rift between them caused Ajayi to return to his hometown of Okemesi where he founded a small church along the sames lines as the Church of Lord.
While it is true that a prophet is not without honour except in his own home [l4] Ositelu nevertheless found it necessary to return to Ogere, his birth place. Ositelu felt commissioned to preach to his own people in Ijebuland and in Egba and Ibadan. The period of preparation for the spiritual battle against evil powers was now over. He now had the secrets of victory and felt armed for bigger battles as a prophet of God among his people.
Mission in Ijebuland
Assisted by Ajayi, the Ekiti man, Josiah started his mission to Ijebuland with open air preaching at Ogere on June 9th, 1929. For about one year, he concentrated on Ogere before spreading the message to other territories. This was not without opposition from certain quarters. Ositelu spoke in tongues in meetings by using holy words which he derived from his vision. Important Aladura leaders from Ilesa and Ibadan made contacts with him for he had begun to acquire the fame of a renowned prophet during this period.
This growth bore some similarities to the parable of the mustard seed  and the revelation and events which soon followed had some biblical overtones. For example, on July 27, 1929, there was an inaugural service of the Church of the Lord which was held in Lisa compound at Ogere at 9.00 am with ten people in attendance. Ositelu based his sermon on Acts 2:39: “For the promise is unto you, and to your children and to all that are far off even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” It was an appropriate passage for the foundation of a church. He also had hanging in his parlor at Ogere, a framed picture of the water of life with statements containing the three main revelations of June and July which gave divine approval for the establishment of a new church. To give grace to these revelations the first church building of the Church of the Lord was dedicated on New Year’s Day in 1931.
Ositelu was accepted by the revival movement in Ibadan in July 1930, but by January 1931 the short romance had broken up. Two new leaders joined the Church of the Lord: Aina (who stayed for four years) and Abimbolu (who has remained one of the strong leaders at the Ibadan Assembly).
From Ogere, Ositelu went to Ibadan in 1931 to live with Pastor Aina, then a prophet in the Faith Tabernacle Church. Pastor Aina was also a Bible teacher and he had many disciples among whom were prophet Orekoya and some others, all living together happily as brothers in the church.
A schism between Ositelu and the Ibadan congregation took place when Ositelu tried to impose his peculiar strange teachings on the group. He declared that God had to be called some strange names before their petitions could be granted. Such names were Adusa-Kataburra and Lamulamugora. Orekoya and others rejected this new form of worship but some supported Ositelu and they went with him to form the Church of the Lord. The rest left to form the church later known as the Apostolic Church.
Ositelu at Home
Prophet Ositelu lost his father in 1927 before the Church of the Lord was born. His mother became the first lady president of the church and lived till 1948. After her death, Mrs. Dorcas Oyebola Sodipo succeeded her.
Having regarded his first failed attempted at getting married as part of God’s plan, Ositelu went on to marry seven wives. In fact, it was first predicted to him at the Ibadan meeting that he would have three wives but that number was later changed to the next spiritual number, seven. Ositelu saw this as God’s reward to compensate for his first disappointment, a sacrifice he made in obedience to God’s call. His first wife was Orebo. He married his second wife, Agnes Odutayo, in 1932 in a service conducted by J. Ade Aina, at the Ogere church. Orebo and her children all died within a few years and Agnes, a tall and beautiful woman, became the senior wife. Second to her was Susannah, who became a prophetess in the Sagamu branch of the church, returning later to Ogere.
Ositelu was blessed with many children and his oldest surviving son is Gabriel Olusegun born to Agnes in 1938. After his secondary school education, Olusegun was trained as an agriculturist but was satisfied with helping the church as a layman. The eldest surviving daughter, Susannah, was born in 1940 and received secondary school education. She remained very loyal to the church.
The first residential building at Ogere, called “Faith Home” was completed between 1932 and 1933 for Ositelu and his household. The house had seven rooms. One room containing the framed texts of the 1930 covenants is known as the “Covenant Parlour” and another with a framed picture of Michael stamping on the devil is called the “Michael Parlour.” More impressive headquarters, Oluwaseyi Mansion(“God has provided this mansion”), was dedicated in 1954 after the foundations were laid in 1949. It provided accommodation for the entire family of the primate, his secretaries and assistants and guests from distant places. It has remained the personal property of the founder, the criticisms by some members of the church notwitstanding. Ositelu’s name is painted across the front walls of the building.
Prophet Ositelu was a gentle, humble and hospitable man with a magnetic and compelling personality when he was called to the work.
Ositelu’s Christian background was derived entirely from the Anglican Church in Ijebu and Egba areas. Thanks to the religious and secular instruction during his six years of elementary school he was well versed in the study of both the Yoruba and English Bibles and this helped him acquire a “biblical cast of thoughts.” This Christian education was supplemented by the supervision and supplementary classes he later received as a teacher/catechist for about seven years. Turner holds the view that there is no evidence he was influenced by overseas religious literature that played a large part in the Faith Tabernacle section of the Aladura Movement. Such evidence may have been suppressed by the emphasis on Ositelu’s charismatic personality and the dominant position he occupied in his own church for his lot was not cast in Lagos, Ibadan or Ijebu Ode, where foreign literature might more easily be found, but rather in a small town of Ogere and in the bush villages of Erukute and Dada which are still, over thirty years later, not easily accessible [l6].
Thus, we see the characteristic features of the Aladura Movement in Ositelu but strange enough, he was not a follower of any other Aladura group, as some people claim. A leader in the Cherubim and Seraphim Organization has claimed that Ositelu “grew up” in that society. It is a historical fact that this society (Cherubim) was only beginning during Ositelu’s formative years in 1925 and 1926 and was founded in Lagos, fifty miles away. He did not hear of them until 1928. The claim by the Cherubim and Seraphim Church that Ositelu was a member of that society for some time is contrary to Ositelu’s account of having first come into contact with the Cherubim and Seraphim movement at Ogere late in 1930.
Josiah Ositelu’s spiritual history, though based on Anglican training, and coloured by the Scriptures, occurs within the climate of the Aladura Movement and it remained the independent development of an unusual and charismatic personality . He parted with the Faith Tabernacle because the leaders could not accept the “Holy Names” which he saw in vision . After the initial growth pains the Church of the Lord spread not only within Ijebuland, but as far as Egbaland, the Ibadan and Lagos areas and throughout former Western Nigeria. In spite of many secessions, the church has continued to grow from strength to strength.
The pioneering efforts for the spread of the Church of the Lord in northern Nigeria were made by Mr. S. A. Ogunnaike, an Ijebu man, who was converted in Lagos by Adejobi in 1944. He went to the North in 1950 and remained there for over ten years. He was responsible for establishing the church in Kaduna, Kano and Jos in the early fifties. The story of the church in the North is full of personality clashes between church leaders.
The establishment of the Church of the Lord in eastern Nigeria was somewhat delayed, consequently the church did not gain reasonable ground there. A survey made from Sapele in 1945 for the establishment of the Church in eastern Nigeria, did not bear fruit until January 1956 when an Igbo minister started work in Aba. The work progressed reasonably well. The primate travelled all the way from Ogere to Aba covering over six hundred kilometres to inaugurate the church on June 17th, 1956 before a congregation of seventy-four men and ninety women [l9].
In 1957 Rev. Sonoiki visited from Ogere, and baptized fifty-three members and appointed twenty-six cross bearers. An outstation was opened at Port Harcourt in 1956. In 1957, Sonoiki visited it and baptized some members and also appointed cross bearers. It is reported that when Aba withdrew her support in 1956 [sic] the branch collapsed .
The only other centre of work in the East was at Enugu. A branch was started in July 1957 and Sonoiki included a visit in his itinerary during his tour of the East in 1957. The slow expansion of the Church in the East and the relatively small number of stations after six years (1956-1962) with only two ministers and no permanent church building was most unfortunate. Turner speculated that it was all due to rivalry between the Yoruba and Igbo peoples and that many Yoruba preferred to work in other West African countries or northern Nigeria rather than in eastern Nigeria . This couldn’t have been true, especially as they did not fare better among the Ijaws, Efik, Annang and Ogoja tribal groups that are not Igbo. One would also wonder why the Port Harcourt branch outside Igboland could not survive while those at Aba and Enugu in the heart of Igboland survived. His view that it was difficult to persuade the right type of ministers to go to the distant and strange world of the East is not very acceptable  considering his own argument that: “The recruitment and training of his ministers has been a major problem to Ositelu from the beginning of the church, and it remains unsolved today” (1967) .
The problem then seemed to be a staff shortage. Turner also made a point when he attributed the church’s slow expansion to the political system of Eastern Nigeria where there are no large indigenous towns under traditional kings which could support in turn, a host of small independent churches and healing homes . Added to this was the fact that there were many other Aladura churches in the East before the Church of the Lord arrived. Since all of them were associated with drumming, spiritual healing with water, prayers and the wearing of white robes, the church easily passed for a branch of the existing Aladura churches. It was necessary for the Church of the Lord to go through a period of adaptation in order to succeed among the indigenous population of the east which had many local prophets and religious movements.
According to the vision of the primate, the spread of the Church of the Lord would not be restricted to Nigeria alone. It was revealed to him that his church would spread not only in West Africa but also as far as England and America.
A Liberian lawyer, Hon. Justice Barclay visited Nigeria in September 1946, on a healing trip. During the course of his visit he was impressed by the activities of the Church of the Lord. He visited Ogere, the church headquarters, where he met the primate. He and his men discovered the use of consecrated water for healing and were impressed by the prophecies which revealed many things about their own lives and other signs of the power of God in the church. Primate Ositelu later discussed with the Barclays the possibility of establishing a branch in Liberia. By January 1947, the primate received a reply from the Barclays’ stating that the time was not ripe due to a lack of accomodation. They however added that a prophet could be sent to make a survey and return with a report. The primate replied that one Prophet Oduwole would be in Liberia not only to make a feasibility survey but “to establish the church at once, in God’s name” . Two weeks later, Oduwole whom the Barclays met in Ogere set off for Liberia. He was joined in Lagos by Prophet Adejobi who was scheduled to go to Sierra Leone without a definite invitation. On Thursday, April 3rd, 1947, Oduwole landed at Monrovia and lodged with the reluctant Barclays.
He began his evangelistic work on the same day. His first patient was Mrs. Barclays’ brother-in-law whom he prayed for and healed to the astonishment of many people. This caused many to visit him in the Barclays’ residence the following day. It was reported that the Barclays’ cheerfully gave him the ground floor of their residence for use as a chapel. It was there that the Church of the Lord was established in Monrovia, Liberia. Because of the close connection between the Barclays’ and president Tubman, Prophet Oduwole was introduced to the president who showed special interest in his work.
Due to an unfortunate quarrel between the prophet and the Barclays’ he was thrown out of their residence, but in October 1954 he moved to the residence of Mrs. Abul which was given to the church free of charge. The church continued to grow not only in Monrovia but throughout Liberia, with quarrels here and there. Training institutes for the prophets, divine healing hospitals and maternity centres were established. By 1962 the church had been firmly planted in twelve centres in Liberia.
The relationship between the Church of the Lord and the state continued to be cordial. This is illustrated by the tragic event of April 7th, 1965 when a patient in the faith home murdered prophet Oduwole who was praying for him. President Tubman and a number of the members of his cabinet attended the funeral and businesses were closed at noon, while flags were flown at half-mast. The president also made some provision for Oduwole’s family.
Gold Coast (Ghana)
Prophet Adeleke Adejobi started a church in Ghana in March 1953, and by June of the same year, barely three months after Adejobi, Oduwole also started his own missionary work in the Gold Coast because he resented Adejobi’s mission and saw it as an infringement on his territory . It is reported that he established a church in Accra and another branch along the coast at Komenda.
Prophet Oduwole did not restrict his work to Liberia and the Gold Coast. He also founded a branch of the church at Lome, Togo in 1961. This was the first mission to be established outside the English-speaking area of West Africa. Oduwole regarded the French-speaking neighbouring country of Côte d’Ivoire as part of his allotted territory. Though he did not launch his mission there he made reasonable contacts towards establishing the Church of the Lord in the country before his death.
Adeleke Adejobi distinguished himself as a hard-working prophet in the Lagos area. In 1946, he was in charge of the main branch at Elegbata. That year he received a vision directing him to go to Freetown to establish the Church of the Lord. Primate Ositelu permitted him to go on this mission. But there was no definite invitation from Sierra Leone or any contact made, as had been the case in Liberia. Adejobi commended his mission to God. A Creole couple, Mr. and Mrs. Nathaniel Bell, who worked in the P.&T. Department in Lagos in 1947, were attending Adejobi’s church at Elegbata. Both Adejobi and Oduwole,–the latter reputedly established the Monrovian mission,–accompanied the couple who were going on leave. They provided accommodation for the two missionaries at their home in Freetown when they landed there on March 21st, 1947. Oduwole stayed there for nine days before proceeding on to Monrovia.
It is said that the people became interested as soon as they saw Adejobi and Oduwole in their white gowns. The people inquired whom they were and started to visit them in their residence for prayers. After the departure of Oduwole, Adejobi inaugurated the Church of the Lord on Easter Day, April 6th, 1947, with a congregation of forty in the morning and fifty-eight in the evening. He was offered free accommodation by Mrs. Laura Dove Savage and within a month of his arrival he had a congregation of about six hundred. In less than four months, Adejobi laid the foundation stone of the first branch of the Church of the Lord in Sierra Leone. But the infant congregation however suffered many tribulations which involved police and court cases. It took a year for the tumult to subside. By 1952 a magnificent church building which cost seven thousand pounds had been completed in Freetown. The primate travelled from Nigeria to dedicate it in October 1952. The church was also established in the interior part of Sierra Leone.
At the request of the people of the Gold Coast, through the primate when he visited Sierra Leone in 1952, Adejobi was asked to extend his mission work there. He arrived the Gold Coast in March 1953, and stayed there for eight months, travelling extensively. He established many churches in the course of his mission. In the next seven years, he reportedly paid at least eight more visits,–some for periods of up to six months,–to this distant section of what soon came to be known as his “Sierra Leone-Gold Coast See.” A chain of churches spread along the coast eastwards from Takoradi into the far comers of Ashanti country growing from strength to strength in spite of the rivalry between Adejobi and Oduwole.
The divine service for the inauguration of the First West African Church in Europe was held on the 12th of April 1964 at St. Andrew’s Congregational Church in London . This was through the commendable effort of Prophet Adejobi who went there for further studies. This church was mostly made up of Africans and West Indians residing in England.
Through spiritual revelation the primate had known that his church would extend to America in his life time. He therefore assigned the territory to Oduwole, one of his able lieutenants. The mission was fulfilled through Mrs. Angeline Toles whom Oduwole had healed and to whom he had given his consent to proceed overseas for further studies. While studying at Atlanta University, she told the story of her life to some Negro Christian brothers and sisters. She formed a prayer group which she called “Samuel Oduwole Spiritual Club.” It is said that the club spread into several Methodist and Baptist churches in Atlanta, Philadelphia and New York, with weekly meetings and annual conventions. Between September 1956 and December 1957 there were eighteen recorded cases of healing overseas through the use of handkerchiefs, prayers and fasting.
One cannot tell the story of Primate Ositelu, the founder of the Church of the Lord, without telling the story of the church during his life time, because it was through the church that he became a prominent figure. Separating him from the church is therefore impossible. Ositelu’s Aladura church started only in 1931, after many others had taken off. Although he did not see himself as competing with them, yet his church quickly became a force to be reckoned with. There is no doubt that his results were not spectacular within the first ten years, yet when the church started to grow, Ositelu recorded more remarkable success than other Aladura churches predating his. Admittedly, he had administrative problems especially as eighteen splinter groups developed from his church. He was also lucky to have such energetic workers as Adejobi, Oduwole and Ogunnaike and he must nevertheless be commended for winning the confidence of such workers who could have safely started their own Aladura churches, as was the practice then.
It is on record however that the church could not satisfy the demands of all those who wanted branches of the Church of the Lord established in their area. For instance, the invitations from Calabar, Gold Coast, Gambia and London were not fully met. A lack of manpower was the primate’s most serious constraint. There is no doubt that the church would have expanded more rapidly if there had been enough hands. The Taborah  of the church was inaugurated as a unifying factor.
It is to the credit of the primate that he did not impose his son’s leadership on the church, thus making it a family or hereditary business. He did not want the church to disintegrate in a battle for leadership. Thus, before his death on July 12th, 1966 he appointed Apostle Adejobi as his successor. He even went as far as grading other leaders for the same reason. There is no doubt that Primate Ositelu died a very satisfied man.