The Praying Church
The liturgy of the Church consists in choruses, anthems, praises and worship (often with hand clapping and dancing), spiced in African rhythm; extempore praying and preaching and the teaching of the Bible. The distinctive badge of the Church is prayer, no wonder they were referred to sometimes in history in the Yoruba language as the “Aladura” Church, that is, the praying Church. Their belief in the efficacy of prayer has continued to make them popular as a place of resort for people with life problems seeking divine solution.
The Historical Background
In the history of God’s people since the creation of the world, it has been observed that whenever God wanted to visit His people, usually there would arise an individual or a group of people who would see the need for a new dedication and total surrender to God as demanded in the bible; 2 Chronicles 7:14. This was the exact thing that happened at the beginning of this church – Christ Apostolic Church.
In the early part of the year 1918, a prayer band was formed at the Saint Saviour’s Anglican Church, Ijebu Ode. This group aimed at purifying themselves and the church. They yearned to see the Christian religion practised the same way it was done during the apostolic days. They made holiness and total dedication to God their Christian life style and watchword.
The founders of the church
The early pioneers of this movement were J. B. Esinsinade, D. O. Odubanjo and Miss Sophia Odunlami, all of St. Saviours Anglican Church, Ijebu Ode, Nigeria. They practiced absolute trust in God, and abhorred the use of medicine, dancing, drumming, gambling, drinking and mixing with non-Christians. They depended mainly on prayers thus the nickname; Egbe Aladura (the prayer group). The name of the group was first known as the Precious Stone, and later as the Diamond Society of Nigeria. This was the first Aladura society in Nigeria. This group was later strengthened by the inspiration they got from the magazines and tracts they received from one Pastor A. Clark of the Faith Tabernacle in Philadelphia, USA.
The relationship between the Diamond Society of Nigeria and the Faith Tabernacle of America was so cordial through the correspondences Pastor D. O. Odubanjo had with them that the name of the society was changed to Faith Tabernacle of Nigeria.
Around this time, a young man by the name; Joseph Ayodele Babalola already called of God was doing exploits in Odo-Owa near Ilofa in Kwara State. Joseph Ayodele Babalola was born in the year 1904 to a man called David Rotimi while the name of his mother was Martha Talabi. The parents were both devoted Christians and members of the Church Missionary Society (CMS) at Odo-Owa. According to Babalola’s mother, there were great thunders and lightening from east to west on the day he was born.
Filled with the spirit, his fervent new religious approach captured the attention of everyone as well as the Faith Tabernacle group under the leadership of Pastor Esinsinade in the year 1929. They were happy with his testimonies and the young prophet was admitted into their fold and immersed in water baptism.
As at the eve of the 1930 Revival, the Faith Tabernacle movement was almost at the verge of collapse as a result of several things that happened. Some of the Faith Tabernacle members had backslidden into the world, and lost the power of prevailing prayer. Satan had sowed the seed of discord into the midst of their leaders through agitations on a number of religious doctrinal practices such as whether to baptize a polygamist and uphold divine healing or not. Since there was no agreement among the leaders on the practice of the above doctrines and some other issues, the unity of the group was at stake. This led to calling of a peace meeting at Oke-Ooye, Ilesha in July 1930.
Some of the leaders in attendance were Pastors David O. Odubanjo, Isaac B. Akinyele, Joseph Sadare Esinsinade, J.A. Babatope, Onasinwo, Joshua A. Medaiyese, Daniel Orekoya, and Abraham Omotoso. These leaders also invited young Prophet Joseph Ayo Babalola to attend the meeting with them. This was on his coming back from the first meeting he held with Faith Tabernacle leaders in Lagos.
The great 1930 Revival
They had 24 items on their agenda for discussion. The first that was dealt with was whether or not polygamists should be immersed in water baptism. The second was on divine healing. Having cleared issues on number one, they were on number two when they heard the cries and weeping of some people over a dead person. Prophet Joseph Babalola was moved by God to go out, and he requested the dead body to be brought to him. He prayed fervently in the name of Jesus Christ, and the dead young man rose up. The atmosphere was immediately charged with the great news. Not only did the meeting come to an abrupt end, but that miracle ushered in a new era and the 1930 revival was born. Immediately the news spread like wild fire. People began to bring their sick ones, and instant healings and miracles resulted. Over a million people all over the country witnessed the scene at Oke-Ooye in Ilesha in 1930 and a revival followed.
Many people from all walks of life came to witness the Holy Ghost revival conducted by Prophet Joseph Ayo Babalola. Nowhere else was it recorded in the history of the country that great crowds of such magnitude gathered in this nation politically or otherwise. This great evangelistic crusade attracted people from many different African countries as well as some parts of Europe.
It was the first open challenge and assault against the forces of evil since the inception of the nation called Nigeria. The gospel of Jesus Christ was preached with the full benefits- spiritually and physically as it was written in the book of Psalm 103:2-4 which says, ”Bless the Lord O my soul. And forget not all his benefits; who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from destruction, who crows you with loving kindness and tender mercies.”
As Prophet Joseph Ayo Babalola opened his mouth using the name Jesus, all the benefits outlined above in Psalm 103:2-4 were instantly given to those who were in attendance who were previously oppressed by the devil. This was very similar to the New Testament Bible records about the miracles and healings by Jesus Christ our Lord, such as in Matthew 8:16, 17. It took great courage, boldness and faith to challenge successfully the whole kingdom of Satan publicly. Millions sang the song of praise to God, publicly denouncing the names of wizards and witches, and outstanding miracles and healings were received instantly and freely.
In the afternoon, it was reported that great and plentiful dews were falling on the multitude of people waiting to receive blessing of deliverance and healings. It was also reported by Pa. Medaiyese that all the bushes around were trampled upon by the great crowd, and even the stream of Aayo nearby was dried by them.
To crown it all, it was reported that many strange heavenly beings were seen at the spot of Oke Ooye, the crusade site, and in many towns and villages, inviting people to come to Ilesha to receive blessings from the servant of the Lord. Many even thought that the world was going to an end as no one had ever witnessed such outstanding events of mighty miracles and healing before.
Hundreds of people, men and women started to identify themselves as the followers of the new prophet. Prominent among them were Messrs. Joshua Adeniran Medaiyese, Abraham Omotoso, John Oye Ajilore, Daniel Orekoya, Philip Bangbade, Emmanuel Omotunde, Peter Olatunji, J.S.B. Odusona, J.A Babatope, John B. Orogun, D.O Babajide, A.O Olutimehin, and a host of others. These people began to exercise same religious faith in their homes, towns and villages. This was the GENESIS of the explosion of the evangelistic revivals and crusaders which we are still witnessing in Nigeria till today.
Those who caught the vision from Prophet J. A. Babalola at Oke Ooye, Ilesha went back proclaiming the power of God and the use of water for healing diseases. The activities of Prophet Daniel Orekoya which included the raising up of a pregnant woman who had been dead for four days boosted the rapid spread of the gospel.
Prophet Daniel Orekoya was one of those who came to Ilesha to witness the mighty revival. He was a sexton under the defunct Faith Tabernacle group at Idi-Oro, Lagos. He was also a prophet or seer before the inception of the great Revival. Having spent some time with the Prophet Babalola, he demanded for Babalola’s prayer so that he too might be empowered for the work. After this, Babalola left him at Ilesha and went to Efon Alaaye. On his way back to Lagos, Orekoya called at Ibadan. When people saw him, they converged together asking him to pray for them. Immediately God started to perform miracles and healings. They also brought one dead woman with pregnancy. The family of the dead woman could not afford to pay for the heavy rituals needed for the burial. This was why they opted for prayer. God used Prophet Orekoya to raise up this pregnant woman previously dead for four days. Her name was Alice Abeo. Multitudes were attracted and were also saved at Ibadan.
Wherever Babalola went, all Christians, Muslims, Pagans, Obas and Chiefs usually came together to receive him. They all received the healing of Christ from him. In this way, many converts were made among the crowds who welcomed him from place to place. Without even seeing him, those who heard the news and believed the report, prayed on water and they experienced the healing. By faith you too can do the same today, and receive God’s blessing.
Most of the times, the prophet would ask the converts to go back to their different churches and worship on Sundays. But one day, God revealed one vision to him. In it he saw two persons who engaged in fishing in the sea. One of them was catching the fishing from the sea and giving them to the second man standing on the dry land. This second man standing on the land was throwing the fishes back to the sea. At the end of the day they both made nothing. Prophet Babalola said the Lord asked from him, “What profit at the end of the day did they make?” Babalola said he answered, “Nothing.” He said the Lord then told him that, that was the exact picture of what he (Babalola) was doing. That the Lord has asked him to take the people out of idolatry and diverse works of the devil; but he Babalola had been asking them to go back into the same darkness. From this time onward, Prophet Babalola instructed his converts to worship on Sundays at the revival ground. This brought about teeming converts from all over the country to where Babalola ministered. This was later on to become the Christ Apostolic Church