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Ademulegun, Johnson Alfred
1924 to 2006
Foursquare Gospel Church
Nigeria

Introduction

In 1924 another baby boy was born into the family of Mr. and Mrs. Ademulegun in the village of Laagba, about ten kilometers from Ondo town in Ondo State, Nigeria. He was named Johnson Alfred Ademulegun. There had been six children in the family before Johnson and two came after him, making a total of nine. Although his parents were peasant farmers, they were able to send him and his brothers and sisters to school. He started primary school in 1937 and did not complete Standard Six until 1945 because of absences during the earlier part of his education.

Vocation

His mother's dream was that he would proceed with his education, but this was never Ademulegun's ambition. He was more interested in making money and in finding his way to Lagos. After convincing his mother that he would further his education in Lagos (which was like traveling overseas then) he gave his native garments (dansiki and buba) to his friends and purchased a number of shirts and Khaki shorts, all to convince the old woman beyond any reasonable doubt that he was heading for the classroom upon arrival in Lagos. His imagination must have deceived him into believing that there was no poverty in Lagos. However, the first thing he saw when he arrived there by boat was laborers pushing carts and others dressed in low quality dyed textile (Teru). He was nonetheless determined to obtain the best of what the city had to offer and to cart his treasures back to his hometown.

First, Ademulegun became an apprentice photographer. After a couple of years with this photographer, he parted ways with him. He was neither satisfied nor fulfilled taking snapshots of his clients, whether indoors or outdoors. His dissatisfaction led him to pursue another profession, and for six months, he learned to cut hair. This time around, he didn't need to leave. After completing his apprenticeship, the master haircutter certified that he was competent to use both clippers and scissors by himself, and he went to work for himself. He mastered this new trade, and clients trooped into his shop at 96, Old King George Road (now Herbert Macaulay Street), in Yaba, throughout the day. It seemed that Ademulegun had found his bearings in life by taking up the haircutting profession. Within five years, he had built a house in Lagos.

Marital life

In 1953, after a few months of courtship, he married a young woman named Sabaina in 1954. On November 11, 1954, she gave birth to a boy, Oluwafemi. Two other boys were later born to the family: Ayodeji in August of 1956, and Oluwatayo, in July of 1959. About fifteen months after the birth of the last boy, the unexpected started to happen. To Ademulegun's amazement, around October 1960, his unique flower (Sabaina) started oscillating between his garden and another man's, finally deciding to go to the other man's garden. Ademulegun made frantic efforts to keep her, and did everything he could think of, including soliciting the prayers of the saints, but the flower felt that she had had enough of her former garden and needed to be planted somewhere else.

Ademulegun demonstrated exceptional love by deciding to receive his wife back if she had a change of heart, but the change of heart never occurred. He eventually had five grandchildren (Seun, Femi, Ibukun, Gbenga, and Anuoluwapo), but he remained unmarried until he died. [1]

Salvation

The sin nature in every person who has never experienced the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ brought untold dissatisfaction into the life of Ademulegun even though he was a successful barber. He had belonged to the Aladura sect, but soon realized that wearing a white robe with a yellow girdle around his waist never gave him joy. If there was one thing that was uppermost in his life, it was to be like a certain young gentleman Ademulegun had singled out among his numerous clients. Every time this customer came to his one-room apartment barbershop, Ademulegun wished that he were like him. Each time this particular customer came, he would give an evangelistic tract to his barber. This customer once asked him, "Have you been born again?" Like the biblical teacher Nicodemus (John 3:3), Ademulegun did not understand what being born again meant. He was then told that there was somebody who could remove every unwanted thing from his life just as he removed unwanted hair from people's heads. This brought about an even greater desire to be like this customer. One Sunday morning in 1955, Ademulegun decided to attend his client's church. He enjoyed the sermon delivered by Rev. J. A. Boyejo, which made him decide to come back for the evening Gospel Service. At the end of this service an invitation was made, and Ademulegun chose to surrender his life to Jesus Christ. It was joy unspeakable. This client of his was none other than the late Rev. Dr. S. O. Odunaike, the first national supervisor and the first general superintendent of the Foursquare Gospel Church in Nigeria and in the West Africa region.

Call to ministry

A year later, in 1956, Ademulegun was baptized in the Holy Ghost, having been baptized in water by immersion earlier in the same year. In 1957 he was accepted into the membership of the Foursquare Gospel Church in Nigeria. In 1964, nine years after his salvation experience, he received the call for the ministry, which led him to enroll in LIFE Bible College (now LIFE Theological Seminary), Ikorodu, for ministerial tutelage. However, before he could go to Bible College, there was one thing that was bothering him: how would he take care of his three sons? His wife had deserted him four years earlier, in 1964.

As it turned out, the Lord had spoken to Rev. Boyejo and his wife. They had been married for nine years but were still childless. The couple informed Ademulegun that they would serve as guardians to his children while he was in Bible College. It is another story, but it was during this period that the Lord dealt kindly with the household of Rev. Boyejo and gave them three sons as well! Ademulegun paid for his three-year stay at the Bible College with the proceeds from his barbershop. He graduated with flying colors and emerged as the best student in the graduating class of 1967.

Pastoral work

Due to his excellent performance in the Bible College, Ademulegun was sent to pastor the Foursquare Church in Agege in May of 1967. His first engagement was a teaching meeting that was attended by twenty adults and five children. It was on Wednesday, May 10, 1967, and his text was Neh. 4:6. The following Sunday, the attendance rose to thirty seven adults and seventy children. The Agege church had been planted in 1963, but there had been no growth until Ademulegun assumed the pastorate in that church. In June of 1967, for the first time, the church paid its pastor and also recorded the highest monthly income ever (thirty Naira, nine kobo) at the end of June 1967. Between June and August, his monthly salary was increased twice. It went from the sum of twelve Naira in June, to fourteen Naira in July, and later to sixteen Naira in August.

With the few church workers that were available, he labored and sought the face of the Lord in prayer. The Lord answered with a tremendous outpouring of the Holy Spirit. A remarkable three day revival program called "Pentecost Now or Never" was held from May 24 to 26, in 1968. This revival, which had Rev. Dr. S. O. Odunaike as the speaker, set the church on fire for more than ten years. The church began to grow and to expand in all areas.

As growth continued, the church at 2 Wilhelm Lane in Agege, Lagos, had to have its walls removed to accommodate the increase. Eventually, when the church on Wilhelm Lane could no longer accommodate the membership, Ademulegun successfully mobilized his congregation (which had previously relied on American missionaries for land procurement) to start its own building fund. By December of 1968, land for the present location of the church (93, Oniwaya Street), was acquired. On April 13, 1969, the general supervisor, Rev. Dr. S. O. Odunaike, laid the foundation of the building, and on Sunday, December 7, 1969, the church was dedicated by Rev. J. A. Boyejo. Church attendance increased, and by the time Ademulegun was leaving the Agege church in 1980, church attendance had risen from twenty-two in 1967 to over 1,700.

As the Agege church grew under Ademulegun's pastoral care, so did the southwestern division that he supervised. Four daughter churches of the Agege church, Orile-Agege, Ijaiye, Ifako, and Oko-Oba became autonomous and chartered. Under his supervision, Ikeja church planted Agidimgbi, while Orile-Agege planted Alagba. His pioneering ability continued to manifest itself when he was transferred to Ibadan in 1980 as the pastor of the church and as the supervisor of the northwest division. During his ten-year tenure in Ibadan, over eight churches were planted. These include Benin, Ado-Ekiti, Ihima, Oyo, Ondo, Akure, Ile-Ife, and Ogbomoso. As a divisional supervisor, he was always a member of the Central Executive Council (CEC) of the Foursquare Church in Nigeria. In 1990, Ademulegun returned to his hometown of Ondo on retirement from active ministry. It could be said that he retired in order to "re-fire," and he continued church planting while retired. He found one church when he returned to Ondo, a church that had been planted under his supervision. By the time of his death in 2006, the number of churches had increased to five. The sixth one was not completed, but his last words included the plea that funds should be raised at his funeral to complete the church building, and that is what happened.

His death

On June 1, 2006, sixteen years after his retirement, Johnson Alfred Ademulegun breathed his last. He had been admitted to Obafemi Awolowo Teaching Hospital (Wesley Guilds Hospital), Ilesa, Osun State, Nigeria after a brief illness at the age of eighty-two. He was given a befitting burial, as he was considered to be a hero. On Wednesday, July 19, 2006, a service of songs in his honor was held in two locations: Agege district headquarters Church in Dopemu, for all the Lagos area districts, and Ibadan district headquarters Church, Oke-Bola, for the northwest districts. On Thursday July 20, 2006, a commendation service was held in his honor at the same locations. The funeral service was held at the sports field of Holy Trinity Grammar School, Ondo, on Saturday, July 22, 2006. Over one hundred men and women gave their lives to Jesus Christ in response to the message delivered by Rev. Dr. W. A. Badejo, who was the general overseer of Foursquare Church in Nigeria at that time.

Conclusion

Johnson Alfred Ademulegun was a committed Christian and a seasoned minister of God. He was a pastor of pastors, a mentor to many, and a dedicated counselor who left no suffering home or marriage without lasting solutions. He loved souls and taught soul-winning to his members. He trained Christians to become church workers. He always said "You can't expect [the] Assemblies of God to supply you [with] workers." He was totally dedicated, passionate in service, humble in character, a soul-winner and a church planter. He endured hardship and was a good soldier of Jesus Christ who spent himself to populate the kingdom of God. Though he is now dead, his life will be remembered in the annals of the Foursquare Gospel Church in Nigeria.

Johnson M. O. Rogho


Notes:

1. This was because he believed so strongly in the Foursquare Gospel doctrine that forbids a separated spouse to remarry while the former partner is still alive


Sources:

Adeogun, E. O. A Transplant of the Vine: Forty Years of Foursquare History in Nigeria. Lagos: Foursquare Press, 1999.
Oladunjoye, F. et al. The Golden Vine. Lagos: Foursquare Press, 2005.
Program of the commendation service for Rev. J. A. Ademulegun, July 19 - 22, 2006.


This article, submitted in December 2010, was written by Johnson M. O. Rogho, PhD. candidate at the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary, Ogbomoso, under the supervision of Dr. Deji Ayegboyin and Dr. Leke Ogunewu.