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Ositelu, Josiah
1902 to 1966
Church of the Lord (Aladura)
Nigeria

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" [1]. 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 [2]. 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 [3]. 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" [4] 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 [5]. Although his blindness was later cured, he remained partially blind for the rest of his life [6]. There are many modern church prophets who allegedly received such afflictions as a consequence of their reluctance to accept the call to preach [7]. 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 [8].

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" [9]. 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) [10]
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 [11].

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 [13] 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 [15] 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 [17]. He parted with the Faith Tabernacle because the leaders could not accept the "Holy Names" which he saw in vision [18]. 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.

Northern Nigeria

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.

Eastern Nigeria

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 [20].

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 [21]. 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 [22] 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) [23].

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 [24]. 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.

Liberia

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" [25]. 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 [26]. 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.

Sierra Leone

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.

Europe

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 [27]. 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.

America

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 [29] 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.

N. C. Adiele and M. A. Akinwumi



Notes:

1. H. Turner, History of An African Independent Church - Church of the Lord (Aladura) (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1967): 35.
2. Ibid., 35.
3. Ibid., 37.
4. Ibid., 38.
5. The Holy Bible (U.K.: Thomas Nelson Publishers Ltd., 1977): Acts 9:1ff.
6. Ibid., Gal. 6:11.
7. Prophet Moses Sam A. Wobo of the Spiritual Healing Home at Ibadan claimed to have been afflicted with blindness in this way. See J. A. Omoyajowo, Your Dreams (Daystar Press 1965): 25.
8. Turner, op. cit., 40.
9. Ibid.
10. Ibid.
11. Ibid.
12. The Holy Bible, op. cit., Acts 4:19.
13. Ibid., Acts 9:30.
14. Ibid., Mark 6:4.
15. Ibid., Mark 4:31-2.
16. Turner, op. cit., 53.
17. Ibid., 53.
18. "Christianity in Modern Africa " in Tarikh, (1969) Vol. 3. No. 1: 53.
19. Turner, op. cit., 82.
20. Ibid., 87.
21. Ibid.
22. Ibid.
23. Ibid., 66.
24. Ibid., 87.
25. Ibid., 137.
26. Ibid., 157.
27. Ibid.
28. Ibid., 199.
29. Taborah is an annua1 convention to which all branches send representatives. It is held at Ogere, the headquarters of the church, and it is presided over by the primate.

For a more detailed understanding of the history of the Church of the Lord (Aladura) read:
H. Turner, History of An African Independent Church: Church of the Lord (Aladura) (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1967).
J. D. Y. Peel, Aladura: A Religious Movement among the Yoruba (Oxford: 0.U.P., 1968).
"Christianity in Modern Africa " in Tarikh, (1969) Vol. 3. No. 1.

This article was researched and written by Reverend Dr. N. C. Adiele, a Lecturer at Abia State University, and Dr. M. A. Akinwumi, Senior Staff at Ikere College of Education, as a chapter in the book Makers of the Church in Nigeria, edited by J. A. Omoyajowo (Lagos, Nigeria: CSS Bookshops Ltd., 1995), pages 151-167.


External link

Encyclopaedia Britannica (complete article): Aladura