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Isaiah Sakpo

Sakpo, Isaiah Ghele
1912 to 1993
The Apostolic Church
Nigeria

Isaiah Ghele Sakpo was born into an Anglican family at Uzere in Isoko Local Government Area in the present Delta State of Nigeria on October 12, 1912. His father was Papa Daniel Akpakakpa Osakpo and his mother was Mama Pricilla Amafeto Osakpo. Papa Daniel Osakpo was instrumental in the introduction of christianity to the Uzere community through the Anglican Church at a time when when idol worship and paganism was prevalent in Africa. He was opposed, to the point of persecution, by people in his community, for daring to introduce christianity. It might be said that the Lord blessed him for his perseverance by providing him with a son like I. G. Sakpo, who grew up to achieve even more than his father.

Sakpo started his education at the age of eight at the Anglican School Uzere in 1920. He moved to Warri to attend government school from 1925 to 1926, and then on to Abonnema to continue his studies at the government school in 1927. From 1928 to 1930 he was in Lagos, completing his education at St. Peter's Faji Primary School. He obtained his Government Class Two (middle) in 1930. He further distinguished himself among his peers by obtaining certificates in typewriting, stenography and English. Between 1936 and 1940 he attended the International Bible School Pennygroes in the United Kingdom for his theological training. Having distinguished himself academically, it was easy for Sakpo to get a job in one of the best establishments of the time. He was employed as a clerk then as a confidential secretary in the civil service at the Old Government Secretariat in Lagos from 1945 to 1949.

Sakpo married Miss Comfort Titilola Bajomo on April 1, 1948. Mrs. Sakpo later became a deaconess in the church and served for many years as the headmistress of the Apostolic Primary School Ebute-Metta. After retiring from teaching in 1969, Mrs. Sakpo became involved in full-time ministry.

In 1927 Sakpo made a decision to follow the Lord at the Faith Tabernacle Church (FTC) in Lagos. There he formed a friendship with Pastor Samuel Gbadebo Adegboyega--later the first LAWNA (Lagos, West and Northern Areas) Territorial Chairman--who became his spiritual mentor. From 1927 to 1931 he attended a series of Bible teachings on the baptism of the Holy Spirit under Pastor D. O. Odubanjo, who was the missionary secretary of Faith Tabernacle Church, Nigeria.

One Friday night in 1930, during a revival meeting conducted by Odubanjo, Sakpo received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Being the first in the church to have this baptism, he became the first fruit of the pentecostal experience of the FTC, Nigeria. After this event, Sakpo felt God's call to go into full-time ministry, and the Faith Home of the FTC at 24, Orogiri Street on Lagos Island, became his base for ministry for some time. There Sakpo made prophesies, performed healings, and led revival meetings. A series of miracles were recorded at the Faith Home during this time. Sakpo exercised the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit and combined in his ministry the five offices known in the Apostolic Church as "the five gifts of the ascended Christ," namely, apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher.

As a full-time minister, he often traveled with Odubanjo to visit churches in the countryside. He also exercised the gift of prophecy under various ministers in churches across the nation. In 1933 Sakpo was formally ordained a pastor and the first prophet of the Faith Tabernacle Church in Nigeria in a service presided over by the first resident missionaries, Pastors George Perfect and Idris J. Vaughan, as well as other African apostles. From then on Sakpo functioned as an ordained prophet in the church and in various church council meetings across Nigeria, in other West African countries, and overseas.

When Pastor S. G. Adegboyega was installed as the first LAWNA territorial chairman in 1972, Sakpo was called to be the Lagos area superintendent, thus becoming the second African superintendent of Lagos area, a position he combined with his prophetic office. In 1975 he was ordained an apostle, and in 1978 he became acting chairman of the Apostolic Church, LAWNA Territory. When Pastor S. G. Adegboyega passed away in 1979, Sakpo was inducted as the second chairman of the Apostolic Church, LAWNA Territory during the LAWNA Territorial Convention of August 1980. In 1981 he was made the first vice president of the Apostolic Church Nigeria. He held these two positions until he passed away in 1993.

His Prophetic Ministry

Sakpo's greatest area of ministry in the church was the prophetic ministry. His most notable prophecy helped the FTC leadership in Nigeria come to a decision at a crucial time on whether or not to allow missionaries of the British Apostolic Church to come to Nigeria.

In 1918 a prayer group by the name of Precious Stone--or Diamond--Society formed in Ijebu-Ode, in the present Ogun State of Nigeria, later becoming affiliated with the Faith Tabernacle Church of America and adopting its name. The group severed its relationship with Faith Tabernacle Church of America after a conflict, when the Americans turned down their request for missionaries. A move was initiated in 1931 to affiliate with the British Apostolic Church (BAC). However, doubts set in, and the Nigerian side was confused as to whether to continue with the move or not. In the midst of the uncertainty, they withdrew their invitation to the British group and called a pastors' conference at Ijebu-Ode in order to find a solution to the problem. As a final decision was being reached, Sakpo, who was not at the meeting, felt led to come from the mission house where he was staying to the church where the conference was being held. After being invited in he gave a prophecy. He said that the decision to invite the BAC missionaries was the will of God and therefore should be upheld. [1]

Another prophecy Sakpo gave concerned his death. In 1982 Sakpo fell ill and was cared for by the church. After his recovery, he thanked the LAWNA Territorial administrative secretary Pastor S. S. Jemigbon for the care he received, and told him there was no cause at all for alarm with regards to his death, because the Lord told him that he would give him ten more years to live. In fulfillment of this prophecy, he lived for ten years.

As a prophet, he was considered the embodiment of the "voice of God" and his whole life was built around this gift. From 1940 until his death, the church's annual statement of vision was received through his prophetic ministry. On the first day of every year, the church would wait upon God in expectation of what He had to say to them through Sakpo's prophecies.

Pilgrimage to Jerusalem

Sakpo led groups of Apostolic Church members on pilgrimage trips to the Holy Land in 1953, 1977, 1983, and 1984. The 1983 pilgrimage was unique because the first Apostolic World Convention was held in Jerusalem in September of that year. As vice president of the Apostolic Church in Nigeria, Sakpo led the LAWNA Territorial contingent of about 250 delegates. Immediately after the convention, leaders of the Apostolic Church from all nations of the world were involved in the third World Apostolic Conference. Other members included: Pastors A. M. O. Oshinowo, Z. A. Alabi, S. A Oduntan, T. D. O. Ayunke and A. A. Akinde. At the conference, Sakpo was asked to deliver a special address on "Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage." Afterward there were many requests for the address, so it was published as a booklet.

Evangelism, Spiritual Revival, and Ecumenism

Sakpo was a great promoter of evangelism and spiritual revivals. In one of his publications, The Revival We Need, he emphasized the necessity for spiritual revival in the church. He also advocated sound doctrinal teaching, spiritual growth, and prudent administrative principles, which he felt were as important as physical healing, miracles and the need for material possession. Sakpo taught that while miracles and blessings are needed to make converts to the church, spiritual revivals and sound teaching are needed to make and keep citizens of heaven. It was his practice to follow up miracle revival services with Bible teachings. One of his contributions to the Apostolic Church of Nigeria while he was head of LAWNA was the child evangelism movement, which he began in 1987.

Sakpo played a role in the founding of ecumenical groups the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN). On August 27, 1976, Sakpo was part of a gathering of church leaders that led to the founding of the CAN. He was one of the CAN trustees and was instrumental to the founding of the Lagos chapter of the association.

A Prolific Writer

As a prolific writer and Bible exponent, Sakpo often made his past teachings available in permanent forms. His tenure witnessed a rise in literary activity in the territory, as he developed the literature ministry. He was the first editor of the church newsletter, The Weekly Herald of His Doing.

A defender of the doctrines of the Apostolic Church, he wrote in simple language that could be understood by both the clergy and laity, developing what can best be described as an expansion of the "Principles and Practices of the Apostolic Church." He initiated and promoted a collection of books published by the church called "The Apostolic Book Series," that are read not only by members of the Apostolic Church, but also by the wider Christian communities. At his demise he had to his credit eighteen such titles in print and five in manuscript form, some of which are: Wrestling Alone with God, A Call to Pastoral Ministry, and The Revival We Need. [2]

Apart from taking time to write, he urged the literature team of the church to make written material available to people and to encourage members to read. He made every effort to see that books were available at all times and sold at affordable prices, often through subsidy from his private purse. Many of the church's periodicals came into being through his efforts, including: The Voice of God (1984), Wonderful Doings of God (1986), Church News and Magazines (1989), and Monthly Missionary News (1991).

Contribution to Education

Sakpo contributed to the development of education in the Apostolic Church of Nigeria. He was a co-founder of the Apostolic Church Primary School in 1955 and the Apostolic Church Grammar School, Orishigun, in 1964, which were the first educational institutions of the Apostolic Church in Nigeria. These opened the way for other schools later established by the church, including the Apostolic Church secondary schools in Modakeke and Ogbomosho.

Sakpo was also instrumental to the establishment of the Apostolic Church Teachers' Training College and the LAWNA Territorial Bible College, both in Ilesha. He was committed to seeing the accreditation of the Bible College, and he worked hard to help the authority to attain this goal. Sakpo wanted the college to be one of the finest in the world, and the students to attain spiritual, academic, and moral excellence so that they could be good ambassadors of the church wherever they went. He saw that financial assistance and grants to these institutions were given promptly. Sakpo's books were used by students in many courses and contributed to their understanding of the vision of the Apostolic Church.

Sakpo played a prominent role in the birth of the Apostolic Church Students' Fellowship of Nigeria (TACSFON) in 1978, and helped guide it to maturity. He identified himself with this movement, often saying, "I am also a TACSFONITE, because I am a student of the Bible," emphasizing that anybody who was still studying the Bible was an eligible member of TACSFON.

Contributions to the Growth and Expansion of LAWNA

As LAWNA chairman in charge of the churches in the southwest and northern areas of Nigeria Sakpo inherited thirteen areas from the first LAWNA chairman, Pastor S. G. Adegboyega. During his tenure as chairman, the church witnessed great expansion both in the quantity and quality of its assemblies. Additional local assemblies were established, and more sections, districts, and areas were created for administrative ease. By the time he left office, the thirteen areas he inherited had increased to thirty-six.

Missionary fields were also established in Africa and the Western world during his tenure as the head of LAWNA. He inherited three fields--the Republic of Sierra Leone, Togo, and Benin,--and added another three--the United Republic of Tanzania, the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire, and the United States of America. On Sunday, August 1, 1982, he inaugurated the Apostolic Church LAWNA Evangelical Defense Force (TACLEDEF), a movement in the church whose task was to promote and mobilize members for evangelism, prayer, and other spiritual activities.

In August 1957, Sakpo received a prophecy about the building of a national temple for the Apostolic Church Nigeria. The foundation-laying ceremony for the project took place during his leadership of LAWNA.

Conclusion

The achievements and contributions of Sakpo to the development of the Apostolic Church in Nigeria are remarkable. He served the church in one capacity or another for sixty-six years, from the time he joined in 1927 to his death in 1993. His predecessor, Pastor S. G. Adegboyega, described him as an example of humility. He was never seen to covet wealth, nor to amass material possessions, and remained in the same house where he had lived as a young minister, even when he became the territorial chairman and first national vice president of the Apostolic Church. He devoted his person, gifts, and even his family to the Word of the Lord and its administration, teaching, and application. He guarded the Apostolic vision through diplomacy, personal and congregational discipline, prayers, and generosity. On August 2, 1993, at 12:25 pm, during the LAWNA convention, he was called home to be with the Lord.

Michael Leke Ogunewu


Notes:

1. Pastor Adegboyega, on pages 40-44 of his book A Short History of The Apostolic Church in Nigeria, gave the account of this prophecy as follows:
I cannot but state here that before the arrival of the European delegates, there were persistent rumors disseminating from strong quarters in Lagos, Nigeria, that The Apostolic Church of Great Britain did not accept and practice the doctrine of Divine Healing without the use of medicine; a doctrine which we members of Faith Tabernacle congregation in Nigeria warmly embraced, taught and practiced since 1918.

This was responsible for a division of opinions in our midst as regards the coming of the delegates. Great fears and doubts were created in the minds of people that if we would allow them to come, they would send us back to idolatry. This consequently led to our sending a cablegram to the Church Missionary Council in United Kingdom, canceling the invitation already sent to them. It was also one of the main reasons responsible for the holding of a Pastor's Conference at Ijebu-Ode, in order to find solution to the problem. And we were indeed grateful to God who gave us a sigh of relief by his sovereign will through prophetical ministry and thereby resolving what could have led to a major crisis at that time when we were at the cross-roads.

Before the conference of church leaders at Ijebu-Ode, Pastor I. G. Sakpo had already been staying and working with Late Pastor J. B. Esinsinade with Mrs J. L. Ajayi (née Sophy Odunlami). . . As the leaders were taking the final decision to send a cablegram to the U. K. canceling the visit of the Apostolic Church delegates from Great Britain, the Spirit of the Lord moved Pastor I. G. Sakpo, who was not present in the meeting, to come all the way from 24 Abasi Street, Ijebu-Ode, where he was staying in the Mission house, to the church at 19, Alapo Street, Ijebu-Ode where the conference was being held. He humbly stood at the gate when the chairman beckoned to him to come in. As soon as he came in, he began to prophesy. Here comes the sovereignty of the Lord our God.

Amongst many things said by the Prophet, the Lord revealed that they were debating a matter concerning the coming of His servants from overseas and that they should cast out their fears and doubt because it was the perfect will of the Lord for them to come to Nigeria for a purpose. That it was He the Lord who had commissioned them to come. That whether they like it or not, they were coming and that He the Lord was going to use them mightily for the gospel work in the land, and that many would be the blessing of deliverance, salvation, healing etcetera. That if they refused to welcome them, He would raise up other people who would accept them and the glory and blessing would not be their own.

The prophetical ministry was so clear, inspiring, and convincing that late Pastor Odubanjo was so fast that he took it down word for word, a copy of which was in the archives of the church under his care at that time and copies distributed to the Church Leaders who attended the conference.

After his (I. G. Sakpo's) departure late Pastor D. O. Odubanjo said, "Here you are, the Lord has spoken to us, here you are, we must allow them to come." As a result of divine intervention the leaders took another decision to allow them to come, even though a cablegram had already been sent to the United Kingdom telling them, "DON'T COME FOR YOU DON'T BELIEVE IN DIVINE HEALING." But surprisingly, in confirmation of the spoken word of the Lord, a reply cablegram was received from the Apostolic Church in the United Kingdom, saying, "WE ARE COMING, DIVINE HEALING A THING MOST SURELY BELIEVED ACCORDING TO ST. LUKE GOSPEL CHAPTER 9 VERSE 1. Here we can see the necessity and importance of prophetical ministry in the church government which is invaluable and profitable.

In view of the reply cablegram we were all satisfied and convinced that the coming of the Apostolic Church delegates from the United Kingdom to Nigeria was the perfect will of God to which we all gave our unanimous blessing in compliance with the spoken word of the Lord.
2. More works by Sakpo:
Living a Continuing Life in Christ
The Survival of LAWNAISM
Christian Expected Attitude towards Witches and Wizards
Position of Deacon and Deaconess in the Church
Jesus Christ, Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage
The Voice of the Lord through Prophetical Ministry
Have you the mind of Christ? Part One
Have you the mind of Christ? Part Two
Jesus Still Heals Today
Prayer and Fasting
Evils of Rebellion
What the Church of God Is
Doctrine of Christ


The five in manuscript form are: "The Lord of Hosts," "What The Apostolic Church Stands For," "Qualifications of the Evangelist and His Work," "Female Characters in the Bible," and "In Defense of Divine Healing."

Sources:

Adegboyega, S. G. Short History of The Apostolic Church in Nigeria. Ibadan: Rosprint Industrial Press Ltd., 1978.
Apostolic Church. Biography of Pastor Isaiah Ghele Sakpo. Lagos: LAWNA Literature Committee, 1993.
Ayegboyin, D. and Ishola, S. A. African Indigenous Churches, An Historical Perspective. Lagos: Greater Heights Publications, 1997.
Fatokun, S. A. "The Apostolic Church Nigeria: The 'Metamorphosis' of an African Indigenous Prophetic-Healing Movement into a Classical Pentecostal Denomination." Orita, Ibadan Journal of Religious Studies 38 (June and December 2006): 61-62.
Jemigbon, S. S. The Apostolic Church at Seventy, The Vision: The Mission. Lagos: LAWNA Literature Committee, 2001.

Works by I. G. Sakpo:
Jesus Christ: Why He was Born, Why He Died, Why He Rose, Why He Ascended, Apostolic Book Series (Lagos: Apostolic Church, LAWNA Literature Dept., 1984).
Christians' Expected Attitude Towards Witches, Wizards, and Other Powers of Darkness, Apostolic Book Series (Lagos: Apostolic Church, LAWNA Literature Dept., 1986).
Position of Elders in the Church, Apostolic Book Series (Lagos: Apostolic Church, LAWNA Literature Dept., 1985).

The following do not have publication information:
A Call to Pastoral Ministry
Doctrine of Christ
Evils of Rebellion
Have you the mind of Christ? Part One
Have you the mind of Christ? Part Two
Jesus Christ, Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage
Jesus Still Heals Today
Living a Continuing Life in Christ
Position of Deacon and Deaconess in the Church
Prayer and Fasting
The Revival We Need
The Survival of LAWNAISM
The Voice of the Lord through Prophetical Ministry
What the Church of God Is
Wrestling Alone with God

This article, received in 2009, was researched and written by Michael Leke Ogunewu, a Ph.D candidate at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, under the supervision of Rev. Dr. Deji Ayegboyin, DACB liaison coordinator.