Simon Adeyemo Adedokun was born in Igbeti in 1921 in Aderounmu’s compound. His mother was Aina Ojo Adedokun and his father Adedokun Aderounmu. He grew up at home until he was about 20 years old. There was no school, but his uncle, Daniel Adewoyin Aderounmu, taught him at home to read and write. This same uncle had become a Christian when he went to work in another town, and he advised Simon to start attending church.
In October 1940, Simon went to Ilorin to be apprenticed to a tailor, and stayed there until he finished the training and got his freedom in April 1944. He came back to Igbeti briefly, then went to the Gold Coast (now called Ghana) for trading and tailoring. He stayed there until 1947 before coming back to Igbeti.
At this time, Simon’s heart was thirsting to know more of God and the Bible. Rev. D. O. Taylor was their pastor and every night Simon and other young men came to study the Bible with him. They were so eager for more Bible teaching that the full-time Bible School was opened in Igbeti in 1948 to help them. The course was only for one year then. In 1953, Simon studied more in English under Rev. Embree, then went to Share to the longer course and studied under Rev. D. O. Taylor. The teaching was in English, which the students were eager to learn. David Sunmonu and Paul Taiwo were also students then.
Just before going to Share, Simon got married. His wife is the daughter of the late Pastor Bolaji Methuselah (Selah) from Apado. At that time, Pastor Selah was pastoring at Babanloma. One of Simon’s friends, Mr. Peter Adeyemi (now deceased) knew her and told Simon that he had found a girl who would make him a good wife! Simon went to see her and found out that his friend had spoken the truth.
After two years at Share, Simon finished with the Standard 6 equivalent certificate in 1954. The missionaries and stationing committee knew he was ready to be a pastor, so they stationed him at Tamale, in Ghana. He and his wife spent three years there. After the first year, he saw the work was too much for him, so he asked for helpers, and Rev. J. A. Adeyemi from Share came to assist him.
In 1957 the Adedokuns came back to Nigeria and were posted to Share, were he pastored until the end of 1960. In 1961 they were sent to Ibadan to start the UMCA Orayan church. The first members were some youths from Share and Igbeti working in Ibadan. Rev. Brown had been there for a year before laying the foundation of the work.
Starting the new church in Ibadan involved many difficulties. Getting land to build a church in the midst of the city was a real problem. When the church finally found a piece of land, they found that two disputing families claimed to be the owners. The church did not know to whom they should pay the money for the land. The case went to court, and the judge decided the case in favour of one of the families. When Rev. Adedokun saw the document awarding the land to them, he paid them for the land and the church started building.
Bur the other family was not satisfied. They still wanted to claim the land and started making trouble. Rev. Adedokun reported to the Igbeti church what was happening. The Igbeti pastor, Rev. D. O. Taylor, offered to help, even if it meant paying the same price of the land to the other family as well. But the other family refused any payment and said they wanted the land itself.
Then strange things began to happen. Rev. Adedokun began to find charms and things used to cast spells lying around in the church. He threw all these things into the river that flows by the property. He knew that the angry family were trying to use juju to get rid of him and the church.
One day, a man came to the church and asked for the “prophet.” Since the church was built of wood in those days, it looked something like an Aladura church which would have a prophet, so Rev. Adedokun assumed that the man was looking for the minister in charge of the church, and told him that he was the one. Then the man began to tell his story. He said that in his youth, he had been a Christian but after starting work had left the faith. He was now known as an herbalist, and had come over twenty times to the church with charms as requested by his clients to harm the pastor, but the charms did not work. Today he had come to try again but something seemed to tell him not to do it but to go home. As he was going the same thing had told him to come and report what he had been doing to the prophet. So now he was bringing these charms to confess.
Rev. Adedokun told him, “The ‘something’ that spoke to you is Jesus Christ who sent me here and whom we serve. If you had tried to disobey him and use those charms today, you would have died or become mad. Now, I am not going to ask you who sent you but I urge you to receive Jesus Christ as your Saviour. Give your heart to Jesus.”
The man replied, “From today, my heart, my legs and feet, my whole body I give to Jesus!”
The next day was Sunday. Rev. Adedokun told the man to be there for Sunday School at 8 a.m. Before 8, the man was in the church. He stayed for the service. On Monday, he came to see Rev. Adedokun again. The people who had sent him with the charms lived near the church and they saw him talking with the pastor’s wife. They called him and she saw them rebuking him. When he came back, the wife asked him what was happening and he said “Don’t mind them.”
This man continued coming to the church for a month. Then Rev. Adedokun advised him that to grow in his Christian life, he would have to leave his herbalist work. He offered to help him find work as a gardener in Igbeti. Perhaps this frightened the man, because he did not come back to the church after that and Rev. Adedokun never saw him again. That was also the end of the spiritual attacks on the new church.
While Rev. Adedokun was at Ibadan, he got the name of a man in Ikorodu who was studying in the Light of Life Bible Correspondence courses sent out by the UMS. This man, E. A. Fabayo, was a carpenter. He did not know that the organization that sent out Light of Life courses had a church in Ibadan. When Rev. Adedokun contacted him, he started the “Light of Life” church in Ikorudu in September 1972. Today, Fabayo is an ordained pastor working at Ila-Orangun.
In January 1972 Rev. Adedokun was posted back to Igbeti. He was sent to the Olivet church to be pastor and also Principal of the Bible School. It had been closed so he reopened it in 1972. He was there for six years, until 1978, then was transferred to the Jerusalem church in Igbeti. The Southern District of UMCA was created in 1978 and Rev. Adedokun was selected to be its first Church District Superintendent. He did this for three years, until Rev. Ogunbode was elected as CDS. Because it was too much for him to still be principal of the Bible School with his work in the church and the district, Rev. Alamu was appointed to head the Bible School.
Rev. Adedokun pastored the Igbeti Jerusalem church until 1992 and retired in January 1993.
The Adedokuns have seven children, two boys and five girls. They are Chief (Mrs.) V. O. Smart, Rev. (Mrs.) E. F. Funmilayo, Architect T. O. Adedokun, Evangelist P. A. Adedokun, Evangelist (Mrs.) L. A. Olakunori, Evangelist (Miss) A. M. Adedokun, Pastor (Miss) R. A. Adedokun.
Besides their own children, the Adedokuns have helped others too. There is a girl living in their house who attends the UMCA Secondary Grammar School. She is from the Baba Sango family (Keye family) who are traditional worshippers. Rev. Adedokun had often witnessed to her father but he has still not been converted. When this girl was three days old, her father met Rev. Adedokun in the town and told him about her birth. “That will be my child, I will come and name her,” said Rev. Adedokun. He went there and gave her the name Ruth. The father began troubling Rev. Adedokun to adopt the child. He agreed to this but said he would take charge of her when she was older. He did not take charge of the child until the day of his retirement thanksgiving ceremony. At that ceremony (on 20th February 1993) Mr. Ogunkeye (Ruth’s father) announced in the church in the presence of the congregation that he had released Ruth to live with the Adedokuns and to be considered the last born of their family thenceforth. She is now known as Ruth Adedokun.
After this, Ruth’s father gave Rev. Adedokun two of his sons, one older than Ruth and one younger, for the Adedokuns to take care of. They now attend church. The Adedokuns have been able to see six of this man’s children become Christians. At Rev. Adedokun’s request, Ruth’s father has given his last born to Rev. Ojetola. Her name is Rhoda.
Although his eyesight is now poor due to old age, Rev. Adedokun has no regrets in his service for the Lord, which continues in raising young people for Christ.
Compiled by L. Fuller, October 1997 in Igbeti from an interview with Rev. Adedokun, with input by the family, November 1997.
This article is reproduced, with permission, from Faith of Our Fathers: Life Stories of Some UMCA Elders, copyright © 1999, edited by Lois Fuller, Ilorin, Kwara State, Nigeria. All rights reserved.