Israel Ekundayo Aibinuomo made a great contribution to the development and growth of Baptist work in Ijesa Land. The history of the Ijesa Baptist Association of the Nigerian Baptist Convention would in fact be quite incomplete without reference to his contributions, as he was the key founder of the Ijesa Baptist Association. He was a pastor, an evangelist, and a church planter who labored to see that the Baptist Church was firmly established in Ijesa Land, a region that was predominantly known as the land of the Aladura churches (white garment churches).
Aibinuomo was born on November 16, 1929 at Isua-Akoko, Ondo State, Nigeria. His parents were also from Isua-Akoko. He received his elementary education at the Baptist Primary School in Idikan, Ibadan, in Oyo State, and later attended the Government Standard School in Owo. Aibinuomo did very well in school and was seen by all as an intelligent person. His outstanding intellectual capabilities and his prominence earned him a government appointment as a teacher immediately after he had completed his post-primary education.
Aibinuomo was an excellent and successful teacher in his hometown and was later transferred to Kabba district in Kwara State. Altogether, he taught for twelve years around Akoko South in Ondo State and in Kabba district in Kwara State. He was later promoted to be the headmaster of a school in Kwara State. Abinuomo was also successful as a family man. He was married to Christianah Ayoola Aibinuomo, and the marriage was blessed with seven children. One of his children is now a well-known Baptist pastor in Nigeria.
Conversion experience, call to the ministry, and training
While he was serving as a teacher/headmaster, Aibinuomo gave his life to Jesus in 1960. His conversion was very dramatic because many of his colleagues thought he was not in need of any Savior. After all, he was succeeding and excelling as a teacher, and he received a good appointment later as a headmaster, which was quite an honor at that time. He gave his life to Jesus in the very year that Nigeria received her independence from the British colonial masters. Aibinuomo felt that he needed freedom from the rule of the devil, so he gave his life to Jesus that same year.
In 1962, Aibinuomo received and yielded to God’s call into the ministry, to be trained as a full-time pastor. He resigned his appointment as a headmaster and entered the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary (NBTS) in Ogbomoso for his ministerial and theological training. While in training at the seminary, he pastored the Baptist Church in Lekewogbe for three full years. He graduated from NBTS with a Certificate in Theology in 1965, and received a call to serve as the pastor of First Baptist Church, Ayegunle Gbede, in Kwara State, where he served from 1965 to 1974. He served there diligently for those nine years and his impact was felt by all. In fact, he established and planted five Baptist Churches while he was at Gbede: Ilabunu, Odale, Idoyi, Ayetoro Second, and Ola.
In 1974, Aibinuomo was called to be the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Ifosan, Ilesa. This call marked the beginning of greater service and commitment in the service of God. He gave of himself sacrificially to ensure that Jesus Christ would be well known in all of Ijesa Land and that the Baptist Church would be well established in the region.
When Aibinuomo got to Ilesa, the Baptist Church was hardly known in Ijesa Land. At that time, the Baptist Church was seen as a strange church, and was called the church of the “Oyos” (those who are from another region/state). The Aladura churches, the Christ Apostolic Church, and the Methodist Church were all well established and known. Much credit is therefore due to the First Baptist Church in Ilesa, in all of the motherly roles it played, as it pioneered the growth of Baptist work and churches there under the leadership of Aibinuomo. Several men of God served at the First Baptist Church in Ilesa before Aibinuomo arrived. In 1920, during the reign of Owa Aromolaran I of Ijesaland, some natives of Ilesa who were traders and Baptists at Osogbo came home to establish a Baptist Church. The first service was held under the roof of the late Pa Agogo. Among the founders were the late Abraham Agberomade, Komolafe Lilara, Ojo Kolapo, Abraham Ogundipe, and a host of others.
Olorunfemi resumed as the pastor of the church in 1929, and left in 1932. Rev. Akindele then resumed as the pastor in 1951 and left in 1953, when Rev. G. A. Bamidele came, serving from1954 to 1966. Rev. Odetumbi arrived that same year and served until 1974. He led the church to establish a new preaching station at Ijebu Jesa, a nearby town, before the arrival of Israel Ekundayo Aibinuomo.
Aibinuomo’s arrival marked the beginning of a new era in the Baptist work in Ijesa Land. As soon as he arrived, he re-awakened the evangelistic zeal of his congregation to the Great Commission of Jesus Christ (Mt. 28:19-20). Together with D. O. Ojo, the veteran headmaster of Baptist Day School, he visited several villages and towns. He encouraged the existing churches in other towns to team up with the Baptist Church and also led his church to start Baptist Churches in other areas.
In May of 1976, Israel Ekundayo Aibinuomo called a meeting of all the churches and leaders in the Ijesa area to form what is known today as the Ijesa Baptist Association. Prior to this time, the First Baptist Church in Ilesa belonged to the Zion I Baptist Association in Osogbo. With the support of the Zion I Baptist Association, the Ijesa Baptist Association became well established under Aibinuomo’s supervision. Official approval was given to the Ijesa Baptist Association by the Nigerian Baptist Convention in April, 1982. Israel Ekundayo Aibinuomo became the first moderator of the Association, and his wife, Christianah Ayoola Aibinuomo, became the first president of the Women’s Missionary Union (WMU) of the Ijesa Baptist Association.
Aibinuomo provided strong and meaningful leadership to his church, the First Baptist Church in Ifosan, Ilesa, and also to the Ijesa Baptist Association. During his time, Baptist churches grew, developed, and spread to all the four corners of Ijesa Land. New churches were planted and existing ones were strengthened and revived. Aibinuomo was the longest serving pastor that the First Baptist Church, Ifosan, Ilesa has ever had. He was an accomplished pastor and leader under whom the church grew in all areas. He retired in 1994 after serving the Lord in the church for a period of twenty years.
His challenges in life and ministry
Aibinuomo encountered several problems and challenges during his period of service in the First Baptist Churrch, Ilesa and the Ijesa Baptist Association. On several occasions he was rejected and thrown out of homes in the course of spreading the Good News of Christ. On other occasions, he was unjustly criticized by the church, and most of all, he was poorly paid.
At his retirement, Aibinuomo had no house of his own to retire to. Unlike his colleagues, who were helped by their churches to build a house of their own, Aibinuomo had not benefited from that privilege. He received a gratuity that was less than N 40,000 [Naira] and received a pension of N 800. It was terrible that a family man who had served with his whole heart should be treated that way.
At his retirement, his children (most of whom were not working at that time), decided that an apartment should be rented [for him] in the outskirts of their home town, Isua Akoko, because funds for anything better were lacking. The place that was rented had no toilet, no water, and many other facilities were lacking. This was a difficult challenge for Aibinuomo, as he was now retired, but he endured all these things with joy. However, some years later, his children built an ultra modern house for him and his wife, bought cars with a driver [for them], and provided a very comfortable life for them in their retirement.
On May 11, 2000, Israel Ekundayo Aibinuomo fell asleep in the Lord, and answered God’s final call at age seventy-one. He was buried in his hometown following a Christian burial service that was totally devoid of traditional and fetish requirements. Widows in Isua Akoko are usually asked to go through some traditional rites as part of the burial program for their husbands, and these traditional procedures may include some fetish and unchristian activities. However, Aibinuomo’s widow did not participate in these fetish requirements, and the Christian burial that was given to him was the first of its kind at that time.
The life and ministry of Israel Ekundayo Aibinuomo was indeed a blessing to the Ijesa Baptists and, to a large extent, the Nigerian Baptist Convention. He made a great contribution to the growth and development of Baptist work in Ijesa Land. He was tolerant, hardworking, loving, forgiving, gentle, evangelistic, humble, and very peaceful. He was a good family man who invested deeply in the education of his children, and although he did not build a house, he certainly built up his children. His life and calling had a great impact on the call and ministry of one of his children, Rev. Dr. T. Olu Aibinuomo, who is also a successful and fulfilled man of God today.
Oluremi Adebayo Ademuyiwa
Aibinuomo, Timothy Olugbemi, “The History and Challenges of Ijesa Baptist Association,” Degree essay, NBTS Ogbomoso, 1991.
Interview by author, Ogbomoso minister’s conference, 2009.
Interview by author, diaconate of the First Baptist Church, Ilesa, 2009.
Ijesa Baptist diary and log book, May 1976.
Itan Ijo Onitebomi Kinni, Ifosan Street, Ilesa fun Ogota Odun (1923-1983).
This story, received in 2010, was written and researched by Oluremi Adebayo Ademuyiwa, PhD. candidate at the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary, Ogbomoso, under the supervision of Dr. Deji Aiyegboyin and Dr. Michael Ogunewu.