Bada, Alexander Abiodun Adebayo
Alexander Abiodun Adebayo Bada was the second leader of the Celestial Church of Christ Worldwide (CCC). He was appointed head of the church after the death of the first pastor and founder Samuel Bilewu Joseph Oschoffa. Although Bada’s appointment was somewhat controversial, he led the church as pastor and supreme head from his appointment, barely three months after Oschoffa’s death in September 1985, until his death on September 8, 2000.
Bada was born in Lagos on December 4, 1930. His parents were Chief Benjamin Omotona Bada and Janet Abebi Bada. Both came from Ogun State, Nigeria, but while his father was from Abeokuta, the capital city of the state, his mother came from Ijebu-Ode, another large city in the state. She was of the Oriola family, Isokun, Ijebu-Ode. Bada’s father was the the baale (paramount head) of Ago-Oba, his own area of Abeokuta, and a former president of the Ikeja customary court in Lagos.
Bada’s father was also the organist of the African Church, Ereko-Lagos, so Bada was born into the African Church. He grew up in the denomination and remained an active member until he joined the CCC between 1951 and 1952. His mother, who was born and raised in a Muslim family, was converted into Christianity upon marriage. She later became a Lace superior elder sister and the matron-general of the CCC.
Bada received his elementary education at Saint John’s School, Iloro, Ilesha from 1936 to 1942. His secondary education was at Ilesha Grammar School from 1943 to 1949, and there he obtained the Senior Cambridge School Certificate. Upon leaving school in 1950 Bada worked with Nigerian Breweries Limited and attained the position of supervisor in the Stock Control Department in 1952.
Bada was with the company until October 1952, when he formally joined the CCC through the influence of Superior Evangelist S. O. Ajanlekoko. He thus became one of the earliest local converts of the CCC. Right from its inception the CCC had its base at Makoko, a suburb of Lagos. According to Bada, the temporary place of worship that they used at that time was an open sandy area surrounded by palm fronds. Even in such an informal setting, Bada claimed to have witnessed a miracle on his first day at the church, and this had great spiritual implications for his life.
Almost immediately Bada became a full-time church worker and a dedicated member of the movement. He was constantly led by the spirit of God, and this was noticed everywhere he went. The pastor and founder of the church, Rev. Oschoffa, anointed him a senior elder in 1954, and in 1955 promoted him to the rank of leader – Asiwaju in Yoruba; Bada was sometimes called Asiwaju. He rose to the rank of senior leader on December 25, 1960, and was ordained at the annual CCC ceremony held at the Porto-Novo beach. Bada was later named a superior senior leader.
In 1964 Bada was ordained an evangelist; this was a day to be remembered within the CCC circle, as a sign accompanied this anointing. Before the ceremony Pastor Oschoffa was greatly moved by the Spirit. In the presence of the congregation he requested that a sign be given by God to confirm the anointing. His prayer was answered when the heavens opened and dew fell upon the area. Such an occurrence has not been witnessed at any other anointing service.
Bada became a senior evangelist on December 24, 1972, and on December 25, 1980, Pastor Oschoffa appointed him the first, and only, supreme evangelist of the CCC. Bada was the first to attain this position during Oschoffa’s lifetime, and it made him the second highest-ranking official after Oschoffa, who usually referred to him as Ekejimi, a Yoruba term meaning either “my friend,” or “second in rank to me.”
Leadership of CCC
The sudden death of Pastor Oschoffa on September 10, 1985 was followed by multiple claims from his followers for the succession to his office. This led to a protracted legal conflict between the various claimants which lasted for many years. Researchers blamed this ugly experience on Oschoffa’s inability to meet the constitutional provisions on leadership succession prior to his death. However, there were reports of spiritual messages both from within and outside the church after Oschoffa’s death that favored the appointment of Bada.
Therefore, barely three months after Oschoffa’s death, the board of trustees took the initiative to fill the leadership vacuum. Bada was appointed the pastor and supreme head of CCC Worldwide, and the announcement was made at the annual convocation of the church, held at the “Celestial City,” Imeko, Ogun State, Nigeria on December 25, 1985. He was formally installed and enthroned two years later, on December 25, 1987, at Imeko City.
When the mantle of leadership fell on Bada, a new era started in the CCC. He initiated a series of reforms which led to the development of the church in many areas. The administration was decentralized by creating diocesan, state, territorial, district, and zonal headquarters to facilitate coordination of activities in the rapidly expanding movement. The number of dioceses in Africa grew to five: Nigeria, Republic of Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Congo, and Ghana. The overseas diocese grew to encompass France, central Europe, the U.K., Ireland, the U.S.A., and Canada. By the order of the pastor-in-council, a task force was formed in each district to monitor and manage activities of shepherds and members. This decentralization of the administration helped to bridge the gap between the central authority and the world-wide parishes. Bada established the rank of most senior evangelist as an addition to the already existing head leadership roles. This became the third-highest rank in the hierarchical order, after the positions of pastor and superior evangelist.
Press reform was also begun during his tenure. In June 1986 Bada inaugurated the CCC Press Council, which was charged with the responsibilities of protecting, promoting, and projecting the image and interests of the church. It served as a watchdog for the church and helped to bridge the gap between it and other religious bodies on the one hand, and the society at large on the other.
The CCC Press Council also explored the use of magazines, newspapers, periodicals, tracts, and audio-visual materials for the church. In the process, many publications were developed, and these functioned as the official means of communication for the church. These included: Celestial News, the Voice of Cele, Irohin Cele Magazine, and the Pastoral Bulletin, which was designed specifically to inform members of the CCC worldwide on pastoral activities and proclamations. Individuals within the church were also encouraged to establish private religious newspapers and magazines for the propagation of the faith. This gave rise to such independent publications as the Celestial Victory, the Celestial Standard, the Armour of Light, the Heritage, Halleluyah, Christ Castle the Angel Voice, Celestial Grace, and Luli Voice. These were published in both the Nigerian and overseas parishes of the church.
Under Bada’s leadership, great advancement in theological education was made in the CCC. During his lifetime, Oschoffa had maintained a negative posture towards theological education because he did not see it as a source of spiritual growth or enlightenment for his followers. He often defended this standpoint by saying that God had looked past educated people and chose him, who could not read, to become “the messenger to the world.” In contrast, Bada made a concerted effort to improve the theological education of leaders and members alike.
Bada’s first attempt at establishing a seminary for the church was not completely successful. The school, Oschoffa Memorial Seminary School, was started in Ketu in 1986, but was closed down due to inefficient administration. However, the second attempt, which came in 1991, was a great success. This gave birth to the CCC Seminary, Leadership Training Center, and Sunday School. The activities of these institutions, coupled with that of the Central Bible Fellowship and the CCC Bible Institute, helped to increase theological education in the church. To complement the activities of these institutions, a bookshop was established in 1991 in order to make CCC materials and other Christian literature available to interested members.
Evangelism and Revival
Bada also intensified the evangelistic efforts of the church. During Oschoffa’s tenure, the pastor-founder was solely responsible for holding revival services and mass evangelism meetings. Bada decentralized this authority, and spread it out among the respective heads at zonal, district, state, and national levels. He introduced the Pastoral Revival Program, and in 1991 inaugurated the Lagos State Evangelical Committee (LASEC). These led to a rise in revival and evangelistic services, which in turn resulted in more conversions and an increase in church membership.
Bada’s increased efforts for revival and evangelism was not confined to Nigeria but also extended to the overseas parishes through his annual pastoral tours. While Oschoffa never visited any of the parishes outside West Africa, Bada made a point to visit them on an annual basis. From May 9 to July 8, 1987, Bada visited the U.K., Germany, France, Austria, and the U.S.A. These trips gave him first-hand knowledge of the problems of the parishes in the different parts of the world so he was better able to assist them.
The utilization of the electronic media for evangelistic purposes was already a part of the CCC life during Oschoffa’s time, and Bada continued and expanded this use of media. The church bought radio and television airtime from local media houses; this enabled the church to have regular religious programs on air. The new technology helped to bridge the communication gap between the various branches of the church as well as with the outside world. It served as a way to educate members and non-members about the church, functioned as a strategy for evangelization and teaching, and ultimately assisted the church in its outreach activities, helping to recruit new members into the church.
As under Oschoffa, miraculous events were reported to have characterized Bada’s leadership of the CCC. Members and non-members testified to their belief in Bada as a charismatic leader with spiritual power. Bada himself claimed that after he was appointed successor to the pastor-founder, his standing was given a divine seal of approval by God through spiritual revelations. But he still declined to take the post right away, as had been planned by the authorities of the church. Bada strongly desired practical signs from God as proof that his appointment was God’s will. Moreover, he wanted signs to clarify to all that the power that God had given to Oschoffa had equally been given to him. He saw this sign of divine approval at a large revival held inside the main bowl of the national stadium in 1986. During the course of the revival, the Lord enabled him to perform miraculous works of divine healing.
There were also accounts of miracles according to members, non-members, and the church’s official records. Miraculous healings of various types were recorded at many of the Bada-led revival, evangelistic, and worship services. At a seven-day revival service held in October 1990 to commemorate the five-year anniversary of the transition of leadership from Oschoffa to Bada, an asthmatic patient who was brought into the revival venue half dead was healed. She walked away on her own after testifying to the crowd about her miraculous healing. The sight of a blind woman was restored at an adult harvest thanksgiving service held on October 24, 1993 at the Ijeshatedo Parish IV of the church in Lagos-Nigeria. Another woman claimed to have given birth to a child after eighteen years of barrenness after receiving prayer from Bada. Other accounts of miraculous healings included that of a young man named Sunday who was brought to Bada from the hospital after the doctors tried unsuccessfully to help him. When he was brought into the church, offensive-smelling fluid was gushing out of his body, but God healed him. Many other accounts of miraculous healings were typical of Bada’s leadership both at home and abroad. However, in all cases, Bada attributed the healings to God rather than to his own power. These testimonies served to bolster the people’s belief in Bada as a charismatic leader endowed with spiritual healing power like Oschoffa.
Bada’s appointment as head of the CCC was not accepted by all segments of the church. However, to some leaders of the church, his tenure witnessed great theological advancements, notable administrative reforms, and the intensification of evangelization and spiritual revivals. He was a man who believed in freedom of worship and valued spiritual talent in others; he allowed such talents to be put into practice so long as they didn’t conflict with the CCC’s doctrines. This endeared him to many within the leadership circle and was of spiritual benefit to the CCC worldwide. Under Bada’s leadership the CCC grew in numbers, spread across the world, and witnessed miracles.
Bada died in Greenwich Hospital, London, on Friday, September 8, 2000, after a brief illness at the age of 70, having led the church for fifteen years.
Michael Leke Ogunewu
Afeosemime U. Adogame, Celestial Church of Christ: The Politics of Cultural Identity in a West African Prophetic-Charismatic Movement (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang GmbH, 1999).
Biography of Rev. Alexandra Abiodun Bada, http://www.ilegrams.org/prominent.asp?idm=41 (accessed April 16, 2009).
This article, received in 2009, was researched and written by Dr. Michael Leke Ogunewu under the supervision of Rev. Dr. Deji Ayegboyin, DACB liaison coordinator.