Michael Adeniyi Bamidele was a former police officer who was miraculously converted to the Christian faith. This is a remarkable development in a country where the police force has a reputation for being rife with corruption. Through his enthusiastic involvement in evangelism he earned the title “Apostle of Evangelism” and became the first general overseer of the Christ Healing Evangelical Church (Worldwide), with its headquarters in Lagos, Nigeria, and branches in Ireland and the United States of America. He was also the founder and president of the Comprehensive Institute of Christian Theology (COINOCT), Nigeria, a Bible college that has been instrumental to the training of many prominent ministers of the gospel in Nigeria.
Michael Adeniyi Bamidele was born in 1929 to Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Bamidele at Ayede-Ekiti, Ekiti State, Nigeria. He received his primary school education at St. Peter’s Anglican Primary School, Ayede-Ekiti. Beyond this, the rest of his education was gained informally through personal efforts, as most of his studies were done from home. However, he was gifted with a quick intellect, and this enabled him to pass all his examinations, both local and foreign.
Determined to succeed in life, Bamidele went into private business early in life, after which he joined the Nigerian police force in 1953. After enlisting he was posted as a police orderly to the security detail of Dr. M. A. Majekodunmi, the Minister of Health, in the first civilian administration in the country. Bamidele had this post for five years before a military coup overthrew the government.
After the change of government, Bamidele resigned from the police force to become the personal assistant to Dr. Majekodunmi, who became the chairman of St. Nicholas Hospital, Lagos. Later Bamidele went into private business again, but the business collapsed in 1969 as a result of his licentious lifestyle. The problems he was having were so dire and unbearable that he felt like committing suicide. However, he said, “I was not bold enough to do so.”
Early in 1970, in an effort to find financial stability, he and his family moved to Ibadan from Lagos. In Ibadan Primate Akamo secured a flat for Bamidele and bought him a car so that he could start over again. Rather than things changing for the better, though, they grew worse.
His Conversion and Call to the Ministry
Bamidele told the story of his dramatic conversion experience, which took place in 1972:
My conversion was dramatic. I was millions of miles away from the gospel. (…) I had a lofty dream and a tall ambition. I wanted to make as much money as any young man could make in those days. I wanted the best of the world and I was prepared to give whatever it took to be a high flyer. The sky was the limit; if possible, I wanted to fly beyond the sky.
One night, I went to bed thinking of my plans for the days and weeks ahead. Money was coming in from different directions, and the money I was making went to my head. I was a smoker and a heavy drinker. But just when I thought I was having a nice time, the Lord jolted me out of complacency when a man of God stated that I was going to become a servant of God. I laughed off the prophecy, saying, “Even if God is blind he could never call me into the ministry.” I went even further, saying, “Even if God was a human being he would never allow me entry into the church.” Nevertheless, these clever statements soon crumbled like a pile of cards. My sinister lifestyle led me into bankruptcy. When things became unbearable financially I had to leave Lagos for Ibadan. But on the fateful night of April 23, 1972, I dreamed and saw myself in a thick forest where an old man wearing a white garment came to me. He held my hand and I followed Him. He led me out of the forest to the paved road. When I came out he gave me a Bible and a bell and then He left me. By the next morning I had become a different man.
I went to another man of God who prayed with me. This man gave me a strange revelation. He said he saw me in the midst of a flock of sheep. The striking thing about the vision is that I was the shepherd. When I could not figure any meaning out of my strange encounter with the Lord, I decided to share my experience with my wife. Her response was equally surprising. She simply told me to relocate to my country home and take up the profession of a shepherd. If all I wanted was another profession, there were plenty of sheep in my place of birth. We had a good time laughing until our heads began to ache.
Eventually, I decided to forget about the strange revelation. However God was not yet done with me. After a few weeks He gave me another revelation along the same lines. This time around, though, it was more definitive. I saw myself putting on the garb of a preacher, and I knew God was definitely calling me to be a minister of the gospel. But I could not reconcile my former paramilitary profession with the calling of a soul winner.
One thing I was not quite ready to do was to call it quits with my lucrative business and take up the arduous task of leading souls to Christ. The more I ruminated on the call of God, the more convinced I became. I consulted a man of God who told me that mine was an unavoidable calling. The burden was so heavy on my heart that I finally raised up my hands to God in absolute surrender. I made an irreversible decision and I told God, “Come rain or sunshine, I will not only get to heaven, I will take as many souls as possible along with me.” The die was cast; the decision was made. That was how I became a preacher of the everlasting gospel.
The Emergence of Christ Healing Evangelical Church (Worldwide)
After Bamidele’s spectacular conversion, everything about him changed drastically for the better. He was baptized in the Holy Spirit and became a member of Christ Healing Church Aladura in Ibadan. Upon his return to Lagos from Ibadan in 1972, the Lagos branch of the church was experiencing a crisis, as all its old members had left the church. Bamidele became instrumental in the effort to put the church back together. On August 28 of that year, the federal military government dealt a blow to the church when it ordered the demolition of all structures at its Lagos Beach location. This brought an end to the group’s first attempt to have a branch in Lagos.
The church’s second attempt to establish itself in Lagos emerged under the pioneering effort of Bamidele in September of 1972. Soon after his conversion, Bamidele started the Lagos church in his apartment. Within a very short time the apartment was overflowing with people. A neighbor who was fascinated by what God was doing offered his flat for more space. Surprisingly, that flat also filled up quickly. The rise in membership led the church to the site that now serves as its international headquarters at Ketu, Lagos, Nigeria. A wooden structure was erected there in the midst of the bush.
Just as they were rejoicing, though, stiff opposition and persecution erupted from a local group of traditional worshippers, who decided to build a shrine inside the compound of the church. The strategy of this group was to scare the members of the church away in order to take away the land, but the Lord assured the church of his presence through the words of a prophecy: “My children do not worry; the land belongs to you. Even if a thousand demons descend from the pit of hell they cannot take the land away from you.”
The presence of this group continued to have a psychological effect on the church, though, as they kept placing all kinds of charms and animal sacrifices on the property. There were even indications of spiritual attack on Bamidele. However, God was with his servant and the church and nothing came of the evil charms. The matter eventually became a court case, but the presiding judge gave a verdict that favored the church. He said, “Why are you disturbing the church of the living God? These people are serving the living God, while you are serving an idol. Vacate the premises forthwith. How dare you compare the power of Satan with the power of God?”
The judgment prompted the head of the group and his followers to withdraw in shame. They carried away the relics of their idol and left the premises of the church with bowed heads. However, God was not yet done with the head of the occult group. He lost some of his wives and vehicles in quick succession, and later came to Bamidele to say, “I came to proclaim the supremacy of your God over the idols which we serve. I want to take my hands off your church property. Since I have been waging war against this church, I have had no rest.” So the leader of the group left the church alone. Sometime after that one of his chief priests was converted at the church, and although the man died a few months later, some of his children are still members of the church (2008).
Soon after Bamidele helped the church re-establish itself, contact was made with the church in Ibadan that was under the leadership of Primate Akamo; the new Lagos group was interested in affiliating with the Ibadan church. So the Ibadan parish was designated as the headquarters of the Christ Healing Church Aladura, with Lagos as a branch. In 1984, though, due to doctrinal differences, the relationship between the churches in Lagos and Ibadan reached a breaking point, and this relationship was severed.
However, with Bamidele as the general overseer of the Lagos congregation, the church continued as a unifying force even after severing their relationship with Ibadan, and kept the name Christ Healing Church Aladura. In 1986 the church changed its name and was registered as the Christ Healing Evangelical Church, with Bamidele as general overseer. He led the church with vision and strength; under his leadership, it grew in numbers and in strength, both in Nigeria and abroad. Today (2008), the church has branches in many parts of the world, including South Africa, Europe, and North America. The international headquarters is in Lagos; the church acquired a parcel of land on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway for its international campground. And a large parcel of land was acquired in Chicago for its overseas regional headquarters.
The Founding of Comprehensive Institute of Christian Theology
As a great seeker of the truth, Bamidele had developed the habit of spending time in prayer, fasting, and in studying the word of God along with other Christian literature. However, God made evident to him the need for a school that trained Christian ministers. In 1990, while on pilgrimage to Israel, God spoke to Bamidele, telling him to start a Bible college. According to Bamidele, “I was nothing financially and academically, yet God found in me a reason to divinely instruct me to establish for Him a Bible training college.”
To fulfill this vision, Bamidele decided to acquire a theological education. He did so, attending the International School of Evangelism in Lagos and the All Nation Bible College in Benin. Upon completion of this training, the Comprehensive Institute of Christian Theology (COINOCT) was established. The college has trained most of the ministers of the Christ Healing Evangelical Church, as well as ministers from other churches. Graduates of the Bible college travel globally, ministering in various denominations, and other churches have benefited from the college both in terms of manpower and development. According to Bamidele, “One thing that gives me joy is the impact of the college [graduates] in my church and in other denominations.”
Honors and Achievements
Due to Bamidele’s contributions to christianity, his interest and involvement in evangelism, and his vast knowledge of God’s Word, he earned himself the title “Apostle of Evangelism” and was awarded the following honors: special member of the Bible Society of Nigeria; patron of the Bible Society of Nigeria, Kosofe Auxiliary; chairman of Takuology, a ministers’ spiritual retreat and prayer fellowship for over ten years; and grand patron of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Kosofe Zone, Lagos.
Bamidele was also the author of two books: Evangelism: the Cutting Edge of the New Millennium, and Testimonies of Changed Lives. In the first book, Bamidele talks about the need for effective evangelization by Christians in the 21st century in order to continue the expansion of the kingdom of Christ until His return. The other contains testimonies of people whose lives were positively touched by Bamidele’s ministry.
Bamidele died on September 26, 2007, after a brief illness. He is survived by his wife, partner, best friend, and confidant since 1953, Lady Evangelist Beatrice Ajibike Bamidele (2008); his son Pastor Michael OgoOluwahan Bamidele, who is the pastor of the Ireland branch of the church; his daughter-in-law Pastor Rhoda Damilola Bamidele, who is also actively involved in the work of the Ireland church; and his grandchildren Samuel, Timothy, and David Bamidele. Bamidele was a man of God at home as well as in the church. He was a loving husband and a caring father. He set an example of faithfulness and devotion to his family, the church, and the world at large.
To the members of his congregation he was a rare spiritual leader, a good guardian and counselor, a shining example of the life of Christ, a great disciplinarian, a faithful man, and an ardent evangelist who took the Great Commission as a task that must be done. In one of his messages to the congregation in America shortly before his demise, he was quoted as saying, “If I die today, I know with all assurance that I will [be in] heaven.” Bamidele will be remembered for the godly leadership which he provided for the two ministries that God established through his hands–the Christ Healing Evangelical Church (Worldwide), and the Comprehensive Institute of Christian Theology.
Michael Leke Ogunewu
Personal testimony from Bamidele during his lifetime. Interview.
Lady Evangelist Beatrice Ajibike Bamidele, Bamidele’s wife. Interview.
Pastor Michael OgoOluwahan Bamidele, Bamidele’s son, Ireland. Interview.
Pastor A. G. Omotoso, Christ Healing Evangelical Church (Worldwide), Lagos. Interview.
M. A. Bamidele, Evangelism: The Cutting Edge of the New Millennium. Lagos: African Evangelical Publications, 2000.
Funeral Service Brochure.
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.