Anyone who is diligent in their work will not only stand before ordinary people but will also stand before kings and statesmen. A truly diligent person’s life story will stand as a glorious testimony to their diligence and hard work. Isaiah Oluwafemi Bamimodu, a teacher, pastor, and administrator of high repute, was such a person.
Family background and upbringing
Isaiah Oluwafemi Bamimodu was born on December 31, 1929 at Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria, into the family of Mr. and Mrs. John Soyinka Bamimodu, who were then living in a village called Ajade Ogundipe-Ijeja, a suburb of Abeokuta city. Bamimodu grew up in the village mentioned earlier, and was raised by his parents, who were peasant farmers. At age ten, his father died, and only his mother was left to take care of him. In order to assist her, an uncle named deacon. E. L. Akisanya, who was her brother, brought Isaiah to live with him in the city of Abeokuta. Because of the prospect of future leadership qualities the deacon saw in Isaiah, he enrolled him in the Baptist Day School in Ijaye, Abeokuta, in 1940, for his primary education.
It was while he was living with deacon Akisanya that the young Isaiah became a Christian and member of Ijaye First Baptist Church, and was subsequently baptized by immersion.
After his primary education at the Baptist Day School in Ijaye, Abeokuta, he proceeded to the Baptist Boys High School, Oke Eegunya, Owu Abeokuta for his secondary education. After the completion of his secondary education around 1951, he taught briefly. He used the opportunity of teaching to save money for further education. His flair for and interest in molding and nurturing lives through teaching, as well as his uncle’s influence, led him to choose the teaching profession.
From 1955 to 1961, he attended the Baptist Teachers College at Ede and Iwo, both presently in Osun State, Nigeria. He obtained the Grade III and Grade II teacher certificates, and taught for several years in different schools before receiving the call of God to be a pastor.
Theological and overseas training
It was while he was working as a teacher at the Baptist Day School in Owu, Abeokuta, that Bamimodu received the call of God to be a shepherd under the great and chief shepherd - God in Christ Jesus. After hearing God calling him to full time pastoral ministry, he answered by saying “God, here I am. Send me.” In 1963 and 1964 he sought admission to the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary at Ogbomoso, Oyo State, Nigeria, where he was eventually admitted.
He resumed his training in January of 1964 with his wife, whom he had married in January of 1963 as a bachelor of theology degree student. He completed his theological education there in December of 1967, and then had a further opportunity for higher theological training in the United States. From 1974 to 1977, he studied at South West Baptist University, earning a B.A. in English, and at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri, where he earned an M.Div.
Bamimodu married Alice Tela Eredo in January of 1963. She was a teacher, like her husband. They were happily married and their union was blessed by God. Their children, John Oluyemi Bamimodu, Bola Bamimodu, and Olusola Bamimodu are all well and have married. Interestingly, all the female children now bear their husband’s names.
Isaiah and Alice had a happy marriage and were serving God together until death separated them when Mama Alice Bamimodu died in 2005.
Bamimodu’s ministerial work started at Minna, in Niger State. He pastored First Baptist Church, Minna from January of 1968 to August of 1974, when he left for further studies overseas. On returning from overseas training, he was called to pastor Ikate Baptist Church in Surulere, Lagos, where he served from July of 1977 to December of 1985. He was chosen as acting conference secretary of the Lagos State Baptist Conference from July of 1979 to December of 1985, assuming full leadership of the Conference from January of 1986 to December of 2000, when he officially retired. Isaiah Oluwafemi Bamimodu is about eighty years old at present.
Bamimodu contributed to the physical and spiritual growth of the First Baptist Church in Minna, where his service in the church resulted in the conversion of traditional worshippers.
He led Ikate Baptist Church members in building a befitting, spacious, and edifying sanctuary within the five years he was there as pastor, and the building is still in use today. He started an English service to cater to the non-Yoruba worshippers, an innovation that brought more people of ethnic backgrounds to the church, and many were won to Christ, becoming church members. When he assumed the administrative head of the Baptist Churches in the Lagos Baptist Conference, he encouraged the Conference to start new churches and to support churches that were not financially buoyant. He also helped churches to call pastors and to secure places of worship. Some pastors were called to churches that were planted and adopted by the Conference, and their remuneration was taken care of by the Conference as well. Through his evangelistic zeal, the Baptist work spread further to many areas of Lagos State and also to the neighboring state of Ogun.
Isaiah Bamimodu motivated and led the Conference family to start a new educational institution that could respond to the desire that Conference members had for Christian education for their children. The Lagos State Baptist Conference thus established the Baptist Model High School in Ijegun in 1993. Today, this school is indeed a model and a choice place for parents who desire Christian education for their children.
Contribution to theological education
As the administrative head of the Baptist Churches in the Lagos State Baptist Conference, he led the Baptist family in the Conference to build a block of hostel accommodations at the prestigious Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary in Ogbomoso, to ease the problem of accommodation for students. The block of residences built to accommodate ten married students was built and dedicated in 1986.
The quest for theological education by members of the churches that made up the Lagos State Baptist Conference and their influx to unapproved theological institutions all around Lagos State and beyond gave the Conference the idea of starting a Baptist College of Theology in Lagos. This idea became more pronounced when some of the Baptist members, who went to receive training in unapproved theological institutions, started infiltrating Baptist churches, thereby constituting a threat to the polity and doctrine of the Nigerian Baptist Convention to which the Lagos State Baptist Conference belonged. In order to stem the tide of theological and doctrinal differences, the Conference started a Baptist College of Theology in Isolo, in Lagos. The institution has been training men and women as pastors and educators to lead churches within and outside of the Conference since 1997.
When Bamimodu retired in December of 2000, the number of Conference churches had increased tremendously. Likewise, the number of associations that made up the Conference increased from about three to about thirteen because of his good leadership qualities.
Isaiah Oluwafemi Bamimodu served the church well and laid a good foundation as the first full time secretary of the Conference. This good foundation allowed his successor to build well, and the success that he achieved has surpassed Bamimodu’s own success because of the good legacy he left for him.
Joseph Olufemi Asha
Rev. Isaiah Olufemi Bamimodu, interview by author, Alagbado, Lagos.
Retirement program booklet for Rev. Isaiah Oluwafemi Bamimodu, Thursday December 14, 2000.
Ikate Baptist Church, farewell address presented to Rev. I. O. Bamimodu at Ikate Baptist Church on the occasion of his leaving the pastorate to assume the office of Conference Secretary in 1986.
Extracts, minutes of meetings of the Lagos State Baptist Conference.
Interviews by author with individuals who had the opportunity of working with Rev. Isaiah Oluwafemi Bamimodu.
This article, submitted in 2010, was written and researched by Joseph Olufemi Asha, PhD. candidate at the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary, Ogbomoso, under the supervision of Rev. Dr. Deji Ayegboyin and Dr. Michael Ogunewu.