Isaac Oladapo Durodola was a disciple of Jesus who made many other disciples through his diligent ministry. His devotion to God helped to give direction to his life, family, and ministry. He was a blessed man whose wife and children feared the Lord. According to one of his children, he was a devout husband who told his wife and children that he had always been faithful to his wife, to the exclusion of all other women. This is significant when one considers the culture he grew up in. In his culture, men were promiscuous and desired to have many wives, but this man of God succeeded in living for his God in the midst of all these vices. He was never once accused of embezzlement, neither did he prey upon the sheep of the Lord that were under his care. He was a thorough disciple who exerted a great influence on his family and on his community.
His Early Life
Isaac Oladapo Durodola was born in Igede Ekiti, in the present Ekiti State of Nigeria, around 1921, to Pa Gabriel Ogundara Durodola. His parents were practicing Christians, as his grandparents had been. He started his primary education at the Igede Ekiti Central School, and subsequently attended the Kaduna First Baptist School, living with his uncle, Rev. Famuyiwa. As his uncle often moved, he attended some other schools, including Ido Public School and the Iresi Baptist School in the present Osun State, where he completed his education in 1946. Oladapo always scored the highest marks while in these schools. He took up teaching in 1947, first at the Ipoti-Ekiti Baptist School from 1947 to 1949, then in the Ikere Ekiti Baptist School in 1950, and lastly in the Ijara Isin Baptist School in the present Kwara State of Nigeria. Prior to his call, Isaac Oladapo showed himself to be a man of impeccable character. Just as David, whose tending of his father’s sheep endeared him to God, eventually culminating in his being chosen as the king in Israel, so also Durodola, by his hard work and honesty, distinguished himself as dependable and honest before God and man. He loved sports (track, football, and volleyball) and participated actively in them while a student and a teacher. This interest contributed to the strength and vigor with which he pursued all his work.
His Call and Training
Oladapo was greatly influenced by people like his uncle, Rev. Famuyiwa, and Rev. Charles Jemiriye. Jemiriye was the first person from Igede to become a Baptist minister in Ekiti land, and he was also pastor to the young Durodola. Oladapo was also moved by the missionary efforts of Rev. McGee, who discovered the Ikogosi warm springs in Ekiti land, which are now popular. When he was eventually called to be a minister of the gospel, he accepted the call and was admitted into the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary in Ogbomoso. He studied there from 1952 to 1954, and obtained the Certificate in Theology (C.Th.).
His pastoral assignment started while he was in training at the seminary, when he served at Ayetoro Lailai Baptist church. He was responsible for nurturing the people of God and he performed this duty well by acting as a peacemaker among the members from the various villages that made up the congregation. His success at Ayetoro was so evident that the seminary authorities came to recognize his peace-making ability. This in turn influenced his posting to Yelwa Baptist church, in the Northern part of Nigeria, in 1955. He was intentionally sent there on a peace-making mission by the white missionaries of the Baptist Mission and he successfully carried out that task within a year. His usefulness there runs counter to the erroneous impression that was held in some quarters at the time, namely, that the work of the mission was solely carried out by the American missionaries. Having completed his assignment at Yauri, he was moved to the pastorate of the Ajegunle Baptist church in Saki, in 1956. The reason for his new posting was, once again, to bring peace and sanity to a troubled church. Just as at Yauri, he also completed this task within a year. He was so successful there, and made so many family friends among the congregation, that when he had to leave, the members of the congregation were not happy. Consequently, he found himself shuttling between his new assignment and Saki. While at Saki, his passion for educating the younger generation led him to volunteer to teach the Bible in the Local Authority Modern School. The need for such a service was obvious, and no assistance was available from the appropriate quarters. His outstanding services to the area culminated in the establishment of a Christian association that united Christians of all denominations in the area. The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) grew tremendously in the area because of his ecumenical and laudable peace-making efforts among the brethren there. The people of the area always commended him for his amiable ways and problem-solving methods, as well as for his ability to maintain cordial relationships with all.
After Oke-Ogun, his next post was the First Baptist Church, Okaka, in Oyo state. As a dedicated minister of God, he worked diligently with all sincerity of purpose, and was always passionate about his work. He was never out to please people, only God. While frequent transfers characterized his former pastoral assignments, he spent the next thirty-three years in the service of God among the people of the Okaka Baptist congregation. The irony of it was that he initially objected to the Macedonian call of the Okaka congregation on the grounds of poor working conditions, but upon accepting it, he discovered the will of God for him there. One of his children attested to his conviction and devotion in this regard, saying, “This became evident when he came to the pastorate of the First Baptist Church in Okaka, which he rejected because the conditions were not favorable when compared to those where he was at that time. After much prayer, he discovered that God was leading him to the place and though the conditions were poor, he accepted and went there, in 1957.”
At that time, the situation in Okaka was bleak, and virtually no mission work had been done. However, Durodola faced the challenge head-on. Through determination and hard work, he succeeded, and there is a flourishing Baptist congregation at Okaka today that testifies to his divine appointment to that place.
Durodola was an accomplished Christian administrator, a seasoned educator, and an outstanding leader. He used all of these abilities in the churches and local communities where he had the opportunity to serve, and achieved recognition in all these places. He was used of the Lord to assist people in realizing their dreams and ambitions, and he functioned in many leadership positions in the church, in education, and in the community. His influence was felt both within the Nigerian Baptist Convention and within the Nigerian Christian community in general.
His leadership positions included the ministerial sub-committee and the nominating committee, Oyo West Baptist Conference, and the relief and annuity board of the Nigerian Baptist Convention. He was co-founder of the Araromi Baptist Association in 1962 and was its chairman, treasurer and advisor at various times. He served as chairman of the Oke Ogun Baptist Community, an organization which he founded. He was also chairman and treasurer, Oyo North Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and chairman, Christian Association in Okaka. After his retirement, he was called to serve as interim pastor of Ilamoye Baptist Church, Igede Ekiti, and he was also the chairman of the asset disposal committee for the Igede Convention in 1993.
In the educational field, he was chairman of the P.T.A., Baptist School Okaka, and honorary inspector of schools; member of the body of managers, Baptist Primary School Oyo South Local Government Area; member of the body of managers, Baptist Secondary Modern School, Ago Are; chairman of the body of managers, Baptist Secondary School Otu, and chairman of the board of governors, Baptist High School, Saki. Within the community, he was first chairman, Okaka development committee, Okaka, Oyo State.
Durodola was a committed family man and a man of purpose. He was humble, absolutely honest, diligent, hardworking, visionary, determined, upright, modest, courageous, and a counselor who lived by his counsel to others. His financial and social discipline was evident in his manner of handling his home and his finances. He never once borrowed or obtained a salary advance from his church in all his years of service. This showed him to be prudent, thrifty, able to live within his means, and a good manager of human and material resources. He also taught this discipline to his children, to church members and workers, and especially to the financial officers in the church.
He strongly believed in hard work and never indulged in cutting corners. His admonition was always, “Be strong in the faith; always stand for the truth and use church money for the Lord’s work. Then wait for what God will do.” His story is a testimony to the fact that God never disappoints those who trust in him.
Mrs. Rachael Durodola was his wife of fifty-four years. Together they endured hardships and enjoyed blessings, and raised their children in the fear of God. Their children were: Olu, Jide, Nike, Akin, Ayo, Tunji, and Dupe who is now deceased. As a responsible family man, he strove to educate his children. He was so passionate about his children’s education that he chose to forego his own ambition for further education so that he could train them. He was very intelligent and could have been successful doing other things, but he chose to follow the course that God charted for him and became what God wanted him to be. He had such a positive impact on his congregation and on his community that many emulated the manner in which he lived. He died in 2004, having made an immense contribution to church growth.
School Report Card shown to the author.
Deacon V. O. Durodola (son), interview by author, October 23, 2009, Agbe L’Oba House, Abeokuta.
Funeral Service Program.
This article, received in 2009, was written by Femi Olajide, a student at Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary, Ogbomoso, Nigeria, and submitted by Dr. Deji Isaac Ayegboyin, DACB liaison coordinator.