Ejovi, Onoberhie Ejenavi
Ejovi Onoberhie Ejenavi Ejovi was one of the Baptist men of his time that had great zeal for evangelism and mission. He was very humble, meek, and dedicated to the Lord’s work. As a Baptist, Ejovi contributed to the growth of Baptist work in the Sapele Baptist Association, and as a leader of the Baptist Soul Winning band in Delta State, he made tremendous contributions to the planting of churches there. Some of those churches, in fact, are now mega-churches. Ejovi was also a leader and a promoter of ecumenical work among the various Christian denominations in Delta State.
Ejovi Onoberhie Ejenavi was born on January 5, 1920 into the family of Chief Ejenavi Uwagbafo Uhwefo of Igun town in the Ethiope Local Government Area of Delta State. His mother, Mrs. Udumebraye Fatupe Ejenavi hailed from Orho-no, Eku, also in the Ethiope Local Government Area of Delta State. Her father was from Owo, a Yoruba man. Ejovi’s father was a prominent native doctor (traditional medicine practitioner), and the entire family were idol worshippers.
Ejovi lost his father in 1936, when he was sixteen years old. The family returned from Benin, where they were residing, as a result of his father’s death. His mother Udumebraye and her children left for Eku to stay in her uncle’s compound at 1 Urhusi Street. In 1942, two individuals named Mrs. David Oweh and Gordon Ajarogha became interested in Ejovi. In an attempt to assist him, they brought him to Rev. J. E. Aganbi, a lover of education, who was the manager of the Baptist schools in the Agbon clan. This man adopted Ejovi and gave him a sound education. Ejovi stayed with him for seventeen years. One day, in 1947, during morning devotions, Rev. J. E. Aganbi expressed a lament: he wished that his adopted children would bear his name. Aganbi had had only one daughter, Suzana, and he had lost her while he was studying at the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary in Ogbomoso. Since the other adopted children were not willing to change their name, Ejovi (who was formally called Sergeant Onoberhie Ejenavi) changed his name from “Sergeant” to “Ejovi”. Thus, his full name: Ejovi Onoberhie Ejenavi. He made Ejovi his surname instead of using his father’s name, Ejenavi. Ejovi was one of the twenty children adopted by Rev. Jove Ejovi Aganbi.
Conversion and Education
Among the twenty children adopted by Rev. J.E. Aganbi were Gordon Ajanogha of Awirhe Agbarha, and the late David Onudu Owe. These two led Ejovi to Christ. In 1972, Rev. J. E. Aganbi baptized him. After his baptism, his zeal for God’s work was rekindled. Ejovi attended the Roman Catholic Mission School in Umuaja on Siloko Road, Benin City. He was baptized at the school by sprinkling, and he obtained his first School Leaving Certificate in 1947. Because of his flair for education, he got his TC III in 1954. In 1972, he obtained his TC II, which is when he went into the teaching profession. He also received a Diploma in Education from the University of Benin in 1982. He was a teacher for thirty-seven years.
Call and pastoral ministry
In 1950, he served as a pastor-teacher at Orerokpe. He also served at Ovu Inland in 1954, in Mosogar from 1958 to 1965, and then again as pastor-teacher at Gana, Sapele from 1966 to 1985, before he gained admission to the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary in Ogbomoso in August of 1985. He graduated with a Diploma in Theology in June of 1987.
Ejovi resumed his work as a full time pastor in Gana Baptist Church, Sapele in the Sapele Local Government Area of Delta State after graduating from the seminary. It should be noted here that the idea of planting a Baptist church in Ghana Road, Sapele was mooted by the late Edward Boy Ededjo of Idedjaka, Jesse. He was a rubber buyer and a member of Bethel Baptist Church in Sapele. He got to know Ejovi (who was then the Headmaster of the Baptist School in Mosogar) when the Sapele Baptist Association was held at Mosogar in 1965. Ejovi was the secretary of the giant Sapele Baptist Association, which was comprised of the present Jesse, Oghara, Warri, and part of the present Okpe Associations. Mr. Ededjo told Ejovi of the need to plant a Baptist Church at Gana. In the associational meeting held at Ogiedi, it was decided that a church should be planted at Gana. Thus, because of his zeal for evangelism and church planting, Ejovi was among the pastors sent to the area.
In 1966, from November 21 to 25, a revival program was held at Gana. Among the pastors that preached in that revival were Rev. V. O. Eghaghe, Rev. E. O. Ejovi, and Rev. S. G. Agbahwa. During that revival meeting, sixty-three souls made decisions for Christ. On Sunday Nov. 27, a few days later, the church was founded and Rev. S. G. Agbaluwa preached the first sermon, dwelling on Matt. 11:28.
Ejovi was a church planter. Under his leadership as the Soul-Winning Band leader, many churches were planted in Delta State. Every quarter, a church was planted by Ejovi through the Baptist Soul Winning Band during a crusade. He single-handedly planted the New Era Baptist Church, where he served until he died. While pastoring at Gana Baptist Church (now Glory Baptist Church), he helped the church to acquire five acres of land. The five acres were bought from three persons: James Ghwoko Obire, Ihwere Abeke, and Madam Idoneghware. However, part of the land was later sold to develop the church, as individuals were encroaching on the land.
The church auditorium was also built during his tenure. The foundation stone of the church auditorium was laid by (late) Pa. S. O. Agbowu during a colorful ceremony in 1980, and the house was completed to the glory of God. Ejovi also led the church to start building a parsonage, and the foundation stone of the parsonage was laid by Rev. J. A. Pajiah on March 10, 1991. Ejovi also saw the need to separate the children from the main church for worship, so the children worship center was built.
Meanwhile, when the issue of piped-in water was becoming a problem in the church compound of Gana Baptist Church, (now Glory Baptist Church), Ejovi (through the help of Gana Community Bore-hole), had a bore hole sunk in the church compound at the cost of five thousand naira on July 19, 1995. Ejovi also planted cash crops in the church compound, and furnished the church library with books.
Ejovi was inducted into the pastorate of the church on December 20, 1987 and was ordained into the full gospel ministry on Nov. 18, 1990. He also held various positions in the Delta State Baptist Conference: he was the secretary of the Sapele Baptist Association for over twenty years, and he was the chairman of the Men and Boys Organization of the [now] defunct Bendel State Conference for over ten years. He pastored Gana now Glory Baptist Church for thirty-two years. Because of his evangelistic zeal, he was made leader of the Baptist Soul Winning Band from 1993 to 1999. Also, he was the chairman of the Christian Council of Nigeria (CCN), Sapele Chapter, from 1993 to 1999. Additionally, he served as a moderator of the Sapele Baptist Association, and during his tenure, he brought five acres of land for the association.
E. O. Ejovi died on August 8, 2008, after a brief illness. His funeral service was held in Gana Baptist Church on November 22, 2008. He was a blessing to Gana Baptist Church, the Sapele Baptist Association, the Delta State Baptist Conference, and by extension the Nigeria Baptist Convention. His humility, meekness, evangelistic zeal, and love for his children and family - both church and extended family - will always be remembered. At eighty-eight years of age he could still read without glasses, and he was still very active in attending associational meetings.
Ejovi, E. O. Rev. Jove Ejovi Aganbi: The Selfless Man. Lagos: Functional Publishing Company, 2003.
Funeral Service Program for Rev. E. O. Ejovi, November 22, 2008.
The History of Sapele Baptist Association, (unpublished work).
Ejovi Jones Ejenavi, interview by author, undated.
This biography was submitted by Jonathan Ihwighu, a student at the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary, Ogbomoso under the supervision of Rev. Dr. Deji Ayegboyin and Dr. Leke Ogunewu.