Fadeyi, Gabriel Awoleke
Gabriel Humphrey Awoleke Fadeyi was born on August 23, 1942 at Okeho, in Oyo State. He was the only surviving child of a total of thirteen children that were born to his mother and the other women in his father’s life. He was a teacher and a pastor who lived a very good life as a gentle, humble man.
Fadeyi attended the Local Government Primary School, Olele, Okeho, Oyo State, from 1948 to 1955. At some point, he left Okeho for greener pastures at Oyo. He became very close to the late Dr. Timothy Adejare Adewale, a very close friend to the late Mr. Morakinyo, who was the proprietor of Alaafia Tayo Clinic. Awoleke enrolled with the Alaafia Tayo Clinic and became a patent medicine seller. In 1955, when Chief Obafemi Awolowo introduced free education throughout the old Western Region, Awo Fadeyi, who qualified to become a student teacher because he had a first School Leaving Certificate, applied for a teaching appointment with the Baptist denomination. He received the appointment, and that was the beginning of his teaching career. The first school he taught in was Abidan Baptist Primary School, near Iseyin.
Fadeyi attended the Oyo Divisional Grade III Teachers Training College, Iseyin, Oyo State, from January 1960 to 1961. After teaching for about two to three years as a Grade III teacher, being an ardent believer in education, he then attended the Baptist Grade II Teachers Training College, Ede, from 1967 to 1968. After his graduation at Ede, he taught in some primary schools as a Grade II teacher for a period of eight years. He then studied at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, from 1976 to 1979, and obtained a B. Ed. degree. From 1979 to 1980 he did his National Youth Service, after which he became a tutor at St. Andrew’s College, Oyo, where he was appointed chaplain of the college because of his exemplary behavior. He subsequently rose to the rank of vice principal at St. Andrew’s College, Oyo.
Marriage and calling
Fadeyi married Alice Olajumoke Fadeyi (née Ogundeji) on April 16, 1964. The marriage was blessed with four children, now adults: Mrs. Foluke Oyekemi Olafare, Samuel Olumuyiwa Fadeyi, Olugbenga Fadeyi, and Olubukola Fadeyi.
It was during his teaching career that God called him into the full time gospel ministry. Fadeyi was a complete gentleman, and because of his gentility, people had referred to him as a pastor long before God called him. He received the call in various ways and at different times after he became a primary school teacher. The call was a “temptation,” because it was in 1984, when he was ready to accept the call, that he was promoted to the rank of vice-principal. Awoleke accepted the call and thereby overcame the temptation. He proceeded to the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary, Ogbomoso, where he was trained as a pastor between 1984 and 1986, obtaining the Bachelor of theology degree. On October 1, 1986, he was called to the pastorate of the First Baptist Church in Festac Town, Lagos, which happened to be the only church he pastored. He was inducted on March 4, 1987, and ordained into the full gospel ministry on September 9, 1989.
What follows is a chronological list of some of the things Fadeyi accomplished while he was the pastor of First Baptist Church, Festac Town, in Lagos. On November 16, 1986, the third society of the church, the “Christian Hope Society” was inaugurated, and on December 3, 1986, God provided the land where the church building is sited at present. On the February 1, 1987, the board of trustees of the church was formed, while an adult education program was initiated on the September 12, 1987.
Other achievements include: laying the foundation of the present place of worship on March 5, 1988; holding the first service in the new auditorium on June 26, 1988; purchasing a church bus on July 27, 1988; organization of Amuwoodofin Baptist Church, a preaching station of First Baptist Church. The first marriage was conducted following granting of a license (16/3/91); the ordination of the first set of deacons and deaconesses occurred on 6/11/93; another church bus was purchased in 1994, and the laying of the foundation for the parsonage took place on 26/2/95.
Also, the following preaching stations were opened during his tenure: Estate Baptist Church, Iba, Lagos State, was organized on October 19, 1996; Caroline Obire Memorial Baptist Church, Effurun, and Providence Baptist Church, Ewet Housing Estate, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, were organized February 1 and 2, 1998, respectively, as preaching stations of First Baptist Church, Festac Town. Other achievements include: commencement of House Fellowship Centers, thirty-three in number; dedication of the new parsonage (20/6/99); introduction of two worship services (16/01/2000); calling of an associate pastor, V. B. Akerele, on 01/8/2000; a newsletter of the church was launched on 18/09/2000, and ordination of the second set of deacons and deaconesses took place on 11/11/2001.
Fadeyi also held various offices in the Lagos Baptist Conference, and other Associations and Christian organizations. He was a member of the committee of the Christian Council of Nigeria, Southwestern Zone; secretary, Ministerial Board Sub-Committee of the Lagos State Baptist Conference; assistant secretary, Lagos State Baptist Conference Minister’s Fellowship; consultant to Irepodun Baptist Association, Lagos; chairman, Irepodun Baptist Association Minister’s Fellowship; former chairman, Bible Society of Nigeria, Festac auxiliary; member, Executive Committee of the Lagos State Baptist Conference; chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Festac Zone, under the Amuno-Odofin Local Government Chapter, Festac, Lagos State; vice chairman, Fellowship of Ministers, Festac Zone, and part-time lecturer at Baptist College of Theology, Isolo, Lagos.
What you are speaks so loud that the world can’t hear what you say! They are looking at your walk, not listening to your talk; they are judging by our actions every day. Don’t believe you will deceive by claiming what you have never known, for they know you by what they can see, and they will judge by your life alone.
This sums up the type of leader Fadeyi was. His life reminds one of the excellent motto of the Stony Brook School, in Stony Brook, New York: “Character Before Career.” A definition of the word “sermon” also serves to define him: “Truth through personality.” Fadeyi was faithful, honest, humble, and contented. He was a pastor who cared for the church. He was not materialistic and maintained a well disciplined home where children were brought up to fear God and to respect other people. His associate pastor, V. B. Akerele, said this about him: “I saw in him humility, gentleness, an easygoing manner, a man who was slow to anger. He was a man of endurance, who endured pain even until his death.”
Fadeyi died on June 9, 2004. He was survived by his wife and children. He will always be remembered as the longest serving pastor of the First Baptist Church, Festac Town. He was a counselor, a friend to many, and a good example to many young pastors.
Solomon Oyewale Oyeniyi
Akerele, V. B. “Baba G. Awo Fadeyi: A Wonderful Father and Senior Pastor.” In Life and Times of Rev. Gabriel Awoleke Fadeyi, p. 10.
Fadeji, S. O. “A Celebration of 45 Years of True Friendship.” In Life and Times of Rev. Gabiel Awoleke Fadeyi.
Fasipe, T. A. “Rev. Gabriel Awoleke Fadeyi.” In Life and Times of Rev. Gabriel Awoleke Fadeyi: Reflections on His Services to the Lord and Humanity, Victor Akerele Bamidele, ed., 2004.
First Baptist Church, Festac, Lagos, tribute to Rev. G. Awo Fadejyi.
Short biography of late Rev. Gabiel Awoleke Fadeyi, First Baptist Church, Festac Town, Lagos.
This article, received in 2010, was written by Solomon Oyewale Oyeniyi at the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary, Ogbomoso, under the supervision of Dr. Michael Leke Ogunewu, and the Rev. Dr. Deji Ayegboyin, DACB liaison coordinator.