Classic DACB Collection

All articles created or submitted in the first twenty years of the project, from 1995 to 2015.

Igbudu, Cornelius Adam

Anglican Communion (Adam Preaching Society)

The reality of miracles is a controversial issue. While some believe that miracles occur, [1] there are those who generally dismiss those claims as false and contend that miracles are impossible. [2] Hume defines it as a violation of the law of nature, [3] rules out the possibility, and contends that religious people merely use false claims of miracles to propagate their religions. [4] This controversy notwithstanding, the fact remains that at times, we are confronted with certain occurrences that defy either rational or scientific explanations, and we are left with no alternative but to ascribe such events to the divine.

Such is the case of the mysterious Bible which appeared in Araya, a town in the present Delta State of Nigeria, around the year 1914. Although there are various versions of the complete story, the crux of the matter is that a book identified as the Bible was discovered on a heap of yams on a farm, with a note. Although it was raining heavily, the book was not wet. Mrs. Ofuunweike Esievo, the owner of the yams, could not account for how it got there and all attempts to trace the appearance of the book to anyone in the neighbourhood and beyond were fruitless. The people of Araya therefore had no choice but to attribute the circumstances surrounding the appearance of this book to an act of God–a miracle. Today, it is the general belief in Araya that there was a time when a Bible was miraculously discovered there. Although the book could not be preserved due to circumstances beyond their control, a monument was erected on the site of the discovery in the year 1988.

This “miraculous event” was closely linked to the birth of a great son of Araya who was born around the time of the mysterious incident, and who became a prominent evangelist. His name was Cornelius Adam Igbudu, and he founded the Anglican Adam Preaching Society, A.A.P.S. [5] The people of Araya usually link this legend with Igbudu and his evangelistic activities, equating him with the mysterious Bible, and claiming that he was the one that God sent from above to carry out a specific assignment in Isokoland and beyond.

His Birth

The exact date of Igbudu’s birth is quite difficult to ascertain, as conflicting dates have been put forward. The years 1886, 1914, and 1918 have all been given at one time or another. The 1886 date is quite unrealistic in relation to the alleged discovery, in 1914, of the legendary Bible which has been associated with his birth. The legend states that Igbudu was born two years after the Bible was discovered, so the dates of 1914 and 1918 are quite close. If the date of 1914 that is assigned to the discovery of the Bible is exact, it would be logical to conclude that Igbudu was born in 1916.

Adam’s father, Igbudu Etatimi, had difficulty fathering a child. He had married four wives before marrying Adam’s mother, and none of them had borne him a child. He became the object of ridicule in the neighborhood and was given all sorts of derogatory names. As a result of the shame brought on him by this unpleasant situation, he was compelled to move out of his home town of Araya, to Ozoro, another town in Isokoland. Settling down in Ozoro, he married a fifth wife named Ajeminemu, who had ten children by him. The first child was female, but Adam was the first male.

The situation into which the baby was born necessitated the giving of many significant names, all of which connoted strength, fortitude and steadfastness. Naturally, all these names had a certain influence on his life, even though he was naturally very strong and steadfast, being also a man of great spiritual strength who excelled in everything he did. Of all the names given to him at birth, in addition to that of Cornelius, which he took at baptism, he was best known by the name “Adamu,” which was later shortened to Adam.

Adam Igbudu had the rare privilege of being born and raised in a Christian family. Although we cannot say exactly how committed his parents were to Christianity, or know the extent of the influence they exerted on him, he did grow up to become a chosen vessel of God for the fulfillment of a special purpose. The spirit of God was always with him and was the propelling force that guided him in whatever he did. From the time he was a teenager, he always told his colleagues that the greatest desire of his heart was to serve God and humanity in the best way that he could all his life. [6]

Education and Early Pursuits

Although he wanted a formal education, Igbudu did not have that privilege for different reasons. It is possible that his parents deliberately kept him away from school because they could not afford the school fees. They may also have done it simply out of ignorance. In those days most of the children sent to school were those who were considered too lazy to face the rigors of farm work or difficult manual labor. They were sent to school in the belief that they would be toughened by the teacher’s cane. Adam Igbudu was already considered strong, so he never needed such “training.”

One reason given by Igbudu himself in relation to his lack of schooling was that there was no school in the village of Araya at the time. The nearest school was at Oleh, at a distance of about forty kilometers. Apart from the distance, the risk and rigor associated with travel at that time did not permit a child to attend a school so far from home. Also, such schools took children away from their parents, as they would need to live away from home if they were to attend one so far away. Being the first son, and having been born after many years of waiting, he was surely the favored child of the family. Such children were usually overly pampered, and their parents found it difficult to release them or allow them to stay far away from home, especially in a school environment where they could be flogged or punished by someone else. His inability to attend school may have been due to the fact that his parents were simply not prepared to let him stay so far away from them.

As a teenager, Igbudu developed a keen interest in music and dancing. At the age of sixteen, he joined other boys of his age in a dance group called Usini, or Igoru. It was quite a popular club in the towns and villages around their base in Uzere, in Isokoland. The group was best known for its beautiful and classical traditional Isoko music. He was a very good dancer and quite prominent in the group, but God seemed to be leading him in a different direction. He withdrew from the club quite suddenly, in order to pursue his ambition of singing and dancing for Jesus Christ. He felt that dancing only for entertainment and for the admiration of others was an empty and fruitless exercise, in the light of eternity and eternal values. So, he left the group and became more involved in church activities to equip himself in a better way for his future work of evangelization.

Between the age of sixteen and twenty, he became very involved in church activities, but his lack of formal education became a handicap, and he came to realize the importance of being literate. To be functional and effective in certain aspects of church activities, he needed to be able to read and write. In 1927, with the help of Michael Adarugo Akara, also a native of Araya, he learned to read the Isoko alphabet. Later, a catechist named John Mark Israel Eloho began to teach him to read in Isoko. He was already making steady progress in his studies when Eloho was transferred to another town. Igbudu was not deterred. He continued to seek assistance, and spent most of his time studying. When he was working on the farm, he spent time reviewing his lessons after work. Each time he had any difficulty and there was no one to help him in Araya, he would travel to Osofo to see Eloho for assistance. Gradually, he advanced to reading the Isoko Bible, the Book of Common Prayer, and the hymn book fluently, and soon he started to teach others how to read and write in Isoko. Later, his ability to read the Bible greatly enhanced his spiritual development, since he drew most of his inspiration from the Bible. He committed to memory many passages of the Bible and the Prayer Book, as well as hymns, and these greatly assisted him in preaching, song composition, the recitation of prayers, and other spiritual and evangelistic activities.

The Formation of Ole-Orufuo (The Prayer Group for Cleanliness and Purity)

Igbudu loved serving others and seeing their sufferings alleviated, and he rendered many services to his community and the nearby villages. His own village, Araya, was in a swampy area, as are many areas of Isokoland. Rains usually flood the major streets, farms and surrounding villages. So, during rainy seasons, Adam volunteered to take a shovel and dig drainage channels that helped the people of his village and the immediate neighbors.

In 1938, he co-opted some other people into service through the formation of a prayer group known as Ole-Orufuo, which means “prayer group for cleanliness and purity.” This would be comparable to an environmental sanitation group, but woven into its objectives were other social and spiritual activities. The initial members were David Isara, Sussanah Lady Unuori, Phillip Ebo, Jossy Okpoziakpo, and Adam. In 1946, his younger brother Samuel Macaulay Igbudu joined them. Nabofa explained the objectives of the group as follows:

The main objectives of this group were to keep their village and church premises clean, to help the aged, and to pray for the sick. They built and mended houses for the aged, and scrubbed the houses of those old men and women who had no children to care for them. They did these things especially in preparation for the two major Christian festivals, Christmas and Easter. The group also provided the aged and the disabled with firewood and washed their dresses. They visited the sick and prayed for them. They moved from place to place to inspect houses, utensils and compounds. [7]

Adam and his group had a tremendous influence on the people of Araya. In time, everybody in the village started imitating them, and every Saturday in Araya came to be regarded by many as an environmental sanitation day–which is still the case today. It contributed to the healthy conditions in Araya, and even today, it is very difficult to find filthy compounds, houses or streets there. [8] Although this environmental activity was basic to the group, it was not their main objective. It was only intended to serve as a means of reformation within the church and to promote Christian unity and progress.

Initially, members of the group were drawn mainly from Araya, but as time went on, the group extended its activities to neighboring villages within Isokoland. They also were not involved in the main activities of their church at first, and it seemed that the church authorities never took cognizance of the spiritual implications of their activities. They rather saw them as a group of exuberant youths that could be used as an addition to real church activities. This was in accord with the group’s ideals, because they did not want to be accorded special recognition in the church. According to Nabofa, Igbudu was fond of describing himself by saying, “Me oware ufofe udivie emamo ahwo,” which means, “I am an empty and worthless vessel, or thing, or nothing, in the midst of good and important people.” [9]

This fact notwithstanding, the group exploited existing weaknesses in the liturgy and worship of the church to launch itself into prominence. In most of the first generation mission churches at that time, the mode of worship was predominantly western. The liturgy was usually based on a European mode of worship, and progressed through the pacing and drudgery of English hymn tunes. Local music and musical instruments were not allowed in the church, and dancing was often restricted, which was highly un-African. Dancing is part of the social and religious life of the African people, flowing out spontaneously as an expression of the mind. Restricting worshippers to a western form of worship and forbidding them from dancing was equivalent to taking away a vital aspect of their religious life. People were simply not free to express their minds before God, which rendered the services unimpressive and lukewarm.

Just as with many Africans, lively music, singing, and dancing has a profound effect on someone from Isoko. When inspired by music, many things that are otherwise not expressed openly are allowed to come out. The failure of the early missionary churches to recognize this fact explains why many Isoko Christians were merely passive participants in the unimpressive forms of worship perpetuated by the white missionaries and the Africans that went along with them.

Igbudu was quite aware of how much this factor contributed to the spiritual slump in the Isoko churches of the time, and as indicated above, he exploited this deficiency to great advantage, launching his group to prominence through the incorporation of native songs and dancing into the group’s evangelistic activities. As he and his group moved about, they introduced the whistling and chanting of some beautifully composed Isoko tunes into their performances. It became their custom to intensify their whistling and chanting whenever they got to the outskirts of any town or village so that their music would be heard in the major part of the town, and attract the people. They normally set out for their campaigns in the early evenings, when most people would have returned home from their daily activities. Whenever they got to a strategic place, they stopped and started to sing and dance. When they felt that a sufficient crowd had gathered around them, Igbudu preached his sermons, which were mainly based on love and on encouraging people to serve the only true God, the creator of life and the universe. Sometimes, these sermons were in beautifully composed tunes and at other times they stopped their singing and dancing to verbally address the crowd. Members of this group did not just sing, dance, and preach, they also set aside time for the study of scripture, for prayer, and for praying for the sick and the welfare of all. [10]

In each place they visited, their evangelistic activities usually revived the souls of lukewarm and backslidden Christians, and many converts were won to the church. Eventually, the group started receiving invitations from churches within Isoko and beyond, asking them to help conduct revival and harvest thanksgiving services in their areas. Each of their services was always a huge success, people were touched spiritually and were converted from idol worshipping. The church grew stronger, with thanksgiving offerings increasing by as much as ten times those of the previous year. [11] One such spectacular event which readily comes to mind was that of the CMS Church at Ume, a small village in Isokoland. In 1946, Igbudu and his group were invited for a harvest service in the church and everybody was surprised at the huge success achieved by the group, especially in the area of fundraising. Nabofa described the situation this way:

The news of Adam’s visit spread so much that the Roman Catholic Mission church in Ume merged with the CMS church just because they wanted to witness Adam’s singing, preaching and dancing with his group. The result was that the proceeds from the harvest were great. To many people it was a great miracle because they could not imagine how a small village church like Ume, at that time, could collect £140 in a harvest service… in a situation where churches of that size were not exceeding £10. [12]

The superintendent of the Isoko CMS churches for the area at the time, Rev. Ezekwesili, was very surprised by the large offering received by the Ume church, and traced it back to the visit of Igbudu and his group. He was so impressed that he gave Igbudu a letter of commendation authorizing him and his group to operate in any CMS church in the Isoko district. This is how the “Ole-Orufuo” developed into a larger group with members spread all over Isokoland. In 1945, Igbudu was commissioned as a district lay reader under the Anglican (CMS) diocese of the Niger, and in 1968 he was elevated to the rank of a diocesan lay reader under the diocese of Benin.

In 1946, the group became known as “Ukoko Adamu,” that is, “Adam’s Preaching Society,” and in later years the word “Anglican” was added to the name in order to integrate it into the Anglican Church. Before 1968, there was no formal organization for the society, but it became necessary around this time because of the increasing demand for coordination occasioned by the rapid expansion of the group. There was also a need for the group to speak with one voice while it faced some persecution from the CMS authorities. Consequently, the society’s organization became formalized, more formidable objectives were introduced, its scope was widened, and various departments were created within it, with officers appointed into various positions. The objectives were extended to include the following:

(i) to carry out the commandment of our Lord Jesus Christ which says “Go ye into the world and preach the Gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15); (ii) to revive the church of God under the Anglican mission and to strengthen the faith of the weak and the fallen ones; (iii) to inculcate the spirit of godliness, unity, and kindness in the lives of men; (iv) to preach the holy message of God to all mankind and most especially, to bring non-Christians, particularly the traditional worshippers, to Christ; (v) to fight for the common good and progress of the Anglican Church, mostly as a defensive, reformation and evangelistic wing of the Anglican denomination, and to arouse the interest of all Christians; (vi) to pray for the sick and to release the afflicted from the bonds of Satan and all his agents; and (vii) to settle disputes in churches, communities and homes, in order to establish peace in them. [13]

Teachings of the A.A.P.S.

The teachings of Igbudu and his group were not in conflict with those of the Anglican Church, to which Adam belonged. Nevertheless, some teachings clearly came from Igbudu: cleanliness, hard work, selfless service, divine healing, faith in the efficacy of prayer, and the unity of the church. Igbudu was convinced that cleanliness is next to godliness, and believed that there was a parallel between Christian holiness and personal cleanliness. He believed that external bodily and environmental cleanliness eradicated disease and germs, preventing sicknesses, while purity of mind, which generates good thoughts and spiritual elevation, drew man nearer to his creator, making communication with him possible. For a fulfilled Christian life therefore, it was essential that both inward and outward purity should characterize the life of the average Christian.

He also believed strongly in the biblical ideal of Ecclesiastes 9:10, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your strength.” He was a person who excelled in life by virtue of hard work, and coupled with prayers and faith in God, he became a successful canoe carver, farmer, and fisherman, as well as a prominent evangelist who won many souls for Christ. Through his own practical example, he taught his followers to appreciate the dignity of labor and honest living, and no lazy individual ever felt comfortable being a member of his group.

Closely related to this ideal of hard work and dignity was his attitude towards selfless service. His philosophy was that people should always be involved in services which will glorify God and benefit mankind and his environment. Such service should be done on a voluntary basis, without charge, which is what he did, neither expecting nor accepting rewards or remuneration from anyone. However, he took this ideology to a certain limit by declaring that a sincere worker in the Lord’s vineyard should neither expect nor receive any reward for doing God’s work. In his opinion, every church worker, including the clergy, should serve the church without pay. This was one of the reasons why some of the clergy fell out with him.

Divine healing was also one of his cardinal beliefs and teachings. He believed in the efficacy of the power of God to heal from any form of sickness, and testimonies abound as to how God used him to alleviate the sufferings of his fellowmen through healing. However, in spite of the fact that he was able to carry out divine healing through the power of God, he did not condemn the use of western medicine. His belief was that whatever curative power any medicine had came from God, for without God no medicine can work. Adam also believed in the efficacy of prayer. He was a very prayerful man and he began and ended whatever he did with prayer. His success in all that he achieved for God depended upon successful communication with God. [14]

Personal Qualities

Many things distinguished Igbudu from other young men of his time. Firstly, he was a man of unusual physical strength, reportedly equal to that of ten men of average strength. A lot of stories were told about some of his astonishing feats in that regard. Adam’s parent belonged to the class of large-scale farmers. The practice in those days was for large-scale farmers to hire laborers to clear their farmlands, but as a youth, Igbudu could clear farmland alone, in record time. Also, one of Adam’s occupations was canoe-building. It was commonly reported that Adam could fell a big tree and carve out an average sized canoe within a day, a task that normally took a canoe-maker at least nine days. When a canoe was completed, the carver usually needed the assistance of other able-bodied young men to launch it into the river. Igbudu would usually fell the tree, carve the canoe, and launch in into the stream all by himself, in one day. His physical strength contributed tremendously to the success of the A.A.P.S., as he brought it to bear in virtually all the operations of the group, not being easily tired. He also had the strength to sit down to settle disputes, to solve other people’s problems, or to preside over the organization’s evangelistic activities for many hours at a time without feeling much strain.

He was just as endowed with spiritual strength as he was with physical strength. He had exemplary spiritual faith and power, and stories were told of the magnitude of the miracles, signs, and wonders that accompanied his ministry. It is common knowledge all over Isokoland that Igbudu was an instrument in God’s hands for raising the dead. One such instance involved Mrs. Susannah Lady Ebeh, one of the pioneers of the A.A.P.S. In the year 1943, she fell ill and was taken to the Anglican (CMS) dispensary in Oleh, where she was reported to have died in the course of treatment. Igbudu found it difficult to believe or agree with the news of her death, insisting that “even if she is dead, she will wake up when I get there.” With that faith and hope, he left for Oleh. When he arrived, he discovered that the news was indeed a reality. He was undaunted, and pleaded with everybody to give him some time to pray before anything else was done. His request was granted and he started praying. He did this for over one hour, and to the amazement of all, Susannah woke up and regained her consciousness. A few days later, Igbudu took her back to her village, Araya, where she lived for many years, eventually marrying Mr. Philip Ebeh, and having children.

Another such miracle in which Igbudu was involved happened with his biological father, Papa Igbudu, at Sapele General Hospital, in 1945. His father was admitted to the hospital for surgery, which was performed by Dr. Simson. Papa Igbudu could not be revived after the operation, even after the doctor gave him more time. The doctor then performed some tests, after which he declared him to be dead. Igbudu was shocked to learn of the death of his father, and he appealed to the medical staff of the Sapele General Hospital to be allowed to sing to the glory of God. His request was granted, and he prayed, requesting that God restore his father’s life so that he could take him home alive. After this short prayer he began to sing Christian songs in the local Isoko language, dancing and praising God. He did this throughout the night and into the middle of the following day. Many people took his actions for madness, and his uncle was already making arrangements to prepare the body for burial when at about 4 p.m., to everyone’s surprise, Pa Igbudu suddenly woke up, turned around and sat up immediately. It was an awesome sight and all those who were present–doctors, nurses, patients, staff and visitors–became apprehensive. They ran out of the hospital ward to watch the spectacular event through the windows. It was too spectacular for all who were present, and it took some time before they could come close again. After a couple of days, Adam took his father back home to Araya, where he lived another three years. He finally died peacefully and honorably in his home, in 1948.

Other miracles which attended Igbudu’s ministry included that of a woman who developed a tumor in the lower part of her abdomen after being operated for some complications which developed at childbirth. The woman needed a second surgery, but was too weak. Someone took her to Igbudu, who prayed for her after an evening service in the church. The next evening, they discovered to their amazement that the tumor had disappeared. At another time in Benin City, the Right Rev. Agori-Iwe, then bishop of Benin Anglican diocese, had to send for Igbudu when Mrs. Jane Ibuje of the Anglican Woman’s Teacher Training College in Benin City, was blinded. The school premises were invaded by a swarm of bees that attacked Mrs. Ibuje, the principal, leaving her blind. Rev. Agori-Iwe, confident that God would use Igbudu to find a solution to the problem, sent for him and told him what had happened. Igbudu went to the school, found that the principal really had been blinded, and saw the bees attacking the buildings and all the people there. In his usual manner, Igbudu confidently went into the principal’s quarters, prayed, and sang Christian hymns. Shortly after, the woman regained her eyesight, and the bees instantly disappeared from the premises, never to return.

Trying to enumerate all the signs and wonders which God performed through Igbudu would be a difficult, if not impossible task. There are numerous reports of the many instances when God used him to alleviate sufferings through the performance of miracles. One salient feature of these miracles is that, just like Christ, he neither made a show of what God used him for, nor tried to attract people to himself through it. Also, he did not expect or receive any remuneration from any of the beneficiaries of the miracles, but rather turned their focus towards God, encouraging them to spend their lives serving Him and promoting the gospel. We can also see from the miracles performed through him that he believed in practical and functional Christianity that meets the needs of daily life. This was the type of Christianity practiced by the church of the apostolic age, but the missionary churches in Africa tended to reduce Christianity to mere formality, and many of their members at the time felt unfulfilled.

The challenges of his life and ministry

Igbudu was confronted with a series of challenges, and while some of these were personal, others were connected with his leadership of the A.A.P.S. He undoubtedly had a premonition about these challenges, as he had been forewarned of them by his teacher, John Mark Eloho. Eloho’s advice was that he would be confronted by a series of trials that would test his faith, but that if he did not yield to them, God would use him as an instrument to save many souls in Isokoland. With this in mind, he was able to stand firm in the faith, to confront these challenges with courage, and to overcome them.

One challenge came in the form of deaths within his immediate family. Igbudu could not remember when he actually got married, but his marriage was blessed with ten children, four boys and six girls. In 1939, he experienced great shock and tragic loss, as within that year alone, he lost four of his children in quick succession. One of his daughters suddenly took ill and died within a day. Within another week, while they were still mourning her death, two of the male children died on the same day, one in the morning, the other in the evening. Three days later, another male child also died, leaving him with only one surviving male child. As if the loss of these four was not enough, some years later, he again lost one of his adult daughters. In 1947, his youngest brother, Macaulay died after a brief illness. He was very affected by his brother’s death, as he was his only blood relation who was active in the A.A.P.S. It also meant the loss of their great whistler, who was also a beautiful singer and one of their best dancers. Igbudu was so overwhelmed by this great loss that he unconsciously tore his surplice, thus symbolically trying to bid goodbye to Christianity. Later, when his emotions subsided, he realized the mistake he was about to make, regretted it, and repented, enduring the trial with greater fortitude.

Apart from these, there were other challenges. Often, people with evil intentions tried to cause him harm, sickness, and even death. There were subtle attempts on his life, such as food poisoning, but God was always his guide and guard. A story is told of how he almost drowned in the waters of Owolo, one of the lakes in his neighborhood. He had received a report from someone in the village that one of his traps in a certain part of the lake had caught a big fish, and he was advised to go and fetch it. He felt especially reluctant to go, because the person who brought this report to him had often been suspected of having evil intentions. However, he was encouraged by his wife and other people, who advised him to go that evening, since the next day was a Sunday. He therefore set out with one of his daughters named Hope. In the process of trying to release the fish from the trap, it put up a tremendous struggle, and the canoe capsized, throwing Adam and his daughter into the water. It was a great miracle that they escaped drowning, because they were both in the water for over two hours, shouting and struggling against the swift current, until someone came to their rescue.

As the news of the accident spread like wildfire, many people came to Araya to celebrate with him, which gave him and his group greater prominence. Their fame spread within Isokoland and beyond, which further boosted the activities of the group. In spite of these trials, Igbudu maintained his calm, his courage, and his faith in God because he saw everything as being part of the cross he had to bear in order to receive the crown of everlasting life.

The organization of the A.A.P.S. also presented Adam with a series of challenges, as he and his group were accused of several things, both from within and from without the church. Some members who were not able to bear the reproach left the group. Also, some of the clergy with the Anglican Church misunderstood Igbudu and his group’s activities, and developed serious and subversive suspicions against them. Consequently, there were problems with the church authorities. The misunderstanding stemmed from the unfounded fears and rumors that Igbudu was trying to lead certain members out of the Anglican Church in order to form a splinter church. Had the matter not been tactfully handled, it would have rent the Anglican Church asunder. However, Igbudu showed endurance and Rev. H. W. Garbutt and Bishop Agori-Iwe of the Anglican Church demonstrated a high degree of maturity.

Some of members of the A.A.P.S. also created problems for Igbudu and would have brought him into confrontation with the Anglican authorities, since they were sometimes involved in activities considered to be heretical and contrary to Anglican orthodoxy. As soon as these people were detected, they were often excommunicated from the group. Throughout his lifetime, Igbudu operated under the authority of the Anglican Church. He lived and died Anglican, he left the group in the Anglican Church at his death, and the group is still an integral part of the Anglican Church. It is a force to be reckoned with in matters of the revival and evangelization of the church within the Delta area of Nigeria.

Contributions to ecumenism

Igbudu was a great ecumenist and one of the constructive revolutionary forces who in spite of all the odds, successfully brought life, zeal, vigor, and piety to Christian life, in addition to bringing evangelization to the church in general. Although he was an Anglican, his evangelistic activities cut across all the denominations of the Christian church. He harbored no denominational prejudice against anyone; rather, the main preoccupation of his ministry was to win more souls for Christ. That was why he never compelled his converts to be members of his church, but rather advised them to join any church of their choice. In this way, he made a tremendous contribution to ecumenism in the church. Wherever he worked, he presented himself primarily as a Christian. The people saw him as such, so the denomination he belonged to was quite unimportant to them. This enabled him to spread his work across all the denominations, going wherever the duty of the propagation of the gospel called. While others were saying that they belonged to “Peter or Paul,” he emphasized that all belonged to Christ. Nabofa declared that “it was his ecumenical outlook that endeared him not only to members of his denomination, but also to those of other Christian groups (denominations), and when he passed away, the loss was not felt by the Anglican Church alone, but by all Christians, most especially by the Isoko, the Urhobo, the Kwale, the Edo, and the Ijo speaking Christians, irrespective of their sects.” [15]

General remarks

Igbudu was a successful man of God and evangelist whose evangelistic enthusiasm and drive spurred many clergymen to become more involved in outreach activities. Previously, most members of the clergy had confined their proclamation activities to the inside of their church buildings. Only those who went to church had the privilege of hearing the Gospel message, which made it difficult to make new converts. But Igbudu modeled himself on the apostles, who went from place to place preaching the Gospel. He was an inspiration to many clergy and church workers who moved out of the church and became great evangelists for Christ. He was also a model for members of other denominations who emulated him by organizing their own preaching bands. Today, preaching societies are integral parts of church development and Christian evangelization in Isoko and Urhoboland, where the Roman Catholic Preaching Charismatic Group and the African Church Preaching Society exist, while other groups like the Anglican Mimeyeraye Preaching Society have emerged in the Anglican Church.

Igbudu used the name and the cross of Jesus Christ to provide succor for the Isoko and Urhobo people. He proved the all-sufficiency of Christ and demonstrated the viability of the Christian faith. He revolutionized church music, dance, and drama among the Isoko people, and his innovations spread to the neighboring people of Urhobo, Ijo, Kwale and Aboh, all in the Delta region of Nigeria. His group was the first in the area to make records, which became very popular not only for entertainment, but also for evangelization. His music, sermons, and exemplary life really brought the Word of God alive and made it work wonders among the people.

For more than fifty-five years, he labored in the Lord’s vineyard. In spite of pressure from many people, he refused to pull out of the Anglican Church to carve out an empire or to amass wealth for himself by establishing a church of his own. This was one of the greatest temptations that he overcame, and it earned him greatness in the eyes of the authorities of the Anglican Church in the Benin and Warri dioceses of Nigeria. The evangelistic group he founded greatly succeeded in reviving the spiritual life of the Anglican Church in the areas where he operated. He was a patient, understanding, and accommodating person who was able to win over some of his detractors, including the clergy, before he died. Some of those former detractors are ardent promoters of the A.A.P.S. today.

Lessons for Contemporary Christians and Church Leaders

Igbudu is to be commended and emulated for the way he handled the affairs of the A.A.P.S. within the Anglican Church. As mentioned above, he lived and died an Anglican, and left his group under the authority of the Anglican Church. How he managed to achieve this feat is indeed a marvel, as similar ventures with the Anglican Church in other parts of the nation were not successful, resulting rather in fallouts which gave birth to churches of different denominations. The Precious Stone or Diamond Society episode came first. Records show that the intention of pastor Odubanjo was to organize the society as an integral part of St. Savior’s Anglican Church, Ijebu-Ode, but this did not receive the cooperation and blessing of the clergy. Consequently, there was a falling out, and the society initially produced the Faith Tabernacle Church, then two churches: the Apostolic Church and the Christ Apostolic Church.

In like manner, back in his hometown of Ilofa, and after he received his divine calling, Babalola organized a prayer band which was meeting in the local Anglican Church, but the prayer meeting did not last long. The leaders of the Anglican Church frowned on certain aspects of his ministry and sent him packing. Oshitelu, of the Church of the Lord fame, suffered the same fate when he was shown the way out of the Anglican Church in the 1920s on allegations of engaging in practices considered inimical to Anglican orthodoxy. Moses Orimolade, on arriving in Lagos during his evangelistic tours, was for a while the host of Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Ebute-Ero, in Lagos. However, he moved out of the church when the style and content of his message came under the severe criticism of the vicar of the Church, Rev. T. A. J. Ogunbiyi. [16]

Rev. H. W. Garbutt was the CMS missionary in charge of Isoko when Igbudu’s evangelical activities took off in the late 1930s and the early 1940s. Despite the fact that he was a white man, this reverend gentleman did not see Adam’s activities as a threat to the church, but was rather so impressed by it all, that he extended to him the right hand of fellowship. He encouraged him by providing all the support he could, both financially and morally, and attended most of their evangelistic campaigns, even when they were held outside and far away from the church premises.

Rev. Garbutt was succeeded in 1946 by an Igbo priest, Rev. E. Ezekwesili. Like his predecessor, Ezekwesili accorded Adam and his group all necessary support, especially after the Ume annual harvest episode discussed earlier. He endeared himself to the group, but unfortunately did not stay as long as Adam and his group had expected, as he was posted to another station in 1950. He was followed by Rev. G. P. Bernard, who was initially skeptical of the group’s activities, and developed an attitude of suspicion toward them. He intended to proscribe them, but after due investigation, he decided to give them the benefit of the doubt. Personally, he had no problems with Igbudu, but had some reservations about the attitudes of some of the members of his group. Nevertheless, he too demonstrated a certain level of maturity by allowing the group to continue its activities under the auspices of the Anglican Church, with certain guidelines.

Bishop Agori-Iwe, the bishop of Benin diocese at that time, was a great asset and encouragement to the group, and made an immense contribution to its development and progress. In fact, members of the group regarded him as a father to all generally, and to the A.A.P.S. in particular. While many of the clergy were opposed to Adam and his group and persecuted them, the bishop gave them his unflinching support, encouragement, and defense when necessary. He was the first indigenous high church official to accord the group official recognition within the diocese, which put an end to all forms of persecution from within the church. When he saw the valuable work that Igbudu was doing in the diocese, he declared that every priest in the diocese should automatically regard himself as an evangelist, and he also declared himself to be one, under Adam. Eventually, he elevated Igbudu to the status of diocesan lay reader, a position that enabled him to preach in every Anglican church in the Benin diocese and in any part of Nigeria, and that is how the group came to be fully integrated into the Anglican Church. This absorption resulted in the name being changed from “Ukoko Adam,” that is, “Adam’s Preaching Society,” to the “Anglican Adam’s Preaching Society,” in 1965.

The commendation in this regard goes both to Igbudu and to the clergy of that time. For his part, Igbudu handled many issues with patience and maturity, resolved to never quit the Anglican Church, regardless of the degree of provocation. The clergy involved are also to be commended for extending the right hand of fellowship to him, for supporting, encouraging, correcting, and even defending him as need be, which eventually culminated in the integration of the group into the Anglican Church. This in turn led to the founding of other such groups, some of which are quite active today in the life of the church in Isoko and Urhoboland.

If the people involved in this type of scenario in other parts of the country, especially Yorubaland, [17] had been tolerant and had exercised restraint in the handling of their own cases, it would probably have yielded the type of favorable result achieved by Igbudu and the Anglican Church in Isokoland. In a way, they should not be written off as failures however, since the groups which seceded from them also developed into vibrant churches which are quite active today within Nigerian Christendom. However, the rancor those issues generated back then, and their attendant schisms and animosity, would probably have been avoided.

It is therefore incumbent on the laity and clergy of today to exercise restraint in such matters. This would no doubt help to reduce, if not to completely eradicate, the incessant incidence of schisms which have become the order of the day in our churches and which have continued to ravage Christendom, causing untold confusion to Christians and non-Christians alike.

Death of Adam Igbudu

Adam Igbudu died on March 12, 1981. Just as his birth was said to have been heralded by mysterious events, so also was his death. First, the way he transitioned into the great beyond gave room to speculation that he might have had a premonition of his death. He was reported to have given an appointment to a certain Barnabas of Uro, on Monday, March 9, 1981, requesting urgently that he should see him unfailingly on Wednesday, March 11. He emphasized that if the man could not make it on Wednesday, he should not fail to keep the appointment before noon on Thursday the 12th. When the man was not forthcoming, he was not happy, and he started to tell everybody around that he was going to send him a letter. In other words, he needed Barnabas seriously, probably to confide certain information, but the man missed it, as Igbudu died around noon of that day.

Again, when it was getting near that time, he requested that one of his daughters, Ruth, get him some water so that he could take his bath. When she was not forthcoming, he went to fetch the water by himself, took his bath, went inside, and applied a cream to himself. He later got up, went into his room, got dressed, and came back to sit in the easy chair where he used to relax. Around noon, he died in this relaxed state. His daughter Ruth later came into the house to attend to his request for water, but found him dead. His invitation to Barnabas of Uro, and his bathing and dressing up before his death, have been interpreted by people as preparations for his departure. They believe that he must have had a premonition of his death, which would explain all the preparation.

Other mysterious events were said to have attended his departure. Melodious songs, like those of the A.A.P.S., were reported to have been heard in Araya and the surrounding villages at the time of his death. Those who heard it thought that certain evangelical groups were arriving from elsewhere for a crusade. People came to see who was making such melodious music, but they saw no one; and yet, they were still hearing the melodious song all over the place. Such melodious tunes were also heard at the Mariere Memorial Hospital, where his body was kept in the mortuary. People also came out to see those who were singing, but they only heard the voice, and no-one could be seen. There were some other signs that occurred in Isoko, which have also been linked to Adam’s death. It was also reported that during the time of his death, people in villages adjoining Araya saw signs in the heavens, one of which was a heavenly chariot surrounded by clouds.

Adam Igbudu’s death, as one would expect, came to many people with great shock and surprise. To some, it was like a dream until he was finally interred at Araya on April 4, 1981. All the strange happenings which occurred around his birth and death only confirmed people’s belief that he was a man of great piety, one sent purposely into the world for the propagation of the gospel. In recognition of his meritorious service to the church and to the people of Isoko and Urhoboland, Igbudu was elevated to the status of a saint and a church was named after him, which is St. Adam’s Anglican Church, at Oghio in the Olomu area of Delta State.

Michael Leke Ogunewu


  1. J. R. Martins, We Still Believe in Miracles, Virginia Beach: Word of Life Publications, 1988, pp. 2-80. See also, T. L. Osborn, The Good Life, Tulsa: OSFO Publishers, 1994, p. 179; Receive Miracle Healing: Anything is Possible, 1984, pp. 61-65; and Healing the Sick, Tulsa: Harrison House Pub., 1992, p. 11.

  2. J. Omoeigbe, A Philosophical Look at Religion, Ikeja: Joja Educ. Research and Publ. Ltd., p. 116. See also Kenneth Hopkins, “Meeting Objections” in The Lion Handbook of the Bible, Herts: Lion Publishing Plc., 1986, pp. 42-47; Howard Marshall, “The New Testament Miracles” in The Lion Handbook of the Bible, Herts: Lion Publishing Plc., 1986, pp. 519-520.

  3. D. Hume, An Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding, Illinois: Open Court Classics, 1966, p. 126.

  4. D. Hume, An Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding. L. A. Selby-Bigge, ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1902, pp. 117 - 124.

  5. According to Erivwo, the Anglican Adam Preaching Society (A.A.P.S.) is a movement through which Christianity among the Itsekiri, Orhobo and Isoko experienced (and is still experiencing) phenomenal revival. For details see Samuel Erivwo, The History of Christianity in Nigeria: The Urhobo, The Isoko and the Itsekiri, Ibadan: Daystar Press, 1979, p. 139.

  6. M. Y. Nabofa, Adam the Evangelist, Ibadan: Daystar Press, 1992, p. 34, 44.

  7. Ibid p. 47

  8. Ibid p. 47

  9. Ibid. p. 48

  10. Ibid. p. 53

  11. Ibid. p. 54

  12. Ibid. p.54

  13. Ibid, p. 60

  14. Ibid p. 122.

  15. Ibid. p. [missing]

  16. For details of the incidences described above see H. W. Turner, African Independent Church, The Church of the Lord (Aladura) Vol. 1, Oxford: Claredon Press, 1967, pp. 8-13, 40-41; J. D. Y. Peel, Aladura: A Religious Movement among the Yoruba, London: Oxford University Press, 1968, pp. 62-74; J. A. Omoyajowo, Cherubim and Seraphim: The History of an African Independent Church, Lagos: NOK Publishers International, 1982, p. 17-18, 33-34; Deji Ayegboyin and S. Ademola Ishola, African Indigenous Churches: An Historical Perspective, Lagos: Greater Heights Publications, 1999, pp. 65-96.

  17. See references as cited in footnote 16.


  1. Ayegboyin, D., and Ishola, S. A., African Indigenous Churches: An Historical Perspective. Lagos: Greater Heights Publications, 1999.

  2. Erivwo, S., The History of Christianity in Nigeria: The Urhobo, The Isoko and The Itsekiri. Ibadan: Daystar Press, 1979.

  3. Hopkins, K., “Meeting Objections.” In The Lion Handbook of the Bible. Herts: Lion Publishing Plc., 1986.

  4. Hume, D., An Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding. L. A. Selby-Bigge, ed., Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1902.

  5. Hume, D., An Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding. Illinois: Open Court Classics, 1966.

  6. Marshall, H., “The New Testament Miracles.” In The Lion Handbook of the Bible. Herts: Lion Publishing Plc., 1986.

  7. Martins, J. R., We Still Believe in Miracles. Virginia Beach: Word of Life Publications, 1988.

  8. Nabofa, M. Y., Adam the Evangelist. Ibadan: Daystar Press, 1992.

  9. Omoreigbe, J., A Philosophical Look at Religion. Ikeja: Joja Educ. Research and Publ. Ltd., undated.

  10. Omoyajowo, J. A., Cherubim and Seraphim: The History of an African Independent Church. Lagos: NOK Publishers International, 1982.

  11. Osborn, T. L., Receive Miracle Healing: Anything is Possible. Tulsa: OSFO Publishers, 1984.

  12. Osborn, T. L., Healing the Sick. Tulsa: Harrison House Publishers, 1992.

  13. Osborn, T. L., The Good Life. Tulsa: OSFO Publishers, 1994.

  14. Peel, J. D. Y., Aladura: A Religious Movement among the Yoruba. London: Oxford University Press, 1968.

  15. Turner, H. W., African Independent Church, The Church of the Lord (Aladura). Vol. 1, Oxford: Claredon Press, 1967.

This article, received in 2010, was researched and written by Dr. Michael Leke Ogunewu under the supervision of Rev. Dr. Deji Ayegboyin, DACB liaison coordinator.