Christopher Ayantayo Orodiji was one of the few young men who made tremendous contributions to the Baptist faith in Nigeria, particularly among students and generally among youths. He was a product of the Baptist Student Fellowship (BSF) of the Nigerian Baptist Convention (NBC), and was also a promoter of the same organization. By all indications, he lived as someone who was hurrying to achieve a lasting and noteworthy accomplishment. In his tribute, the Rev. Dr. Solomon Ademola Ishola (general secretary of the NBC), said that he was “way beyond his generation and time.”
Orodiji believed that the essence of life was not in longevity but in meaningfulness, which explains why he always prayed for a meaningful life and not for a long life. Material goods were not as dear to him as having an impact in someone’s life. His wife frequently requested that they buy a piece of land, but his response was always, “There is a house (not even land) for me yonder, let me invest in life.” It can therefore be safely concluded that he had a premonition that he would not live a long life on the earth.
Family ties and educational achievements
The personal records of Christopher Ayantayo Orodiji reveal that he spent more than nine months in his mother’s womb. In today’s religious parlance, his delivery on July 30, 1973 at Baptist Medical Centre, Ogbomoso, would be regarded as a “breakthrough.” The reason for this prolonged pregnancy could not be ascertained. However, his parents’ joy knew no bounds when he was born.
He was born to the family of Mr. and Mrs. Solomon Orodiji, who are both natives of the ancient town of Ogbomoso in Oyo State, Nigeria. His name, Ayantayo, implies that he came from a family with a history of being professional traditional drummers. His progenitors were worshipers of Oro, a deity in Yoruba land that must not be seen by womenfolk. Orodiji literally means “Oro spreads.” His father, however, is an adherent of the Baptist Faith. His parents are members of Ijeru Baptist Church, Ogbomoso. Therefore, Tayo Orodiji was not only born at the Baptist Hospital, he was also christened by the Baptist Church, and grew up to become a strong adherent of the Baptist Faith in Nigeria.
In his earlier years he experienced a lot of difficulties and disappointments in his career, his marriage, his friendships, and his leadership. These challenges were so discouraging that one day he decided to take his life by ingesting poison. Surprisingly, this poison did not harm him in any way.
He made marriage proposals to several Christian ladies, but they were all turned down. He eventually married a woman named Olajumoke, and the marriage was solemnized at Emmanuel Baptist Church, Sabo-Oke, Ilorin on October 23, 1999. The marriage produced two sons, IreOluwa and AanuOluwa.
Tayo Orodiji obtained all his educational qualifications in his home town, Ogbomoso. He attended Ijeru Baptist Day School, Ogbomoso from 1979 to 1985 for his primary education, and went on to the Secondary level at St. Ferdinand’s Grammar School, Ogbomoso from 1985 to 1991. Because of the urgency of the divine call into full-time pastoral service, which came in 1992, he could not further his secular education beyond Secondary School. However, his theological education extended to the degree level. He gained admission to the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary, Ogbomoso (NBTS), and studied from 1994 to 1997 for his Diploma in Theology. In 2001 he returned to NBTS and graduated with a Bachelor of Theology in 2003.
Spiritual exposure, development, and passion
On January 15, 1991 Tayo Orodiji personally accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior and Lord. Two years after this experience, he was baptised at his local church, Ijeru Baptist Church, Ogbomoso, after he had undergone baptismal training. Immediately after his conversion experience he started showing interest in spiritual matters in an enthusiastic manner. First, he availed himself of the opportunity of being mentored and discipled. He was mentored and discipled by Reverends Goke Adeleke and Kayode Oyedemi. The result of this discipleship was that he developed a special love for the Scriptures. Whenever he found out any truth in Scripture, he would not be comfortable until he gathered people together and shared what he had discovered in the Bible. In addition to the two spiritual mentors mentioned above, he also interacted with others who could help him spiritually. He was very close to the leaders of the student ministries of the NBC.
Secondly, he joined the Baptist Student Fellowship (BSF) of his local church, Ijeru Baptist Church, Ogbomoso. The BSF was introduced in Nigeria by a white missionary, Miss Mary Frank Kirkpatrick, in the mid 1960s. This Fellowship is a charismatic movement within the Baptist denomination of NBC. From the time he joined this Fellowship until the time he died, he showed a concern for personal growth [within the BSF] as well as for the growth of the Fellowship itself.
At the time he joined the BSF of his local church, the Fellowship had lost its’ vibrancy. At that time, many students were not willing to join the BSF and the members were not committed. He joined forces with Mr. Sayo Amole (now Dr. Sayo Amole) to revitalize the Fellowship, and they were able to rejuvenate it through persistent visitation to members and by giving encouragement to non-members. He was also concerned for the students’ spiritual welfare, and as he studied at the NBTS, this concern deepened. This same passion must have led him to serve as a worker in the Student Ministries branch of the NBC, because from his seminary days on, he had been expressing his willingness to serve there.
The spiritual passion that he exhibited led him to occupy several leadership positions at both the local and national levels of the BSF. In 1992 he was the prayer chairman of Ijeru Baptist Church Student Fellowship. In 1993 he became its spiritual growth secretary and in 1993/1994 he became the president of the Fellowship. As a result of being in this latter position he was a member of executive committee of the Ogbomoso South-East BSF Association.
He continued to be prominent in the BSF cycle in several positions. At the BSF conference level he was once the evangelism chairman of the Oyo East (now Ogbomoso Conference) and of the Osun Conference. Moreover, at the national conference level, he was the Bible Study Group leader (1993), Deliverance Team leader (1995) and Seminar leader/Bible Study Group leader (1996). At the NBTS he was a member of the Baptist Student Leaders Fellowship. This Fellowship was inaugurated in 1986 for the purpose of assisting the BSF groups in local churches. In this fellowship, Tayo Orodiji occupied the following positions: outreach chairman (1995/1996), secretary (1996/1997), and support personnel for the BSF Ori-Oke Baptist Church, Ogbomoso.
Orodiji played a significant role in the history of BSF of Alapata Baptist Church, Ogbomoso. At that time the church was a preaching station of Ijeru Baptist Church, Ogbomoso. As president of the BSF of that mother church, he anchored the beginning and early development of the Alapata Baptist Church Student Fellowship. The student work he spearheaded grew and extended to other Baptist Student Fellowships in Ogbomoso.
As a student in the NBTS, Orodiji served as a student pastor and associate pastor for his supervised ministry work, which included [serving during] the long vacation at the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary. The churches he served include: Myers Baptist Church, Leper Colony, Ogbomoso; Uzogholo Baptist Church, Edo State; Zion Baptist Church, Ifako, Agege, Lagos State, and Oja Oba Baptist Church, Ogbomoso. In all these churches, Orodiji served diligently and meritoriously. It is interesting to note that Myers Baptist Church Leper Colony is founded so as to spiritually cater to lepers. It is very rare for student pastors to show interest in being posted to [such a] church for their supervised ministry, but Tayo Orodiji gladly served there.
Immediately after his graduation from the NBTS in 1997, he joined the ministerial staff of NBC Student Ministries as western zone II coordinator. His base was in Osogbo. This western zone II where he was coordinator covers Osun, Oyo East (now Ogbomoso), and Kwara conferences. His assignment involved travelling, so he was a regularly travelling as an itinerant evangelist. As a coordinator, he was outstanding. He was a good speaker and preacher, and was in high demand in conferences and churches. The Oke-Ogun area BSF was inaugurated under his leadership as coordinator for the western zone II BSF on June 12 to 14, 1998 ,with 120 people in attendance.
Tayo Orodiji was highly gifted in discipleship training and program planning. As the coordinator of western zone II where Iwo is located, he ministered to Bowen University, Iwo in the area of discipleship. He started full fledged discipleship training on campus and discipled many students there. When Goke Adeleke resumed as the chaplain of the University, Tayo handed the work over to him. However, he maintained a partnership in ministering to those students.
Furthermore, he had a strong desire to see generations of godly youths who highly prize sexual purity. Therefore, he was a member of the Baptist AIDS Awareness and Preventive Program (BAAPP) committee of the NBC. Moreover, it was his love for youths that brought “Young and Useful” into existence and into the limelight in 1999. He pioneered this annual retreat which brought the Youth Fellowship, Royal Ambassadors (RA), Lydia, and the BSF together. This annual retreat called “Young and Useful” has the following aims and objectives, as drawn up by the pioneer:
To bring young people to the knowledge of Jesus Christ through the undiluted word of God.
To retain, maintain, and sustain our young people through the spiritual dynamics of contemporary Christianity.
To rebuild the broken wall of Christ-centered relationships that exist amongst youth [in the] BSF, the RA, and the Lydia organizations through spiritual renewal and restoration retreat activities.
To prepare these young people for a better future in leadership, marriage, and career.
To fuel the revival fire in the church through young people who will be responsible, “young and useful” people for God, for their families, for the Church, and for the nation as a whole.
The first meeting of this retreat, held in Osogbo, was attended by over one thousand young people [from the] BSF, RA, and Lydia Organizations of Osun Baptist Conference. In the subsequent years of its meetings, the program attracted members of the organizations from all the western states of the federation. It is worth noting that this program was the first of its kind in the NBC. Also, it has been adapted by most conferences of the NBC with different names, such as: Young and Dynamic, Young and Vibrant, Young and Alive, and so on, but with a similar focus.
At the first meeting of “Young and Dynamic” being coordinated by Olawuyi, James was the facilitator. Because of his spiritual concern about how teenagers, youths, and students should handle their sexual passion, he researched, taught, counselled, and wrote on sex, rape, masturbation, and pornography. This work was something that endeared him to young people, and in most of the conferences that he coordinated, or to which he was invited as a guest preacher, many of these young people would open up to him. On several occasions they told him about sexual assaults they had experienced on the part of relations, friends, strangers, and even from some pastors. Most of these victims of sexual abuse have been rehabilitated and transformed. To his credit, he wrote seven books, which include: Power for Tomorrow, published at Osogbo by Chris Tayo Orodiji,1999; Arise and Eat, published at Osogbo by Chris Tayo Orodiji, 2000; Arise and Go, published at Osogbo by Life Impart Media Network, 2004; From Disappointment to Appointment, published at Osogbo by Life Impart Publishing House, 1999; Sex, Rape and Masturbation and Pornography, published at Ogbomoso by Armstrong Communication; and Sex and Abortion, published at Ilorin by Villa Press Printers, 2004.
Orodiji was appointed as the acting national coordinator of the Student Ministries division of the missionary organizations in October of 2004. In January of 2005, a week before his death, he was appointed as the substantive national coordinator of the BSF of the NBC.
On Saturday January 8, 2005, Orodiji travelled to Abuja with Goke Adeleke to attend a meeting of the BAAPP committee. He was travelling back to Ibadan a few days later, again with Goke Adeleke, on January 11, when the vehicle they were in was involved in a fatal accident near Asejire Water Works, on the Ibadan/Ile-Ife expressway, in the early hours of that day. He died in that accident at the age of thirty-one, having served as the BSF worker of the NBC for eight years.
He died in the course of pursuing his vision, which was to see a generation of great leaders for the future, a generation in which there was sexual purity. His desire to see a young and useful generation kept burning in his heart to the end.
Ayotunde Yolayori Oguntade
Tunde Alabi and Ojo Mathews, eds. Baptist Student Voice, September 1998.
Babalola, Tayo ed., Young, Useful, Yoked to Christ - Reflections in Honour of Josiah Adegoke Adeleke and Chris Tayo Orodiji. Ibadan: Sceptre Prints Limited, Student Fellowhip in Nigeria. Ibadan: Sceptre Prints Limited, 2008.
Nihinlola, Emiola. The Child Has Survived - A Testimony of the Growth of the Baptist Student Fellowhip in Nigeria. Ibadan: Sceptre Prints Limited, 2008.
Orodiji, Chris Tayo. From Diappointment To Appointment. Osogbo: Life Impart Media Network, 1999.
——–. Power for Tomorrow. Osogbo: Chris Tayo Orodiji, 1999.
This article, submitted in December 2010, was written by Ayotunde Yolayori Oguntade, a PhD. candidate at the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary, Ogbomoso, under the supervision of Dr. Deji Ayegboyin and Dr. Leke Ogunewu.