Oyelowo, John Oyediran
John Oyediran Oyelowo hailed from Igbope in Oyo State, Nigeria. He was born into the family of Pa and Ma Oyelowo. His parents were idol worshippers. Not much is known about his parents because there are no biographies of them, but his mother died in 1977. Oral tradition relates that Oyediran was converted through the ministry of some American missionaries who came to Oke-Ogun, an area of what was then the Oyo Empire.
Birth and Education
Oyediran Oyelowo was born on June 26, 1920. He was the third child of his mother, and he had four other siblings. It was after his conversion and at his baptism that he took up the name John. He received a primary school education, which was the extent of his education then, in Ighoho (capital of the old Oyo Empire for centuries), which is very close to his hometown. His brothers and sisters were not that fortunate, and did not receive a western education. They remained idol worshippers as well.
He taught for a few years in the late 1940s. He was very passionate in the teaching profession, and any time he noticed a brilliant pupil he would make sure that his or her parents were encouraged to be completely committed to their child’s education. Sometimes he paid school fees for his pupils. A good number of his former pupils later became successful. When he was called to the Gospel ministry, without any encouragement or support from his family, he enrolled in the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary, Ogbomoso, in 1953. He graduated with a Certificate in Theology in 1955. As a result of his passion for education, he then attended the famous Baptist Boys High School, Abeokuta, for his secondary education. While there, he pastored some Baptist Churches in the Egbado and Papalanto areas, now in Ogun State, Nigeria.
John Oyediran Oyelowo married Sarah Ayoka Akande in 1966. The wedding took place at First Baptsit Church, Okelerin, Ogbomoso. God blessed the marriage with five children: three daughters and two sons. After his marriage, and in pursuit of his passion for excellence, he wanted to travel abroad for further studies, but he was asked by his mother to first have children before embarking on such a journey. Unfortunately, he could not travel after that time.
Oyelowo received the call to the pastorate of First Baptist Church, Akure and served from 1962 to 1982. He helped the church to develop and led it to plant several Baptist Churches in towns and villages in and around Akure, such as the churches in Ile Oluji, Idanre, Owo, Eleyowo, Ibuji, Owena, and Ondo. He was committed to preaching and visitation and was ordained into full Gospel ministry in 1970. He served as moderator and consultant to Ondo Baptist Association.
His next pastorate was New Lagos Baptist Church, Surulere, Lagos, from 1982 to 1984. While there, he helped to nurture a daughter church at Badiya. He was the pastor of First Baptist Church, Arolu, near Ogbomoso, from 1985 to 1989. As he always did, Oyelowo helped to strengthen the weak Baptist churches around Arolu. He was moderator of Igbekele Oluwa Baptist Association, and later the pioneer moderator of Emilolorun Baptist Church. He finally retired from active service in December of 1992.
His greatest contribution to the work of God was the nurturing of rural churches around Abeokuta, Akure, and Ogbomoso for about four decades. Most of those churches are now large churches. After his retirement, he relocated to his hometown, Igbope, and encouraged all the Baptist churches there.
He died peacefully on Saturday November 9, 1996 at the age of seventy-six, and was buried the next day. Both Igbope and Igboho stood still on both days. He was survived by his wife, Mrs. Sarah Ayoka Oyelowo, and five children: Mrs O. O. Fayomi, Mrs. F. M. Nkwoh, Rev. V. O. Oyelowo, Rev. J. O. Oyelowo, and Mrs. G. I. Ojeyemi, and eleven grandchildren.
Victor Oluwasegun Oyelowo
Program of Retirement Service for John Oyediran Oyelowo, Igbaaladorin Baptist Church, Igbope, December 12, 1992.
John Oyediran Oyelowo, interview by author, August 1996.
Program of Memorial Service for John Oyediran Oyelowo, First Baptist Church, Igbope, December 9, 1996.
This biography, received in 2012, was written by Victor Oluwasegun Oyelowo, a student at Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary, Ogbomoso, Nigeria under the supervision of Dr. Michael Leke Ogunewu and Dr. Deji Ayegboyin, DACB liaison coordinator.