Shadrack Omo Ojo was born in 1903 in Owhrode village in the present day Delta State of Nigeria. His parents were Mr. and Mrs. James Ojo Shadrack. Shadrack married Comfort and they had three boys and three girls.
In 1921, at age eighteen, Shadrack traveled to Ikale in the present Ondo State where he worked as a farmer–the main occupation of the people at the time. At age twenty-five Shadrack met a missionary who introduced him to Christianity. Soon thereafter Shadrack abandoned farming to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ of Nazareth to the people.
Shadrack preached for many years in Ikale but later was convicted by the Holy Spirit to return to Owhrode, his native village, to proclaim the Gospel of salvation to his own people. Shadrack thus returned to his village in 1930, bringing no material possessions with him, and started to preach the good news to his people. At first, the villagers thought that Shadrack was mad to preach such a message. The theme of Shadrack’s sermons was mostly repentance from idol worship.
Shadrack’s homecoming coincided with the arrival of missionaries in the nearby village of Otowode and the subsequent planting of the Anglican church in the town. Shadrack was immediately employed as a catechist and a Sunday school teacher in the Anglican church. He held these positions for a very long time and was instrumental in converting many people to Christianity.
On December 18, 1934, the people of Owhrode established their own church, named St. Barnabas’ Anglican Church, Owhrode, headed by Shadrack who later rose to the post of senior catechist. It is to Shadrack’s credit that St. Barnabas’ Anglican Church, Owhrode, built in his honour, is now the archdeaconry of Ughelli Diocese.
As Shadrack was in charge of many churches in both Urhoboland and Isokoland, many of the people in these two big tribes converted to Christianity thanks to his efforts. As he worked to establish churches in many villages and towns in Urhoboland and Isokoland, he preached against a popular feast called Ogboma during which human blood was used as a sacrifice to the Ogboma deity which the villagers believed to be their source of life. As a result of Shadrack’s preaching, the feast was abolished, the pagan practices eliminated, and many buildings formerly used as shrines for local deities were all converted into churches or places of worship. Presently Christians form the majority in the community and most of them are Shadrack’s converts.
Most of Shadrack’s children followed in their father’s footsteps. His sons are now heading such notable churches as St. Luke’s Anglican Church, Ovwian, and St. John’s Anglican Church, Owase.
Before his death, Shadrack preached that people should forgive each another and love each another. He died on January 26, 2000 at the age of ninety-six and was buried on the grounds of St. Barnarbas’ Anglican Church, Owhrode.
Kemdirim O. Protus
Evangelist J. O. Ediajal, headmaster and diocesan lay reader, St. Luke’s Anglican Church, Owhrode Archdeaconry, Ughelli diocese, interviewed by Eheri Augustine, a research assistant at the university of Port Harcourt in September 2004.
This article, received in 2005, was written by Dr. Kemdirim O. Protus, a senior lecturer in the Department of Religious and Cultural Studies at the University of Port Harcourt, a DACB Participating Institution. Dr. Kemdirim Protus is also the DACB Regional Coordinator for Nigeria.