It was a glorious atmosphere of great grace, glitz and splendor as dignitaries from all walks of life including a representative of Lagos state governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, commissioners from Lagos and Osun states, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) leadership, renown general overseers and senior pastors of churches and other ministers of the gospel, captains of industries, academics, the members of God’s Mercy Revival Ministries (GOMERM W/W) and the family of Dr. JAMES OLUWOLE AKANBI trooped out in large members to rejoice with Dr Akanbi, General Overseer of God’s Mercy Revival Ministries (GOMERM) on his 60th birthday anniversary on January 22, 2022 at GOMERM Int’l headquarters (Revival Centre) Ikotun, Lagos.
The beautiful occasion chaired by Pastor Johnson Funsho Odeshola, Asst. General Overseer (Admin/Personnel) of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, featured goodwill message presentation by a representative of Lagos state governor, Mr. Sanwo-Olu, public lecture by Prof. Biodun Akinpelu, Director, Centre for General Studies, Lagos State University (LASU) and public presentation of Dr. James Akanbi’s biography, A seed for Generations, reviewed by Mr. Sunday Oguntola, The Nation On-line editor, amid lots of dining, wining, dancing, jubilation and celebration.
Christian Benefits magazine, Nigeria’s leading Christian magazine was live at the event and captured the humble beginning of the Ode Omu, Osun State-born James Akanbi and his meteoric rise as a bricklayer to a reputable global preacher of the gospel called and ordained by God for the countering of the devil’s revival at this End time.
James Oluwole Akanbi was born on January 22, 1962 into the family of Pa. Joseph and Elizabeth Adewunmi Akanbi of Ode Omu in the old Western Region, in the present day Osun State, South-West Nigeria. His birth was on a Monday morning.
According to God’s divine plan for the new baby boy, he would grow up to become a serious-minded minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ, a pastor after God’s own heart, an Apostle of faith, a spiritual father, soul-winner, a revivalist, a prophet to nations, and a terror to the kingdom of darkness, and one who would show the righteousness and faithfulness of God to generations, had been born. No one knew that at the time.
However for this special son of Pa. Joseph and Elizabeth Akanbi, that was his divine destiny which would begin to gradually unfold in time according to God’s plan for his life and destiny.
Oluwole was the last child of the 11 children of his father but the second of his mum who had earlier given birth to a girl, Temilolu Bolanle, his only biological sister, before his arrival. Like the biblical Joseph whose dad, Jacob specially loved, Oluwole was much loved by his father who also saw the greatness in his last son and decided to name him Oluwole, the principal child has entered the house. The name was a prophetic, for truly, his beloved son, in time, would become the glorious star and principal hero of the Akanbi family.
During his baptism as a child in the Anglican where he was born into, his mother, Adewunmi, gave him James, a name in honour of her own father, Pa. James Aderinwale, the big time farmer and prince from the Adejokun ruling house of Ilare, ile Ife, and a highly-devoted Christian who married only one wife in the 1930s at a period when many successful farmers of his time took multiple wives. However, the name ‘James’ returned during another baptism and immersion in water after his born-again experience.
Before young Oluwole clocked 2 years old, his mother Adewunmi Elizabeth died. She was pregnant. The young woman was just 25 years old. During his early years, the faintest idea that Wole had of his mother’s demise was that he no longer saw the woman he was used to seeing in one of the many rooms in his father’s compound! As a young child, Wole’s dad loved taking him to church but Wole would often run back home. For instance, he hated the early Morning Prayer meetings which his dad never missed. In spite of Wole’s seeming lukewarm attitude towards the things of God at the time during his early years, the Almighty had bigger plans for His future. From a boy who hated going to church and would even be counting 1,2,3,4,5 during prayer time at the pew where he was sitting, Wole would grow to become a man of God whose Zeal for the House of God would become consuming.
Meanwhile, following the death of his biological mum in1964 at a time she was just 25 years old, and as days turned into months and months into years, Wole soon forgot almost all the memories of Adewunmi, the blessed womb through which God sent him to this world for His own special purpose and divine agenda of countering the devil’s revival at this end-time.
When Wole was of age, he was enrolled at St. John’s Anglican School, Oyo, a small community via Ile Ife. By his tenth birthday in 1972, Wole wrote his first School Leaving Certificate Examinations and was ready to proceed to St. John’s Anglican Grammar School for his secondary education. But he could not go to secondary school due to the dwindling finances of his Aged father. He later enrolled in a modern school even though that was not his desire.
However, at that phase of his life, Wole had become rascally and wayward like some of his siblings. He had started smoking cigarettes and Indian hemp. He was introduced to it by one of his half brothers. Sadly, the drugs and other vices, which the half brother devoted his life to later led to his untimely death. Such misfortune could have befallen Wole but God, who had bigger and better plans in stock for him, helped him to retrace his steps quickly. At 12 years old, Wole wrote the Modern Three Qualifying Examination. When the results were out, he was one of the four students in the school who passed the examinations in flying colours. He spent three years at the modern school and left in 1975.
SOJOURN IN THE NORTH
Due to the difficulty which Joseph had in sending his beloved son for further studies, Pa Joseph Akanbi handed Wole over to his first son. The fellow was a government contractor and reasonably well-to-do. The man took Wole to the north where he had ongoing business contracts. However, he soon forgot and abandoned him there. “He messed me up”, Wole years later, would describe the not-too-kind treatment he got from the fellow. He was just14 years old at the time. The relative was however kind enough to rent him a small shop-like one-room accommodation which Wole retire to every night to lay his head.
While in the North, Wole got to know such Northern towns and cities like Zuru, Bida, Lapai close to Abuja. His major means of survival were the grains of beans he scooped from sacks and cooked whenever a food contractor delivered the monthly consignment to a popular government-owned school in the town. He would also pick up small tubers of yam which fell as labourers hired to offload the goods, do their work. He had no money and his relative was nowhere to be found. Life was tough but Wole never allowed his challenges to weigh him down. Indeed, it seemed parents, family and everyone had forsaken him. But God, who has the plans of his life in His hands, used a Hausa man in the same house he lived to favour him. the elderly man would leave some of his Tuwo-n-dawa for Wole to eat so he wouldn’t go to bed on an empty stomach.
Despite the difficult sojourn Wole had in the North, something good came out of it. It was there he learnt bricklaying. At Zuru, he moved to some of the expert bricklayers going to sites and joined himself with them. Soon, through their tutelage, he learnt how to set blocks and plaster buildings. He carried head pans with concrete. Indeed, his head almost became bald.
BRICKLAYER AT 15 YEARS
When Wole clocked 15 years, he was already a master bricklayer despite his young age. It was the first paid job he did in his life. A monument which stands till date in memory of Wole’s sojourn as a bricklayer is the Nigerian Army Barracks in Zuru. His team of bricklayers built the blocks of flats in the barracks. Since he saved part of the daily wages which he got from his job towards furthering his education, Wole in 1979, returned to the South after applying and getting admission to the Divisional Teachers Training College at Ipetumodu. Within the first three months of life in college, he sat for 5 O’Level papers and passed with 3 As, the result which became his means to higher institution.
SPIRITUAL LIFE JOURNEY
Wole got born again in February 1979 as a 17-year old. He was living in Ibadan at the time. He got converted under the ministry of Apostle Caleb Oloyede of the Soul-Winning Miracle Crusade, Ibadan.When he became born again, he was no longer the rascal boy who smoked Indian hemp and fought anyone he felt like fighting. Wole became a new creature, a new man in Christ. However, he didn’t spend much time at the Soul Winning Church because he had to resume his studies at Divisional Teacher Training College, Ipetumodu. His new relationship with Christ as well as spiritual experience was deepened, nurtured and developed by the Deeper Life Students’ Fellowship at Divisional Teaching Training, Ipetumodu where he became President of the Campus Students Fellowship.
In 1981, Wole attended the Short-Term Ministerial Course (STMC) under Deeper Life Ministry. By then, he had been exposed to Deeper Life through Bible Study outlines he used while in college. In 1983, he had risen to become a Pastor of Deeper Life Bible Church, Orile Owu. In 1984, he was admitted to St. Andrew’s College of Education, Oyo, where he also rose to become President of The Apostolic Fellowship of Nigeria (TASCFON) on campus in 1986. The fellowship grew tremendously under his leadership. In 1986, he became Assistant Executive Secretary of TASCFON’s Western Zone which comprises 18 higher institutions. In 1993, he had become a Deacon in The Apostolic Church.
EXPLOITS ON CAMPUS
Shortly after Akanbi’s conversion, he quickly got exposed to books of Kenneth Hagins, Charles Spurgeon, Osward J. Sanders and E. M Bounds through which his spiritual growth became accelerated. That made him to become the preferred candidate to lead the school fellowship in 1981. From just about 60 members, he grew the fellowship to over 200 students in one year as President of the fellowship. It was a record. To achieve the feat, he had become a man of prayer and fasting. The Holy Spirit had also started speaking to him, leading him and giving him divine directions. On completion of that specific assignment in 1982, God told him: “You have been faithful over my small house; I will make you a leader over my bigger house in future.”
It was at the college that he came in contact with other vibrant believers like Ezekiel Adewuyi, Tunde Odunmorayo, Gabriel Taiwo and Femi, Ojewole, who would years later join him when GOMERM started in 1999. But most significantly, it was at the Teacher Training College at Ipetumodu, Osun State, that he first met the sister who would later become his wife and number one supporter in ministry today, Pastor Mrs. Deborah Akanbi (nee Osundun), whom he fondly calls his ‘gentle giant’.
Dr. Akanbi’s beloved wife and the love of his life is Pastor Mrs. Deborah Akanbi. They met at the Teacher Training College at Ipetumodu. At the time, sister Osundun served with him as one of the members of the fellowship escos. God spoke to him about her; he kept the revelation to himself. He didn’t want anything that would scandalize his tenure. Akanbi later proceeded to St. Andrew’s College of Education, Oyo in 1984. Meanwhile, God was also speaking to sister Osundun and like brother Wole, she also kept the information to herself. But because they are God’s perfect choice for each other, a relationship would eventually start and lead to their wedding on April 17, 1987 at Christ Apostolic Church, Modakeke. The pastors of the church confessed that their wedding attracted the largest number of youths ever seen in the history of the church. Within a year of their marriage, they were blessed with a baby boy named Isaiah. But they lost him when he was just 5 years old. God later blessed their union with two lovely daughters, Dupe, who is currently based in Slovakia in Europe and Funto, based in Canada, North America.