The first female Baptist full-time pastor to head a Baptist church in Lagos, Rev. Olayemi Aderibigbe, has explained to Christian Benefits how she received the baton of ministry from her late husband shortly after he was shot dead by armed robbers. Rev. Mrs. Aderibigbe, a former banker who once headed Ijero Baptist Church, Ebute Metta, Lagos state as Senior Pastor for seven years, also shares with the magazine in the below interview various events that culminated to her present work as the vision bearer of The Potter’s Baptist Church, Ikeja, Lagos. Excerpts.
Please, can we meet you ma?
I’m Mrs. Olayemi Aderibigbe of The Potter’s Baptist Church, Ikeja, Lagos.
Briefly share with us your upbringing
My late parents were from Ijebu, Ogun State. I was born over 60 years ago. I attended St Anne Secondary School, Ibadan, Oyo State. I had my theology training at Baptist College of Theology, Lagos. I was among the third set of the college and its first female student to graduate. After I graduated from the college, I went into full-time ministry. Before then I was a banker. I worked with the Bank of America (later changed to Savannah Bank) for over 20 years. I resigned from the bank to go to the college of theology in order to serve the Lord full-time.
Can we have a look at your immediate family?
My husband, Deacon Jonathan Adebodu Aderibigbe, is late 25 years ago. He was also a banker and a deacon at Ijero Baptist Church. He worked and retired from International Merchant Bank before his demise. God blessed us with four boys.
Briefly share with us your rebirth encounter by which you became a believer?
I’m an Anglican by background. When I got married to a Baptist husband I became a Baptist. Unlike the Anglicans who followed documented prayer points, the Baptists are people of books and they pray as led. By the time I became a Baptist it was a different game entirely. All along I had been a nominal Christian until I had the rebirth encounter with the Lord during a trip to Badagry on Easter picnic in 1988 after the minister that we went with ministered to us. But I will say that was a light encounter until my husband died on November 11, 1995. That was when I had the great encounter. My husband was a strong believer. I always joked that because of his fervent walk with God, God would never punish us. But that particular day was a turning point in my life. It was the day I devoted my life fully to the Lord. It was after that encounter that I went to Baptist College of Theology.
Please share with us the details of your turning point that November 11, 1995.
Before that November 11, 1995 I had been having lots of dreams and premonitions which I always shared with my husband. He would interpret them as a call into ministry. I would say call into ministry ke? That is your own interpretation. But on that particular night it was like the encounter between Elijah and Elisha when Elijah was about to be taken off to heaven. On that fateful night my husband was shot by armed robbers. Before he eventually passed on from the gunshots I told the people around that I receive the baton from this man. His ministry must continue. That was the turning point in my life on the night of Saturday November 11, 1995.
With that baton how did you continue running his ministry till now?
Initially, it was difficult. I didn’t even understand what I was doing. I spoke with some people who encouraged me and I took the forms to attend a theological college. Along the line I started observing that I have passion for women. Ironically, I found myself among males as the only female student at the college of theology. A lot of them were having issues. Some of them were already ministers in the church. Most of them were having family issues and were confident to share them with me. That was how my personal ministry formally started. I found myself reconciling estranged couples,and also family members. Some of them had entered into marriage with some secrets that they were unable to reveal to their wives. How will a ministry function when the minister hides secrets from his wife? It was at that point the passion for women developed in me. When I returned to the church I was put in charge of the children ministry at Ijero Baptist Church, Ebute Metta, Lagos. Until his demise my husband was a deacon at Ijero Baptist Church. I worked in the children ministry of the church until the Senior Pastor of the church, Baba Rev. T.A Fashipe, retired and left. After Baba left I was appointed to stand-in-the gap as Pastor of Ijero Baptist Church until a new minister, Rev. Dr. Israel Kristilere was appointed as the new Senior Pastor of Ijero Baptist Church. Rev. Kristilere served the church for three years. When he also left the church, after prayers the church leaders appointed me as the substantive Pastor of the church and I became the first female Baptist full-time pastor to head a Baptist church in Lagos.
How and when did The Potter’s Baptist Church appear in your ministry?
As at the time I was heading Ijero Baptist Church I had a great vision that God gave to me when the church was celebrating her centenary. I shared the vision with the church that we should plant another church to mark the centenary instead of investing in frivolities. It was like a tug of war when I shared the vision with the church. In the course of that I was in a meeting when the Lord said to me that he gave me a personal vision and I want to place it under the church (Ijero Baptist church). He said I have not had enough fight from the church members; that he gave me a personal vision, who told me that the vision is for the church? That was how The Potter’s Baptist Church was birthed independent of Ijero Baptist Church.
What exactly is the vision/mandate of The Potter’s Baptist Church?
The vision/mandate of The Potter’s Baptist Church is to win and disciple souls into God’s kingdom. Discipleship has been my ministry. Even while I was in school I was disciplining other pastors. I organized discipleship programmes for pastors.
What are some of the church programmes in line with this vision/mandate?
Aside Sunday worship service, we have outreach programmes. Apart from me as the vision bearer, we have a full-time pastor that I work with. He is a great teacher of the word of God in the mould of Bro. Gbile Akanni. Our outreach programmes include Saturday Cry and film shows. Also, we once had free medical and stomach evangelism for the residents of our community on different occasions.