Weighed by the guilt of sin, Oladapo John Olubowale wept his way to Jesus Christ in 1993. And 29 years later, The Polytechnic, Ibadan graduate of fine art and former art instructor has become a soul winner in the ghettos, sea sides, market places and local communities in Republic of Benin as Bishop of Ministère International des Soldats du Salut (MISS), also known as The Salvation Soldiers’ Ministries (TSSM). The Nigerian born preacher shares his rebirth encounter and his mission exploits in Republic of Benin in the below interview with Christian Benefits. Excerpts.
Please, can we meet you sir?
Thank you so much for the privilege granted to interact with you. I am Oladapo John Olubowale; a Nigerian from Ejigbo in Osun State. I am a child of God saved by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Presiding Bishop over The Salvation Soldiers’ Ministries (TSSM) Ministère International des Soldats du Salut (MISS).
Briefly share with us your upbringing, including your rebirth encounter.
I was brought up in a family of five where we all lived in harmony under the parental tutelage of Dad and Mum. I lived and grew up in Ejigbo where I had my primary and secondary education before I left for The Polytechnic Ibadan, Eruwa Satellite Campus where the journey to my rebirth began. How did it begin? It was the grace of God that brought me into this experience. In 1993 towards the closure of the year I have been feeling the weights of my sins, confused and down with guilt. I have heard the gospel preached to me by so many friends and preachers earlier but their messages made no sense to me until November 17, 1993 when I came back to my room with a heavy burden in my heart and with a desire to be saved. That night, I lifted up my eyes and cried out, “Jesus, if it’s true that you do save people come and save me.” This is what brought me into the second stage of my rebirth. Immediately I did this, I went in and laid myself down to sleep. And to this agreed the word of the Lord in Romans 10:13; “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” I woke up with a very deep desire to read the Bible. And since I didn’t know where to start, I just flipped it open and my eyes went straight to Psalm 119 which I read with rapt attention. I saw a great vision when I got to the last verse (verse 176). “I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments.” In this vision, I saw a sheep lost in the thickets looking and striving for a way out. It was then the Holy Spirit spoke loudly to me saying, “This is you.” I saw myself for the first time as a lost sinner. I burst into tears and began to repent and confess my sins. I did this until I had nothing to confess again. It was a practical deed. And to this agreed the word of the Lord; Acts 2:38, “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” It was after my encounter in repentance that I saw the second vision where I saw two hands dipped into my heart and came out with loads that was taken away. And the spirit made me to understand that it was my burden of sins that was taken away. I had peace in my heart. And to this agreed the words of the Lord.. Isaiah 53: ,“Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.” Romans 5:1, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” After this experience, I heard the Holy Spirit saying to me to fast for three days which I did. This experience broke down my appetites and desires for frivolous things that I was addicted to. Hallelujah! I am born again. I have been walking with the Lord since then till date.
How long have you been walking with the Lord, and how will you describe your walk with Him over the years?
It’s been 29 years now. My walk with the Lord has been a wonderful one; full of experiences, challenges, temptations and celebration of victorious.
Tell us about your career or vocation before your call to ministry, and how you received the call
I was a trained artist and also spent years in a teaching service as an art instructor. I have been actively involved since then in the work of the ministry (that I was so quick in discerning very early in the faith) through the help of the Holy Spirit and the local church where I fellowshipped with other children of God and I was ordained later as the mission evangelist on the 5th of July, 1997. My love, passion and zeal to see people saved took me into various places where we had open air gospel campaigns, rural evangelistic activities, church plantings and revivals etc. While I was still an art instructor the Lord gave me the vision of my next line of duty in Benin Republic on the 24th of April, 1998. I wrote the vision down and was waiting for the appointed time when it will speak. And to this agreed the words of the Lord, Habakkuk 2:2 -3 “And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.” On the 10th of May, 2003 I got married to Oyebimpe Ajayi who is now a pastor alongside with me. We were involved in pig farming, and also ran a JOHNBIM AGRO venture together where we deal with the sales of bird feeds. It was in the same year (27th December, 2003) I was officially and publicly commissioned to run The Salvation Soldiers Ministries as an independent ministry having the honor of my pastor and 68 other personalities spanning from various denominations in attendance.
Bishop Oladapo John Olubowale of Ministère International des Soldats du Salut (MISS), Republic of Benin
Tell us what informed your relocation from Nigeria to Republic of Benin, and your mission to the West African francophone country
My mission to Republic of Benin began when the Lord was challenging me of staying in a point. I also responded by saying to him “is it time for me to run with any of the visions in my archives? He immediately dropped that of Benin Republic in my heart. That was on the second week of May 2004. I ran upstairs to pick my 1998 diary where I wrote down the vision. I read through and I knew it’s time to run with it. Then, my heart was full of questions, questions like, how do I move now? Do I just pick my bag and move? Where will I stay there? And I heard the Lord speaking so loud to me saying;. “Go and share the vision w ith the man living downstairs”. The man in question was an old man was staying downstairs while I stayed upstairs. He is Agbozo Paul of blessed memory now. I spoke to him and he was just shouting Hallelujah! Hallelujah! He seemed to have been waiting for me. He picked his phone, chatted up a Reverend in Benin, turned back to me and said, we are moving on Friday. I was stunned and baffled. On the 7th of May, 2004 I set my foot on the soil of Republic of Benin. It was then I realized that Pa Paul Agbozo hailed from there and was an old missionary in Nigeria and with a reputable status in Benin having so many pastors, and apostles etc as his sons in the faith. The first thing I did was to start discovering what my line of duty is, the description of it and the location. The Lord is so faithful to guide me into all this.
Share with us your mission assignments and exploits in Republic of Benin
My mission to the land (Republic of Benin) is to preach the gospel in ghettos, market places, local communities and in all available spaces. We have ghetto ministry, seaside ministry and the church ministry where souls are taught, rehabilitated and equipped to serve the Lord and raised as soldiers for the Lord. This has produced so many saved souls serving the Lord in various nations. It has also given birth to the church arm of the ministry. We succeeded with the help of God in raising Béninois who love the Lord and are able to uphold the church even when we are no longer in the land. The Salvation Soldiers Ministries was officially registered in Benin as Ministère International des Soldats du Salut (MISS). We are currently working on our next line of duty in the City of Atakpamè in Togo Republic. The mission is to “go ye” into the entire world. Therefore, we move as He leads.