Pastor W.F Kumuyi and Bishop Mike Okonkwo are mentioned by Apostle Oladele Johnson among God’s generals produced by Mayflower schools of the late renowned educationist, social critic and self-acclaimed atheist, Dr. Tai Solarin. In his Rebirth Experience interview with Christian Benefits, Apostle Johnson reveals the roles Mayflower schools, which he also attended and Foursquare Gospel Church played in his becoming a pastor. Excerpts
Late Dr. Tai Solarin, founder, Mayflower schools
Please, can we meet you sir?
I’m Apostle Oladele Johnson, fondly called the apostle of dream. I’m Senior Pastor at Jesus Liberation Global Ministries. I’m a father of three and grandfather of five. I got born again in 1985 in Foursquare Gospel Church under the tutelage of Rev. Mathew Ashimolowo. I attended Mayflower Schools, Ikenne, Ogun state, founded by the late Dr. Tai Solarin. I was given scholarship by the friends of Mayflower.
Briefly share with us your new birth experience
My salvation experience was awesome. I had my rebirth in 1985 whilst doing my Advanced Level (A/L) studies at Baptist Academy Obanikoro, Lagos. It happened at a time two of my numerous girlfriends visited me. In my days of ignorance I had girl friends in all the classes; form one-form five. Some of my girlfriends were my seniors. While I was seeing the girls off, suddenly we got talking about hell. I can’t explain how we got talking about hell. I was defending that Tai Solarin cannot go to hell because of his good works. Along the street we were passing, a man was standing at the veranda of his house listening to us. I was raising my voice trying to convince the two girls. The man came down from his house to meet us and said he would like to be part of our discussion and we gave him audience. The man, as we later knew him, was Pastor Yinka Bakare. By the time he was through talking to us about hell my two girlfriends left me. I was sweating! Practically, I was feeling the heat of hell! I asked the man, what do I do sir? And he led me to Christ. That was the turning in my life. I will never forget that day I felt the heat of hell on earth!
“The man, as we later knew him, was Pastor Yinka Bakare. By the time he was through talking to us about hell my two girlfriends left me. I was sweating! Practically, I was feeling the heat of hell! I asked the man, what do I do sir? And he led me to Christ. That was the turning in my life. I will never forget that day I felt the heat of hell on earth!”
How will you describe the experience of your salvation on this particular day?
After I accepted Christ in my life, instantly I became hungry for God. I wanted to know more about Him. So, I started attending the Jehovah Witness close to our house but the light that was ignited in me on the day of my salvation was not there. I felt like the fire I have in me this community (the Jehovah Witness) does not have the fuel for it. They can’t help the fire grow. I felt something was missing. So, I left the Jehovah Witness in quest for a place where the fire will grow. In this quest my uncle came to my rescue when he sent me on errand to Bajulaiye Road, Shomolu. As I was passing bye, I heard Rev. Mathew Ashimolowo preaching at Foursquare Gospel Church, 26, Bajulaiye Road. I stood on the road opposite the church and listened to him preaching powerfully. Before now I had not heard about him. As he was preaching my spirit was absorbing all that he was saying. Before I knew it, I crossed over to the side of the church. Before I knew it, I sat down at the edge of the church. Before I knew it, I was finally right inside the church. Before I knew it, I started attending Foursquare Gospel Church Bajulaiye Road, Shomolu, Lagos.
Tell us about your journey, growth and service in Foursquare Gospel Church
When I started coming to Foursquare Gospel Church Bajulaiye my spirit started growing. I joined the choir that Rev. Ashimolowo formed back then. They used to call us The Supernatural. On and on I continued growing spiritually in Foursquare Gospel Church. It was there I met my wife. We were both in the choir and started growing together in the Lord. Subsequently, I became a Sunday school teacher.
After your rebirth, was there any old sinful habit that you struggled with to let go?
For me, immediately I gave my life to Christ some of my old sinful habits became repulsive. Before I accepted Christ aside being a womanizer, I was also a chain smoker of Saint Morris and 555 cigarettes. Mo ma n fikan ran kan ni (lit a stick of cigarette with another stick) before Jesus delivered me from womanizing, chain smoking and heavy boozing! When I gave my life to Christ all these sinful habits just naturally died. For those still struggling with letting go old sinful habits after their rebirth, I think it has to do with how opened someone is to receiving the grace of salvation. What takes place after one gives his life to Christ is regeneration; it is saying Jesus, come into my life. What has happened is very simple. The breadth of the Almighty that died in Adam is rekindled in the last Adam, who is Jesus Christ. Regeneration takes place to let go the old life for the new life to find expression in your life. Some people still hold on to some old sinful habits and that is why they struggle with them. Naturally, a regenerated person receives the spirit that raised Jesus from the dead. It renews your mortal body and also kills some habits in you.
“Some people still hold on to some old sinful habits and that is why they struggle with them. Naturally, a regenerated person receives the spirit that raised Jesus from the dead. It renews your mortal body and also kills some habits in you.”
Again, share with us your baptism of the Holy Ghost after your rebirth
Baptism of the Holy Ghost is part of the regeneration process. After you give your life to Christ, you also need baptism of the Holy Ghost to give you strength to live the new life in Christ. My baptism of the Holy Ghost under the ministering of Rev. Paul Jinadu, also a minister in Foursquare was very interesting too. Rev. Jinadu is a powerful man of God. Rev. Ashimolowo used to invite him in those days. One day he held a programme at Rowe Park where he talked about Holy Ghost baptism. Unfortunately, today we don’t talk or teach anymore about Holy Ghost baptism, prophecy, vision and dreams. They are the burners of the faith. These are the things that keep you alive as a child of God; that help you to know that there is something in me; I am not ordinary. They are the expressions of the Holy Ghost; like in the days of the Acts of the Apostles, talking about the activities of the apostles; how Holy Spirit acted in their lives. They wrote down what the Holy Spirit did in their lives. They wrote down the expressions of the Holy Spirit in their lives. That was how the Acts of the Apostles was written. But today we don’t allow the Holy Spirit to find full expressions in our lives. We are no longer writing any of the Acts of the Apostles.
As a new convert, who were those you looked up as your mentors in the faith?
My foremost mentor, as a young convert, was Baba Mathew Ashimolowo. He was my first model of a Christian. In fact, he picked a particular interest in some of us; me, the now late Bishop Lanre Obembe and some few other young brethren. Bro. Lanre Obembe then was the Youth leader in Foursquare. We were under him. Baba Ashimolowo would give us books to read and asked us questions. In those days whenever Baba Ashimolowo preached I would know where he got his illustrations because he had upgraded our minds with his mind and the books he was reading. It was that beautiful, encouraging and motivating to us back then. It got to a point when he wants to talk I know what he wants to say. He helped us to grow in the faith.
Rev. Mathew Ashimolowo
Aside Rev. Ashimolowo, what were other factors that boosted your growth in the faith?
I was in the choir. I discovered my gifts, so I was always busy with my gifts. My gifts drove me to the Holy Spirit. I was writing songs, playing instruments; doing the supernatural with instruments. I was doing evangelism. In Foursquare in those days we must do evangelism. Baba Farombi, our general overseer then, would invite us by himself for evangelism and crusades inside rain, sun and everywhere. When you are busy working for God you grow fast in your Christian experience. When you are in service you grow fast. Your gifts will find expression. There is no gift given to us to sit down. Every gift given to us is for service. When you are serving God your gift is sharpened, you find more expressions and grow in that gift. So, in service we found our niche. Then in the Supernatural Choir, we used to write and play our own songs. One of our rules is we don’t sing copyright. We sing our songs. We had many songs, unfortunately we didn’t get to record them. Unfortunately again, ogun awon eniyan mimo (the battle from the household of God) scattered the Supernatural Choir assembled by Baba Mathew Ashimolowo.
Share with us your experience as a student at Mayflower as the impact of the school in your life today.
First, Dr. Tai Solarin personally taught some of us how to write. A lot of people know him as an atheist; someone who does not believe in God. Of course naturally a lot of us his students grew up also not believing in God. But it will shock you to know that despite that there are lots people who attended Mayflower schools that are doing fantastically very well in God’s kingdom. Some of such people who are God’s generals today are Pastor W.F Kumuyi, Bishop Mike Okonkwo, Pastor Bola Odutola and many more. God knows how to pick His people when the time comes. (Continues next edition)
Pastor W.F Kumuyi and Bishop Mike Okonkwo, products of Late Dr. Tai Solarin’s Mayflower Schools, Ikenne, Ogun State.