As we celebrate the 57th anniversary of our independence, it is important that we do not forget these influential minsters.
As we all know, it is quite impossible to separate religion (Christianity) from our transition from the pre-colonial era to the years after we became a free country.
In those days, there were prolific missionaries that served as both spiritual and community leaders. These men, indigenous and foreign, helped to make the important decisions, thus earning their place in the history books.
Pulse Nigeria is honouring these outstanding Christian Nigerian leaders from that period to this year, as we mark our 57th year as an independent country.
Here are 12 most remarkable Men of God since the 1960s in no particular order.
1. Josiah Olunowo Oshitelu: Like Orimolade, this Christian leader gave people something they could identify with. He founded The Church of the Lord (Aladura). This church falls under the African initiated church category. These are churches that were started in Africa by Africans and independent of foreign missionaries. He was succeeded by Emmanuel Owoade Adeleke Adejobi on May 7, 1967.
2. Samuel Oshoffa: Reportedly, his ministry started after he resurrected people from the dead. This ministry is the popular Celestial Church of Christ. He lived from 1909 to 1985.
3. Timothy Oluwole Obadare: Apostle Obadare was a popular indigenous prophet in spite of an eye problem that made him blind. Despite his ‘disability’, he became an evangelist in the Apostolic Church of Nigeria in 1953. Obadare was there for fours years before going to the Christ Apostolic Church, which was founded in 1941 by Joseph Ayo Babalola: He took the leadership of CAC after Apostle Babalola died in 1959. During his reign as the G.O, he evangelised on both radio and TV. He was at CAC for 56 years until his death on March 21, 2013.
4. William F. Kumuyi: Pastor Kumuyi is the founder of one of the most known churches in Nigeria, which is the Deeper Life Ministry. He was named one of the "500 most powerful people on the planet" in April 2013.
5. Benson Idahosa: This man is one of the most influential pastors in Africa. He led the Pentecostal movement in the 1960s and 1970s. He founded the Church of God Mission International in 1972. Reportedly, some of the most beloved pastors of today were groomed by him. He also stands out for standing up to Islamisation attempts during General Babangida’s administration in 1986. He advocated for other Christian leaders to be activists.
6. David Oyedepo: Idahosa’s time was followed by a new era of churches like the Living Faith Outreach Worldwide, popularly known as “Winners’ Chapel.”It was founded by Bishop Oyedepo in 1986, whose church seats 50,000 people.
7. Enoch Adejare Adeboye: Pastor Adeboye, fondly called ‘Daddy G.O’ has become a well-renowned preacher, respected in both the Christian and political circles. He took over the Redeemed Christian Church of God, which was founded by Pa Josiah Akindayomi in 1952. Under his leadership, the church has blossomed and has gained a reputation for having branches everywhere.
8. Mike Okonkwo: He is the Presiding Bishop of The Redeemed Evangelical Mission (TREM). It was was founded on January 4, 1981. The church’s founder is one of Idahosa’s protégés.
9. Daniel Kolawole Olukoya: The Mountain of Fire and Miracles (MFM) is undoubtedly one of the most popular churches in Nigeria. It was founded by Pastor Olukoya in 1989.
10. Chris Okotie: This man went from the music scene to establishing the Household of God Church International Ministries in 1987. Later on, he tried his hand at politics by running for the President under the Justice Party (JP) in 2003. He lost to Olusegun Obasanjo but this did not stop him from trying again in 2007. This time, he created his own party, Fresh Democratic party, FRESH. Sadly, he was beaten by Umaru Yar'Adua. Pastor Okotie tried for the third time in 2011. Unfortunately, he lost to President Goodluck Jonathan.
11. Chris Oyakhilome: He is the founding president of Believers' Loveworld Incorporated, also known as Christ Embassy. Pastor Oyakhilome was one of Nigeria’s most popular televangelists.
12. Temitope Balogun Joshua: This preacher came on the scene when he started the Synagogue, Church of All Nations (SCOAN) with only eight members in 1987. Since then, his church has become a go-to for miracles, prophecies and more for Nigerians and people from all over the world. Prophet T.B Joshua is definitely one of Nigeria’s biggest Christian leaders in 2017.
This list would be incomplete without the following men:
1. George Adegboye: He is the President of the Ever Increasing Word Ministries, also known as Rhema Chapel International Churches. The church was started in Ilorin, Kwara State after God called Adegboye on December 19, 1981. His ministry has birthed Pastor Sam Adeyemi, Pastor Samuel Olubiyo, Pastor Victor Adeyemi and others.
2. Gabriel Olutola: Olutola is a former President of The Apostolic Church Nigeria, which was borne out from the Apostolic Church of the United Kingdom. The international church was brought to Nigeria by three Missionary delegates on September 23, 1931.
3. Lazarus Muoka: He started The Lord's Chosen Charismatic Revival Movement with a few pioneer members. The church was created sometime in 1994.
4. Biodun Fatoyinbo: He is the senior pastor and founder of the Commonwealth of Zion Assembly. The megachurch was created on February 14, 1999.
5. Suleman Johnson: This Apostle is the Senior Pastor and General Overseer of Omega Fire Ministries International, created in 2004. The headquarters is in Auchi, Edo State.
6. Samuel Adeyemi: He is the Senior Pastor of Daystar Christian Centre. The church was started on November 18, 1995 at the Eko Chinese hotel on Allen Avenue, Ikeja Lagos.
7. Felix Meduoye: Rev. Felix Meduoye is the fourth indigenous General Overseer of the Foursquare Gospel Church in Nigeria.
8. Moses Orimolade: It is impossible to discuss religion in Nigeria without mentioning Orimolade, the founder of the Eternal Sacred Order of the Cherubim and Seraphim. He was one of the first people to provide Nigerians with a relatable version of Christianity, after the colonial era.
9. Joseph Ayo Babalola: It can be said that the first Pentecostal church was founded by a former construction truck driver named Joseph Ayo Babalola. He created the Christ Apostolic Church in 1941, after leaving the Apostolic Church.
10. Last of them all, but definitely not the least is Samuel Ajayi Crowther. He was our very first Anglican Bishop.
He is most known for translating the Bible from English to Yoruba. He lived from 1809 to December 1891.