In his lifetime he had all the opportunity to amass wealth. He had a thriving church with branches in Nigeria and overseas. He had the goodwill of men.
But Apostle Paul Oladejo Okedoyin, Founder of Lagos Area and Overseas of the Christ Gospel Apostolic Church never took advantage of all these privileges.
He lived a simple life. He lived a life of sacrifice. By the time he died in 2019 at the age of 93; he had little material acquisition to his credit.
The beauty of Okedoyin’s life was that he handed over the leadership of the church years before he died. And he did not hand it over to any of his children. The man who took over from him, Apostle Samson Afolabi was number 21 in the church hierarchy and was not in any way related to him.
Testimonies abound about Apostle Okedoyin’s generousity, his life of dedication and purity. Those who had the privilege of relating with him spoke glowingly of his down-to-earth disposition to life. He was also able to raise leaders with impeccable character and comportment.
The memorial service
On Sunday, May 29, the CGAC honoured him with a memorial service. The event took place at the Church’s headquarters-Central Church at 14, Holy Saviour Road, Off Osolo Way, Lagos.
The service attracted hundreds of members and non-members from all over the country. Many of the sons and daughters of the late patriarch were present at the event to reflect on his good deeds and how he impacted them.
Participants in the programme spoke so well of Apostle Okedoyin. They were particularly enthralled by the outpouring of love from this servant of God when he was alive.
Pastor Samuel Adebanji who delivered a memorial lecture at the event described the late sage as a man of impeccable character.
“He maintained his integrity in the face of all odds. He provided transparent leadership and accountability in the church. Baba was consistent he was a shining example in many areas.
“He was a servant leader. He would come to check me at Agbara where I used to live despite the distance. When I come to see him in the mission house and see the simplicity around him, I used to go back home feeling sober. He lived a simple life and did not put burden on anybody.”
The church leadership after Okedoyin
Pastor Adebanji, a technocrat is the Superintendent of the Oshodi District Area of the Church. He said the quality of the Church’s leadership speaks of the kind of person Apostle Okedoyin was.
“Baba was selfless. The way he appointed his successor was unique and uncommon. Ordinarily, one would have thought he would hand over the church to his children who are also pastors. But he did not. He listened to the voice of God. He broke all protocols to appoint a successor as instructed by God.”
Pastor Adebanji said he never heard negative remarks about Apostle Okedoyin since he joined the church in 1970. “I can attest to the fact that people had no issues with him. It was in fact difficult to pin a fault on him. Since his death, there has been no disparaging remark about him either. It is important to remind ourselves about the life our late father in the Lord lived. His life showed us that ministry is divine and not a means to earn a living or to promote personal agenda. Baba was a father of all. He related well with all.” He said.
The CGAC pastor however noted that the world’s understanding of success is the reason why there is confusion everywhere. “Apostle Okedoyin defined success from the standpoint of the Bible. He was a satisfied man. Okedoyin believed there was nothing wrong with wealth if used as a means to an end. And that was the way he handled wealth. He shared all he had. He showed compassion and helped to engender the unity of believers” Pastor Adebanji said.
A pastor in the Church, Yomi Awe who also had the privilege of relating with Apostle Okedoyin said, “When it comes to material wealth, Apostle Okedoyin was indifferent. He could give anything. If somebody gives him money for instance and another person comes with a challenge, he would not count the money brought to him earlier before handing over the money to the person who had a challenge. That was how indifferent he was to money.”
A life of integrity attracts trials
The memorial lecturer noted however that those who chose a life of integrity would face trials and temptations. “If you are going to live a life that promotes integrity, it is sure that you will face opposition. You will be tested. That is why we need to study the life of our late Apostle and walk in his footsteps even as he walked in the footsteps of Jesus our Lord and Saviour.”
He said it will be difficult to live a life of integrity without a close walk with Jesus. “Our trust in God and willingness to obey him will be tested. As we surrender to Christ the boldness we need to live that life will be given to us. We should go out and allow the light of Christ to shine in our lives. ”He charged.
Apostle Okedoyin’s firstborn
The first child of the late Apostle, Pastor Gabriel Okedoyin who joined the ministry in 1982 recalled some striking qualities of his father.
He said his father had a clear picture of what all his children would become. “My father knew what we all would do. And that was what happened. He knew the one that would become a pastor and the one that would be a medical doctor.”
Recalling his early years in ministry, Pastor Gabriel, who is Assistant General Superintendent Lagos Area of the Church said being a pastor’s son does not translate to being born again. He said but for the insight of his father and the grace God gave his father to discern, he would have continued in ministry work without being born again.
He recalled that his father knew he had a challenge. “The reason I accepted to become a minister of the gospel was not because I wanted to. It was because I wanted a desperate cure for my sickness which I did not tell my father. I was in my early 20s then. But I was impotent. I did not know God was going to use that situation to bring me to Himself.”
Pastor Gabriel Okedoyin said God went ahead of him to reveal his condition to his father. “My father called me and some top pastors in the church. He requested that prayers be made for me because I had a challenge even though I did not tell him. They started praying for me. Some times in early 1982 before I accepted to be pastor, one of the pastors in the church said to me that God was going to heal me but that he would not until I accepted to serve him.”
“Because I wanted to be healed, I decided to be a pastor. I was not born again at that time. But two days before that year ended one of the top pastors called me and told me some stories about my father and all that he went through. He then told me about Christ. I was literally weeping by the time the pastor was through with me. That was when I formally gave my life Christ.”
“How Jesus healed me”
Pastor Gabriel Okedoyin was born on May 14 1961. He had his theological training in Nigeria and Canada. He said it was after he surrendered to Jesus he began to experience a new dimension in his ministry. “I began to have a hunger for the word of God and for Christian literatures.”
His father played a major role in his spiritual development. “I also got to know early in my Christian walk that I needed to depend solely on the Holy Spirit to teach me. So for me, it was not a case of relying on the faith of my father. But it was God himself who dealt with me and brought me to himself.”
Jesus eventually healed him of his impotence. Pastor Okedoyin who is married with wonderful children recalled, “One night I discovered that I had wet the bed while sleeping. I thought it was urine. By the time I checked, I discovered that it was semen and that God had healed me of my impotence. I was so excited about the healing. I ran to my father to tell him the following morning. “
Jesus had appeared to him in the dream that night to heal him. “Jesus pointed a hand of gold to me and said, Gabriel go to Prophet Obadare and ask him to lay his hands on you and your glory would be restored. But I said to him, Lord you can do all things. I can’t go to him because it may be difficult for me to see him. I said Lord please tell him to come and lay hands on me.
“Immediately after making that request, I saw Prophet Obadare behind me in the dream. He prayed and said, receive back your glory. That was the exact the time I discovered I had wet the bed and found that my manhood was back to life,” he reminisced.
Beyond that he was also healed of some speech defects. His ministry has since taken a new dimension of power and grace.
My father is “Our Father”
Pastor Gabriel said of his father, “I don’t see him as my father. I see him as our father because I did not see any occasion of disappointment in him. He treated everybody equally. He did not discriminate. The way of his leadership was superb. He was a gentleman to the core and very loving.”
He said his father was deliberate in making the church a family church. “He made us use communal language to show the bond of unity among us. He loved people. He lived a holy life. He found it difficult to punish people. He went out of his way to do things for the church and for others. He had money but spent the money for the work of the ministry. He did not compel people to give.”
He did not complete his bungalow house
Apostle Okedoyin according to him, lived his life for others. “He had two houses that were never completed to this day. One of the houses was a Boys Quarter. The other house has been handed over to developers. I am saying that to tell you the kind of person he was. His personal property was not a priority.”
Pastor Gabriel said he learned obedience to God and to people from his father. He also learned simplicity. “He showed me that what your right is, may not come to you. If it comes, thank God. If it does not, just move on and thank God. He was an avid reader. My father was also always punctual at events. He had a tradition of getting to meetings 15 minutes before time.”
On why his father did not hand over the church to him he said, “That was how he was being led. I don’t think we should blame those who hand over church to their children. It depends on what God is saying per time. I am not after being overseer of the church. I do not seek it at all. All I am interested in is the best for the church. And that is what we are experiencing today.”
Striking quality of Apostle Okedoyin
The chairman of the planning committee for the memorial service, Pastor Emmanuel Alabi described the late Apostle Okedoyin as a notable figure in the country. “Many of us his children did not appreciate him until he died and people were coming from all walks of life to pay glowing tribute to him.”
He explained that the memorial service was the starting point for the church. “We hope to have many more events to honour him. The church is just coming out of the Covid-19 season. By God’s grace as time goes on, we will do more in his honour.”
Pastor Alabi is the District Superintendent of the Lagos Area. He said one of the striking qualities of the late Apostle Okedoyin was his humility.
“I can’t forget that about him. He was extremely humble. When he was alive, he never touched church money. He had able lieutenants who were handling money. The money he had was pumped into the church. He was a rallying point for everybody.”
How Apostle Okedoyin died
The General Overseer of CGAC Lagos Area and President CGAC Worldwide, Apostle Samson Afolabi told Church Times of the great work done by Apostle Okedoyin while he was alive. He recalled how he obeyed God’s instruction to come and start the church in Lagos. He also spoke of the ingenious way he ran the church during his lifetime.
Apostle Okedoyin in obedience to God’s instruction handed over to Afolabi in 2014. That was long before he passed on in 2019. Apostle Afolabi was number 21 in the hierarchy of the church. Nobody believed he would be the one to step into the shoes of Apostle Okedoyin.
“We had a smooth transition. Nobody left the church because of that. By his grace, I gave respect to all. And what God has given me to do I have been able to do.” Afolabi said.
He noted that the memorial service was significant to the church because of the invaluable role the late Apostle played as the founder of the church. “God has sent baba to us as a visible representation of the life of Christ. He was a man of integrity in all ramifications. He did not merchandise the anointing of God upon his life.
“Today, we can’t point to his house. He was living in the mission house. That is where I am living today. I use the bed he used when he was alive. By the time I was ordained I moved from my apartment to his apartment.”
The CGAC President said he was privileged to witness the transition of the late Apostle Okedoyin. “I was there when he died. We were praying for him. He was not sick. But after praying we started praising God.
“It was a day before the 2019 presidential election. We were chatting with him about how he would go to vote on election day because he had passion for Nigeria and was always praying for the peace of the country. He was a little weak that day. We knew anything could happen. He looked at us and asked us what we were waiting for in a caring tone; shortly after he gave up the ghost.”