Age seems to be irrelevant to Rev. Bisi Orebayo, former director of missions of the Foursquare Gospel Church in Nigeria . He carries on with the gait of a youth and still dabbles into what men of his age have for long kept behind them.
A missionary evangelist, Orebayo who is around his 70th birthday still shuttles between Nigeria and Cameroun doing mission work. He is the patron of Cameroun Youth For Christ and does not seem to be in a hurry to abandon the mission field. Mission is his life. He told this reporter in a recent chat that he finds it difficult to leave the mission field.
“People ask me what do I still want on the mission field. They feel I should have just left the work. But they don’t understand that I have to obey the master’s call.” He remarked.
Born to a Muslim family, Orebiyi recalls his salvation experience. “I was a devout Muslim until Christ rescued me. The scripture God used for me was John 14. I was reading a tract and I stumbled on a tract where that scripture was used and that gave me a lot of comfort. That scripture is about hope and assurance which I did not have before that time. I did not hesitate but to surrender my life to Christ.”
Not long after his conversion he traveled out of the country for further studies. It was at the verge of completing his degree programme in banking and finance in the UK that God called him to ministry work.
“I was doing my final exams in banking and finance when God spoke to me that he wanted to use me in His vineyard. I then questioned Him why he allowed me to go through the rigours of studying banking and finance; he said to me to shut up that he was going to use all that I had studied for his own glory.”
He came back to Nigeria took up a job with John Holt Nigeria Plc but he had to quit after putting in some years on God’s instruction.
But it took a great deal of sacrifice on his part as he puts it. “I was a manager in John Holt when God called me to full time ministry. I decided to obey God but my employers did not understand as they felt I was leaving the job because of money and they ordered that my salary be doubled. But that did not change my mind because I had already decided to obey God. He left the job and all its attractions”
But for his resignation, Orebiyi would have been the first Nigerian General Manager of the company. Somebody who was once chauffeur driven had to come to terms with a reality he was not used to. “What I was getting as missionary was just about one tenth of my salary in John Holt. It was a lot of sacrifice. But God never owed him.
“It was really tough. But God did not owe me. There are a thousand and one testimonies of God’s faithfulness. He saw us through and blessed us greatly while working for him.”
Orebiyi who was a close friend to late Arcbishop Benson Idahosa was shuttling between Nigeria and Ghana doing mission work He established the Foursquare Church in Ghana and nurtured it before he finally left the place. It got to a point because of his frequent travels between Nigeria and Ghana that he could tell the pilot that that had just been employed by the airline he patronized.
A UK trained accountant and an alumnus of Life Theological Seminary, Orebiyi who spent 40 years working in the mission field with the Foursquare Gospel Church is reputed to have traveled to over 88 countries of the world.
He sees the mission field as a place to be “To succeed in the mission field I tell missionaries to do what Jesus did while on earth. He did not aim at the crowd but rather he took time to build the twelve and the twelve in turn impacted the world.
The Ijebu born missionary however noted that the temptation of loneliness may weigh down the missionary.
There is also the temptation of loneliness. “It is possible to be lonely in the midst of crowd. But that can be addressed by constant communion with God. There is also the temptation of success. In that regard, the missionary should not allow what you have achieved to go into his head. He also should not be tempted to water down the message because of the desire for the crowd. You must hold on to the truth. You have also to train the people to indigenize the work. We had to hand over to indigines of the country. The grace of God is there and the joy of doing what God wants you to do is enough to keep you going.”
He contended that when a leader is focused he will be too careful and will do what God wants him to do and avoid what He will not want. He lay the crisis in the church today on the fact that the people don’t have genuine salvation. “In Foursquare we believe in moderation. The excesses of the modern day lies in the emphasis on material things. A lot of people are going far into the world. We need to be practical in our Christianity. In those days I remember many years ago, a brother in the US was coming to Nigeria and he insisted on only working with born again Christian. But people hardly say that now. A brother also shared an experience where two muslims were discussing in the plane and they said there was no way the country would break because the born again Christians are praying for the country. But do can we say that now?” he querried.
Married for about 50 years, one of his children, though studied business administration in the US has since taken after him in the mission field as he now lectures at the Life Theological Seminary.”