Afolabi Dollars is a teacher of the word and founder of Wordites Reformation Network. He is an entrepreneur who is into oil and gas business and CEO of Pragmatos Empires.
He was born into a Muslim family and grew up practising Islam until he had an unusual encounter with the Holy Spirit while in Secondary School at the Igbobi College, Lagos.
He has an unusual insight into God’s word that sometimes stirs some controversy. Having traversed many denominations, he believes if God were to use doctrine to judge the Church, nobody will make it adding that the bottom-line for every believer is Love.
A graduate of Science Laboratory Technology with a specialisation in Microbiology Virology from the University of Ilorin, Dollars shares his journey of faith with Church Times.
Kindly give us a glimpse into your background. How did you come about the name Dollars? Why not naira?
I am a full-blooded Lagosian. My father is Awori, mother is from Isale Eko. I lived a bit of my childhood in the UK before coming back to Nigeria to start my education.
I adopted the name Dollars because of my faith in a future where I would become globally relevant. As we all know, the dollar is the most recognised currency in the world. So, bearing the name Dollars is a prophetic statement. I wanted to also start a new generation from myself. In my entire lineage, I am the beginning of a new generation.
But what is your original surname? Does that mean you have cut off from your family background?
Balogun was the original name. I did not cut off from the Balogun family. I am just the beginning of a new generation. But then, Balogun is also a title not a name in the real sense of the word. You can have Balogun of different places. I adopted the name Dollars because, as I said earlier, I envisaged a future of global relevance.
You were a Muslim?
I was born a Muslim. I was closer to my grandmother when I was born because of the circumstances that surrounded my birth. She gave me the Muslim name Abdurasheed. My grandmother was an Alhaja. I had always loved knowledge. I attended the Arabic school but I did not go into the hadith. But when I became a Christian, I went to make research on the hadith. There is nothing you want to tell me about Islam that I do not know. I know how to pray the Muslim prayers and had memorised some portions of the Koran.
What was your experience of the Christian faith before you became born again?
Before my conversion, I was always debating church doctrines. I used to love arguments with Christians. Jehovah’s witness folks particularly were always coming to me. I engaged them in a lot of debate. I used to tell them God does not have a child. He does not have a wife and that they can’t be calling Jesus the son of God. We believed God was not given birth to and he did not give birth to anybody. I used to tell them to forget telling me about the son of God. I could argue for hours. That was the closest interaction I had with the Christian faith.
How then did you now become a Christian?
When I was a child, I used to hear voices. I used to see images too. But I would keep those things to myself. Sometimes I would be scared. When I was at Igbobi College about 30 years ago. I was in one of the buildings to read. I was alone. This time I heard a distinct voice, different from what I used to hear when I was younger. It was later I got to know it was the Holy Spirit speaking to me. It was one clear distinct voice.
The voice called out to me, Abdurasheed!!! and asked, do you know the meaning of your name? I answered and said, the one that shows others the way. I had been told that in our Arabic school.
The voice asked another question, have you ever seen any miracle done in Islam before? I said I had seen milk with some concoctions turned to lofinda. He then asked, have you heard of Idahosa? Then, I used to hear about Idahosa and I used to see the signboard of Idahosa around Mafoluku junction at Oshodi in Lagos on my way to school in those days. My Primary school was A-Z International at Ajao Estate. The signboard did not mean anything to me.
The voice said to me, how the blinds see, the lame walk, the deaf hears, talking about Idahosa.
Later I got to understand that God was using Idahosa and my Islamic name to get my attention. The only thing I remember after the introduction of Idahosa by the voice was that I was on my knees crying. Nobody preached to me. I did not know any Bible portion. The first scripture I got to know when I became a Christian was Rev chapter I from verse 7 down and Rev. 22. It was later I got to know John3v16 because I needed to preach the gospel.
How did you get the scriptures?
There was a conviction within me that I needed to come to this side of faith. After crying I asked the Lord to forgive me, I could not continue with my studies in that building. I left. Then, I used to know some people who were Christians. There was one Lekan Jaiyeola who was a Christian. I told him my experience. He was the one who took it over from there with me. We were doing quiet time together for about two days. After that, the Holy Spirit took over the whole process. The third day after the experience, I began speaking in an unknown language.
The news had gone round that a Muslim boy had become a Christian. People wanted to listen to me, they wanted to hear my story. So, the scripture that came close to me were the scriptures from Revelation. Every day I was going to the dining hall, I would talk to a minimum of three people and implore them to surrender to Jesus.
Later, I went to another school and was going from home. That was when the persecution started in the house.
What was the persecution like?
I had issues with my grandmother who loved me so much. She was the one who gave me the name Abdurasheed. When she saw that I was carrying Bible and praying the Christian way, she was upset. She said I had gone to join kiriyo. That was when she told me the story of how I was born in a traditionalist home. She said I was ungrateful to have become a Christian. She said my conversion won’t happen in her house. But I was adamant because I had an encounter. I would go for crusades and different meetings. By the time I got back, I would be locked out and there would be no food for me.
I remember my grandmother would tell me I won’t eat until I pray in the Islamic way. A brother counselled me to pretend to be praying in the Islamic way while I would be mentioning Jesus in my prayers. I would do the ablution and do all the postures.
Praying in the Islamic way can be done without uttering a word, I would be muttering to myself and praying using the name of Jesus while they thought I was praying in the Islamic way. Then I used to always fast. There was a time I fasted for a whole year. On Saturday my grandmother would insist I do the Islamic prayers before she would give me food. I later got to understand that prayer is not about posture. It is my heart and what I say in prayers that mattered.
What about your mother?
My mother too was furious. There was a time she was chasing me around with a pestle. One day she packed my clothes and threw them outside. When my dad got to know, because he was a strong traditionalist, he disowned me. Between my father and I, there was no much agreement. I was a kind of stubborn-headed person.
Once I am convinced about something, I go ahead with it. My mum would wait for me to sleep. She would come in the middle of the night and flog me. The night she was chasing me with a pestle, I prayed to the Lord and asked him to arrest her and make her a prayer warrior. It did not happen immediately. But that prayer came into fulfillment in her life. She later became a Christian. You need to see her praying now and fasting. I am the one now trying to ask her to take it easy.
So how then did you share your faith with people? What were the experiences?
Then, I did bus evangelism for five to six years. I would enter the bus and share the testimony of my conversion. There was this woman in the bus, a Muslim. She followed me to the last bus stop during one of my bus ministrations. Immediately I finished preaching and praying on the bus, she came to me and started charging at me. She said I did not have to condemn other religions. The woman tried to go physical. She was so aggressive. But I was just laughing. This got her more furious. She was getting closer and people were trying to hold her back, she would not agree. As she was coming towards me, something lifted her up and slammed on the ground.
She probably thought she just slipped. She stood up again and was coming. The same thing happened the second time. At this point, I began to speak in tongues because then I used to speak in tongues. The woman advanced again towards me she was lifted up. This time she was made to sit. At that point, people started coming towards us. And I used the opportunity to preach the gospel. People gave their lives to Christ. And people were just curious and began to ask what church I was attending.
So what church were you going to then?
I have gone to different churches. But then, by that time I was attending Fountain of Life Church. Before then I had attended Deeper Life Bible Church.
Because of the way I was converted, I was seeing things differently from what other believers were seeing. I had always had some unique understanding. Many of the things I say now, I had known them 26 years ago. I left Deeper Life in 1992 because of the issue of television.
Then, I was wondering how TV was the devil’s box and people were going to throw their television away. I felt I did not belong to that gathering. I left. I then joined a white garment church, the evangelical wing of Cherubim and Seraphim Church.
We used to dress in mufti though. It was a charismatic fellowship just that they belong to the C&S. I was there for a while. Then I joined Gospel Faith Mission where I had an awesome experience. I met a couple of people there that impacted me. I later left Goffamint and joined Glory Christian Centre. I did not stay there for too long. It was from there that I joined Fountain of life Church. I was there for a while. I was in the first branch chapter of Fountain of Life headed by Pastor Sunday-Bayo Babalola.
I remember there was a day the pastor wanted to anoint some members during the service. There was no oil in the church store. They had to stop the service looking for goya oil all over the place. That day I had an argument with the pastor. I said it was not the goya oil that would make them anointed. The anointing oil is mentioned along with the sick. To anoint simply means to set apart. So, I was just wondering about the obsession with goya oil
There was also the issue of baptism. I was told I had to still do another baptism thereby nullifying the one I had done in my previous church. So that made me leave. I joined Christ Embassy and I was told I had to do another baptism again and that I had to go through the believer’s class.
So, I kept wondering if it is about the denomination or Christ. I learnt a lot at the Christ Embassy. Pastor Chris Oyakhilome is a dynamic man of God. Christ Embassy was the second most impactful church for me. When I left, the pastor of the branch I was attending told the members that when they see those of us who left the church coming, they should cross to the other side of the road, that they should have no conversation with us, that if they mistakenly talk with us, they should go and ask for forgiveness.
Anyway, I had left the church to join Latter Rain Assembly. I had always followed Pastor Tunde Bakare. It was like the final bus stop but I still left the place when I was to start my ministry. My pastor, Dr. Bakare influenced my life so much more than any other person I encountered. I came to know Dr. Noel Woodrow through him. These are people who fathered me so much. Rev George Adegboye also influenced me so much while I was at the University of Ilorin.