For Olatunji Onilude, coming to Jesus after several years in Islam is the most exciting experience he ever had. It was like being exposed to a flood of light. That light was within and outside him, Everybody around him knew something unique had happened to him. The passion was not only burning, it was consuming.
Beyond that, however, he had a desire to acquire degrees and perhaps become a lecturer. After bagging a first degree at the University of Agriculture, now the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta he made an attempt to do a master’s programme. But God said no to that ambition. Like a bondservant, he obliged. He also attempted to seek paid employment. He got another no from God.
But while waiting on the Lord on what to do next, the Lord said to him that he was calling him to missions. And not just to missions, he was called specifically to Egun people.
At the time the Lord called him in 2003, he did not have any visible source of income and sustenance. He was living by faith. But his obedience has yielded great fruit.
He said in a chat with Church Times at the 2023 Global Mandate Conference that, “God called me to minister specifically among the Egun people group from Badagry to Benin Republic.”
“We have fields in Nigeria, Agbojedo, and in two places in Benin Republic. We are more involved in rural missions. We go where the gospel has not been preached and where there are no churches to start worship centres.”
Beyond starting churches where there are none, Onilude also spreads the mission net to children in rural areas. Many indigent children have benefited from this gesture.
“I discovered that many of the children in the places we go to do missions don’t go to school. Their parents can’t even afford to pay school fees. In some cases, there are no schools in those places. So what we do is to start school and also give scholarships to the children so they could at least get a basic education.”
Village to School Initiative
While noting that parents of some of these children don’t value education, he said, “What we have done again is to start a scheme we call Village to School Initiative. Through this initiative, we help children that are orphans and who are indigent. We sponsor their education.
“Presently we have about 20 children in our care. We are sponsoring their education. Some are staying with us in the house.”
Onilude said his wife, who is also a missionary has played a very pragmatic role in ensuring the success of the work.
“My wife and I are both involved in the work. The Lord has helped us to have a firm grip on our calling. But then we keep waiting on God for direction and expansion of the project.” He said
Apart from establishing churches and reaching out to children in rural areas, he said his ministry also trains young missionaries.
“Our goal is to plant the seed of missions into young people. So that whatever they become in life they will see the need to reach out to others irrespective of their profession. We train young missionaries between the ages of 15 to 40. We go to interior places to raise missionaries so they can take over the field.”
Peculiarity of Egun people
One of the strongholds that Onilude and his team have had to confront is idolatry. “Many of the Egun people are by tradition idolatrous. It takes a lot of prayers and teachings to break that stronghold. Some go to church but still serve their idols. But the Lord has been helping us to teach them and make them realise the futility of idolatry. As they get knowledge they pull out.”
Onilude also discovered that many Egun people love alcohol. “We battle with that a lot. Many can’t just do without alcohol. But then, as we keep teaching and exposing them to the gospel they see the light and abandon their old ways. But generally, they are receptive to the gospel and have been quite accommodating.
But what are the testimonies of his 20 years on the field? “We have many testimonies. The first is about our present location in Agbejetho in Badagry. When we got to the community, there was no school, no light, and no water. But God used us to get water to the community. We sank the first borehole in the community. We were able to get a primary school established in the place. That alone gives me joy in the sense that we have been able to impact the people.”
On how he gets funds for his operations, he said, “God has been using individuals and organisations who believe in what we do to bless the work. We are particularly grateful to the Global Mandate Conference led by Rev Toyin Kehinde. The GMC has been very supportive. The GMC supports us regularly.”
Read also: My experience doing missions in the last 40 years- Timothy Olonade: https://churchtimesnigeria.net/capro-olonade-missions/
Onilude however stated that the work in rural areas is massive. “Many children are out of school. Our goal is to put many of them in school while also planting churches in the rural area. We can do with more support from people who have the heart to support missions.”
Looking back after years of doing missions among Egun people, Onilude says, “I give glory to God who has been our help and sustenance. From day one I have not taken up any paid employment. Just following God’s leading and he has been sustaining us. It was really tough at the onset, but God has proved himself over the years.”
Onilude could be reached on 08184397803