By Gbenga Osinaike
One of the church personalities in history whose story is rarely told is Prophet Daniel Orekoya, an Ijebu Prophet whom God used to ignite the Oke-Bola, Ibadan revival in 1930.
His story is contained in a book by Moses Oludele Idowu, a biographer who has written and published several books on early church fathers in Nigeria.
Oludele recently celebrated 20 years of publishing. He has also written several incisive articles that have attracted thousands of readerships both online and offline. His books on Moses Orimolade, Ayodele Babalola, Sophia Odunlami, and a host of others have enjoyed generous patronage.
But his book on Daniel Orekoya titled born to die, bound to reign is unique in many respect in the sense that it is a book on a hitherto uncelebrated church personality who made a great impact in the country in the 1930s.
Oludele noted in the book that Orekoya was born in Ijebu Imusin, Ogun State. The exact date of his birth could not be ascertained by the author. But he establishes that Orekoya was already a teenager when locusts first ravaged Yorubaland. That was around 1912.
Story of Orekoya’s birth
Orekoya was born at a time when infant mortality was rife. He was not expected to survive. But he did survive. The author notes in the book, “Orekoya’s parents had problem with children. Not that they don’t give birth but most of their children did not survive….obviously the townspeople did not expect him (Orekoya) to amount to anything. They did not expect him to survive… Short-statured, impaired in one eye. He was not the child any parent will invest a lot of expectation on.”
But the boy (Daniel Orekoya) who was given no chance to live; chose to embrace God in the course of time. He was a regular face in the Anglican Church of his town and was said to have been baptized by one Rev I. B. Ogunmefun, a native of Abeokuta who served in Ijebuland for over 40 years. With time, Orekoya began to be a seeker after God. But he soon noticed the disparity between what he read in the Bible and what was obtained in real life. That is what pushed him to devote his life to prayers and the study of God’s word. The author notes in the book that he often escaped to the bush to pray and seek the face of God.
It was in the course of seeking the face of God that he got instruction from the Holy Spirit to move to Lagos. In Lagos, he joined the Faith Tabernacle Church while also learning sewing. He worked as a tailor for six months. He then opted out of the trade to render full service to God in Faith Tabernacle.
The angelic visit
In Faith Tabernacle, Orekoya gave himself to more prayer and fasting. It was during one of the days of his fellowship with God that he had an angelic visitation where a long message was delivered to the church. He then sought financial assistance to travel to branches of the church to deliver the message. But the church declined to offer him help because of some flimsy excuses.
“One, Orekoya could read only the Bible and not any other book. He was partially impaired in one eye. Though he was aged, his physical stature was like that of a 12-year-old.”
But that would not deter Orekoya who looked for money from other sources and proceeded to Ilesha when he heard of the great work God was using the famed Ayo Babalola to do. By then Babalola had just been introduced as a new prophet in Faith Tabernacle. Babalola had also been praying that God would raise more prophets. When Orekoya got to Ilesha it did not take long for Babalola to spot him in the crowd. He thus became an assistant to Babalola.
There was a mighty move of God in Ilesha that year 1930. But then, Orekoya took off from there to return to Lagos after a series of revival meetings during which God used him mightily along with Babalola. While on the journey, those who heard of the mighty Ilesha revival and who had seen him play a major role in that revival approached him for prayers on the way. His destination was Lagos. But by the time Orekoya got to Ibadan, he could not move further.
The Ibadan revival
It was at Ibadan that people began to mill around him. He had hardly settled down to eat at the residence of his host that the Lord ministered to him that three women were coming to see him. Those women came. But not long, the number increased. Before long a sea of human heads had surrounded him. Oludele in the book noted that a newspaper called Akede Eko reportedly called Orekoya, Woli (prophet) Ibadan.
The newspaper reported many miracles that took place through the prayers of Orekoya. For days people were coming to him for prayers. There was a massive outpouring of God’s power that left no one in doubt that he was God-sent. His popularity among the people was only second to Prophet Babalola. It is instructive to note according to Oludele that some churches of Christ Apostolic Church, which Babalola and others pulled out to start still remember Orekoya on a yearly basis during a programme tagged: Orekoya Anniversary.
The miracles the Lord wrought through the hands of Orekoya were quite phenomenal. Testimonies of some of the beneficiaries of the miracles are published in the book in their own words. One of them is that of Madam Alice Abeo who was brought back to life four days after she had passed on.
Incidentally, the woman was pregnant at the time of her death. She came back to life, gave birth to her baby, and lived many more years after.
The beauty of Oludele’s book is that it has some empirical strength. For instance, he interviewed the child that was born by the woman who was brought back to life and also publishes a picture of the woman and her daughter by the name Mariam Ekundayo in the book.
Though the woman that was brought back to life eventually died in 1972 the author notes that she shared her testimony every year during the anniversary of Orekoya in many of the CAC churches in southwest Nigeria.
The book also has the account of the several revival programmes and miraculous deeds of this notable prophet of God. It is instructive to note that Orekoya moved from one part of the country to the other holding revival meetings, healing the sick, and bringing an end to the work of darkness.
Miracles of raised dead bodies
The author devotes copious space to the numerous miracles performed during the ministrations of Orekoya. Leprosy, epilepsy blindness, sores, various forms of addiction, cases of women with prolonged pregnancies that were delivered of their babies numbering about 202, about 22 people raised from dead, and several others are recorded in the book.
From the account of the book, Orekoya eventually came back to the Lagos branch of Faith Tabernacle. There, many who heard about his exploits in other states came to him for prayers and healing. It was from Lagos he was eventually invited to Warri where he had his “last revival” before his demise.
Orekoya had turbulent marriage
But the story of Orekoya according to the author is not all that smooth. It had traits of some of the shortfalls that are common among some great men of God in history. For instance, he had a turbulent marriage. His own elder brother who had married died without a child. So in trying to go along with tradition the widow of his brother was bequeathed to him. But his marriage to the woman became his undoing.
According to the book, Orekoya’s wife often complained of dereliction of matrimonial duty on the part of her husband. Being a traveling evangelist, Orekoya had no time to fulfill his conjugal vows. Despite the challenges on the home front and the fact that Orekoya was a staff and elder of Faith Tabernacle, he did not shy from his evangelical trips. The invitation he got to Warri was however his last.
Unfortunately, the Warri revival could not hold as expected because of a fire incident that consumed him. It was while preparing for the crusade according to the book that a gallon of fuel that was by his side caught fire while he was trying to fix a bad lamp. He was burnt by the fire.
Incidentally, he was the only one affected by the fire. Prayers were offered for him in the midst of panic. But it got to a point Orekoya requested that nobody should pray for him and that they should take him back to his hometown.
He was brought back to Ijebu Ode where leaders of the church prayed for him. The church was averse to medication. Due to the injury sustained from the fire incident, it became apparent that he would not survive. He died eventually but not without a confession.
Oludele in the book notes that Orekoya “Made public confession of his sin of pride, arrogance, self willedness (sic), disobedience and insubordination to church authority which according to him was responsible for his tragedy. He warned others not to follow his step. This was his confession and cry as he screamed and groaned in pain until he finally rested in the Lord.”
The author notes the various lessons to be learned from the short life of this seemingly unknown prophet. But the striking thing about him is that the years of his impact were just about three years or thereabout before his life ended abruptly.
Those three years were however years of outstanding achievements which enjoyed newspaper attention in those days. The strength of Oludele’s book on Orekoya is that it plays with facts and figures and employs credible sources to buttress its submission on the Ijebu prophet. The book no doubt is an archival material that will continue to reverberate through the length of history.