Impossibilities do have a way of helping doubt get our faith crippled. Worse still, is when we find ourselves “forming” boldness and stubbornness in the situations we find ourselves, only for such a situation to result in piles of frustration. What do you think would help keep you going? I believe, the answer is persistent faith, with an absolute trust in God’s inability to fail, and forsake you. Some would call it dogged faith. Yes, it’s that kind of faith that makes you dare the impossible and determine to take great leaps for the sake of the gospel no matter the “said limitations”.
Bishop Benson Idahosa is Christ’s trophy of testimony in this light.
We talk about being born with a silver spoon; the late Archbishop Benson Idahosa was born without a spoon in his mouth. He was born into a very poor family in Benin city. Not only was he born to poor parents, he was also born a sickly child. His successive bouts of illness frustrated his parents to no ends- so much that they eventually decided to throw him away which they did, but his mother went back and took him.
In spite of his tough childhood, Benson Idahosa was always a man who saw possibilities; as he loved to say; “I am a possibilitarian”. He struggled through school and ensured he went through with his secondary school education, no matter how tough it was. He even went ahead to obtain a diploma in business administration and a higher diploma in Office Management through a correspondence programme with the London Benneth College.
In 1952, he received Christ and that marked a huge turn around in his life. In his usual attitude of never being complacent, and after his conversion , he read the whole of John’s Gospel and decided he had to witness to his friends. This was the beginning of Idahosa’s preaching the Gospel. Idahosa later sought after the experience of Baptism in the Spirit. He got filled with the Spirit and spoke in tongues.
After this experience, Idahosa began to preach in the different villages, organizing open air meetings. He did this in the evenings while he worked for a shoe company (Bata) during the day. Again, here he proved the life of a true minister, bringing to play his doggedness. He recognised the need to make an income but realised the greater responsibility and duty of preaching the gospel, and transforming lives.
He would ask the Chiefs who head the villages for permission to conduct an evangelistic meeting in their village. They responded and more people were saved through his ministry. The open air meetings witnessed people being healed of epilepsy and many other sicknesses.
Other miracles were also happening in these meetings. The news about the open air meetings started to spread to other villages and this led to more evangelistic activities. In order to reach more people with the Gospel he bought a motorcycle to help him travel to distant villages to conduct Gospel meetings.
Even though other pastors at that time frowned at his flamboyance in buying a motorcycle when bicycles were the modest vehicles to own, nothing could stop him from doing the Will of the Father.
Due to his evangelistic activities, Idahosa soon became a leader under Pastor Okpo (the pastor at the Assemblies of God Church where he became a Christian). After a while, he had to follow the directive of God to start his own church. To this end, Idahosa started a Bible study group in front of a store and within few years, they outgrew the place bought a piece of land to build a bigger church facility. In order to build this new church building members of Idahosa’s church contributed a lot of money, time and labour.
When S.G. Elton, Apostolic Church missionaries met Idahosa, he couldn’t help noticing how different Idahosa was in terms of his drive and passion for ministry. As a result, Elton became Idahosa’s mentor and he introduced Idahosa to Gordon and Freda Lindsey who granted him a scholarship to study at Gordon Lindsey’s Bible College, Christ for the Nations Institute in the Texas United States. They also helped him financially to build the new church.
Idahosa and his team did Gospel Campaigns all over the country, and converts were won. This eventually led to many church plants. This church planting concept was pioneering also as at then as it was new to Nigerian Charismatics who were not sure whether to start founding churches.
In all he did, he was so ready to do whatever he was led to do and that made him a pioneer in many aspects. He was ready to employ whatever means was needed to reach as many people as possible, maximising time.
He is known as the father of Pentecostalism in Nigeria. At the time of his death in 1998, he was reputed as having preached to more whites than any black man, and to more blacks than any white man. He was the first Nigerian TV Evangelist.
His Bible College has trained the likes of Bishop Nicholas Duncan-Williams of Christ Action Faith Ministries, Bishop Charles Agyin-Asare of Word Miracle Church International, Bishop James Saah, Bishop Christianah Doe Tetteh of Solid Rock Chapel International and many others.
Many of today’s Nigerian Pentecostal ministers can trace their roots directly or indirectly back to Idahosa’s ministry and influence. Pastor Chris Oyakhilome, Bishop David Oyedepo, Bishop Mike Okonkwo, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor are some of today’s great men of God who learnt under the Archbishop.
The Archbishop Benson Idahosa is our Man Crush today. Truly, even after his death, he still is Christ’s trophy of testimonies and exploits in propagating His Gospel. Idahosa didn’t see his limitations as an excuse to become complacent in his approach to life and its challenges. In his new found relationship with God, Idahosa encountered a Relentless Lover, who is the Pioneer of turning impossibilities to possibilities.
The archbishop pioneered Church of God Missions International (www.cgmglobal.org), which is processing and touching lives for Christ.
Article By Ojochide Isaac
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