Superior Evangelist, Tony Brown is a popular Cele Pastor in Ibadan. He is a very handsome man, whose light skin has added to his good looks. His hair is jet black and he has a very captivating voice which will make you to want to listen and continue to listen to him.
By merely looking at him you won’t be able to guess his age. He always looks so refreshingly young that if you call him 50 he could easily pass for that age. But the Sapele born man of God is well over that age.
Last weekend the popular Ibadan Cele Pastor, Superior Evangelist, Tony Brown turned 70 and he had a classy party to celebrate it. But this respected man of God does not look it. He is a big pastor in the Celestial fold. He runs 4 big churches in Ibadan and one in Lagos. The headquarters of his church is in Oke Ado. He has another at Oke Bola, College Crescent and Akanran, all in Ibadan. He is the Senior Shepherd, Redemption Parishes at Omojuwa Estate at Mile 12, Kosofe in Lagos.
Last week, at his Ibadan home, he told City People Publisher, SEYE KEHINDE the story of his life. Its very revealing.
How do you feel at 70?
I feel extremely very happy. 70 years is no joke and it has been a long, long journey from age 1. I need to thank my God for sparing my life to this age. I feel extremely very delighted. Apart from those youthful days when I was working as a civil servant, having to be called by God to come and do his work is just the joy.
When were you called? How many years ago?
I have been in the vineyard for about 28 years. I was called right from London. God called me, as far back as 1978. It was between 1977 and 78. I was in the exam hall. Then I started receiving that message that immediately I finish my education I should go back to Nigeria. Unfortunately I started arguing with God.
When I was about to write my last paper, my right eye just went off. I couldn’t see again. Not up to one hour later the second eye went. And I got that handwriting on the wall even with the eyes blinded. God now said to me I called you, you must obey me. That was where really it all started.
I worked as a Civil Servant for about 10 years at the Ministry of Agric at the Federal Department of Forestry in Ibadan here. I was the head of the printing press. When God started to give me that warning that I must leave, then come 1988 during the salary elongated period, I was trying to decieve God that immediately I receive that accumulated salaries I will leave the service. I got it but I didn’t leave. And when there was retrenchment at the Federal Ministry of Agric my name was the first on the list. I knew it was time to leave. Eventually I left the service in 1989. I facilitated the establishment of my parish in Ibadan.
How has it been since then?
God has helped me. During this very period after sometime I became the Secretary General, Celestial Church of Christ, a faction of the church. God did so many things in my life. He allowed me to facilitate 5 parishes and they are still waxing storng.
For one reason or the other, best known to God, he said I should go for protection overseas, that he doesn’t want any harm to come to me. Till now I am still there, leaving 5 churches behind here is a very, very great decision. It is very painful to leave what you have planted.
I have a parish in Lagos. Redemption Parish, Kosofe. It is one of the big churches in Lagos.
At 70, you keep looking young, what has been the secret?
Its by Gods command. It is by Gods grace, I say its Gods command because there was a time he called me, he said you will be old in age but I will make you young physically. He gave me the example of Moses in the Bible. Moses at 80, I made him young, I am diabetic. I don’t take vitamins, just my diabetics drugs. What
God has promised, he has fulfilled. By 80, I will have you sit down here and talk about my life at 80.
Tell us about your growing up years and schools attended?
I was born at Sapele in 1947 April 7th. Around September during the eclipse of the moon. My mum was doing something outside the compound. She went and out by the time she came back there was this eclipse. When the eclipse came there was this Fulani man who held on to me. My mum came right from the room, saw this man holding me and she shouted Drop my son! Drop my son! And he then told my mum, you see this guy here. Train him properly. Take care of him.”
That was about 5 months after I was born. That was when the prophecy came and after that I attended St. Patrick Primary School in Sapele. I was troublesome then, so I couldn’t stay with my mum. My aunt (she is deceased now) asked me to come and stay with her in Ibadan. I came to Ibadan, I couldn’t stay with the woman. I ran to my Uncle, and stayed with him.
Unfortunately when he was about to send me to secondary school, he lost his job. And then I was sent to a modern school. When I finished I was still very stubborn. During the civil war, I wanted to be enlisted into the Army, they didn’t enlist me, they thought I was a mercenary because of my skin. So I worked with the Kingsway for a while, came back again to Ibadan and joined the football club here in Ibadan where I was recruited into the Nigerian Football team in Lagos. Base Ordinaries Depot (BOD). I was there before I left for overseas. I arrived London in 1971 and I went back to school.
I did my O’Level and A’Level. One day we went on excursion to London College of Printing, I saw how all the machines were pouring out papers. It really fascinated me and I had that instinct in me to really become a printer.
After A’Levels, I went to London College of Printing, (London Arts College). After that I came back to Nigeria. Before I came back, I worked as a Freight Forwarder for about 6 months, then I took a holiday to come back to Nigeria.
Before then I used to have problems of stomach ache with my health. I went to the hospital. The doctors said it was a suspected case of Peptic Ulcer. I could not find a solution, no remedy was in sight in London. Then, I came to Nigeria. I went to Sapele to see my mum. They wondered what the problem could be and decided, they will take me to a native doctor in Asaba.
They got a Taxi which took us to Asaba. As we were arriving Asaba, at the compound of the native doctor, a few kilometres to where the native doctor was, the native doctor flagged us down that they must not allow me come to the house because every image, every idol in that house that makes him to feed, everything has bowed down. They cannot even raise their head for the past three days on hearing that they were bringing me. We could not go to the native doctor again. So, we turned around and went back home.
When I came back to Ibadan, I noticed that my life was not balanced. When I earn my salary, in 3-days, I would spend it all and I could not meet up, the salary is gone because I continued to buy one drug after the other. And I decided one day I was going to terminate my life. I took that decision. Then, I met with my late wife Bolaji Brown. She was pregnant then with Seun Brown, I told her I cannot continue with this again. I cannot continue to earn my salary and within 3 days, the money is gone. Once the money goes, the sickness too is gone. She told me there is this Celestial Church very close to us. Why don’t you just go to the Celestial Church. Before God and man, I began to attend the service and I could not feel the suspected case of peptic ulcer again.
This was in 1980. Ever since then, I could see the hand of God in my life and the handwriting for the call to come and work in the vineyard was being written. God showed me signs. It got to the stage that whenever I am going to the office, I would wound up and start preaching to myself that if ever I was going to become a preacher one day I should start by first of all preaching to myself. I was very rascally then.
There was no bad habit I did not do. If you talk about drinking. I was drinking like fish, smoking like bat. All those vices I had then, I indulged in them . It was only God that took away all these from my life. When I was retrenched I went to a harvest at Iperu. As I was about to get to Iperu, right at Ode Remo, there was brilliant sunshine, great weather at Ode-Remo. But as we were entering into Iperu, there was this flood, heavy down pour, at Iperu. We managed to get there, the car I took there was flooded. When we got to the church, the tent and everything had been destroyed.
When we sat down at the harvest as Special Guests, prophet just stood at the altar, came to me and gave this parable of the white fowl who does not know he is old, it was in Yoruba Language. He tapped me and took me outside. The rain was heavy. Then the prophet started. He called the name of my 5 children – Tony, Stephen, Seun, Tope then Florence. He said I am going to destroy them one by one if you don’t carry that cross now. I said God look, its me you should destroy. Don’t destroy those innocent souls which I brought to this world.
I said okay if you want me to actually go and carry this cross, is it a prophet that will ask me to go and carry this cross? I said I wanted to see signs. He said, you want to see a sign? I said yes. He said okay, you see this rain, I mad, this vain to fall because of you. I destroyed this harvest just because of you. So that you can see that grace that I am looking for. Moses asked for sign I gave him sign. You are looking for sign I will give you. He said the first sign is I should stretch either my left or right hand to this rain, this rain will finish in your hand. I just laughed, because I could see the great force of the rain. I stretched my right hand and the entire rain finished in my hand.
Then, I began to shiver. I knew now it is done. We got to Ibadan that very day, on Sunday of the harvest, the next day was Monday, I woke up in the morning. I said let me fast and pray for Gods direction. I prayed till Wednesday. Tuesday is our Victory Day, Wednesday is our Merry Day. After Tuesday, I decided to go and look for a place to go and set up an altar. I searched from Oke-Bola to Molete. I could not get anything I went to Odeon Cinema at Oke-Ado, Ibadan to have lunch. One very old girlfriend of mine just called me. She said, bros, what are you looking for here? What are you looking for again? Is it woman? I told her no.
I am looking for a place to set up an altar for God. She said you? He said just wait. She took me to a caretaker there. She said there is an estate agent here. As we were just discussing, there came the man. He took me to the place where I am till today. I told God in my prayer that they said a Prophet is not recognised in his home town, let me be recognised in my town where I come from. The church is just about 5 buildings from where I was brought up at Oke-Ado in Ibadan, behind Odeon Cinema.
Ever since then it has been great in the hands of God. Miracles have happened, lots of miracles. Its not me. God made it. So, far so good. I have never regretted working for God.