- Evangelist BOLA ARE Tells City People Her Story @ 63
Evangelist (Dr) Bola Are is a respected Gospel singer, in Nigeria. Call her a veteran and you will be right. She has put in 44 years on stage and she is 63. She is still waxing strong and her schedule is tight. These days, she is in high demand and she plays back to back at revivals and several church programmes. She is set to celebrate 40 years of her ‘Baba Ku Ise’ album released in August 1977. The celebration comes up on Saturday 4th Nov. 2017 in Ibadan. Below is her story.
It was at the peak of late Apostle Joseph Ayodele Babalola-led revival which started in 1930. The scene was the hilly town of Erio Ekiti in Ekiti State. He was quite frequent in Erio, being one of the major centres of his evangelical activities, and where his parents were resident.
In 1953, Apostle Joseph Ayodele Babalola gave a prophecy to my father, Thomas Babayomi of the birth of a servant of God to be born through him, “Thus said the Lord, you will give birth to a great servant of mine that will be highly instrumental in taking the good news to the uttermost part of the earth, for I am the Lord I chengeth not”. Considering the manner of the prophecy and the vessel through which it came, Thomas Babayomi was eager and expectant to see the fulfillment. He assumed and therefore concluded in his heart that the expected great servant of God would be a male child. He fulfilled his own part, having performed the normal conjugal rites expected of a man to his wife in the course of procreation, and God also fulfilled His own by granting conception to Dorcas.
As the baby developed in her womb, they knew that the long awaited prophecy would soon be fulfilled in a matter of months. In their days, there were no medical equipment to know the sex of the babv, but going by the weight and description of the prophecy, they concluded that it would be a male child.
But God demonstrated His sovereignty when it turned out to be a female child. My parents were puzzled because they could not match the weight of the prophecy with a female child. In their curiosity, they approached Apostle Babalola to ascertain if the promised servant of God was their female child or they should expect another Apostle Babalola was emphatic; she was the expected one and that with time they would understand that she was a woman sent by God to carry out an assignment. From that point, events began to unfold to really confirm that whatever God purposes He is committed to perform.
My mother Dorcas Babayomi was new in the trade; for the first time in her life, her body system began to experience some changes. In fact, the first Trimester which was characterized by vomiting and spitting all over the places was nightmarish, but it was not difficult for the experienced ones to know her predicament, and they were happy for her. Every morning as usual, by 5.00 a.m., she would be in the church with her husband for morning prayers.
And once in a week, she would be at the specially organized prayer meeting for pregnant women, at Christ Apostolic Church, Oke Isegun, Erio Ekiti. Fortunately for her, the biological mother of Apostle Babalola, who was highly experienced in midwifery lived in the mission house and prayerfully kept an eye on her being a first- timer. Also, on some occasions, the Apostle himself would visit the place and assure her that she would have a safe delivery.
As the practice was in those days, in Christ Apostolic Church circle; she did not take any orthodox medicine or local herbs, but only depended on the use of Psalms and sanctified water as prescribed by the Apostle who laid claim on the fact that God had sent him on the mission of making people live in divine health without the use of orthodox medicine.
Her day came and her faith paid off; she went into labour just shortly after her husband returned from the farm as if the baby was waiting for his return. Quickly, he helped her to the mission house which. was directly opposite their house.: On sighting her, Madam Martha Talabi, Apostle Babalola’s biological mother ran to her aid. She jingled the bell inside the mission house three times; calling the name of Jesus and asking God to intervene and take control of the delivery.
Dorcas was delivered of a baby girl on the 1st of October, 1954, in Erio Ekiti. The new born baby was dark complexioned and beautiful to behold. She was visited by folks and friends, who came with gifts to present to the new-born baby girl. The neighbourhood went into wild jubilation and congratulated Thomas on the safe delivery.
As the custom was, on the 8th day, the christening ceremony held and the baby was named Olubola Babayomi. After the christening, she was brought into the church on the Sunday that was next to the fortieth day of her birth for dedication, according to the practice of. Christ Apostolic Church. She was pronounced, on that day, as the first fruit (akoso) to Apostle Babalola. And by implication, she would serve in the vineyard of the Lord forever. However, her parents went back home with her for weaning and proper upbringing.
I had a very humble start. My father was a farmer while my mother was a petty trader whose trade later experienced a boom.
Sending a female child to school was not popular in her days for fear of being impregnated. So, some people advised my parents not to bother sending me to school, rather I should be sent to learn a trade or add up to her father’s manpower strength on the farm. Her parents turned deaf ears to such advice that kept flowing from their kith and kin. Though illiterates, they seemed to have an understanding of the power of western education.
Those were the days when a child would not be registered in school because of his/her age but rather because his/her fingers could reach and touch the left ear when it was made to cross over the head. Until such a prerequisite was met, a prospective pupil was considered not old enough to sit in the c1assroom as a registered pupil. As a result, Bola, being of a small stature did not start primary school education until when she was about 6 years old.
She was registered for primary’ school education at St. Philip’s Christ Apostolic Church Primary School; Erio ‘Ekiti ‘in 1960, during Nigeria’s celebration of independence. In her school days, she stood out among her peers and was’ in the good books of her teachers. After completing primary school education; she had a brief experience of Modern School in Aramoko Ekiti, few kilometers away from Erio, before she opted for secondary school education.
The modern school was a three-year educational programme, in the western part of Nigeria, which was designed to fill the gap between primary education and teachers’ training programme, Products of Modern Schools had a choice of either to proceed to Teachers’ Training College and later become a primary school teacher or a Trade Centre (Technical College) in order to be trained as a tradesman or proceed to a secondary school where they were admitted into the second year class.
However, an event played out few days before she wrote the. Common Entrance Examination into the secondary school. Her mother went to Agbeni market in Ibadan to trade and she fell into the hands of robbers who took her money and the child at her back. They gave her the option to choose either of the two, and the passion of a mother prevailed when she chose her child, Aina, Bola’s younger sister, at the expense of money. She reasoned that she would recover from the loss of money with time.
She returned home safely; thanking God for sparing her life and that of her child. But she had a situation on her hand, Bola was to pay for Common Entrance Examination which would take place on the following Monday. Unfortunately, neither did she nor her husband have the money to pay. As a way out, Dorcas discussed with her husband and they approached one Thomas Agbele, a tailor, who came to their aid by granting them a soft loan. Bola sat for the examination and she passed. She left for Ife Oluwa Grammar School in Osogbo, where she lived in the hostel as a boarding student.
At this point, Bola had become passionate about spiritual matters. While she was at Ife Oluwa Grammar School in Osogbo, she built a booth very close to her hostel block where she would go for prayers and meditation during break or at her leisure. Both teachers and students saw her as a religious fanatic in school.
Before the close of the first term, in 1967, God began to lay it so strongly upon her heart that she was in the wrong place and that she would have to leave for Christ Apostolic Church Grammar School, Efon Alaaye. That development had also been confirmed to her parents. However, it is not impossible that the Babalola sentiment and all that was traceable to him played a vital role in her decision.
It was not difficult to admit her to the school in Efon-Alaaye; being Apostle Babalola’s first fruit and the daughter of a prominent elder in the mission. Bola had a great time in Efon-Alaaye as she bestrode the school like a princess. Just as she did when in Ife Oluwa Grammar School, Osogbo, Bola built another booth very close to her hostel block where she normally retreated and gathered her friends for prayers.
By the time she got to form three, she was chosen as the Chapel Prefect and it was by no means an accident, because God had designed it in preparation for the assignment ahead of her. She had a fulfilled stay in school and excelled.
At a very tender age of 2, Bola had started seeing visions and revelations from God. She had the rare privilege of God speaking to her in audible voice. At times, she would tell. her mother not to go to the market in the morning but to wait till noon. Her mother would obey. And at the end of the day, the reason why God had asked her through her daughter to wait till noon would be glaring. Her father also would agree, though reluctantly on some occasions, whenever she admonished her father not to go to the farm.
On a certain day, Bola’s father did not listen to his daughter’s counsel, as revealed by God to her. Bola had warned him not to go the farm, but Thomas turned down the counsel of his daughter and proceeded to the farm. While in the farm, a big tree fell on him and he shouted for help. But for the timely intervention of other people in adjourning farms who heard the thud of the tree when it fell on him and shout of the man, he would have died in the farm that day. However, he sustained a serious injury on his left leg which left him with the scar for the rest of his life until he flew away to celestial glory.
As a fall out of that experience, Thomas would never go to the farm or take any major step in Iife without listening to her opinion. He would always seek to hear what God would want to say from the mouth of Bola.
During her brief stay at Ife Oluwa Grammar School in Osogbo, Bola’s gift of vision and revelation stood her out in the school. During a West African School Certificate Examinations in 1967, she saw a revelation that; in the male hostel, the not too intelligent students had planned evil against the brilliant ones. They intended to cause confusion during examination period.
She approached her house master, Mr. Obisesan, an indigene of Ilesa, and shared the revelation with him, but instead of him to take proactive steps about the matter, he got enraged and chided her for being too forward. He told her to keep her mouth shut. When other senior students got to know about
what she told Mr Obisesan, they equally got enraged and decided to punish her for her overzealousness. As a punitive measure, they asked her to go to the brook, down the hostels, and fetch water with her teaspoon. She did not have a choice than to obey. It was a pity that she had to suffer for relaying a divine message that was intended to save some innocent students from an impending danger. Instead of hearkening to her call for prayers, she was made to suffer for it.
About the eighth time of her going to the brook to fetch water, God proved that He had revealed the vision to her as there was a shout and confusion in the male hostel, and the cause was not known until other students ran to the scene. On getting there, it was discovered that three of the brilliant boys had fainted in a mysterious circumstance.
By the time the pillows of those three boys were lifted up, strange objects and fetish materials planted by unknown fellow students were discovered. Those boys were the most brilliant and the best set of candidates the school had prepared to come out in flying colours that year. It was unfortunate that it could not be because of the unfortunate incident which happened in the same week the students were to write Mathematics and English papers.
The development marked the end of· her punishment as her senior students ran to her, begging for forgiveness. As a result, there was an unusual calm that pervaded the school environment.
This same gift of revelation became pronounced in her days in Efon Alaaye. During examinations, her mates, would approach her to know the likely questions that would come out, and in accordance with divine revelations she would share with them and it would come to pass with all accuracy and precision.
On a certain occasion; when West African School Certificate Examinations’ English Language paper was to be written; the Lord had shown her events of the day as they would play out inside the School Hall. As they woke up that day and prepared for the paper, the invigilator was
not found and there was no means of reaching him. As a result, both teachers and students became agitated because if they fail to write the paper that day, it would mean that they would have to wait till another year.
Out of anxiety, they decided to go and join an affiliate school, Christ Apostolic Church, Babalola Memorial in Ilesa, to write the paper, but Bora insisted she would not follow them. They tried to persuade her but it, fell on deaf-ears. She insisted on staying back standing on the conviction that God had revealed to her that the paper would be written inside the School. Hall in Efon Alaaye and not in Ilesa, While others left for Ilesa, she stayed back in Efon Alaaye-she knew the ways of God.
The School Principal, Mr. Akinbobola, an Ondo indigene, advised her to join her colleagues to Ilesa and to be. careful of her high-handedness, but she insisted that God had shown her that the paper would be written in the School Hall and not in Ilesa. When she could not be persuaded, he left her alone; concluding that she would have to write the paper the following year. In high expectation, Bola stood in front of the school expecting the arrival of the invigilator.
Few minutes after her mates left in the company of their English teacher, the invigilator arrived with the papers, and apologized for coming late which was occasioned by the mechanical fault which the vehicle that was conveying him to Efon Alaaye developed. Her colleagues who left for Ilesa had missed him at Erinmo. On getting to Ilesa, they were told to return to their school where the invigilator was already waiting for them.
They returned to Efon Alaaye fagged out and sweating profusely. They started shouting, ‘Bola said so, Bola said so and we should have listened.’ When the Principal .saw what happened, he carried her up and. sang her praises. And they were all surprised. They all sat inside the school hall, exactly as God had revealed to her, where they eventually wrote the paper. Again, when they were to write Biology practical, the angel of God appeared to her in the dream showing her feathers and a skeleton and asking her to start labelling them. She understood the message God was trying to pass across to her through the angel. When she woke up the following morning, her classmates flocked around her as usual to find out the likely questions they should expect. Unequivocally, Bola told them all that the angel of God had shown her in the vision and advised them to study the objects and master the labelling. When they entered the examination hall to sit for the paper, it came out just as Bola had seen it.
Discovering the gift
God has a distinct way of communicating our assignments and purposes to us. At times, He does not speak to us through audible voices and most times He does not even speak at all. All He does is to place gifts and talents in us as latent treasures for us to discover and make good use of them.
Bola’s gift of singing began to find expression just before she was a year old.
But with time, this grace grew in her so rapidly that she became a sought-after in her teenage years. She gave attention to this gift and improved on it until she became fully matured and gained mastery of it.
There is an unction that flows naturally when you operate in your area of calling or gift. Whatever a man struggles to do may not be his assignment and whatever you are not wired to do, you will never excel in doing it, it is like asking the snail to run.
Nothing is as easy for Bola Are as singing. Most times her songs come unrehearsed and she sings extemporaneously. There is a life-giving fountain planted in her by God for the blessing of her generation and this she has discovered and is making profit in its use.
The sign that you are doing the right thing is that others are around to attest to it. Whatever it is that you are, doing and you are the only one who understands it, take heed because you probably may be doing the wrong thing; Nobody has a monopoly of the Holy Spirit. Bola’s gift was attested to by others.
While in secondary school, Bola’s Principal spotted the reservoir of grace in her and would do all within his power to promote her. He even went as far as advising her to go and study Music in any tertiary institution. He confirmed the gift, after Bola had discovered it.