I have known him for several years now and still counting. Before I drew closer to him a few years ago, I had taken time to study the man. I studied his prophecies. I exrayed his personality. And I found that the man is an enigma. He is like an open book, no pretences. What you see is what you get. He fears God, he respects constituted authority, but he is never afraid of the man with the authority. He will look at any man in the eye and tell him in clear terms the consequences of his wrong doing, no matter how powerful the office of the man may be. Like him or hate him, Primate Ayodele Elijah remains one of the renowned men of God whose exploits and legacies will be talked about long after they are gone. That is how strong the impact this highly revered prophet has made.
For some time now, I had been toying with the idea of attending one of the Sunday services of this intriguing man of God whose ground breaking prophecies I have been covering as a journalist for a while now. I wanted to see the man in a different light. I wanted to see Primate Ayodele the preacher, the prophet, standing on the altar and speaking the word of God to his people. All I have seen of him all these years is the Primate Ayodele everyone knows, the man who releases staggering prophecies that have come to pass. The man who continues to cry out about the possible dangers and pitfalls lying ahead of us as a people and as a nation. The man who has consistently, for over two decades, proven that there is possibly no one that is more passionate than he is about Nigeria. I wanted to see this man, at close quarters, when he is not talking politics. I wanted to see him when he is not angry with some of our political leaders and public office holders. I wanted to see how he shepherds his church and imparts into them the word of God those close to him say he is incredibly gifted with. And I got that opportunity two Sundays ago.
I didn’t inform Primate Ayodele of my intention to ‘worship’ at his church that Sunday. I wanted to sneak into the church unnoticed and quietly watch proceedings while I take down notes and record on my phone as well. I wanted to x-ray this man of God without him knowing. I am aware he holds about four services every Sunday, and from my findings, the third service would begin around 10.30 to 11 am. That suited me pretty well, considering that I would be coming from the Akute axis of Ogun state.
It took me less than one and half hours to get to Primate Ayodele’s INRI Evangelical Spiritual Church in Oke-Afa, Lagos. It is like a mini village. The church had taken over nearly the whole of Primate Ayodele Crescent where the church is located. Construction work is currently going on with the church’s new massive auditorium expected to conveniently sit over 30,000 worshippers. This project will gulp around N2.1b. A new temporary auditorium was built months ago where the church presently holds its services and programmes pending when the new auditorium will be ready by October this year. The church also recently constructed another building that will serve as it’s administrative block. Both the temporary auditorium and administrative block are beautiful white edifices. There were cars everywhere. Workers of the church and some members who were either just coming for service or were on their way home could be seen outside the auditorium. It was a busy place.
The second service was going on. I was informed it was about to come to an end so I was urged to join the group of people in the bible class, awaiting the commencement of the third service. This was some minutes to eleven. The bible class was anchored by Brother Adebayo Olusegun Michael. He did a good job. He picked several verses from the bible highlighting the importance of having unwavering faith in God as Christians. This gentleman obviously loves teaching the bible. Despite that he had to shout each time he spoke so his voice could be heard above the choir ministration coming from the auditorium, he didn’t look strained in the least. He had a fulfilled smile on his face through out the period he took the class. Some 30 minutes later, it was time for the third service to begin. And gently, in an orderly fashion, we all marched into the auditorium taking the entry by the right side of the building while those inside took the exit by the left side of the building which allowed for a seamless transition.
The inside of the auditorium looked really beautiful even as it’s still not a hundred pecent complete. It was adorned with beautiful lightings and the floor was nicely tiled as well. In a matter of minutes, I was shocked to see the auditorium was packed full while there were still many people outside waiting to find space inside. The single chairs inside were not the regular plastic chairs you find in most churches, this was a set of beautiful chairs made with full upholstery and they were quite comfortable to sit on. The altar section too, you could tell, was still a work in progress, but one could tell how magnificent it would look when completed. But it was the powerful ministration of the choir that immediately caught my attention. They have some of the most amazing voices I have ever heard. Their lead singer, Akin Ade Busari, showed that he is obviously a seasoned professional. Not only did he sing better than most of the known established gospel artistes, he led the choir well and they rendered some really soul lifting songs that got the entire congregation on their feet for close to an hour.
Evangelist Ayo Shobo took the first short sermon. He talked about praying against a glory that would meet us in the grave. The Evangelist recalled the story of a man who had been jobless for several years and was eventually fortunate to have gotten a big job with an oil company. The job came with an official car, house and jumbo salary. But unfortunately, the day before the man was expected to resume, he went to bed and never woke up. He led the congregation to pray several prayers, including most especially the prayer against the destiny killers of our children. He reeled out powerful prayers that shook the entire auditiorium.
Pastor Oladipo Aderemi popularly called Rainbow in the church, was the next to take the church through another brief sermon. He titled it, ‘Fear Not.’ He highlighted some of the causes of fear such as, lack of faith, lack of courage, stubborness, etc. He stressed that nothing can possibly work for you as a Christian if you are lacking the faith in God to help you push through your convictions. He was very coordinated and there was no doubt that his message sank in deep into the consciousness of everyone inside the auditorium.
The moment everyone was waiting for came. Primate Ayodele emerged and the entire atmosphere in the auditorium changed. It became super charged. Everybody rose on their feet even without him asking anyone to do so. The choir group became filled with renewed vigour as they began to dish out even more soul lifting songs laced with some of the most profound lyrics I have ever heard. Primate stood right in front of the congregation and watched speechlessly as every member launched into an exciting session of praise and worship. And several minutes later, after letting members of the congregation dance to their heart’s content, he signaled to the choir to halt their ministration.
It was indeed a different Primate Ayodele. Dressed in a sparkling white sutana dotted with blue coloured designs, the man of God completely put aside all matters relating to politics and launched into one prayer after the other. He told the congregation that one of the greatest tragedies that can befall a true Christian is to be ravaged by poverty. Poverty, according to the reverred Primate, will make it difficult, if not totally impossible for the average Christian to worship God the way he or she desires. He prayed that the Lord would open his book of mercy and remember everyone in the congregation for good. By now, the atmosphere in the auditorium had reached fever pitch level. The man of God had pumped everyone up with his powerful prayers. He talked about his unflinching faith in God. He talked about the building of the new massive auditorium, a project that will gulp N2.1b by the time its completed by Ovtober. “I have faith that God will finish what he has started in that place. I will not bill any member of this church or compel you to go and bring millions of naira to support the project, I won’t do that. But if you have and you want to support, why not, it will be appreciated. But as for me, I know that everything that will be needed to complete that construction God will provide, that is my faith and confidence in God.”
Again, he began another round of prayers. Moved by the presence of the holyspirit, everyone threw themselves into the prayer, keying into the prophecy of prosperity. I could see the man of God knew how to interact with the congregation. While he’s on the pulpit, Primate communicated with the members. He spoke candidly to them and admonished them to know what it is exactly they are asking God for. He urged them to connect themselves to the right person because, according to him, one person, the right person, is all a man needs to make it in life.
He asked them to bring out their fruits, water and anointing oil, which had been prepared for the special prayer programme and prayed heavily on them,one after the other, starting with the fruits. Primate Ayodele also announced the names of youths in the church who are going to benefit from the church’s business empowerment programme. The church will support them with funds to either start up their small businesses or help invest in their business to take it a notch higher.
Towards the tail end of the service, a handful of ladies filed out to give testimonies. One particular lady recounted how her INRI branded wrapper with the picture of Primate Ayodele on it which she uses as her night wrapper, saved her from what could’ve been a tragic fire incident. Another lady recounted how her neighbour’s husband went missing for about three days. She explained how she called the Primate who informed her the man had been abducted and taken to some distant location but would be found alive, that all she needed to do was pray hard. She said the placed the man’s picture on a framed picture of Primate Ayodele in her living room and with the prayer water given to her by the Primate, she began very aggressive prayers and soon after, the man was found alive but in very distressed state. The entire erupted in loud chants of hallelujah.
It was indeed a memorable experience. I actually wanted to sneak in and out of the service but the eagle eyes of the Primate caught me where I was hiding within the congregation. He acknowledged my presence in front of the entire congregation and that humbled me. His humility and down-to-earth nature have always been one of his remarkable traits that often times draw people close to him and have earned him the respect of some of the most prominent personalities within and outside the shores of Nigeria. Without a doubt, the man is an enigma, one of the most outstanding prophets of his generation. He has shown clearly that he is here to stand the test of time. His ground breaking of over 30,000 prophecies of fulfilled prophecies, have earned him a special place of honour in the anals of Christendom that may be unmatched for a long time to come.
WALE LAWAL (08037209290)