Prophet Joseph Ayo Babalola
|Prophet Joseph Ayo Babalola|
|Birth of CAC|
Founder of Christ Apostolic Church (Aladura)
The story of Apostle Joseph Ayodele Babalola, his life and work can be thus classified. His unprecedented Oke-Oye Revival gave birth to what is now known as the Christ Apostolic Church (C.A.C.), a Nigerian indigenous church.
Joseph Ayodele Babalola was born on April 25, 1904 to David Rotimi and Madam Marta Talabi who belonged to the Anglican Church. The family lived at Odo-Owa in Ilofa, a small town about ninety kilometres from
On January 18, 1914, young Babalola was taken by his brother M. 0. Rotimi, a Sunday school teacher in the C.M.S. church at Ilofa, to Osogbo. Babalola started school at Ilofa and got as far as standard five at All Saints' School Osogbo. However, he quit school when he decided to learn a trade and became a motor mechanic apprentice. Again, he did not continue long in this vocation before joining the Public Works Department (PWD). He was among the road workers who constructed the road from Igbara-Oke to Ilesa, working as a steam roller driver.
Babalola's Call to Ministry
Just like the Old Testament prophets, Babalola was called by God into the prophetic office to stand before men. His was a specific and personal call.
Babalola's strange experience started on the night of September 25th, 1928 when he suddenly became restless and could not sleep. This went on for a week and he had no inkling of the cause of such a strange experience. The climax came one day when he was, as usual, working on the Ilesa-Igbara-Oke road. Suddenly the steam roller's engine stopped to his utter amazement. There was no visible mechanical problem, and Joseph became confused and perplexed. He was in this state of confusion when a great voice "like the sound of many waters" called him three times. The voice was loud and clear and it told him that he would die if he refused to heed the divine call to go into the world and preach. Babalola did not want to listen to this voice and he responded like many of the Biblical prophets, who, when they were called out by Yahweh as prophets, did not normally yield to the first call. Men like Moses and Jeremiah submitted to God only when it became inevitable. So, Babalola gave in only after he had received the assurance of divine guidance.
To go on the mission, he had to resign his appointment with the Public Works Department. Mr. Fergusson, the head of his unit, tried to dissuade him from resigning but the young man was bent on going on the Lord's mission.
The same voice came to Joseph a second time asking him to fast for seven days. He obeyed and at the end of the period he saw a great figure of a man who, according to Pastor Alokan, resembled Jesus. The man in a dazzling robe spoke at length about the mission he was to embark upon. The man also told him of the persecutions he would face and at the same time assured him of God's protection and victory. A hand prayer bell was given to Babalola as a symbol. He was told that the sound of the bell would always drive away evil spirits. He was also given a bottle of "life-giving water" to heal all manners of sickness. Consequently, wherever and whenever he prayed into the water for therapeutic purposes, effective healing was procured for those who drank the water. Thus, Babalola became a prophet and a man with extraordinary powers. Enabled by the power of the Holy Spirit he could spend several weeks in prayer. Elder Abraham Owoyemi of Odo-Owa, said that the prophet regularly saw angels who delivered divine messages to him. An angel appeared in one of his prayers and forbade him to wear caps.
The Itinerary of Prophet Babalola
During one of his prayer sessions, an angel appeared to him and gave him a big yam, which he ordered him to eat. The angel told him that the yam was the tuber with which God fed the whole world. He further revealed that God had granted unto him the power to deliver those who were possessed of evil spirits in the world. He was directed to go first to Odo-Owa and start preaching. He was to arrive in the town on a market day, cover his body with palm fronds, and disfigure himself with charcoal paints.
In October 1928, he entered the town in the manner described and was taken for a mad man. Babalola immediately started preaching and prophesying. He told the inhabitants of Odo-Owa about an impending danger if they did not repent. He was arrested and taken to the district officer at
Pa David Rotimi, Babalola's father, had been instrumental in the establishment of a
On an invitation from Daniel Ajibola, Babalola went to
Babalola had not yet been baptized by immersion and Senior Pastor Esinsinade emphasized that he needed to go through that rite. Pastor Esinsinade then baptized him in the lagoon at the back of the
The news of the conversion of the new prophet reached Pastor K. P. Titus at Araromi in Yagba, present
The fact that Babalola did not use the opportunity to establish a separate Christian organization despite his marvelous evangelical success must be puzzling to historians, but his intention was not to start a new church. He declared to his followers that he had registered his membership with the Faith Tabernacle, the society that had him baptized in
Oke-Oye Mighty Revival
There was a controversy among the leaders of the Faith Tabernacle in
Before the delegation left
The result was that thousands of people including traditional religionists, Muslims and Christians from various other denominations were converted to the Faith Tabernacle. As there was no space in the church hall, revival meetings were shifted to an open field where men and women from all walks of life, from every part of the country and from neighbouring countries assembled daily for healing, deliverances and blessings. Odubanjo testified that within three weeks Babalola had cured about one hundred lepers, sixty blind people and fifty lame persons. He further claimed that both the Anglican and
The assistant district officer in Ilesa in 1930 wrote that he visited the scene of the revival incognito and found a crowd of hundreds of people including a large contingent of the lame and blind and concluded that the whole affair was orderly. Members of the church made fantastic claims such as: "Hopeless barren women were made fruitful; women who had been carrying their pregnancies for long years were wonderfully delivered. The dumb spoke and lunatics were cured. In fact, it was another day of Pentecost. Witches confessed and some demon possessed people were exorcized. But the general superintendent of the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society of Nigeria at the time has described the reports as "grotesquely inaccurate accounts of the operations of Babalola." This of course could be the biased view of a man whose church was said to be the greatest victim of the Ilesa revival.
A revelation was later given to Ayo Babalola to burn down a big tree in front of the Owa's Palace. The big tree believed traditionally to be the rendezvous of witches and wizards. The juju tree was therefore greatly feared and sacrifices were usually made to the spirits believed to reside in it. There was apprehension that this bold act would result in the instantaneous death of Babalola since it was expected to arouse the anger of the gods. But to the great amazement of the people, the prophet did not die but rather continued to wax stronger in the Lord's work. That single event was said to have made even the Owa of Ilesa and important people in the town to fear and respect the prophet.
The tidal wave of Babalola's revival spread from Ilesa to Ibadan, Ijebu, Lagos, Efon-Alaaye, Aramoko Ekiti and Abeokuta. No greater revival preceded that of Babalola. It was popularly held in Christ Apostolic Church (C.A.C.) circles that at one revival meeting, attendance rose to about forty thousand. Among the men of faith who came as disciples to Babalola were Daniel Orekoya, Peter Olatunji who came from Okeho, and Omotunde, popularly known as Aladura Omotunde, from Aramoko Ekiti. These men drew great inspiration from Babalola. Orekoya went on to reside in
After the great revival of Oke-Oye, the prophet was directed by the Holy Spirit to go out on further missionary journeys, but even before this, people from other parts of the country had been spreading the glad tidings of Oke-Oye, Ilesa's great revival, to other parts of the country. Accompanied by some followers, Joseph Babalola went to Offa, in present
He next stopped in Usi in Ekitiland for his evangelical mission and he performed many works of healing. From Usi he and his men moved to Efon-Alaaye, also in Ekitiland, where they received a warm reception from the Oba Alaaye of Efon. An entire building was provided for their comfort. Babalola requested an open space for prayer from the Oba who willingly and cheerfully gave him the privilege to choose a site. Consequently, the prophet and his men chose a large area at the outskirts of town. Traditionally the place was a forbidden forest because of the evil spirits that were believed to inhabit it. The Oba tried to dissuade Babalola and his men from entering the forbidden forest, but Babalola insisted on establishing his prayer ground there. The missionaries entered the bush, cleared it and consecrated it as a prayer ground. When no harm came upon them, the inhabitants of Efon were inspired to accept the new faith in large numbers.
Babalola's evangelistic success in Efon-Alaaye was a remarkable one. Archdeacon H. Dallimore from Ado-Ekiti and some white pastors from Ogbomoso Baptist Seminary were believed to have come to see for themselves the "wonder-working prophet" at Efon. Both Dallimure and the Baptist pastors reportedly asked some men from St. Andrew's College, Oyo and Baptist Seminary, Ogbomoso to assist in the work.
The success of the revival was accelerated by the conversion of both the Oba of Efon and the Oba of Aramoko. They were both baptized with the names, Solomon Aladejare Agunsoye and Hezekiah Adeoye respectively. After this event, news of the revival at Efon spread to other parts of Ekitiland.
The missionaries also visited other towns in the present
One Mr. Cyprian E. Ufon came from
The following year Babalola, accompanied by Evangelist Timothy Bababusuyi, went to the Gold Coast. On arrival at
The Birth of the CHRIST APOSTOLIC CHURCH (CAC) in
The spectacular evangelism by Prophet Joseph Ayo Babalola brought with it a wave of persecution to all who rushed into the new faith. The mission churches allegedly became jealous and hostile especially as their members constituted the main converts of the Faith Tabernacle. It was widely rumoured that the revival movement was a lawless and unruly organization. The Nigerian government was put on the alert about the activities of the movement. At this time, the leading members of the movement were advised to invite the American Faith Tabernacle leaders to come to their rescue. The leaders from
Despite these disappointing relationships with foreign groups, the Nigerian Faith Tabernacle still considered it prestigious to seek affiliation with a foreign body. The rationale for this can be found in D. O Odubanjo's letter to Pastor D. P. Williams of the Apostolic Church of Great Britain of March 1931. In the letter Odubanjo claimed: "The officers of the government here fear the European missionaries, and dare not trouble their native converts, but often, we brethren here have been ill-treated by government officers".
This was followed by a formal request for missionaries to be sent to strengthen the position of the Nigerian Faith Tabernacle. Missionaries did come and, on their advice, the Nigerian Faith Tabernacle was ceded to the
Doctrinal differences between the two groups soon began to appear in forms similar to the ones that caused the termination of the association with the American groups. The subject of divine healing, was one of the most important issues. Some of the invited white missionaries from
Professor John Peel recorded that the membership of the C.A.C. in 1968 was well over one hundred thousand. That figure must have doubled by now. The church opened up several primary and grammar schools, a teachers' training college, a seminary, maternity homes and a training school for prophets. The years between 1970 and 1980 saw further expansion of the church to
Babalola was a spiritually gifted individual who was genuinely dissatisfied with the increasing materialistic and sinful existence into which he believed, the Yoruba in particular and
Joseph Ayo Babalola slept in the Lord in 1959.