This account for the beginning of Joseph Ayo Babalola’s Church in 1930, I shall hereby endeavour to report this account word for word to a good extent, as mere summary may not reveal the truth.
This file began with a letter from a Wesleyan Methodist Reverend, Rev. Edward Nightingale to the Administrator of the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society in Lagos and the Ag.: Chairman and general Superintendent, Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society, Wesley College, Ibadan.
The Apostolic Church
I have received from the Superintendent of the Ilesha Circuit of this Society, and enclose herewith a copy of Newspaper Article published in England, and written by one Odubanjo, who is I believe expelled Clergyman of the Anglican Church now resident in Lagos. The article contains a grotesquely inaccurate of the operations of a faith-healer named Joseph Babalola, and as you will see, the statements made by him are being used in England to obtain money.
I do not know what action, if any will be possible on the matter, but I think it right that you should be informed of this new development, which, i am informed, has caused the political officers and chiefs in the Ilesha District a good deal of trouble.
I have the honour to be,
Your obedient Servant,
THE APOSTOLIC MISSIONARY HERALD MAY-JUNE, 1931
Thousands of Black People, Saved, healed, Baptised in the Spirit, Speaking in Tongues, and Witnessing Signs and Wonders are calling from Nigeria to the Apostolic Church for Help!! This is the burden that the Lord has placed upon us and he expects us to help them in their need.
WE SEND FORTH THIS SPECIAL CALL THAT EVERY SAINT BY PRAYER AND FINANCIAL HELP WILL SHARE IN THE GREAT HARVEST OF NIGERIA.
From Pastor D. O. Odubanjo,
Post Office Box 554,
May 4th 1931.
Pastor D.P. Williams,
My dear pastor and brother in Christ,
I am writing to report to you that a very sever persecution has broken out in one of our mission fields, that is, Ilesha District where Pastor J.A. Babatope is in charge of 24 stations, this having several prophets or evangelists under his supervision. This persecution is the result of the recent revival and healing campaigns conducted in various towns of this District from the month of July last year to September of the same year. I have written to you several times about the healing campaigns started by our beloved brother Joseph Babalola, whom God called in a wonderful way to this work of healing.
In the month of July 1930, myself and other pastors, including our senior Pastor J.P. Esinsinade, went to Ilesha to have a special conference, taking with us Prophet J.A. Babalola. At the close of this conference, several appeals were made by sick people at Ilesha for Brother Babalola’s services, so we left him behind to assist the sick people in praying for them. A good number returned to testify to the healing power of God in their bodies. Theses went and spread the news of their healing, and within three days there was about 200 people rushing to this brother for healing, and so the meetings grew stronger and stronger until there was about 2000 people three weeks after the meetings started. ABOUT 100 LEPPERS CLEANSED, ABOUT 60 BLIND RECIEVED SIGHT, OVER 50 LAME AND CRIPPLED WALKED to the surprise of the townspeople a month after Brother Babalola started this meeting there was over there was over 1,200 sick people from all parts of Nigeria who came to the town of Ilesha to seek divine healing and God met a host of them in a wonderful way by giving them the desire of their hearts.
When the revival became very strong, it happened that nearly all the churches (denominational) in the town and country villages emptied; all left their churches to join brother Babalola’s revival meetings, and, strange to report, that thousands of these people did not return to their churches, but cast in their lots with our organisation. The Wesleyan Church, where they have about 400 attendants (members) had about 100 people remained there. Also the Anglican church in this region where they have about 1200 members, only about 600 remained, the rest came to join our movement. The Wesleyan Hospital, during the time of the revival, contained about 300 patients, but hearing of the healing campaign the patients run away from the hospital and only about 10 remained there. The European doctor in charge became enraged, went to the local authority and complained that Brother Babalola caused all his patients to run away. But the doctor was not listened to at all. The Bishops of the Anglican Church sent representative to Ilesha to witness this healing campaign. The Nigerian Government sent Police, Magistrates and other officers to watch the movement of the healing campaign, and many of them became convinced that God was in the meeting. Even one of them asked Brother Babalola to pray for him. In the districts, towns and villages, churches which formally belonged to other denominations the entire members sent in their resignation to their European Missionaries that they ceased to be under their work, and they sent for our nearest pastors to take possession of their churches, and so they joined our organisation, bag and baggage. In some Anglican Church, where the member used to contribute annually to the native pastorate fund a sun of £1,200 before this healing campaign started, now I am sorry to report that this church did not get more than £500 yearly at present because most of the members have left to join our church. Many of the Schools belonging to the Wesleyan and Anglican Churches, including Baptist and Roman Catholics, have been closed down altogether as there has not been sufficient money again to pay their teachers, from the fact that the majority of their members have left to join us.
Now about two weeks ago in the town of Ilesha, which is the seat of this healing campaign, the European ministers united with the Mohammedans, conspired together, and went and laid false charges against Pastor J.A. Babatope of Ilesha assembly, that he was responsible for their present sad experience. They accused the Pastor before the local authority whom we call District Officer here. THIS EUROPEAN OFFICER OF THE GOVERNMENT BELIEVED THEIR STATEMENTS, AND SO MUCH SO THAT HE ORDERED ALL 23 CHURCHES IN THE DISTRICT, TOWNS AND VILLAGES TO BE CLOSED UP. The idea of the persecutors is that when those various chapels are closed up the new converts will automatically go back to their denominational churches. Pastor Babatope and the workers from our mission field at Ilesha are with me as I am writing. They were arrested but acquitted with strong warning that they should not go and open the 23 chapels anymore until our organisation will be registered by the government, so the pastor came to the headquarters here with a view of seeking assistance from the government, or, if possible, to have the organisation registered, but we have consulted many experienced people, and we were told that there was no need to have our church registered.
Yesterday, we proclaimed a fast, and the whole assemblies in Lagos and Ebute Metta prayed over the matter, and I am going with the Pastor to Ilesha tomorrow, and we shall approach the European Officer there and i will make him understand that our church is a branch of the Apostolic Church of Gt. Britain, and that if any registration is necessary, it should be done by our mother church in Gt. Britain.
Please pray that we may be delivered from this present persecution, and that the Lord may over-rule.
Last night, in a meeting we held with the pastors and workers from Ilesha, I seized the opportunity of pointing out to them the urgent need of getting our organisation associated with the Apostolic Church of Gt. Britain, and i am glad to report that the whole audience agreed with me. I told them that we stand in need of a capable and efficient pastor from the Apostolic Church in Gt. Britain, one who will supervise the various assembly that have recently sprung into existence, and I said that it was owing to proper supervision that the persecution arose.
In the town of Ikare the new converts that sprung up there numbered over a 1,000, and even more in another town, but dear pastor Williams, don’t you think that we have a great harvest here now, but where are the reapers. We pray that God will soon send us workers from your church who will come out here and take charge of the supervision of these thousands of souls who are at present like sheep without shepherd. There is no doubt that if we fail to get no able men from your church, these people whom God has called out of darkness will automatically go back to their dead churches and formal devilish cults, and those hundreds of formal Mohammedanism will also go back to worship the false prophet of Islam. I have emphatically pointed out last night in our meeting that the only solution to our problem is to get as early as possible a pastor of Considerable experience from the Apostolic Church. The Officers of the Government here fear the European Missionaries, and dare not trouble their native converts, but often we brethren here have been often ill-treated by Government Officers, but we count it all pleasures to suffer with and for Christ.
In conclusion, I believe that if your visit to us here can be effected as early as possible, many precious souls will be saved, and then arrangements will be made as to when you can send us a man from Gt. Britain. You yourself will go through the various mission fields on your arrival here, and you see the condition of things yourself, and you will be able to judge what sort of pastor the work here requires.
I would suggest that this report should be published in the “Missionary Herald” for all people to read, in order that they may join us in prayer that God may soon grant us victory over the heated-up persecution.
I am anxiously and looking out to hear your decision in regard to the visit we expect from you.
As we have put the present persecution in prayer, we are confidently sure that the Lord will touch the hearts of the authorities and will cause them to open the 23 churches which they have closed up. Please pray for us.
I have taking time to report it as it as it can serve as a reference point for many research works. One should bear in mind that this long essay is an attachment to a letter to debunk the report of the letter addressed to the Administrator of the Colony of Lagos.
In an acknowledgement to the letter by the administrator, he noted that Mr Odubanjo was not an unfrocked minister but an ex-official of the Police Department.
Yours in Christ Jesus