Late Apostle Ayo Babalola is one of the greatest men of God that ever tread the face of this earth. He is the founder of Christ Apostolic Church (CAC). He was born on the 25th of April 1904 at Odo-Owa, Ilofa, in present day Ekiti Local Government areas of Kwara State, Nigeria to the family of late Pa David Lawani Rotimi and Madam Martha Talabi Rotimi. His father was a devout Christian and was also the founder CMS church at Ilofa/Odo-Owa, the Church was in sixteen other towns then. Babalola was brought up as an Anglican.
He was brought to Lagos by his Uncle Mr. M.O. Rotimi who was a teacher at C.M.S. he went to elementary school at Oto-Awori near Badagry before he went to Methodist school at Ago Ijaye in Ebute Meta, Lagos for just 2 years before he was enrolled again at All saint M.C.S school in Osogbo, Osun State where he studied to Nigeria’s Reader IV (primary 4) and then stopped his education to learn how to be a Blacksmith for two years. He also learnt Roller Driving under P W D (Public Works Department), he became a Steamroller Operator which was then under the control of the whites.
After 15 days of learning how to drive the caterpillar, he was able to drive it without any assistance. After nine months; he became a master in his class. He became the Prophet of God in 1928 when God called him. It was while he was working as steamroller along Akure – Ilesha road in October 9th 1928 about 12.00 noon by the river Ariran that he heard a loud voice from above like the roar of thunder which called his name thrice saying “Joseph! Joseph!! Joseph!!! Leave this job you are doing; if not, this year you are going to be cut off from the earth.” Again On 11 October 1928, while trying to repair his machine, he heard an audible voice from the Lord to abandon the job and start preaching. That is how he received the call and he went into fasting and prayer. In this Special Report, City People ONDO/EKITI Reporter, ADEOLA SHITTU tells you some hard Facts and predictions of the founder of C.A.C, Apostle Joseph Ayo Babalola.
His first encounter with God after hearing his voice, was when the angel of the Lord told him to enter his house. The voice called to him again telling him to fast for six days and pray 120 times which he faithfully did. As he slept that night, an angel entered into his room like lightning and began to talk to him. Then the angel told him to put off the light inside the room which he immediately did. Thereafter a brighter light completely different from any other lighted the whole room. The angel told him not to taste any manner of food for six days that the Lord Jesus Christ wants to send him to do some important works to various towns. The angel told him that he was the one who had been talking to him on the road when he was driving and that he would have died if he had refused to hearken to his instructions. That is how he received the call and he went into series of fasting and prayer, all the while he was in Ipetu-Ijesha in Oriade local government area of Osun State . During this period of fasting and prayers, he received lots of revelations which formed the basis of the way he operated in his ministry.
He later joined the Faith Tabernacle Church in November 1929 where he was baptized in Lagos lagoon in December the same year.
Following the voice of the Lord that Apostle Babalola heard in 1928, his first miracle was when the revival of his mission began with the raising of a dead child in September 1930. What followed this in three weeks was the healing of about 100 lepers, 60 blind people and 50 lame persons. This also resulted in the desolation of Churches in Ilesa because their members transferred their allegiance to the revivalist and all the patients in Wesley Hospital, Ilesa, abandoned their beds to seek healing from Babalola. This divinely kicked off The Great Revival of 1930, which saw people coming from most parts of Africa and diaspora without posters and TV adverts.
Apostle Joseph Ayo Babalola ministries were given Bell (Agogo), Omi (water), Staff and his Bible. According to him the use of Bell (Agogo) is said to be used to call Angels of God down during a prayer gathering, while the water is said to be used for healing of all illness and disease and opening the womb of any barren women. He had toured Yoruba land and eastern Nigeria, preaching about repentance, and renunciation of idolatry, the importance of prayer and fasting, and the power of God to heal sickness. And all through his tour he had with him, his bell and Yoruba Bible in hand. During this period he also visited many towns and villages based on the Lord’s guidance and he preached the message of healing and deliverance to the people. He was specifically instructed by God to heal the sick through water which he prayed into. However for a period of six months he still maintained a strict regime of prayer and fasting.
In 1930 Faith Tabernacle affiliated with the British Apostolic Church. Then following a schism in the Apostolic Church about 1940, Babalola went with a new independent church, Christ Apostolic Church (CAC), where he continued his healing and revivalist activities until his death. The CAC regards Babalola as an apostle and his revival ministry as the beginning of the church. A CAC retreat center was built at Ikeji-Arakeji, Osun State where Babalola was first called in 1928.
The watershed in his early ministry came when he was commanded by God to go to his hometown to warn his people against Idolatry, fetish practices and evil works. According to him, ‘The Spirit told me to go to my hometown, where I was born. The Lord said I should rub my face with ashes and to carry palm leaves in my hand and to buy a bell, which I was to be ringing the moment I entered the town and I obeyed. The voice told me to tell my people that unless they repented, evil beasts would enter the town to destroy them. On that same day I entered the town with a bell in my hand. The entire town was moved and there was great stir and consternation as people fled as they saw him. The moment they set eyes on me they fled. The Voice told me to ring the bell in my hand round the town and I obeyed. His people however refused to repent or change their ways they instead summarily beat him up and his family was subjected to heavy persecution by the people of the town. In defense against the prophesied invasion of the town by wild beasts the people of the town armed themselves with Guns and Cutlasses. However God told His Servant to tell them he would not bring beasts again but instead would bring epidemics and it would start within forty- five days. At the expiration of the prophesied forty-five days and epidemic of small pox broke out and within 3 weeks about 300 persons had died. But those who repented and those who came to the man of God after contracting the disease were spared.
Another fact about him is that, Apostle Babalola will pray for days unstopped. According to some of his disciples, on several occasions the Apostle prayed to God on broken glass. He also sometimes could stand for 7 days praying to God unstopped. Another interesting scenario of his prayer style is that Babalola’s shortest and brief prayer was that of 3 to 4 hours. It was remarked by Elder Abraham Owoyemi of Odo-Owa 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.
Another noticeable feature of his work was the usage of water for healing which prompt the popular C.A.C song then: “Babalola Olomi Iye re o. Omi Iye, Iye, Iye, re o. Omi Iye…”
He became a prophet and a man with extraordinary powers. Enabled by the power of the Holy Spirit he could spend several weeks in prayer. Ayo Babalola was sent out of the Anglican Church of his village by his Bishop because most members of the Church see visions; speak in tongues and pray vigorously.
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 Nigeria in general were being plunged in as western civilization influence on society grew.
The C.A.C members believe that the spiritual power bestowed on Babalola placed him on an equal level with Biblical apostles like Peter, Paul and others who were sent out with the authority and in the name of Jesus. Joseph Ayo Babalola slept in the Lord in 1959.
He predicted the changes that will occur in C.A.C (Christ Apostolic Church) doctrines after his death in 1959.
He was one of the first and few prophets of God that had the grace to know when they will die, as he predicated his death in 1957 for his disciple at Ikere Ekiti during his 3 days fasting and prayer with them.
Another fact was that, before he even took the ministry, there was prophecy that he was going to work for God for just 30 years before he will be call upon by God. He took the full ministry after his baptizing in 1929 at the age of 25 and died at the age of 55 years in 1959 and that same year his ministry clocked 30 years.
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. 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 Ondo State. Among them were Owo, Ikare and Oka. Babalola retreated to his home town in Odo-Owa for a personal prayer retreat. While he was at Odo-Owa, a warrant for his arrest was issued from Ilorin. He was arrested for preaching against witches, a practice which had caused some trouble in Otuo in present Edo State. He was sentenced to jail for six months in Benin City in March 1932. He was the first prophet of God that was sent to prison as at then.
In 1935 he married Dorcas. The following year Babalola, accompanied by Evangelist Timothy Baba Busuyi, went to the Gold Coast. On arrival at Accra, he was recognized by some people who had seen him at the Great Revival in Ilesa. After a successful campaign in the Gold Coast he returned to Nigeria.
Glory be to God Almighty in the highest for the life of his servant, his works speak on till today and has given birth to so many revivalists in our days now.
He was the first General Evangelist of the Christ Apostolic Church, a church that metamorphosed from a prayer group popularly called Egbe Aladura in Nigeria.
In a vision he had, Jesus appeared to him in a white robe along with a very tall man who revealed that it was this Jesus who asked me to speak with you. 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 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.
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 Kwara State. Characteristically, people turned out to hear his preaching and see miracles. The Muslims in Offa became jealous and for that reason incited the members of the community against him.
To avoid bloodshed he was compelled to leave. His next stop was at Usi in present Ekiti State for his evangelical mission and he performed many works of healing. From Usi he and his men moved to Efon-Alaaye, also in Ekiti, 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.
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.
The parable of the 3 Palm tree leaves that God gave to Apostle Babalola on the believers and the church of God. One of the palm tree was dry (Ogbe), the other palm tree was rusted (Oro) while the last one was fresh (O tutu), the dry palm tree are those who refused to accept him as their God will dry of fat at the end. While those who deceitfully accept Him as there Savior with rust away. While those who accepted Him as their personal Savior shall be fresh forever and ever. It was said that the palm tree leaves which God used as a parable for him, was the leaves he used to protect his steamroller when it broke down. After some weeks that Apostle went back to the truck and of the three leaves, one was dry, the second was rusted while the third one was very fresh.
Babalola during his life time was the one that prophesied and saved the life of Lady/ Evang. (Dr.) Bola Are, who is today known all over the world. The water Babalola use to bath Mama Bola Are then was taking from Ile-Oluji, the present place where they cited Christ Apostolic Church, Oke Isegun, DCC headquarters.
Another fact is that the power in the Ikeji Arakeji water in Osun state has over the years healed many people. Finders reveal that the water has no end or begin and it has never gone since 1928.
He is one prophet that believes in power of prayer, it was said that, he made Africans to believe that they can pray directly to God and get answers without any sacrifice or worshipping idols. Prayer is one of his hobbies and in any town he found himself, he look for a wilderness or mountain to pray. This was how he moved to the mountain which he named Ori Oke Anu (Mountain of Mercy), after a while, he established a CAC church on it and his building is still there till date.
Mystery of His Ministry
The Mysterious Tree of Usi Ekiti: This was a tree in a Forest believed to be inhabited by evil spirits and it was in this forest a land was given to him for his revival campaign. This tree had been cut many times but it stood again as if nothing had been done to it, however the Apostle went to the tree rang his bell and prayed on the tree and it was cut down forever.
Another mysterious encounter of late Apostle Babalola was the one he had with gods of Ifira, this god called “egule” worshipped in the Isowo Quarters of the town. This god was so ruthless that no man dares point a finger at it to call attention to it as such acts led to death. It is said that a big python coiled around the pot on which the god was placed. This god was situated on a bushy hill and no one dares goes there for fear of being harmed by the god or the python guarding it. When the Apostle got to this town he requested to visit the hill of this god. People were concerned for his safety but he insisted, then people from neighboring towns and villages came to see what was going to happen. All he took was his bell and his staff and he went to the hill with people watching him. Immediately he cited this god and its python he started ringing his bell as he moved towards it. And immediately the pot on which the god stood broke into pieces and the god and the snake fled, when people saw this they started singing and rejoicing and the people beheld the Python and trampled it till it died and the people abandoned the Idols for God.
Lessons from the life of Joseph Ayo Babalola
- He is a man of Prayer and the Word
The prayer life of Ayo Babalola is worth emulating. He is a man of prayers that is he was always on the mountain seeking God’s face in prayers for different issues and just to hear and know Him more. There was a time he went to dedicate a house and ended up praying for about three days. This indeed shows that prayer was his lifestyle. He prays as if he is breathing, this is one great secret and lesson we all need to learn from this great spiritual icon. He is also a man of the Word; He spent time with the Bible to know His counsel and precepts daily.
- He believed in himself and his call
At a time in Ayo Babalola’s life many did not believed in his call, especially the elders of the church at that time but that never stopped him. You must learn to believe in yourself and your pursuit even when men do not believe in you. The truth about life is that many people might not believe in you while starting out, but proofs settle every form of arguments and that is it with his life. After delivering a mad man while coming to visit elders that summoned him and did not believe in him, that act automatically convinced them. People might not believe in you but you must believe in yourself and produce results.
- A Strong relationship with God
Ayo Babalola was a man that had a strong relationship with God. The voice of God is more real to him than anything else. He does not just do things; he does it according to the leading of the Holy Spirit and with a strong conviction. His relationship with God is the source of his anointing and exploit that he did. We must all seek to be closer to our Maker through the Lord Jesus Christ as the gateway. Any man that excels in building a great relationship with God will excel in all areas of life for the word is ruled by spirits.
- He is a man with a Vision
This great icon’s vision has brought about Christ Apostolic Church today. This is still standing very strong and has been of great impact to many lives. Every great man must have a vision, without vision a man can never go far in life. Every vision that has to deal with just you and can’t out-live you is a mere ambition not vision. Have a vision and the chase it with strong determination and you will surely get there.
- A man that fears God
The bible says the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. The fear of God is critical to excel in life. Fearing God here means reverencing Him, we must reverence the Lord in every aspect of our lives. King Solomon said that the conclusion of the whole matter is to fear God and obey His commandments.
- He is a bold man
Boldness is needed in starting anything in life; bold people always go far in life. Many people know a lot but only few people are ready to take a move and apply what they know. The world only celebrates men that take action not men that just talk and talk. Ayo Babalola was one bold man that dismantled many major shrines and idols in the south western Nigeria.
- He lived a sacrificial life
Leadership indeed is about sacrifice, this man sacrificed his time and pleasures to save people and liberate them from darkness. He was not as selfish as most men of God today in our time whose belly has become their God and have allowed greed to take over them. He did all without extorting the people but rather all he did was for the love of God and the love of the people. Until you can see beyond yourself and meets the need of people you won’t standout in life.