Christ Apostolic Church, CAC, is distinctly an indigenous African Church.The history of the church is traceable directly to the forefathers such as Oba/Pastor Isaac Babalola Akinyele, Pastor David Ogunleye Odubanjo, Joseph Sadare, Miss Sophia Odunlami and Joseph Ayodele Babalola who was called to ministry in 1928. Apostle Babalola’s call subsequently led to the great revival of 1930.
Over the years, Apostle Ayo Babalola named the church Apostolic Church. About 1939, the church changed its name to Nigerian Apostolic Church. This name was again changed to United Apostolic Church until 1942 when Babalola was said to have been specifically led by the Spirit to call the church Christ Apostolic Church. It was thereafter that the name was registered as No.147 of May 4, 1943 under the Lands Perpetual Succession Ordinance.
Today, CAC has grown and is present in mst Germany, Sweden and Belgium before returning to Nigeria. I was ordained in 1981. I lectured in the seminary but resigned for personal reasons and later became the president of the church.
How would you describe the journey of the church as it celebrates 100 years?
The journey has been good for the church. When Jesushe call of God in 1956 when I was in primary school. The prophet that I met on the prayer mountain told me that I should pray that God would not call me with crisis. In school, people called me pastor, maybe because I scored highest in religious studies. Since my youth, I had been occupied with the work of God.
In 1972, God appeared to me and revealed to me that I would be the leader of his people. He asked me to resign from the company where I worked. I was a pipe fitter with Grade two and three, Federal Trade Test. I obeyed and resigned and went to Bible college. I studied in the old West Germany, Sweden and Belgium before returning to Nigeria. I was ordained in 1981. I lectured in the seminary but resigned for personal reasons and later became the president of the church.
How would you describe the journey of the church as it celebrates 100 years?
The journey has been good for the church. When Jesus Christ was talking about the church with his disciples, he said he would build the church upon the rock and the gate of hell shall not prevail over it. This means that the church is at war with Satan that is referred to as the gate of hell. The church is at war with the enemy of God which is Satan and that means that the church will experience challenges even though victory is sure.
How did the church evolve?
The history of the church dates back to a period in 1918 when its formation began. At the inception of the church in 1918, it was not called CAC. The first leader of the church, Baba Odubanjo, saw a tract that led to the establishment of the church. The tract talked about seven principles of prevailing prayers. Odubanjo and others that formed the church were worshipping at CMS which is an Anglican Church. As he was reading the tract, he saw what looked like fire in the words of the tract. As they began praying as a group, they saw a vision of a church with light.
God told them that he wanted to use them to bring light into the world. As they continued praying, they saw a vision of persecution. It was like the first church when Jesus disciples faced the persecution of the Saducees, Pharisees and Jewish traditional religion. Persecution from the Orthodox Church rose against the people. But they were receiving inspiration to move on. They knew it was a beginning of another era for them.
They called themselves Diamond Stones to differentiate themselves from the Orthodox Church. At the time, there was a general disease called influenza throughout the western region that defied medical solutions. The hospitals were filled with sick people but whoever that any of the group members prayed for was healed. Soon, the hospitals were empty because people sought solution from Diamond Stones members.
Because we were under colonial government, the Orthodox Church was like government. The group faced more persecution because of the miracles they performed. It was a tough time for them.
The publisher of the tract wrote the group and came to Nigeria. This brought relief for the group because the colonial government gave recognition to the visitors from the United States. As the persecution reduced, it happened that there was a friction between the group and the church that came from the US. That was when they wanted to change Diamond Stone to Apostolic Church. The church of the US people is called Apostolic Faith. Friction arose from setting doctrine. Our own people received directives from the Holy Spirit.
The angel of God one day appeared to one of them and told him that if they wanted God to dwell among them as he did with the Christ disciples, they should refrain from using any kind of orthodox or traditional medicine, fornication, adultery and that they should accommodate others. That was where friction arose. The white men saw nothing wrong in using orthodox medicine but our people insisted on what God told them, they did not follow the white men’s directives. Because of that, the US missionaries left.
From 1918 to 1928, the prayer was for God to prosper the church in terms of evangelisation and spread. In 1928, the group members were in a meeting. They were discussing various issues like who should be taking the Lord’s Supper and how to solve the problem of polygamy in the church. Also on the agenda was the issue of divine healing. In that year, the Lord raised Apostle Ayo Babalola for the church. He came for the meeting but he was asked to sit outside.
While at the meeting, a dead man was being taken for burial amidst wailing. The spirit of the Lord inspired Babalola to stop the procession and prayed for the dead. He commanded that in the name of Jesus, the dead man should rise and it was so. Those who were at the meeting inside heard about it and they ended their meeting. That was the genesis of Mighty Revival. It was like the day of Pentecost.
One man, Prophet Orekoya from Lagos had a directive from the Holy Spirit to travel to Ilesa to witness Babalola’s revival. When he reached there, Babalola laid his hand upon him and before he left Ilesa, he raised six dead people. On his way to Lagos, he stopped over at Baba Akinyele’s house. This gave birth to the Oke-Bola revival.
A pregnant woman who was popularly referred to as Mama Abeo had died four days earlier before one of the revival meetings. But she was not buried because the family was looking for money to perform traditional rites before she could be buried. When the family heard of the powerful revival going on, they brought the woman’s corpse. Even while they were planning to bring her, the Lord revealed to Orekoya that a pregnant woman’s corpse was on its way. He told the man of God to pray in water and sprinkle it on the corpse and the woman would come to life.
Immediately that was done, the dead woman and the foetus came back to life. The baby is now a strong CAC member. She is over 80 years now. The mother died some years ago. The spread of the church was like a whirlwind. Many traditional rulers were converted. Many youths from other churches also joined CAC. Many churches, even the Orthodox Churches now copy the way CAC churches pray and they now have vigil. They called us Aladura church but which church is not Aladura today? That means that the prophesy has been fulfilled. They can no longer persecute us.
What are the major achievements of the church in 100 years?
At the inception, they called us illiterates. When we were making plans to establish a university, one of the questions we were asked was that how many schools (primary and secondary) have we established. They were surprised to know that we had many of them. Many of our elders ensured schools were established in localities where we have churches. We have over 50 members who are professors. They were the ones that worked out the modalities of how to establish the university.
In Africa, we have churches all over. In fact, our centenary celebration began in The Gambia where we have 12 churches. In the first week in November, we are going to celebrate in South Africa where we have nine churches. Beyond Africa, we have 86 assemblies and in the US, Italy, Canada, Germany, we also have churches. In Pennsylvania, US we have the CAC village beside Camp David built on 63 acres of land. We were there this year for conferences. The facility is so massive that all conferences were held at the same time in different halls within the camp.
Where do you see the church in another 100 years?
If the Lord has not come, we look forward to enjoying the genuine covenant that God has with this church. Apostle Babalola fasted 40 days and 40 nights for the survival of the church until Jesus will come back again. The Lord told him that the end time revival will happen in this church. That will be the end of the world when Jesus Christ will come. He also observed similar fasting praying for Nigeria.
There was a covenant in that prayer as well. While he was praying, it was revealed to him that our currency will be called naira. Are we not using naira today? While he was praying, a big python ran over him as he laid on the rock and it withered. After this centenary celebration, we should be expecting a mighty revival that will last until Jesus Christ comes.
What do you refer to as revival?
What many people call revival is not revival. Real revival is the appearance of God. People don’t plan for revival and they may not know how the revival will come. When you clap and jump, they are mere exercises.
You are celebrating 100 years of the church but some still refer to 1941 as the birth of CAC. Why is this so?
The leadership of this church erred greatly in 1980 when they celebrated golden jubilee (50 years). They did not count from 1918. They started from 1930. The church started in 1918 but it was not called CAC. It became CAC in 1930 after the great revival. It was first named United Apostolic Church and later Nigeria Apostolic Church. The Holy Spirit forbade it so the name changed to African Apostolic Church. Then the Holy Spirit let them know that the plan is to establish a global church. After some elders prayed, Apostle Babalola said it was revealed to him in writing that the church should be called CAC. It was registered in 1943.
In what way is the church missing Apostle Babalola since his death in 1959?
In 1928 when he encountered Jesus Christ where he was working as a roller driver, he was a member of CMS just like his parents. He was called three times before the Lord told him to fast for four days. At the completion of the order, God told him to make it seven days. On the seventh day, Jesus and God appeared to him. He was given a roasted yam and Jesus told him that the food he was giving to him was half of what he had given others. Because of the nature of the work given to him, he cannot be forgotten. He lived a selfless life for the church and Nigeria.
Where are his children?
There are only two daughters and the eldest of them is the matron of the church. She lives in Ilesa. Both are doing well in the church.
Agreed that the daughters are aged now, what role are the grandchildren playing in the church which their grandfather laboured to build?
No one can assume the leadership role if such person is not called. But some of the grandchildren are elders of the church. I don’t think any of them is a pastor. We are making effort to bring all the children and grandchildren of the church founders together wherever they are.
Have you had direct contact with any of Balalola’s grandchildren?
I have not but we are making effort to reach out to them.
Among the Pentecostal churches in Nigeria, CAC is among the earliest but some who came after the church seem to have expanded more. Are you bothered and what are you doing to restructure the church?
Yes we were bothered. We now have a vibrant director of mission. He has great passion for expansion. He has been donating huge amount for evangelisation. It is a challenge to others and the church. We appointed 10 new missionaries for new mission fields based on his request and sponsorship.
We used to hear about other Pentecostal churches going ahead of us but now, we have caught up and moving ahead. The leaders of those churches know that the end time revival will happen in CAC. One of them said he had begged God for it to happen in his church but he was not granted the request. They know our position and they give us that honour.
What is the position of CAC on churches that establish universities that members cannot afford tuition?
At Joseph Ayo Babalola University, many students are on scholarship but we cannot give all the students the facility. We were paying over N100m monthly wage and other expenses. The church gives N30m monthly subvention to the university. It used to be N20m but I increased it when I came to the office. Last year, things were a bit tough so we had to lay off some of the workers in the school. Now we pay about N70m in monthly wages.
There are nine universities in Osun State where JABU is located, so the competition is huge. We have strong student population. However, our tuition is the lowest among all recognised private universities. Every CAC member that has children in the school gets 30 per cent off in tuition. Every student in Religious Studies department gets 60 per cent off. In departments where student population is low, we still provide them with all teachers and professors needed. There are two departments we run at a loss.
For every course to be approved by the National Universities Commission, there is a certain number of professors that must be there and you know how much professors charge. There are other lecturers and administrative staff. That is why private universities charge more than public universities in tuition.
What is your view on the allegation that churches have deviated from their duty to the people?
That is why we cannot but still make reference to the time of our fathers. We are focusing on the issue. In 1986, a Catholic Church member came to me for an interview for his PhD. He asked me what we were going to do to guide the church against flamboyant style of evangelism. I told him we were tough against the ministers in the field.
But we have the problem of church planters which started in the 1980s. Someone started a church without submitting to the authority of the church and many people began to copy him. They did whatever they liked in terms of amassing wealth and evangelism. Today, it is less than what we had then.
What is the position of the church on tithe?
We have obligatory tenets in the church and tithe is one of them.
For 27 years, the church was in crisis until last year. How was it resolved?
At the peak of the crisis, I was close to the leaders of the two factions and the youths in the faction respect me because I have been their teacher. The reconciliation lingered because some people were feeding fat from it. Those people had their own ulterior motive and they were not interested in reconciliation. Last year, the Lord took control.
The other faction wanted us to share offices equally but I said that would not guarantee enduring peace. It was important leaders held a meeting and discussed. This year’s conferences were held together unlike before when they were held separately. However, we are still discussing on some other issues because the other faction rejected some of the positions we offered them. The reconciliation process has not been completed yet.
The church vowed last year to flush out false prophets in its midst. How big is this problem?
We have not succeeded in forcing out all false prophets because of the crisis we had. Whenever we caught one, he is always from the other faction.
Who do you categorise as a false prophet?
Jesus tells us in Mathew 5:23-27 that we should be careful of false prophets who say they are of the Lord but doing contrary to the way of God. We measure them according to their activities. A prophet who tells a woman that God asked him to bathe for her is no doubt a false prophet.
These days, it is common to find youths leaving orthodox churches like the CAC for trendy Pentecostal churches due to the former’s old doctrines. Will the church modify some of its doctrines to appeal to such youths?
People used to say that our youths are leaving but this is not correct. The youth conference records large representation from every state even though only the selected ones are invited.
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