He is not a frivolous person. He is straightforward, down to earth. He is one of the men in the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion who can hold their head high in appreciation to God for keeping the faith as it was once delivered to the saints. But the devil tried to distract him from his call in ministry. Akinola who served as Bishop of Igbomina Diocese shares his experience as a priest in the Anglican Church and how God helped him to withstand temptations that came his way: Listening to you tells us that you are quite evangelical.
But you said while preaching that you had some background in the occult in your younger days. How then did you come about the Anglican Church in the first place? My parents were in Ghana. I was born in Ghana. But in I was sent back to Nigeria because my parents felt we should get used to our Nigerian background.
So I came back to Nigeria to stay with my grandfather who was an Ifa worshipper. He was a herbalist to the core. Gradually I became conversant with Ifa worship under his tutelage. I did so many things quite strange; and I was growing up to be stubborn. I was proud and arrogant because I was exposed to evil forces. But my grandfather did not compromise his inclination to the occult. In my secondary and modern school days I was very terrible.
Despite being terrible I still loved God. When they asked people to pray in school I could pray for 30 minutes.
That was what qualified me to be sent to an SU camp when my school needed to send delegates to the camp. Are demonic powers real going by your experience in the occult?
They are very real. When you talk of Esu we made sculpture of him with laterite and fossil. There are certain leaves we collect about seven of such leaves and we squeeze them and pour them on the laterite and fossil and make some incantations; the devil is invoked into it. We place such at the path where three footpath meet. When you pass by such offering you will hear several voices. The powers are real and were used to cause havoc. But that for me is history. So when you became born again what happened?
I became born again when I was 21 by that time I was in form 3. I started secondary school at age When I gave my life to Christ the zeal I had when I was in the cultic world was transferred to the Lord. What helped me was that I did not go too far in the cultic world. My father did not want me to go far. He wanted me to go to school. He insisted I should not be initiated.
But despite that I was quite involved to the extent of being able to use some of the occult powers. Because I was very brilliant I was brought into the herbal business. I did all the writing for them and I could recite incantations. I memorised many occult lines.
But when Jesus came, I became zealous for the Lord. I was preaching here and there and I demonstrated so much zeal for the Lord. So the principal of my school felt I should go to the seminary. But I was denied the opportunity when I made the initial move. I had no sponsor. But later in life I opted for secular education. I studied Geology at the University of Ibadan. But by the time I finished my degree programme and I applied to the seminary I was turned down again.
I was told there was no place for me being a Geology graduate. I took to secular job and worked with Rocks and Stone Nigeria Ltd. I was invited by Bishop Awosoga to minister in his church. That was where the late Bishop Falope listened to my message and recommended me to Bishop Olajide who made me attend the seminary for the Tent Making course and also recommended a programme on evangelism for me in Singapore.
He was the one who ordained me. How was it in the beginning being a priest in the Anglican Church? I had bitter experiences. It was not easy. I never taught I would enjoy any preferment. I was just focused doing my own thing. I was persecuted greatly. I was asked to serve under a senior priest. He antagonized me so much that I nearly gave up. He would not give me any job. The only job he gave me was to read the Psalms. Anytime I was not given Psalm I would do nothing that day.
I was just marching into the church and marching out. When Bishop Olajide got to know, he transferred me to another church that was pastored by Bishop Ajetumobi who is now the Bishop of Ibadan. Then he was going to UK for chaplaincy. So I found expression there. I worked there for two years two months and seven days How was the experience there? Many of my youths then are now pastors. The impact was great. There are many senior pastors in other ministries now who came to know the Lord through me.
Many of them are still keeping in touch with me today. I was transferred from that church to another church because of persecution and made the curate in the church. The youths followed me to the church. I turned them back but many of them refused and joined other ministries instead of going back. You are an Iconoclast. How did you cope with the leadership of the church? I was just resolute not to compromise. Some of the leaders were not comfortable. But I was not deterred. Maybe your preferment would have come earlier if you had compromised?
But the other way to look at it is that perhaps it would not have come. So the way God works is different from our ways.
There were times the authorities were not happy with me. For instance I approached the vicar of one of the churches where I was posted to as a curate that we should start a Bible study session, he said there was no time for such because of several other programmes. I kept pressing him. After about three years of pleading with him, he said okay. And the impact was great. We were to start by 6pm but by 5. He was wondering what I was teaching the people.
It got to a point he said I would not teach again that he wanted to be teaching. So he took over. I would prepare the outline and he would handle the message. But anytime people saw him in front, they would just be going out. That continued for some time. After that I was transferred to another church, this time as a vicar. When I went there a lot of youths followed me.