Mrs. Apeke Adeniyi is the last child of Apostle Joseph Ayo Babalola, a church patriarch and the first General Evangelist of Christ Apostolic Church, Worldwide.
Who is Apeke Adeniyi?
I am a child of God by the grace of God and the last born of Apostle Joseph Ayo Babalola. I’m the baby of the house so to say. My father loved me so much. I don’t like to refer to him in the past because his impact transcends his generation. It is still being felt.
But what are your memories of him?
I recall a lot about him. He was a special breed from God. He was a special servant of God. He was so passionate about the work of the ministry and he served with all his might. He was honest. He was diligent. He was prayerful and full of humility. He always wanted everybody around him to be comfortable.
Talking about prayer, what do you have to say about the prayer regime in your house then?
When Baba was alive we used to hold prayers very early in the morning. The prayer series used to start around 5am with my mother leading us in prayers. Then the prayer bell will ring for all those who were living with us then. That is when we would come downstairs and pray from 6am to like 6.40 am. There were days Baba would not be around. He would have gone for ministry work. But there were times he personally led the prayers in the morning when he was around. Then the collective prayers are held around 9am again for those who are around. By 12noon we hold another one. We also hold by 3pm and then 6pm in the evening. We cap it up with the 9pm prayer. Usually those who were around would attend the prayer meetings. This prayer timetable does not stop people from making their individual supplication. I remember when we finish praying at 9pm, Baba would still go and be praying in his room. He would be praying silently. He does not shout while praying. He only shouts when he is inspired to. It is not a routine for him to always shout while praying.
But some people in CAC believe that the louder the prayer the better. How will you respond to this?
The point is that if there was a need for Baba to raise his voice while praying he would raise it. But it was not a norm for him to always pray with a loud voice. He had a natural loud voice. You know in those days there was no public address system the way we have today. But whenever he was preaching you can hear his voice about 800 metres away. I remember during the yearly prayer meetings that were held in the various churches of the CAC the prayers were often held on the streets. He had a megaphone voice, so everyone could hear him. That has also robbed off on us. If I go to preach in a place and you don’t give me microphone, I will still be audible to my listeners.
Was it also a must to go to mountain tops for prayers to be effective?
Baba used to go to the mountain based on instruction. It was not something that had to be done or made compulsory. Sometimes he just wanted some privacy. So he would go to the mountain to pray. He had a room to himself at the prayer mountain of Baba Akande in Ede. Nobody goes to disturb him there.
So he only goes to pray on the prayer mountain as the situation requires.
We also hear that Babalola fasted a lot. What is it about his fasting life?
Food was not so important to him. When he was not fasting, he would not even eat. I remember my mother used to plead with him to eat. He was used to having marathon fasting. He never missed the yearly 40 days fasting.
Some say he fasted for the whole of the year?
I am not aware he did that. But he held long fasting periods many times over.
Was he taking water while fasting?
I don’t have an idea if he was taking water. But he had a tradition of fasting.
You talked about people in your house the other time?
Yes. We had a lot of people staying with us then. We did not see it as something strange. In fact it would have been odd not to see people in our house per time. Even when Baba was not around people would always come to our house. Many of them pass the night. A good number were permanently living with us. My mother was always busy cooking and taking care of visitors. I got used to it. She taught me how to take care of clergymen.
That brings me to the question of your mother’s role in the ministry of Apostle Babalola. What about it?
I need to be careful in answering this question. Some years ago some journalists came to ask me something similar. They asked something like, why my mother did not support my father’s ministry. And I took time to explain to them but they reported something else. I was annoyed with the publication.
I told them then that supporting ministry depends on the call of the individual. But then in those days it was believed that women were neither to be seen nor to be heard. They were supposed to take care of the home front and support their husbands by praying at home. Mama was busy at the home front. Baba on the other hand was always going about doing ministry. God equipped her to support Baba. And she played that role perfectly.
Apostle Babalola’s two daughters
Judging by the number of people in your house per time, how was it like getting resources to take care of these people?
We had resources then. I can say that people gave willingly and generously. In those days pastors did not have to ask before people would respond. We did not lack. At least all our basic needs were met. Mama on the other hand was also a trader. She was doing that to augment the family income. I remember we had an uncle who was a Station Manager at the railway. He would help send bags of beans to my mother by rail which she in turn sold to make some money. She also got involved in some other petty trading which helped us as a family. But Baba did not support the idea of trading. There was a time she told her anytime people owe her money she should be careful how she on how she demands for the money.
Thank God my mother was involved in a trade. That was what saved us as a family when Baba died. Nobody expected Baba would die so soon. When he died there were promises here and there. But reality soon dawned on us. My mother had to take on the challenge and took care of her children through her trading.
But then how will you react to the story that mama was a witch and that you children also inherited the witchcraft from her?
If you have Christ and you seem to know many things, people will be wondering how you get to know those things. Maybe that is the perspective of her witchcraft. Many did not know how we survived after the death of Baba so I guess that also informed the witchcraft allegation. Because she lost her husband they thought she must have lost all. They felt she was being backed by certain powers.
But talking seriously, I wonder how people got to cook up such stories that my mother was a witch. Ironically, most of the people dishing such information were not around when Baba was alive. So I wonder where they got their stories from.
From what I know, Baba and Mama were quite close. Baba would call his wife Mama Abiye, Mama too would call her husband Baba Abiye. They had a bit of delay after marriage. In those days the emphasis was always on the man of God. People depended heavily on the men of God that they didn’t remember to pray for them in many instances. If they say she had witchcraft and gave us the witchcraft, then she must have given us the witchcraft of God. The fact is that my mother was a core disciplinarian. She used to tell us that she would not look after other people’s children at the detriment of her children. She was very tough. You can’t be sluggish and stay around her. She was hardworking, honest and prayerful. I don’t know how people came about the witchcraft story because she did her best to put us in the way of God.
How many children were you in the family?
We were four children. One died when Baba was alive. Baba was at a programme when he was told of her death. My own elder sister, I guess was had sickle cell anemia, also died. She died in 1968. I have an elder sister still alive. She is the matron of CAC Okesa in Ilesa.
But how did Baba react to the death of her daughter when he was still alive?
How would he react? He took it as one of those things. He believed God gives and takes at his own time. The fact is that God’s will, will always be done. Even when it was time for Baba to go there was nothing anybody could do about it.
Let’s talk about the way he handled money. What is your experience in this regard?
Baba was a good record keeper. He kept diary and his diary was up to date. He kept records of those who owed him and records of money that people blessed him with. He would write against such account (ipese Oluwa) that is, God’s provision. He gave monthly account of his income and expenditure. He was more than a generous giver. He gave to his own hurt. That is one area he and mama had problem. There were times he gave all he had to the detriment of the family needs and mama would go and ask how we will survive, he would say God will provide. And truly God provided. But then, at that moment it was difficult to understand.
How rich was he?
Baba was very rich in the Lord. He had all that he needed. He was a man of deep satisfaction. He was not materialistic. Somebody gave him a piece of land before he died. He did not do anything on the land. He had nothing in material terms at the time of his death. He had just 10 shillings and 6 pence in his bag at the time of his death. He used to sit at the front in his car with his driver. At the back seat, he would put clothing items there for charity. In the course of the missions they were distributing cloths to the needy. His disciples also sit at the back seat. By the time he died, people came and took some of the things he had because they believed those things could be used as point of contact for power.
When did he die?
Well like I said he died on a Sunday. He was always working and never resting. The week he died he had a busy schedule. On Monday he was in Sapele, Tuesday he was in Warri, Wednesday he was still in Warri. On Thursday and Friday he was in Ilofa on Saturday he was in Ibadan. On Sunday he was in Ede where he died. He was preparing for the CAC convention to be held at Ilofa, Odo-Owa, Kwara state where he came from. He was renovating the church then. He never had time to rest. I was not there when he died. But I was told he held service in the morning and then ordered series of prayers. He told them during the prayer time that a big tree would fall in CAC. They all prayed and went inside. That was it. He died thereafter. He and Baba Akande were quite close. Baba Akande particularly was quite close to me when he was alive. I used to work in the defunct cooperative bank in Ibadan. When I was transferred to Ede, there was no single month that Baba Akande would not come and check me and my husband. Whenever I went to see him and he had paramount rulers with him, he would excuse himself and come to attend to me. I had free access to him.
But how come people were saying all kinds of things about your mother and her relationship with Baba?
I really don’t know how they got inspired to write those rubbish. My parents were friendly and had good relationship. My mother was a hardworking honest woman who loved her family. CAC took us up two and half years after the death of Baba. So it was my mother who stood in the gap to cater for the family. My mother was the typical ijesha woman who was hardworking.
Going by your experience with Baba Babalola being her daughter, what advice will you give ministers of today?
My advice is for them to be 100 percent submissive to God. The Lord who called them will always provide for them what they will eat and make way for them. They should not be too anxious for gain and should not pursue material things. Baba was not materialistic. He was contented with little and was so much concerned about the work of the ministry. He would ride on bicycles to the sea side and take boat to mission posts in the other parts of the country.
I will also advise that they pay more attention to less privileged folks. Wives of pastors must be busy and hardworking. They must find a way of supporting their husbands and do something that can be used to help the family. We were able to have a balance family because my mother was quite supportive of her husband and she helped with the family upkeep.
Let me also say that if there is anyone that has served and served faithfully, my father was that person. When we were doing the 50th anniversary of his death, we held a three-day crusade at Ilesha and Baba Abiara was to minister for those three days. He came for the first day and said he was going back the following day because of other pressing engagements. He encouraged me to take the programme for the remaining two days. On the following day it threatened to rain. It was so clear that it would rain. But I prayed a simple prayer and said to God, if truly you accepted the works of your servant, Babalola, Lord let it not rain. And as the Lord would have it, the rain did not fall, it only drizzled. That was quite assuring for me. Just as it was about the time the programme was to start, Baba Abiara who said he was going came back. He said my prayers would not allow him to rest. So he came back to continue the revival programme.