Continued from: The Church
10. Herewith the English Translation of the history of Celestial Church of Christ as told by the Reverend Pastor Prophet Founder S. B. J. OSHOFFA during evening service on Wednesday, 18th January 1969 at MAKOKO, the headquarters Church of Celestial Church of Christ, Nigeria Diocese. The History was related in place of the regular sermon for the Church service.
11. “It is a thing of pleasure that I am still alive today twenty one years and some months after the birth of Our Church. “Right here today at MAKOKO, the Headquarters Church of Celestial Church of Christ in Nigeria, I have been asked to give a short history of the Church for posterity. But before doing so, I shall start by giving a short history of myself to clarify matters.
12. “My father was a Methodist born and bred in Dahomey (now Republic of Benin). His Father, OJO, and his mother, KOSHINA, came from Abeokuta in Nigeria to Dasatre where they settled. The artificial boundary between Nigeria and Dahomey set up by Europeans meant that my father was – a Dahomean. His name was OSHOFFA (this is obtained from ‘OJU KI ISE OFA TI OTA LE TA BANI KA SUBU, or, for short, ‘OJU KO SO FA”, which was shortened further to OSOFA’ in Yoruba’ language; and it means, in English, ‘the human eye is not a missile that an enemy can fire at one to make one fall’). He had many wives each of whom bore him up to five to six children. All the children were, however, female and only one survived. This made him entreat God according to Methodist doctrine: ‘0 Lord if, thou would give me a boy, I shall give him up to thy service just as Hannah and Elkana did”. As a result, I was born in 1909 in Porto Novo of a Nigerian mother named ALAKE IYAFO from IMEKO Egbado Division,’ Abeokuta Province. I was named SAMUEL and also BILEWU (BILEAIYEBAWU KOGBE, SUGBON MO MO WIPE MO TI TORO RE LODO OLORUN) which means ‘if you prefer to live in this world, then you are welcome but if you prefer to live above in heaven, then you are equally welcome to go, but I know I specially requested for you from God’.
13. “In fulfilment of my father’s vow to God, I was sent at the age of seven for God’s service to a Methodist Catechist MOSES YANSUNU, father of Evangelist NATHANIEL YANSUNU of our Church. Because my father was not happy with the way I was treated he brought me back home and later sent me at the age of thirteen to stay with Revd. Bishop David Hodonu Loco, the Methodist Bishop of Porto Novo, formerly of Methodist Church, Olowogbowo, Lagos, Nigeria. I was there with some other children. After a number of years, Rev. D. H. Loco was replaced by Bishop Garner from London. The new Bishop ordered that we pupils should participate in making blocks for a new College building. We all refused and so he sent us all back to our parents. When I got back home, my father admonished me that I was different from the others because he had specially requested for me from God and so I had to do the work. Whereupon he took me back to the Bishop, but the Bishop would not reverse his decision. Whereupon, my father said there was no alternative but that I should learn to be a carpenter like himself.
14. “I became proficient as a carpenter. I was good at roofing buildings, wood planing and working with ebony which I bought regularly from a friend. I kept on working happily as a carpenter until my father died on June 15th, 1939.
15. “After my father’s death, I continued to bear the burden until December 1946 when I decided that I would henceforth trade in ebony. I would myself go into the forest to purchase ebony and bring this into the town to sell to carpenters. I began this trade, going into the forest areas in search of ebony. I bought it cheaply and brought it to town to sell at a premium. I continued this lucrative trade until one such trip in May 1947 during the floods. As usual I had my Bible with me. I also loved much to pray.
16. “On the 23rd May 1947, the day of the eclipse of the sun, as I was praying in the forest on this trip, I heard a voice and could not open my eyes. The voice I beard was ‘LULI’, and the same voice told me ‘This means The Grace of Jesus Christ’. When I opened my eyes, I saw a white monkey with two teeth each top and bottom with winged hands and feet like those of a bat. When it wants to fly, it flaps its wings forward. But it was stationary. I saw a bird with yellow feet, yellow beak and long tail. It would sometimes fan out its tail like a peacock does, and it was rnulti-coloured. It was also stationary. I also saw a short snake about one foot long. As it stood stationary, it was coiled and its mouth was puffed like a cobra. When I heard this voice, I noticed I felt quite different from my normal self. I now found myself toying with the snake. The bird stood for a time and then went into the bush. The monkey also flew away and I then noticed that there was a complete change in me.
17. “I had been rowed to the forest by a canoe paddler I hired from TOFFIN in GANVIE. I always gave him money for his own food. But he stole some of my soup. Soon after, he began to have stomach pains and groaned to my hearing. I ran to him enquiring what was the matter. He said all he did was taste some of my soup. I then admonished him that he should not have eaten any of my soup since I gave him money for his own food. I lay my hand on his stomach and the pains left him. He ran away leaving me alone and saying that he did not wish to stay with this odd man who lives in the forest and whose soup he tastes only to find he has stomach pains which this odd man removes simply by placing his (odd man’s) hand on his stomach. I was thus left with a canoe without paddler, and I myself did not know how to paddle. This was precisely why I wandered about in the forest for three months.
18. “During these three months, I did not cook and I could not paddle the canoe. But I soon discovered a hole in a tree into which bees flew. I soon made fire by lighting two pieces of dry wood together. I would take a dry leaf, light it and stick it in the hole at night. Once the bees have run away, the bees’ honey was my food. My drinking water was the flowing stream nearby.
19. “But there I saw many visions and experienced many changes in me. The forest was so thick that one looked up and saw no skies but trees, snakes, boar, monkeys and birds singing. In the midst of all this, I prayed a lot. I did not hunger, I felt no fear and I had no illness but basked in the glory of Jesus Christ.
20. “As I wandered about in the forest, I came to a hillock called FAGBE (after the township of ZINVIE) where I met a man who became Senior Leader MICHEL when he subsequently joined Celestial Church of Christ. It was he who told me the name of the village. I saw a lot of children and prayed there. I returned into the forest wandering round looking for the canoe and soon came by a lake called GODRO near which there is a village named HUNGON. I continued my wandering past WHEDO and on to AGLANGOUN until I found the canoe tied up along an isthmus (narrow stream) from AGLANGOUN well into the forest.
21. “Not knowing how to paddle, I got into the canoe and just allowed myself to be carried down stream by the current of the stream which was then in full flood. While the canoe was thus carried from side to side by the current, snakes fell from trees into the canoe, but I carried them from the canoe with my hand back into the stream unhurt. I continued my trip down the river and soon got to AGANGE. There I found a Methodist young man called KUDIHO at the point of death who was reported to have been very ill for a long time. I touched him and Jesus raised him up. He is alive today and so are his children, all in AGONGUE.
22. “I now went to collect more ebony wood from the forest. On my return after five days from the forest, the whole of AGANGE was in ferment. ‘What kind of a man is this?’ They said, ‘We will certainly follow him in his Church’. I told them I did not have a Church. They would not listen and I prayed for them. I stayed with YESUFU in AGONGUE who was a neighbour of mine back in Porto Novo. After the miracle of raising KUDIHO on the first day of my arrival in Agange and before my return from the forest, YESUFU had gone back to Porto Novo to tell my relations that he had seen me at Agange, that I looked very odd and like a mad man, that my hair was long, unkempt and matted, that even my dress was rough and untidy and that I touched the dead and they rose up, he did not know what was the matter. with me. My relations replied him that the reason for my untidy appearance could not be anything but laziness.
23. “I began to prepare to return home to Porto Novo on the fifth day. I engaged ZINSOU as my new paddler. On my return there, all those who had known me before were curious. I began to have crowds of visitors. “About three days after my return to Porto Novo, my elder sister, ELIZA.BETH EKUNDAYO, came to me to say that her son, EMMANUEL MAWUYON (i.e. O’LORUNDARA) GUTON, had died. I went to him and found native doctors there who had tried unsuccessfully to bring him back to life. When they saw me, they quickly packed out of the room. What the native doctors failed to do, Christ did: for I touched the deceased, and he came back to life all in the name of Jesus Christ. It was this miracle that made my sister leave U.A.M. (Eleja) Church and follow me. Her son, Emmanuel, immediately received the holy gift of prophecy and thus became the first prophet of the Church. It was through him that a lot of our worship was revealed such as PAJASPA, the specially designed receptacle for taking collection at services (with a candle lit at one end).