It came to pass in the month of July, 1959 that Apostle Joseph Ayo Babalola traveled with his associates to Ede for an important assignment. He was there to witness the dedication of the maternity and faith home built by the Good women of the Christ Apostolic Church (CAC).
The month of July, 1959 marked the thirtieth year that Babalola commenced his glorious apostolic ministry. That is if we base our calculations on his calling in October, 1928 and the 6-8 months he spent preparing himself in prayers and fasting.
During these thirty years he had never taken so much as a week of leave or vacation or retirement. It had been a whole life of service, productive service and engagement.
Thus the man who came to Ede was a tired man, a man who needed rest. By his nature, unless God took him he would never be able to rest in this world.
He would never refuse anyone who called on him for help or prayer. He would not drive people away from him even when he had not been allowed to rest. Even when he was eating, people would be asking him questions and he would be answering them. Even when he was in the bathroom taking his bath, people would kneel outside and be asking him for prayers and counsels and he would oblige them. He never turned anybody away.
Most times when he returns home from a long missionary journey; his home would have been besieged by people in need of prayers, counseling and healing; and he would attend to all of them.
He himself confessed that he had never slept fully for once for 12 days until he came to Ede.
Early in the morning of Sunday 26th July, the apostle got up as early as 5:00am and requested for hot water. A coffee was prepared for him but he insisted it must not have sugar or milk. That was how he drank it raw.
After his preparation for the service he called for his deputy, the Assistant General Evangelist, Prophet David Babajide and his host, Prophet S.O Akande. He asked the two of them to kneel and began to talk to them rehearsing his experiences in ministry from the beginning when he received the call to the present day and all the hassles he had met in ministry. He reminded the duo that within the limit of human possibility he had done his best.
He then asked each of them to pray for him that if there had been any sin he(Babalola) had committed in the course of his ministry from the beginning to that very day that God should forgive him. Thereafter he himself prayed the last prayer and made the benediction.
After the benediction, Babalola told the duo “Now I thank God the way is clear.” But they didn’t understand. He encouraged them to be faithful and thereafter he dismissed them.
They went for the morning service and he made the opening prayer. Pastor J.A. Medaiyese gave the sermon at the service. Throughout the service, Babalola never stood up for once not even when the congregation rose to sing hymns. He remained on his seat, until at the end when he gave the benediction.
After the service, the congregation moved straight to the maternity home for the dedication but Babalola went straight to his chambers to rest.
After the dedication, delegates began to depart for their various destinations. Some of the delegates also came to Babalola to ask for his blessings and prayers as they were about departing and he willingly obliged them.
Babalola called Pastor JSB Odusona who was also departing and reminded him of a young man he(Babalola) had met at Ibadan few days before who he promised to help with his wedding. This man had reached the age of marriage but had no father or any helper to see him through. Babalola then took it upon himself to give him the support he needed and reminded the General superintendent of the church to expedite action on the matter. This was his last act of mercy before he left for eternity.
He was left to rest. At 3:00pm his associates came for prayers with him. Medaiyese was the first to pray followed by Odutola. Then just before Babajide could pick up the prayer, Babalola himself took it and began to pray what I would call the very last prayer he made on the earth. And what did he pray about? According to Babajide, he prayed for all the people of the earth that their salvation may be sure and not once did he make mention of his immediate family. He was allowed to rest while Medaiyese went for the evening service. One Michael Isajimi, one of the assistants with Babalola stood at the entrance of the door of the room.
Around 4:00pm, the walls of the room where Babalola was began to vibrate as if there was a tremor, but the cause of the movement could not be located or traced. At 4:30pm on the dot, Babalola breathed heavily three times : Hiii, Hiii, Hiii as if to say God the Father, God the son and God the Holy Spirit, and like lightning the man was gone. He was no more. It was exactly forty days to the time he told his mother, Martha Talabi Rotimi that he would be going to call Jesus.
The entire room shook and yet the window panes did not break. Michael who was guarding the door cried with a loud voice to summon the elderly men to come. As they opened the door to the room, a wave of power hit them and they all fell to the ground. By the time they rose up and moved near, they found he was lifeless.
They began to pray while Babajide sent for Medaiyese who was preaching at the evening service to stop his sermon, close the service immediately and come down to the house.
They all surrounded Babalola, each one holding a part of his body and they prayed earnestly from 5pm till 7pm for Babalola to come back to life but there was no answer.
Medaiyese began to tearfully plead in prayer “Lord, what is our sin? What have we done wrong? Where have we missed it?”
It was then that a vision was shown to one of them where he saw Babalola before the mighty gates of heaven and entering through the gate, he laid his sword at the feet of the Lord Jesus. The Lord then told the seer that Babalola could not return to them again as they desired because the heavens have already received him.
At 7pm, Medaiyese declared plaintively, ” The Great Apostle is gone.”
Babalola was 55, still fit and agile and without a single grey hair on his head.
Thus marks the end of an era in Nigeria’s religious and evangelical history.
Arrangements were made and the body was taken to Efon that night. Even in death, his eyes were not closed and there was a smile on his face.
Eight days later, he was committed to mother earth amidst a flood of tears, wailings and lamentations.
All the schools in Ijesha and Ekiti axis were shut for a few days as a mark of respect to the great apostle. Thus marks the end of an era.
This research has been done painstakingly to clear the air on the accusations that his death was as a result of witchcraft perpetrated by the wife against him while it is the fact that it was due to exhaustion.
Credit : Philip Ojealao