When September 11 is mentioned, the first thought is probably the historically calamitous day for the world; the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks in the United States. But long before those, September 11th was destined to produce the contrary of what will happen many years later; the birthing of arguably, Nigeria’s and Africa’s most influential Preacher; Archbishop Dr Benson Andrew Idahosa.
Idahosa: Life against all Odds
A man born on the 11th of September 1938, Benson Andrew Idahosa was born in Benin City to a family of poor traditional parents. A sickly child from infancy, his childhood was characterized by fainting and constant illness. This led to his abandonment on a rubbish heap to die at just 18months after birth. Though he survived, the challenges to be surmounted were innumerably multiplied; rejection by his parents, sentenced to menial labour as a source for survival and livelihood, being denied education until he was about 14 years of age, the list goes on and on. Due to the financial situation of his parents, he had difficulties in enjoying stable education. This eventually led to his engagement in correspondence courses from Britain and the United States while working in Bata Shoe Company. Idahosa eventually earned a diploma in divinity from Christ for the Nations Institute in Dallas, Texas, which he attended in 1971. He also earned a Doctorate of Divinity in 1981 from the Word of Faith College, New Orleans and a Doctor of Laws degree from Oral Roberts University in March 1984. He also received another degree from the International University in Brussels, Belgium.
Idahosa: Conversion and Calling to the Vineyard
Dramatic and Supernatural are the terms used to define his conversion and calling. He was converted by Pastor Okpo on a football field one Sunday afternoon while playing soccer with his teammates. Young Benson was considered the first Bini member of Pastor Okpo’s small congregation. As a young convert, he became very zealous in winning souls and in conducting outreaches in villages around Benin City.
He stated that he was called to the ministry in a night vision from the Lord with the words; “I have called you that you might take the gospel around the world in my name, preach the gospel, and I will confirm my word with signs following.” The room was filled with the presence of God as Benson fell to his knees beside the bed and said, “Lord, wherever you want me to go, I will go.” He prayed on through the night, renewing his vows to God and interceding for his people who were yet to hear the message of salvation.
After his call, Benson launched into ministry work preaching from village to village the gospel of Jesus Christ with great power and anointing. More people confessed Christ as their Saviour, and more healings occurred as he prayed for the sick.
Idahosa: The Ministry, the Credentials and the Supreme Task
Benson Idahosa, the archbishop and founder of Church of God Mission International Incorporated with its headquarters in Benin City, Nigeria established over 6,000 churches throughout Nigeria and Ghana before 1971. Many of the ministers he supervised pastored churches of 1,000 to 4,000 people. In addition to filling the position of archbishop of Church of God Mission, he was also president of All Nations for Christ Bible Institute, President of Idahosa World Outreach and President of Faith Medical Centre. He held positions in numerous organizations including the college of bishops of the international communion of Christian churches and the Oral Roberts University in Oklahoma. Soul winning was Idahosa’s primary concern. With a motto “Evangelism our Supreme Task,” he worked towards this goal of reaching the unreached in Nigeria, Africa and the rest of the world with the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Crusades played a major role in his ministry. He was involved in at least one crusade per month. A record crowd of nearly one million people a night attended his Lagos Crusade in April 1985. He established the Redemption Television Ministry with a potential viewing audience of 50 million people.
Idahosa: The Secret of His Success
Idahosa operated in faith and he had a robust faith. He believed and trusted God with childlike faith. He once said that living a daily life of absolute faith in God is the only secret to great success. He believed God for everything. “All things are possible to him that believes.” He was a man of prayer and God’s Word; devoted and committed to both. Idahosa was also an ardent student of other ministers; spending time studying the works and lives of other successful people both in the gospel ministry and other fields of human endeavours and he applied the principles he learned about these successful people to his life and ministry. He was very energetic and hardworking. One of the ministers who served under him said that he had never seen a person who worked as hard as Archbishop Benson Idahosa. He was committed and consistent and he had confidence in himself. He was very humble and full of godly wisdom.
As a black African, he found the doors of African countries were wide open and he ministered in over 123 countries all over the world. Archbishop Benson Idahosa was said to be the leader of over seven million Jesus people worldwide before he went to be with the Lord on 12, March 1998. He was also the founder of Benson Idahosa University (BIU) in Benin City, Edo state.
Ben Akosa, God’s Generals from Nigeria, Vol. 1. (Lagos, Nigeria).
“Heroes of the 20th Century Church” in Triumphant March, Vol. 1, No. 2.
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