Revd Wilson Adebogun Badejo is dead. He passed on at the age of 74 years. Rev. Wilson Badejo was born on 19th May 1947 and of Yoruba ethnicity and is an emeritus General Overseer of the Foursquare Gospel church, Nigeria. He is also a Veterinary physician and the founder of the Wilson Badejo Foundation. People engaged in the vineyard of the Lord don’t retire from Kingdom activities. One way or the other, they sit at the feet of Jesus Christ after quitting active service, as the grund norm of their churches or ministries may dictate. In retirement, they continue to minister the Good News, and also reflect the stand of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Personal Saviour, in accordance with the dictates of the Son of God, Who while departing to meet His Father in heaven charged humanity to spread the news of salvation. This is the main reason the prefix: ‘’retired’’ is not added to his name.
One of the priests of Nigerian origin who has contributed his quota, and is still in the service — Badejo, served as the General Overseer of the Foursquare Gospel Church in Nigeria. Badejo was in the saddle for ten years, in succession to Rev’d G.O Faronbi from 1999 till 2009, after which he stepped aside as General Overseer. Stepping aside from leadership of the Foursquare Church resulted into serving in God’s vineyard in another capacity.
Our compilation on Badejo in our expanded book on Nigeria’s Leading Lights of the Gospel is titled: ‘’WILSON ADEBOGUN BADEJO — FROM THE PULPIT TO PHILANTHROPY’’ We are culling this abridged piece to celebrate the exit of the great man of God. Indeed, Revd Felix Meduoye was privileged to have had as his predecessors, dedicated and committed pastors that laid a solid foundation for the growth of the Foursquare Church. Some of the movement’s first pioneer students; and eventual national leaders were discovered and trained. These were Rev. James. A. Boyejo, Rev. Friday C. Osuwa, Rev. Samuel O. Odunaike (all deceased) and a few others. Upon quitting active priesthood, Badejo embraced philanthropy and inaugurated The Wilson Badejo Foundation established for the purpose of assisting the needy and providing succor to the less-privileged in the society. Annually, Badejo organizes a lecture, whose theme addresses developmental requirements of the Nigerian nation.
Badejo has had a long walk with the Creator, commencing from his days at the University of Ibadan where he was one of the fortunate students on the campuses of tertiary institutions in Nigeria that experiences the Spirit of God that swept through these institutions in the 1960s and 70s, convicting thousands of students who joined the Students’ Scripture Union Movement, and went bunker for Christ. That revolutionary divine move of the God birthed many of the leaders of the Pentecostal churches in Nigeria today who simply caught the bug that has expanded the frontiers of Christianity globally, and is enriching Christian spirituality all over the world. The walk with God landed Badejo a prime job of one of the most prominent churches in Nigeria – The Foursquare Gospel Church, enabling him to fulfill part of the divine agenda for his life. Badejo succeeded Rev’d Gabriel Olu Farombi, who spent twelve years in office as General Overseer. Farombi spent two terms of five years in, addition to the unexpended two years of Rev’d Samuel Odunaike who died in active service, before the expiration of his tenure.
Badejo served as a National Vice-President of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria. Wilson Badejo was noted relatively early in his service as a promising man of God, long before he assumed the status of General Overseer of the Foursquare Church such that his predecessor, Rev’d Farombi predicted, while installing Badejo that his (Farombi) successor would fly the church’s banner to greater heights. It is, therefore, not surprising that Badejo paid particular attention to meeting the burden of missions, evangelism, and church planting during his tenure as the head of the church. He celebrates his birthday anniversaries by identifying with the downtrodden masses, whom he believes ‘’have been schemed out of the mainstream of the economic system. “Though I have friends among the high and mighty in our society whom I can invite to celebrate with me in a grandiose fashion, but I have chosen the path of my mentor, Jesus Christ, who during His earthly ministry, was always in the company of the society’s lowly men and women” (The Nation Newspaper of June 20, 2015)
Wilson Badejo hails from Ososa, near Ijebu-Ode in Ogun State of Nigeria, and is from a royal lineage. Ososa is legendary dramatist, Hubert Ogunde’s plac of birth. Pastor Badejo’s father, an educationist and auditor instilled discipline into him. He was taught the value of hard work in his formative years, and therefore, created the time to help his mother, a seamstress after school hours to augment the income of the family. The older Badejo had three wives – his mother, whom he married legally, and two others who were not legally married. One is an Igbo lady whom he married while residing in the eastern part of the country, while the third wife hailed from Abeokuta. The three wives had four children each. Badejo grew up as a normal child born into the middle-class family, which paid particular attention to the upbringing of their children. Young Wilson had a head-start and was a brilliant student who never went beyond the third position in school examinations.
He was the third in a family of four children, preceded by two sisters. The old Badejo served the Lord fervently and was a trustee of the African Church. He made sure that his children never missed church activities. The early knowledge of God propelled Badejo to enrol as a member of the choir; and also had the privilege of carrying the insignia of office in front of the bishop, whenever he came to officiate in the church. Badejo was influenced by some positive values of his parents and imbibed most of them. His mother was a neat and dutiful wife who drummed it into the ears of her child never to have pre-marital sex; adding that her husband married her as a virgin. Badejo was taught to be sure that he could always get the very best of life, provided he worked hard and conducted himself with decorum. In turn, the older Badejos accorded premium to the development of their children and made huge sacrifices to be able to give the children sound education.
His father always asserted that the best legacy he could leave to his children was good education. From the Government College, Umuahia, Wilson Badejo moved to the University of Ibadan where he studied veterinary medicine. He was a very tough activist and was elected a student union leader. Badejo was a student activist. He was one of the undergraduates that engineered a protest on the campus to protest an alleged poor feeding on the campus. The protest later escalated into a horrible crisis, leading to the death of one of the students; an incident that was accorded wide publicity. Law enforcement agents appeared on the scene but were greeted with stones by the protested, who demanded their exit from the campus.
In the ensuing chaos, law enforcement agents responded by shooting live ammunition and tear-gas, a response that infuriated the protesters. Recalling the incident, Badejo stated that: ‘’This made us more furious, throwing more stones. Our sheer size made them retreat and we kept pushing towards them. ‘’Just then, a bullet whistled past my ear and hit the student behind me; the first student to die on a Nigerian campus during a riot – Adekunle Adepeju. He fell down, and I attempted to pull him up, trying to see how I could rescue him but the tear-gas filled my face so I had to move with one more hand covering my face. And by the time I learnt he died, it touched me very badly. It was a life-changing experience.’’
(NBF NEWShttp://www.nigerianbestforum.com/blog/my-dad-had-three-wives-but-my-grand-dad-advised-me-to-marry-one/ September 20, 2009)
Badejo had his share sinful conducts before meeting the Lord. While in the secondary school, he engaged in truancy and in such acts like sneaking out to go the cinema. On some occasions, the truants were apprehended and got punishments commensurate with their actions. When he got to the university, he got the liberty to attend parties in the evenings. Pastor Badejo consumed alcohol occasionally, but never went beyond mixing a brand named ‘Stout beer’ with Fanta. He also smoked smoked, rolling up a piece of paper to puff it. ‘’I think what saved me from getting into real smoking was that I got born-again very early – the first year of my pre-clinical training; I studied veterinary medicine. I had just been about a year plus before giving my life to Christ. ‘’ I also believe that God stepped in quite early to remove me from womanising. I think very strongly that the campus life gave me so many opportunities but coming in contact with Christ was my saving grace. I would have been lost. There were only two societies you could belong to and Sigma was one of them. I went for the Sigma interview but they said I needed two suits and I didn’t have two suits, so I couldn’t join. I was thinking I would join the other, but before that could come to be I became born-again. So that was an outstanding experience for me.’’ (NBF NEWShttp://www.nigerianbestforum.com/blog/my-dad-had-three-wives-but-my-grand-dad-advised-me-to-marry-one/ September 20, 2009) And concerning girls, he never misbehaved as hugging a lady was almost like a taboo at that time. That terrible incident and close shave with death soon led Badejo to give my life to Christ. He met the Lord when a Christian evangelistic mission, with the Guest Speaker from England visited the university. He responded to an altar-call, which he describes as a unique experience and gave his life to Christ on November 15, 1969.
This new relationship with Christ gave him more insight into relationship with the Lord. Upon completion of his tertiary education, Badejo decided to join an assembly where he would hear the undiluted word of God and have an opportunity to hear the word of God, and where the spirit of the Lord operates freely; and where he would have the opportunity to serve the Creator. He opted for the Foursquare Gospel Church. After I became a Christian, some drastic changes took place in my life. For instance, my mode of dressing changed and I tried to obey the rules, like when I see ‘Don’t cross this lawn,’ I would rather go round than crossing the lawn. I took more time to pray. I carried the drastic changes in my life even into student unionism. I told them that we have to pray before starting our meetings. I was the General Secretary. And they tolerated me for a while and after about two or three months, they voted me out. And that tells you how drastic it was. People couldn’t believe I belonged to what they derisively referred to as ‘SU’ at that time. The change was that drastic. They made fun of me, saying that after two or three weeks I would change back to the old me. But their words rather strengthened me.
Badejo, after retirement as head of the Foursquare Church veered into another area of service in the Lord’s vineyard. He founded the Wilson Badejo Foundation, to provide succour to the less-privileged and the tall ambition of producing leaders for the country. When Badejo started the programme, he asserted with faith that: “We are starting small; but I am a person who does not despise the days of small beginnings. ‘’Who knows whether the next president is seated here?” His reason for embracing philanthropy is the consideration of the fact that millions of people suffer severe deprivations and are looking for just a little assistance so that they will be able to reach their destinies in life. Therefore, the Wilson Badejo Foundation runs a programme for these classes of people. According to him: ‘’We do not just want to give them money which they will squander away or use to smoke. We are thanking God because we are not just making them eaters of fish, but they will be fishers of fishes and by so doing they will not only help themselves but they will help others.” In this regard, the Foundation goes after people of bleak future on the streets, train them in different vocations, and assist them to launch themselves into different professions and vocations where the skills acquired set their feet on the path of living useful lives. In some cases, the Foundation has awarded scholarships, and also assisted other participants by offsetting the house rents of some of them, while others were provided gainful employment.
Wilson Badejo’s compassion ministry is built on the charge of God on charity and charitable deeds as contained in the Book of Deuteronomy 15:7-11; which states that: “If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother; 8 but thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need in that which he wanteth. 9 Beware that there be not a thought in thy wicked heart, saying, ‘The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand,’ and thine eye be evil against thy poor brother and thou givest him nought, and he cry unto the Lord against thee, and it be sin unto thee. 10 Thou shalt surely give him, and thine heart shall not be grieved when thou givest unto him, because for this thing the Lord thy God shall bless thee in all thy works and in all that thou puttest thine hand unto; 11 for the poor shall never cease out of the land. Therefore I command thee, saying: ‘Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy in thy land.’
COMMENCEMENT OF THE SPIRITUAL JOURNEY
Rev’d Badejo was just another ordinary creature of the Lord, until he met with Christ and got endowed with His own power and authority. Like several other notable servants of God, he heard God clearly before abandoning the secular world. He believed in the promise of God that for as long as a believer relies on His strength, she/he would be unstoppable in accordance with the promise of God contained in Mark 16:20: “Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it” And that is exactly what the former leader of the Foursquare Gospel Church in Nigeria has done for decades, including when he served as a priest and climbed quickly the rungs of the ladder of Foursquare Church.
Like the earliest Disciples of Christ, Badejo, a veterinary doctor chose to place his qualifications aside to serve the Lord. Just like the early Disciples of Christ did, the man of God followed the Master. Regardless of their professions, eleven of the disciples that Jesus Christ left behind immediately left ‘’everything’’ to follow Jesus Christ. Judas Iscariot, chosen by Jesus as treasurer, appears to be the only disciple who struggled continually with financial insecurity. The once prosperous Matthew, along with the other disciples, learned that God would meet their every need as they preached. The charge of Jesus Christ to his disciples was: “Do not take along any gold or silver or copper in your belts; take no bag for the journey, or extra tunic, or sandals or a staff; for the worker is worth his keep” (Matthew 10:5-10).
The church is believed to be one of largest in Nigeria, and its records indicate that it came into Nigeria in 1955, through the ministry of Rev. & Mrs Harold Curtis, who established the LIFE Theological Seminary at Herbert Macauley Road, Yaba, Lagos. The missionary couple trained a group of young boys and taught them the doctrines of Foursquare as contained in the 22 tenets of faith of the movement. “Foursquare” is a Biblical term used of the tabernacle in the Book of Exodus, of the Temple of the Lord in Ezekiel 40:47, and of Heaven, as described in the Book of the Revelations. The term “Foursquare Gospel” was given in the inspiration of revival to the denomination’s founder, Aimee Semple McPherson, during an evangelistic campaign in Oakland, California in 1922. ‘’It represents that which is equally balanced on all sides, established and enduring. Such confidence in the power of the Gospel is also expressed by the verse, Hebrews 13:8, displayed in Foursquare churches proclaiming, “Jesus Christ – the Same, Yesterday and Today and Forever. On the church’s entry into Nigeria, it recognized the importance of training its personnel that would spread the gospel and therefore established one in Lagos. At the Vocational Bible School headed by the Curtises, they were joined in the training programme by another independent foreign missionary sister – Margaret Season who graduated from the LIFE Bible College in Los Angeles in 1948 to assist in lecturing the students. God has provided His church with gift of teachers who are gifted and empowered by the Holy Spirit in building of the body of Christ.
Accordingly, the emphasis was on outreach, Education that involves teaching and learning, evangelism that is regarded as the key purpose of the total church, training believers to participate in the ministry of the church according to the gifts given to them by God, and opportunities for participation in true fellowship with other believers and Christ; among other key goals. ‘’Foursquare’’ represents the four-fold ministries of Jesus that emphasize the belief that Jesus Christ is the Saviour, and “whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”; He is the Sanctifier; He is the Healer; and He is the world’s Coming King.’’ These are the beliefs upon which the activities of the church rest, or are its guiding principles. One of the issues that engaged the attention of the church when Badejo was at the helm of affairs was an articulated expansion programme. He led the church’s ambitious expansion activity that has led to the penetration of all parts of Nigeria. Foursquare Church exists in all the 36 States of the country, not only in the terms of posting a pastor to shepherd the congregation, but also as a District. The church has also succeeded in having a presence in 128 districts, divided politically into the 109 political senatorial districts in the country. The church’s records indicate that as at June 2013, Foursquare Church had succeeded in raising the number of districts from 68 districts to 128.
Through the enablement of God, Wilson Badejo’s burden was greatly achieved through the church’s Barley Harvest church planting initiative. About 2,000 churches were planted in about one decade that he led the Foursquare Church. He also took the Nigerian Foursquare Church to new heights and reinforced her relationship with the Foursquare Mission International (FMI), a move that aided the planting of churches outside Nigeria. This achievement led to the selection of the Foursquare Church in Nigeria as one of the Five Global Mission Work in Africa, by its national headquarters.
Right from his National Youth Service days as resident veterinary doctor at the Obudu Cattle Ranch of the Cross River State Agriculture Development Corporation, till the point he joined National Veterinary Research Institute, Jos, as research officer, Badejo has always exhibited high level of professionalism. And with a post-graduation degree in Management from the University of Connecticut, Starr, United States, it didn’t take long before God made his star to be noticed as a result of his love for God, and inherent potentials. During his tenure as the General Overseer, the Barley Harvest Project was adopted for the church-planting programme of the Foursquare Gospel Church in Nigeria. The project involved mega city church planting and strategic engagement of the unreached; over 1000 churches were planted in four years. By the end of his tenure in 2009, about 2000 churches planted. Under his leadership, dreams found wings to fly; mountains were surmounted and potential unleashed. God’s hands on Badejo have propelled him to a noticeable level in the ministry. His non-profit organization is working towards ensuring that all Nigerian citizens are empowered to be useful citizens, and therefore, interfaces with the government and other well-meaning Nigerians to empower youth for employment through vocational training and skills acquisition. Over the years, many Nigerians have benefited from the Foundation’s Medical Outreach, which involves free tests, free medication and spiritual counseling.
Former Nigerian President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, in his tribute at the 70th birthday anniversary service said his friendship with Badejo, whom he knew as a veterinary doctor who was on hand to put him through the poultry business; and their friendship spanned the transition of Badejo into a Church Minister. He described Badejo the as ‘’a man of God whose vicious prayers saw him through the dark times of his incarceration, when the former president was incarcerated and jailed for life on account a phantom coup plot. Vice-President of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo notes the foresight and large-heartedness of the former General Overseer in instituting the Wilson Badejo Foundation to cater for the poor and vulnerable, amplifying his regular message that the church remains the last hope of the downtrodden. Osinbajo recommended Badejo’s attributes of self-discipline, unwavering commitment to the truth, and love for the poor, to younger ministers of God and all Nigerians alike.
Like his peers, Badejo’s grandfather had a large farm and was relatively rich. He was a reasonable man who advised his grandson to marry a Christian woman, from a monogamous home; and also avoid marrying from outside Christianity so that his family would be united. Rev’d Badejo says his grandfather who counselled him from experience was an intelligent and highly honoured man in the society. His knowledge and involvement in Christianity at an early age in a very affirmative manner, and an encounter with Jesus Christ helped him to see to the fulfillment of his dreams in life. These include Badejo’s resolute decision to embrace monogamy and the Lord blessed his marriage with children. and I have spent at least a good part of my life with just one woman sincerely for the last 33 years. Badejo heard his wife’s name while praying and married her as a Christian. He recalls that ‘’Almost a year before I left the campus, I started praying for a life partner. There were so many sisters I knew in the fellowship, but I knew that I could only marry one; so I took out time to pray and fast, and seek the face of the Lord. While I was waiting on the Lord, I heard the name of my wife, Yinka, and I was wondering. As time went on, it became more explicit; and it was Yinka Ige, the daughter of a permanent secretary in the Federal Ministry of Works at that time and they lived at Ikoyi. I couldn’t see how that could be possible. I guess the reason I had doubts was because I came from an average family and when you say you stay in Ikoyi, we see you in another class. She was very trendy and highly fashionable and I was a Scripture Union boy.’’ They interacted all along but the proposal for friendship didn’t come until Wilson was going for his national youth service. Yinka was a student then and she didn’t give an instantaneous answer. He revealed further that: ‘’I was that sold out for God and I prayed that the lady I would marry will say yes on the day of my proposal, and to God’s glory, my wife said yes. I said to her, if I tell you that God has not spoken to me about this issue, I will be telling a lie.
I believe you are the person I will be spending my life with and she gave me her hand in front of a chapel at Oritamefa Baptist Church, Ibadan. ‘’That was very unique; that was uncommon. God has been faithful although it is not without hiccups; God has been sustaining the marriage. I stand upon the word of God, which says “except the Lord builds the house, they labour in vain that build it,” and I add – except the Lord keeps a marriage, the husband and wife labour in vain. ‘’The Lord has sustained our relationship, and He has been helping us; He has been guiding us, and taking care of our shortcomings that come in one way of the other.’’ (NBF NEWShttp://www.nigerianbestforum.com/blog/my-dad-had-three-wives-but-my-grand-dad-advised-me-to-marry-one/ September 20, 2009)