By: David Akinbami
25th of april in 1904 maintained another day in history of this world as it witnessed the birth of pure wonder in the little town of Odo-Owa, Ilofa, Oke Ero LGA, Kwara stae, Nigeria. Pa David Lawani Rotimi a lowly Anglican priest and his wife Madam Martha Talabi Rotimi had the enviable privilege of giving birth to another Nigerian male baby who, unbeknown to them at that time would later turn out to amass a wealth that lives forever.
Joseph Ayo Babalola was brought up as an Anglican, educated at All Saints’ School, Osogbo and also went to school in Oto-Awori, Badagary Road, Lagos state. He left school around 1919 to become a blacksmith apprentice, he learnt this for two years before becoming a stream roller operator with the Public Works Department under the control of the Great Britain after a showcase of mastery though he barely spent only 15 days of learning to drive caterpillar. A streamroller was assigned to him on 1 April, 1928 to work on the Osogbo-Ilesha road. On June 14th of the same year, he was transferred to Akure – Ilesha road. Babalola was baptized in Lagos lagoon in December, 1929.
Babalola was first called into the divine service in September 25th, 1928, he flatly refused the call and carried on with his job but he became restless and could not sleep for weeks. His streamroller stopped working without any visible mechanical fault and he heard a great voice “like the sound of many waters” calling him thrice and informing him that he would die if he refuses the call. Although, his boss, Mr Fergusson tried to stop him, he resigned from his appointment. He was called a second time, even at this time, he was asked to fast and pray for seven days, he obeyed.
Later, same year, in his room, he saw a great figure which resembles Jesus. This man spoke to him about the ministry he would embark upon and of the persecutions he must face, at the same time assuring him of God’s protection. Three things were then handed down to him by this figure; An Hand Bell (To drive away evil spirits and invite the presence of Holy spirit), “Life Giving Water” to heal all manners of sickness. Consequently, whenever he uses water for therapeutic purposes, miracles and wonders are bound to happen through effective and instant healing. Thus, this resigned Streamroller operator turned Evangelist becomes an emblem of wonders to his generation and further. Seeing Angels regularly, praying and fasting habitually.
He performed a lot of diversified Evangelistic works, one of which he did in 1928 in Odo Owa, wearing palm frods and charcoals, mistaken for a mad man, he preached fervently and many people became saved. Babalola had cured about 100 lepers, 60 blind people, 50 lame person and raised a dead.
Of course he began to acquire haters, some of notable ones were the Oba of Efon Alaye at that time and the Alara of Aramoko, Ekiti state, he was once arrested for preaching against witches, he was sentenced to jail for six months in Benin city in March 1932. After serving the jail term, he went back to Efon Alaye to do what he does.
Following a schism in The Apostolic Church in 1940, Babalola went out with a group led by Pastor J.B. Akinyele and D.O. Odubanjo to form a new independent Church; Christ Apostolic Church (CAC), where he continued his great healing and revivalistic activities until his death on Sunday July 26th, 1959 (aged 55) at Ede, Osun state, Nigeria. Buried at Grave Prayer House, Efon Alaye, Ekiti State.