“Story of Odunaike, Foursquare’s First Overseer in Nigeria”

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Dr. Segun Oshinaga is the Ceo of Productivity Plus, a training programme for business executives and also the host of Productivity Plus TV Broadcast, a personal development, and life enhancement programme. He also runs Leadership Plus and Winning Wisdom Network. He has had experiences both in government and corporate circles. His romance with the Church in Nigeria is however outstanding. Pastor Tunde Bakare, Serving Overseer of Citadel Community Global Church once described him as a Church historian. This is so because he at one point or the other related with leading church leaders in Nigeria. Here Oshinaga narrates his experience with Pastor Samuel Odunaike, first Overseer of Foursquare Church in Nigeria with Church Times Nigeria

Dr. Odunaike was the founding General Overseer of Foursquare gospel church in Nigeria. I met him for the first in 1983. He came to speak at my local Church Foursquare Shogunle. But then, he caught my attention when he offered to have lunch with our local leaders in the one-room apartment where Rev. Segun Ibidun was staying back then as a bachelor.

His humility and simplicity just struck me. Over time I developed so much love for him. In fact his books: I must go to Ceaser and two others I can’t remember now were permanently on my study table in my room.

Whenever I wake up to read my Bible, I look at him through his books. It was a daily ritual. He had such a tremendous influence on my thought that I could not resist the temptation of going to look for him.

 

Odunaike became my mentor

About Samuel Odunaike

Samuel Odunaike

So this day, I went to meet him in Marina in his office.  Apart from being the G.O., he was also a Director at Africa Petroleum.

I introduced myself to him and asked if he could mentor me. He obliged and asked me to see him maybe once a month or thereabout.

I was a young Evangelist then. We were doing Crusades, Film shows from Street to Street in marketplaces. In line with his request, I would go to him once a month for the mentoring session. He would ask how I was doing and how the evangelical work was going.

I remember how excited he was when I gave reports of what God was doing. He would encourage me, he would give me advice. He would pray with me and he would put his hands into his drawer and would give me some money. I was going to him from time to time.

When he had a crisis in Foursquare I was heartbroken. I remember going to him. We talked about the crisis and he explained some things to me.

Our friendship 

That was how our relationship started. And then in 1986, I remember going to his office after a crusade to give a report as I used to do. After giving my report, he looked at me and said Segun have you ever traveled before? I said No sir, do you have a passport? I said No sir. He pulled out his drawer, gave me some money, and asked me to go to Abeokuta to get a passport and come back.

Immediately I went to Abeokuta, got the passport, and went back to his office and showed him. He asked where I would like to travel to I said America.

Right there, he picked up his phone. Then it was the analog phone on the table. There was no mobile phone then. He called the Bureau Chief in the America Embassy. His name was Ben.

Ben replied asking what he could do to be of help to him. Dr. Odunaike said “I have a young man here. Could you do a visa for him? He wants to travel to the States, when can he come”

And Ben said I could come the following Monday. So on Monday, I went to the Embassy. I was taken to Ben’s office because my name was already at the gate. I went in and sat In front of Ben. He asked that I be served tea while they worked on my papers. I was asked to come back the next day to collect my visa. It was that simple and easy.

Not only that, when I was ready to travel, Dr. Odunaike had gone ahead to also book meetings on my behalf with a pastor in German. The man had done a crusade in Lagos which Dr. Odunaike helped to coordinate. So when he was returning to German he spoke to the man about me and that I would like to come and preach in Germany.

He made sure my papers concerning the trip to Germany were ready. I got an invitation from German which I went to pick up at their embassy.

International doors

But then, the American trip was still pending. I eventually traveled to New York. When I landed in New York, Dr. Odunaike called and said he would be in the US in two weeks but that he had asked the Foursquare headquarters to do an itinerary on where and when I would preach. I was so excited. I thanked him.

A few days later someone called from Los Angeles and said are you Segun Oshinaga, I said yes. He said our boss in Nigeria, Dr. Odunaike asked us to fix up some meetings with you so I was asked to provide my Fax number so I could be faxed the details.

That was how Dr. Odunaike opened the doors for international ministry for me. Not only that. When he landed in America, he called me and said I should come and see him in California.  I flew to California to meet him. He asked me to share my experience in the US with him, which I did. I had an amazing time with him.

Dr. Odunaike was an awesome man. If anyone affected my life the most, it was Dr. Samuel Odunaike.

Let me talk about some of the qualities in him that rubbed off on me. Many people cherish these qualities in me, but the truth is, I picked them from Dr. Odunaike.

You can’t find a simpler man, you can’t find a more coordinated man, you can’t find a man who is blessed and big to bring himself to your level like Dr. Odunaike. And I will cite a few examples.

Dr. Odunaike was very inspirational in terms of the example he became for a man like me.

I saw a man that was perhaps the most recognized black man in Christian circles in the world in the 80s. He was at that time the President of the Nigerian Evangelical Fellowship. That was the gathering of all Evangelical Churches across Africa.

He was also the one in charge of Nigeria. Then he was a member of the seven-man committee of the World Pentecostal Assembly. So he was an extremely busy man. And yet he found time for people you would have thought he was too big for.

 

The Yaba crusade

Pastor Odunaike was everywhere. The way he managed his time was amazing. But what won me over was his simplicity. I had never seen a man that simple. I had never seen a man so big, so high, and yet could relate with ordinary people.

What inspired me most was how he supported me when I organized a crusade that involved a lot of churches in Yaba. He was the one calling church leaders and asking them to give me all the support. On the opening night of the crusade, he made time to be at the meeting.

The amazing thing is that rather than take the front seat at the crusade, he went and sat at the back. Most of the other G.Os that came sat on the altar. We thought Dr. Odunaike had not come. But suddenly, I saw him in the crowd sitting quietly at the back. I ran to him and pleaded with him to come to the altar. He said “No son, I came to watch you preach”

When other G.Os and other leaders realized that he was sitting in the crowd, they moved one by one to join him where he was sitting. I will never forget that scenario because that was for me the height of it. He was a very humble man. But more importantly, he played a great role in facilitating my international ministry.

California experience

Now let me narrate an experience I will never forget. In January 1987, a church invited me to Sacramento which was the capital of California. On getting there I was told the programme had been rescheduled. I became stranded.

What I did was to start making calls to some ministries and asking if they would want me to come and minister in their church and be a blessing to their congregation. Many cut the call out of annoyance.

But there was a man, a white man that gave me attention. He asked if I had a recommendation letter from anyone. I said yes. He asked who the person was. I said Dr. Samuel Odunaike. And he replied and said that he was not going to sit until he sees me.

He asked me to join him in his office, I got to his office and gave him the letter Dr. Odunaike gave me. It was a “To whom it may concern”. The recommendation in the letter was superb.

The white man read through it and said he had listened to  Dr. Samuel Odunaike in Amsterdam a year before and he wasn’t sure how he got back to America. He was so blessed by his message. The man took me in. And that was it.

Can you believe A Nigerian had such enormous influence around the world?

When I think of the privilege of being around Dr Odunaike I am eternally grateful to God. I am thankful for the opportunity of being inspired as a young man by Dr. Odunaike.

He was a great model and a good father.



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