By Gbenga Osinaike
His love for missions is top notch. At 83, when many of his contemporaries are reclining, waiting for their home call, Pastor Idowu Animasawun, founder of World Hope Ministry, is still moving from one mission field to the other, trailing souls and labouring to bring them to the kingdom.
Last December, this writer visited him on one of the fields at Ifo, Ogun State. The village, Oniyanmo; located in the heart of a vast expanse of uncultivated land was where his Ministry went to hold a crusade.
Oniyanmo is just one of the several remote villages where the World Hope Ministry has established churches. The most popular of the fields is at Badeku, Oyo State. He has been in Badeku since the early 80s. His name has become synonymous with missions in that town. He holds a yearly mission conference and runs a mission school at Badeku.
But beyond Badeku, Pastor Animasawun goes to towns and villages to conduct crusades and at the same time establish worship centres for converts.
Oniyanmo where the December crusade took place is unbelievably far from civilisation. It’s a typical mission field.
The community has not seen electric light for many years now. There are no schools in the community either. Indigenes have to trek about 10 miles to go to school in other towns. There are no health care facilities there too. Life at Oniyanmo is not only rural; it is bereft of basic comfort.
This writer, PastorAnimasawun, and his team began the long but tiring journey from the guest house where they lodged to the village on the second day of the crusade. For close to one hour, we drove past a dusty terrain in the midst of a thick forest into the heart of the village. You will probably think you’re going to the proverbial forest of a thousand daemons.
But that is the kind of field that excites Pastor Animasawun, the ex-apola king who has successfully influenced some of his children to join in the work.
One of them, Olaolu Animashau who spoke with Church Times said they are happy working along with their father on missions declaring that there was no time he forced them to be part of the work.
The young man who studied Industrial Relations at the Olabisi Onabanjo University said none of his brothers were coerced to do missions. “We just found ourselves falling in love with the work. It is satisfying and gratifying when one is doing what interests God,” he said.
Modecai the elder brother of Olaolu who has been to many fields including Koma Hills in Adamawa corroborated Olaolu’ss position stating that life outside of missions is boring. Gbolade, a health worker also Pastor Animasawun’s son was seen actively getting involved in medical missions the day this writer visited. He was attending to indigenes of Oniyanmo village who came for medical check-up before the crusade that evening.
Animasawun: My missions experience
This Friday at Oniyanmo, Animasawun shared with Church Times the story of his exploits in missions recalling that he gave his life to Jesus in 1981 and had thought he would go into gospel music since he was a celebrated musician in the country. He was in the class of Chief Ebenezer Obey and had been noted for being the exponent of a special genre of music called Apola.
But soon after his conversion, the Lord stopped him from music. He actually did try his hands, on gospel music, but the Lord would not allow him to continue. Later he began prison ministry and was holding crusades alongside. The Lord stopped him too. But a couple of years after, the Lord directed him to Badeku to begin the mission.
Badeku was a typical village, an ancient settlement. The town was also notorious for witchcraft and demonic activities. But God used him to bring light to the place.
He recalled that he once trekked 14 miles to the village to hold a crusade because the village had just one means of transportation.
‘if you miss the truck, you will have to wait till the following day. So, this day we missed the truck and had to trek 14 miles for the crusade.’ he said.
That is just one of the downsides of his experience back then. Those early years of his ministry were not cosy. He lost all that he acquired in the secular world and was down to ground zero by the time he began missions. things became so bad that he could not afford a haircut at the barber’s shop. His wife then, now late, had to use blade to shave his hair.
But the song is different now. The wilderness experience is over. The ministry is now well known and gets support from missions’ lovers. The needs however keep increasing.
Since he became active doing missions, he said God has consistently proved himself. ‘I remember a particular village where we went to do crusade. A friend had asked us to help evangelise the village since his father lived there and perhaps, he was also trusting God for the salvation of his father. When we got to the village, the Baba welcomed me and gave me a room to sleep in. I entered the room laid on the bed. But then, the holy spirit asked me to take off the mattress I was lying on to check underneath. I did. What I saw shocked me. A lot of charms were under it. I asked the Lord what to do, he said to me, pray and sleep. Well, I returned the mattress, prayed, and slept off.’
The following day, the crusade took place and the Baba was one of those who became born again. He ordered that all his charms be burnt.
A man, notorious for his demonic powers also had an exciting conversion experience under Animasawun’s ministry at Badeku. He was so powerful that he was the contact point for those who wanted to become invincible during a crisis. ‘whenever there was a crisis and the police invaded the town, people who held to his hands would become invincible. This happened during the Agbekoya uprising in the south west’
Things however went bad for him. He had this terrible body odour by the time Pastor Animasawun got to the village. The stench coming from his body was so repulsive that if he stayed in a place and leaves the odour would still be pungent for about 30 minutes. That became a sort of cross for him to carry. People knew him all over the town that he had such nauseating odour.
The same man came visiting Pastor Animasawun. ‘because I wanted to preach to him, I could not run away from him. He was at my house and I shared the gospel with him. He did not make any decision for Christ. He left. But then he came back days later to worship with us in church during our midweek service. When it was time for testimony he came out and shared how God took away the odour from his body. He had a dream and saw a golden pillar. He was told to embrace the pillar in the dream by some people in white apparel. By the time he woke up, the odour from his body had gone. He said he knew it was Jesus who had healed him. He surrendered his life to Jesus and renounced all the works of darkness.’
There was yet the strategic case of the head of all herbalists of about 140 villages. This man according to Animasawun had been head of the herbalists since 1957. The daughter of the man was the first person who came to know Jesus after a member of the church led her to Christ. Not long the lady came to church to ask for prayers for her father who was being tormented by demons. Demonic forces according to the man were coming out of the walls to torment him. He was sore sick. The team from the church went to pray for him. “we prayed for him and he requested that we should take away all the charms in his house. We took the charms and set them on fire. He didn’t say anything. The following day some of our brethren went to check on him.
“I could not go to see him because of other engagements. He was shocked when he saw them. He asked after me. He wanted to be sure I was alive. He said the charms we took away were so dangerous that he didn’t have the courage to touch some of them without carrying out some rituals. That was how he surrendered his life to Jesus and sent a message to all the herbalists never to come to his house again for any meeting.’ 18 days after he went to be with the Lord.”
Testimonies of changed lives keep Pastor Animasawun going. But he noted that the simplicity of the gospel did the trick. ‘I just trust in the name of Jesus and make simple prayers and lives are transformed. It’s not anything about me. It’s simply the grace of God, he said adding, ‘I do not do anything special.’
Animasawun: My experience with The Church
On his experience with other church leaders, Pastor Animasawun who is a native of Abeokuta, Ogun State said it has been awesome, ‘many church leaders have been supportive. But I believe they could do more. Pastor Enoch Adeboye for instance met me in Port-Harcourt years ago at a Full Gospel Business Men Fellowship programme. He has been supportive since then. Pastor Bakare too, has been supportive and a host of other pastors and individuals I can’t possibly mention.
Pastor Bakare for instance holds a monthly support program for missionaries. He prepares his church members to set apart funds to support missionaries and he invites a missionary per month on a particular Sunday to give support to them. I think many of our big churches can emulate this kind of gesture. But by and large, I think the Church has been supportive, though they can do more’
World Hope Ministries has presence in some nearby countries. But it is more entrenched in Nigeria. His present wife, Christiana Animashaun has also been quite supportive. He said it was his wife who encouraged him to continue with the mission outreaches.
His wife told Church Times in a chat that she had to encourage him because God has blessed him with good health. “since he still has a good health, I had no other option but to encourage him to continue with missions” she said.
But she has a calling to children ministry “When we come to the field like this, I look out for the children in the village and minister Christ to them. I see that many children in our villages are hungry for the Lord. So, I think it is important that we do not neglect them in our missionary efforts. I also believe that many of them need to get the right gospel. The kind of gospel preached in big cities, basically, the need-based gospel can’t thrive in the village; that would be constructing a bad foundation for them.”
The pastor of the church in Oniyanmo, where the December Crusade took place, Odofin Adedoyin said the World Hope Church has been existing since 2000 in the village. He said life in the village has been tough because of the lack of basic amenities noting however that the residents of the village are increasingly coming to know Jesus.
The Badeku conference
This February 15-18, World Hope ministry will hold its yearly mission’s conference with the theme, “the final harvest” at Badeku, Oyo State.
Professor Duro Adegboye, Prof Dejo Akande, Prophet J.O, Olayiwola, Prophet Joel, and a host of other men of God along with Rev Idowu Animasawun are expected to minister at the conference.
Feeding and accommodation are free.
Pastor Animasawun told Church Times that his age notwithstanding, he would still be actively involved in missions. “There is nothing like retirement for me. Moses did not retire. As long as my health is okay, I will keep on the with the Lord’s business.”