How God Convinced me through a revelation that Jesus is God
Ven. Fatai O. Shofolawe-Bakare radiates an unusual peace. He picks his words and carefully marshals them in answer to questions with the precision of a lawyer that he is. He laughs heartily and engages his listeners familiarly.
His name, Fatai and the prefix venerable makes one curious. He tells you as a matter of fact that he was born a Muslim, grew up a Muslim and in fact practiced Islam to the point of learning the Quran by heart.
He said, “Islamic Religious Knowledge was one of my best subjects while in secondary school. Even when I started work as a lawyer I could recall I would find my way to the central mosque for the Jumat Service every Friday. I was such a Moslem that when I came back home I won’t touch my food until I had said all the prayers I missed in the day”
From Mosque to Church
But the turnaround came On December 31, 1988 when he had an unusual visitation. He recalled, “I was sad without knowing why I was sad. To take away that feeling I would put on a movie. But as soon as I finished watching each movie the sadness resumed. It was as if my mind was taken to my roots and was being shown how I lived my life. Suddenly I heard a voice which said to me, “My son, why don’t you, on the first day of the New Year go to the church which you pass by when going to the Ikeja High court, and worship me”. I was startled. Whatever it was, I discovered that the voice brought some relief. The burden of sadness was lifted. I suddenly became happy.
“So I made up my mind to go to Archbishop Vinning Memorial Anglican Church (AVMCC) which was the church being referred to, and not too far from where I lived. I had never stepped into the church before but it was as if I had been part of the church for long when I attended service that first day of the year. I was so happy being there. I repeated my visit several times. Everything was familiar. It was another journey of my life. Nobody took me to the church. God himself took me to the church. I found myself going there every Sunday. Then, first Bishop of the Diocese of Lagos West, (Anglican Communion) The Rt. Rev. Dr. Peter Awelewa Adebiyi was the vicar. He was not a bishop then. I took a liking to him and visited him in the vicarage several times to chat.”
The Change for Ven. Shofolawe-Bakare was instantaneous. He never went back to the mosque again. That decision did not go down well with his mother, an Alhaja. Because his mother was not happy he too was not happy and he felt he needed to do something to make his mother happy.
“When I go to the church and see the commandment “honour your father and mother” I would feel upset that I had just offended my mum by coming to Church. I then told God that I loved my mum and won’t want to upset her. I asked God what to do because I loved going to church.”
By the time God responded, it was with a dream. In the dream he saw how he attempted to cross from his mother’s shop to the mosque opposite his mother shop and how the covering on his head was about to collapse and people were trying to hold it. He had another one and saw people beckoning on him to enter the church.
From the dream it was clear God wanted him to be in the church. He also understood that if he went back to Islam the covering he was enjoying from God may be no more. That dream strengthened his resolve. What he could then do was to keep praying for his mother. So when Adebiyi was going to baptise him, he insisted on retaining his Moslem name so that it could be a door of opportunity to witness Christ.
Not long after his conversion God began to speak to him on the need to become a priest. But he could not fathom how that would happen. He said, “I had been a lawyer and in fact I will be 40 years in the bar by next year. I enjoyed my law practice. I am always happy going to the court. I like presenting a case before a judge that does not want to be persuaded. So I did not really see the attraction in becoming a priest.”
The vision of hell
But this particular day he traveled out of the country to see a client concerning a case he was handling. As he landed at Frankfurt Airport, he read the news that the last Concord plane had crashed. “My heart sank when I read about the crash. Before I travelled I have been having dreams of death. When I read about the crash, what came to my mind straight away was the call of God. “Where will I spend eternity” was the thought that came to my mind if I died, as I was about to take a connecting flight to Hamburg, Germany. As soon as I entered the plane I prayed throughout the trip. I said only one prayer, “Lord, give me a second chance, I would do your work.” When I got to Frankfort I had a revelation. I saw hell. It was like I was dropping into it and I shouted “Lord, I don’t want to go there.” I shouted back into real life. I was sweating. I now prayed and went back to sleep. Then, in my sleep, I heard a song. It was a beautiful rendition, a song that God gave me.
“It goes like this: Inu mi adun Okan me akorin, Inu mi adun Okan me akorin, pe mo ni Jesu Pe mo loluwa, Inu mi adun Okan mi akorin. The song was still on and it was as if I should not open my eyes, when then the spirit began telling me go and write it down. It was an answer to my prayers that God gave me a second chance and God gave me the assurance that I would be happy and joyful because I have Jesus because I have God.”
Thursday opportunity to preach
That dream and the eventual assurance prompted him to begin to make inquiries about becoming a priest. He met the current Bishop of the Diocese of Lagos West (Anglican Communion), The Rt. Revd. Dr. James Odedeji. He was then one of the assisting priests in the Cathedral. “He was such a kind person. So, I went to see him. I said to him, sir, this is what I have been going through, God told me He wanted me to be a priest and I asked, is there a way I could avoid it? He laughed. I never knew God had spoken to him about me. So he said, Brother Fatai “you cannot O, you can’t because God has shown me that you are going to be a priest” My heart sank. I now said to him, how do I start? He said I would have to go to the seminary.
“But to encourage me, he said they could give me an opportunity to take the sermon for 10 minutes, once in a week, on any weekday, during early communion service. They used to hold early morning communion service in those days, just as today. I then asked, which day are people not many because I don’t want to embarrass myself. But he asked, who would I preach to if people don’t come. In any case he agreed that I would preach every Thursday at the communion service”.
So I started preaching on Thursdays every week. I now found out people were being blessed when I preach. They would come to me after the sermon and say they have been blessed. I was just wondering what could have been a blessing in what I was preaching. But unknown to me God was speaking through me.”
The seminary and church postings
Three years later after he started preaching, he had another revelation in which The Most Revd. Dr. Olusegun Adeyemi, (the Retired Archbishop of Kwara), who was the Dean of the Cathedral at that time, asked if he would go on a Journey with him. This was in April 2004. “I explained I won’t be able to go with him because I had bought my ticket to travel to go on holidays. The expression on his face was one of displeasure as he responded that it was not by force, but by my own choice. That countenance troubled me. Then I became displeased with myself and agreed to go with him. At that point I noticed that tears were flowing down my cheeks, but could not understand why.”
Amazingly, that revelation played out in real life in June of the same year, “Hitherto, I had made unsuccessful attempts to get into the seminary. But this time I had just finished preaching the normal Thursday sermon, paid the Dean a visit and we got talking. He then asked a question, “suppose we asked you to go to the seminary this August, would you like to go? My heart sank, because just like in the revelation, I had bought my tickets and made arrangement to travel on holidays and I explained to him. But then I recalled the revelation, and accepted to go.” I was sent to the Vining College, Akure, where I was trained for 4 years. At the time, professionals were granted the grace to attend the seminary in August every year.”
That was the beginning. During his training, he was posted to Dorothy Ikoku Memorial Anglican Church, as a Postulant. In November, same year He was made a Deacon and posted to the Chapel of St. Luke’s the Physician LASUTH as the Vicar, then priested the following year.
In that church God used him to bring a lot of changes and innovations. The vicarage of the church was built in his time. A church bus was bought and the choir grew from a two-member choir to 24-member choir and the congregation had multiplied during his tenure and lives were transformed. After these, it occurred to him that his work was done and he went to ask the Lord what next. And the Lord revealed that he would be being sent to the Dorothy Ikoku Memorial Anglican Church, GRA, Ikeja, where He is presently the Vicar. Since his resumption, there has been a lot of positive changes to the Church structure, lives have been touched and more souls are being won especially through the Healing and Anointing service held every first Sunday evening, every month. “By Divine mandate, and to His glory, we are presently building a church. God is using all our members and God sent Helpers within and outside the Diocese, which includes the Managing Architects for the project, Messrs. PM + CDC Architects.”
The question about Trinity
But the high point of Bakare’s conversion was the expository way God made him to appreciate the triune nature of God shortly after he received Christ. “As Christians we know that Jesus is God but that did not connect with me when I first started attending church, owing to my Moslem background. My ignorance worried me for some time till God explained Trinity to me in a dream.”
“In the dream I saw a very aged man, looking like the ancient of days, kneeling in prayer. I could only see his back. His hair was silvery shining and he had on a silky shining flowing white robe. If one looked too much one could get blinded. Much as I wanted to, I couldn’t see his face. But I wanted to see his face. So I leaned to the right side in an attempt to catch the side of his face, but could not. I leaned again to the left side to catch the side of his face but could not. In my futility, I began to mutter in the dream, “But why couldn’t I see your face, why couldn’t I see your face”. As soon as I made that statement I saw the face of Jesus appeared right on the old man’s back and I heard a voice say to me “nobody has seen God but in Jesus Christ He has revealed himself.” The impact of this revelation did not fully dawn on me until, I attended the discipleship training of Equiping the Saints Ministry in the AVMCC, few years later. We began to study the book of John and upon getting to John 1:18, the whole picture became clear.
John 1:18 says – “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom
of the Father, He has declared Him”. So I don’t have problems with the issue of Trinity. It is clear
to me that Jesus is God, the Holy Spirit is God and the Father is God, yet not three Gods, but three
persons’ in ONE GOD.”
He however noted that many people don’t appreciate that God is Jesus and Jesus is God. It is one thing for you to say it, it is another for thing for you to believe. I believe it completely because God has revealed Himself to me and through the intensive training and study of God’s word and personal communion with God”.
Explaining his observations on the church, Bakare distinguished between church goers and genuine Christians who have had an encounter with God, and stated that many church goers are yet to understand what it means to know God. “Some see Christianity as an emotional stuff. They see the move of God only in the form of miracles, signs and wonders, they don’t understand the depth of His love. When God moves He moves in ways you don’t expect Him to move. I can tell you that in all the churches across the world, you have people who have confined God in their imagination, yet you can never confine God, for He is bigger than our imagination.
He lamented that there are too many half-baked Christians who believe in microwave solution “This is why the mystery of godliness is difficult to teach. It is even difficult to teach about the trinity because the foundation of the faith of so many is weak.”
Bakare who said he met his wife two months after his conversion in very interesting circumstance at the University of Lagos noted that his life has been divinely orchestrated. “For me, nothing happens by accident. That is why I see the preferment as a Venerable as the work of grace. I see it from a deeper spiritual sense. I see it in terms of more work and anointing for the single purpose of building up the body of Christ.
Testimonies of impact
What gives Ven. Bakare joy is the continuous impact the Lord has used him to make in the lives of people “I have so many highpoints in ministry. I remember there was a time when I was the Vicar at the Chapel of St. Luke the Physician. I always encouraged those who come for medical consultation at the Diabetes Centre close to the chapel to come for fellowship at the 7.00 a.m. service on Thursday (their consultation day). I used to encourage them that God could heal them if they had faith in him. There was this particular day I invited some of them who were qualified (confirmed), to come and take communion.
“Two weeks after, we had just finished service and was about to take the withdrawal hymn when a woman from the congregation cried out that she be allowed to testify. She was a diabetic patient and was referred to LASUITH from LUTH. She recalled the day I invited them to the chapel. She said that night when she got home she had a dream and saw a hand stood in front of her and gave her a tablet. As she was taking that tablet she saw the communion vessel and the vessel stood in front of her prompting her to drink. After she had taken the bread and the wine, (symbolic of the body and the Blood of Christ), immediately she began to experience some vibration in her body and had to go to the rest room. After she emptied her bowels, she looked back and saw a black thread that had come out of her body”.
“Immediately she woke up, she experienced in real life exactly the vibrations she experienced in her dream. She went to use the rest room and saw the black thread in her stool. She just noticed that she felt different. The black thread signified that her ailment was spiritual and not physical and she had been set free. She went to the hospital for check-up and the doctors said she could not have been the one who had diabetic. That was how she was completely delivered from diabetes. That day I just looked up to God and wondered at His miracle. There was also the case of some of the medical students who testified how they came out successful in their exams despite the time they spent coming for choir rehearsals in preparation for a concert that we had. Initially they did not want to be part of the rehearsal so they could study hard for their exams. But I encouraged them that God would make them excel. One of them later called to share testimonies of their success in the exams. She was so excited about the outcome of the exams. There was this other student in LASUTH who said God had used me to dispel fear from her life, because I taught her to pray effectively.”
Read also: Adesina: Pastor Who teaches Islam…My 40-year sojourn in Islam (1)https://www.churchtimesnigeria.net/adesina-pastor-who-teaches-islam-my-40-year-sojourn-in-islam-1/
Bakare noted that the “work of the priest is to build up the body of Christ, flock of God, so that as they are built up, they too will share in the work of the Ministry. They won’t have to fearfully call the pastors when have a nightmare, because they know how to pray and use the word of God powerfully. When you are able to win souls and build up believers to that point you have succeeded.”
Venerable Bakare is happily married with Children.