Archbishop Benson Idahosa (1938 -1998): 20 facts about him
He was an unconventional man
2021, makes it 23 years since Archbishop Benson Idahosa, founder of Church of God Mission International passed on to glory. He was born on September; 11, 1938 and died on March 12, 1998. Here are 20 things you perhaps don’t know about him
He was always sickly shortly after his birth. His mother, Sarah once placed him in the rubbish heap waiting for him to die on the instruction of his father who felt he was not a desirable child. His father saw him as a curse to the family and would not want to have him around. But when he refused to die after being placed in the rubbish heap, his mother took him up and began to look after him.
He started school around age 14 in a Methodist boarding school where he was able to read and write.
At age 18, he became a newspaper vendor and was able to save money to buy the first pair of shoes and shirt for himself. Before then, he always made do with used clothes and shoes. He had walked barefooted in most of his first 18 years on earth.
The first church he attended was Salvation Army Church. But it was through one pastor Okpo who pastors a small church close to where he and his friends were playing football that he gave his life to Christ. He had kicked the ball about three times to disrupt the teaching service of this small gathering close to the football field. He did not succeed. The third time the ball hit the wall at a close range and bounced back on him. He was there on the ground only to be helped by the pastor he wanted to hit with the ball. The pastor prayed for him and invited him to the gathering. That was how he got fascinated with the small gathering. He was the only one who surrendered his life to Christ in that Bible study when the pastor made an altar call.
After his conversion he became thirsty for more of western education, he enrolled in a correspondence programme with a private school in England while living with his aunt. But he soon got a letter from the school that he would have to drop from the course if he did not pay his school fees. He sought advice from his grandfather who took him to a Bata Shoe Company where he worked as a clerical assistant. Out of his first salary, he paid 20 percent to the church, took some to buy soap and gave the rest to his grandmother to save for him.
After working for several months, he decided to visit his parents. He bought a lot of foodstuffs for them and went to the village purposely to share the gospel with them. He was eager to talk more about his new found love in Christ and challenged his parents to destroy all the idols in their custody. Back in Benin City, Benson went about talking about Jesus and working alongside Pastor Okpo to preach the gospel
He was so consumed in evangelism and healing programmes that he requested permission from the Bata Company to work five days in the week instead of the six days they worked. The company did not hesitate because he was instrumental in boosting the morale of the workers in the company and he was making a great impact. After two years he had been promoted to Asst. Stock Keeper. He was now 25. He had to rent his own apartment.
He had a burning passion for his parents. One day, his mother was sick. His father had travelled. He used the opportunity to ask his mother’s permission to burn all the idols in their house. He preached to his mother again and asked her to confess Jesus as Lord. Her mother did. She declared later that she could now feel the joy Idahosa had.
Several months later, the painful news came to him in Benin City that his mother had died and that her request was that juju priest should not be allowed to officiate at her funeral. Idahosa travelled with church people to the village to give his mother a befitting burial.
He pressed on his father to receive Jesus. His father acknowledged Jesus was the way. He said he would commit his life to him later. He never got to do that to the knowledge of Idahosa. Sadly, the civil war came and he seemed to have been consumed in the war.
The grief of not seeing his father weighed heavily on him. It was in the midst of this grief that God gave him a vision and showed him a field where he was helping people with heavy loads on their head. He helped so many people that he had to call for assistance to be able to help more. God then told him he would stand in front of thousands to declare the gospel of Jesus and would be known all over the world.
He met his wife when she was 15 years. That was shortly after he had become a Christian. He was like a big brother to his wife. Benson had told the young Margaret that if she saw anybody she wanted to marry she should bring the person so he could assess him. Margaret brought a couple of brothers which were rejected by Idahosa.
God used Idahosa to raise a baby back to life for the first time. The baby was a close relative of Margaret. That miracle made Margaret admire Idahosa but she never thought Idahosa would want to marry her.
Margaret was taken aback by Idahosa’s proposal. She had thought Idahosa was just a big brother. She accused Idahosa of turning down all the men who proposed to her because he had a plan to marry her and said she could not marry a pastor. But Margaret’s mother was okay by the proposal.
On April 6 1969, the two of them got married. Idahosa was still working at the Bata Shoe Company. But he was preaching the gospel aggressively.
Idahosa and family
The first land he bought to build church was $400 but he was able to raise $680 dollars from those who come for the Bible study he organised at Forestry Road, Benin City and was able to pay for the land. The Bible study group had become large that he was planning to move to the land.
He had so much opposition that God helped him to surmount. At a point he felt he needed someone who will give him counsel and guide him. God spoke to him in a vision to go and see a white Missionary Pa Sidney Elton in Ilesha in the then Oyo State. By the time he got to the house of Elton in Ilesha, Elton was already waiting for him because God had told Elton about him too.
It was through a magazine of the Christ for All Nations at Pa Elton’s house that Idahosa got to know about a correspondent Bible course on the life and teachings of Jesus being run by Christ for All Nations headed by Godson Lindsay in the US. He later travelled to Dallas, US here he formally trained in the Bible school. His ministry took a leap by the time he returned. During his lifetime, he made a huge impact on the church. His crusades were marked with outstanding miracles. Several people were raised from the dead, several were healed. The lame walked; the Blind regained their sight. His ministry made a monumental impact in about 35 years. He was a rallying point for the charismatic Pentecostal movement in Nigeria. He supported so many ministries while alive. He was also well known for the prosperity gospel but not in the reckless version that it is being preached today. But then, a lot of conservative Christians were not comfortable with Idahosa’s emphasis on prosperity.
A month before he died, he told his wife, Margaret, that he had done all that God wanted him to do. His wife did not understand the message and thought he needed a retreat to receive fresh ideas. His wife travelled and was planning to return to Nigeria when she was told her husband had passed on to glory.
Few days before he died, Idahosa preached a message titled, The benefit of death and he preached so hard and made death so useless. He made it clear to us that he had finished the work God gave him in that message.
In my own words history has always been rewriting by disadvantaged men, who dare to step out of the box, of programed mindset, and ideology, what is your disadvantage step out of the box of programed mindset, and you will become a leap of hope for humanity.
Information used here were sourced from the book; Fire in his bones by Ruthanne Garlock