Rev’d Okesiji: ‘End of an era’As CAN president, Akala, Onjo Okeho, Aale Okelerin eulogize him

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By Enoch OYEDIBU

“When a God anointed passes on, cry out, mourn him, weep, be sorrowful, why? Because it is the end of an era. This is the end of an era.”
Those were the words of Rev’d. Dr. Israel Olubi Olaniyan, immediate past president of Ogbomoso Baptist Conference, as he delivered the sermon at the funeral service of Reverend John Adegoke Okesiji last Friday, August 21, 2020, at First Baptist Church, Okelerin, Ogbomoso, where the late cleric served for 31 years.
Rev’d Okesiji died on July 5, 2020 after a minor accident in his house at Oyo.
The funeral was graced by several dignitaries including Rev’d. Dr. Supo Ayokunle, president, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and who is president of Nigerian Baptist Convention (NBC); Soun of Ogbomosoland (represented); former governor of Oyo state, Otunba Christopher Adebayo Alao-Akala and his wife, Chief (Mrs.) Kemi; Aale of Okelerin, Oba Samuel Babatunde Amao; and representatives of Onjo of Okeho Oba Rafiu Osuolale Mustapha Adeetan II, where the deceased hailed from.
In his sermon, titled, “What needs to be done when a God’s anointed passes on,” Rev. Dr. Olaniyan, said he came under Rev’d Okesiji’s tutelage at about 1991, disclosing that his role as the preacher at the funeral was in accordance with the wish of “Baba,” for one of his younger spiritual sons to perform that role.
Olaniyan added, “As a village pastor under his ministerial jurisdiction, anytime I came to Ogbomoso, Baba Okesiji’s pastorium was always my bus-stop.”
He also said of Baba Okesiji, “When the defunct Oyo East Baptist Conference was split into two, and we now have Ogbomoso Baptist Conference, Baba continued as the chairman becoming the pioneer chairman being the chairman of the old Oyo East Baptist Conference.
“Baba distinguished himself in the ministry, so that many younger ministers like me looked up to him for leadership and direction; and I will like to tell you, we were not disappointed.”
Olaniyan eulogized the man who was popularly called “Olokemeje” “as an epitome of modesty; cleanliness; neatness; national and western dressing, integrity and probity personified; a great preacher and teacher of the word of God.
“He was popularly regarded as “Baba Olokemeje,”- father of seven mountains, although, he is “Baba Olokemesan, father of nine mountains.”
Olaniyan explaining the origin of this cognomen informed that Okesiji served in five Baptist churches which have as part of their names “Oke”- mountain. These churches were First Baptist Church Okeho, First Baptist Church, Oke-Isokun, Oke-Isoko Baptist Church, Ori-Oke Baptist Church and Okelerin Baptist Church (now First Baptist Church, Okelerin).
He added his own name had “Oke” suffix i.e. Adegoke while his father’s, Okesiji was another derivative of Oke.
“Then, he was from Okeho located in Oke-Ogun, hence ‘Olokemesan’.”
Okesiji, he observed, served in many capacities as Baptist cleric including being the chairman of the committee that brought the First Baptist Conference to the Western part of Nigeria, the chairman of the committee that started the first indigenous Baptist Theological School in Nigeria, now called Baptist Pastor’s School, Oyo, emerging as the first chairman of the institution and many more.
Olaniyan now posited that “When such man of God dies, what must be done?”
He delved into the account of the ascension of Elijah as recorded in Second Kings, Chapter two verses 11 to 22, to unfold the first thing to be done when an anointed person dies.
“When a God anointed passes on, cry out, mourn him, weep, be sorrowful, why? Because it is the end of an era. This is the end of an era. The first thing Elisha did when Elijah passed on to glory was to cry out. When a God’s anointed passes on, the first thing to do is cry out.”
Continuing, he stated, “It is interesting when Elisha himself died, history repeated itself; this time it was not a prophet crying but the king of Israel and was crying with the same thing Elisha said when Elijah went up to heaven, ‘My father, my father, the chariot of Israel…’ he cried out!
“Like Elijah and Elisha our father, John Adegoke Okesiji has passed on, it is biblical to cry out; it is godly to mourn him but not like an unbeliever. No! We cannot see Baba and meet him on the planet earth again, but there’s hope, we shall meet again, but that will be on the restoration morning.
“This is why Apostle Paul, in his first letter to the Thessalonians, chapter four, verses 13 to 18, says, ‘brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to scream like the rest of men who have no hope.
“We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who had fallen asleep in him, according to the lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the lord, will certainly not precede those who had fallen asleep, for the lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the Archangels and the trumpet call of God and then the dead in Christ will rise first; after that we who are still alive and are left to be caught up together with them in the cloud to meet the lord in the air, so we’ll be with the lord forever. Therefore, encourage one another with these words.”
Additionally, Olaniyan stressed that when a God anointed passes on, we must pick up the race from where he passed the baton just as he asserted that we must activate faith in God.
He as well charged that the good work of that man of God must be continued. The fifth thing that must be done he emphasized was, “Work harder than what they had achieved.”
Olaniyan asserted that preaching the word of God to convert sinners and propagating the gospel were some of the activities Okesiji held dear “and so we must continue from there and work harder to achieve more.”
He commended Baba Okesiji for notching achievements greater than his father’s. “The pastoral ministry of our father that lay here today towered above his father’s. His father’s ministry was never beyond Oke-Ogun axis, in villages such as Igbojaiye, Ofiki, Okeho, Eko-ile and Ejio, he didn’t go beyond that area.
“His father, Pastor Majaro Okesiji was never ordained. He was neither an association moderator nor a conference officer. In the view of humans, Rev’d. Okesiji was greater than his father and so we must.”
In his speech, Rev’d. Dr. Supo Ayokunle, revealed how he met late Rev’d Okesiji at a wedding service in which he was encouraged by the departed minister to proceed to the Seminary. Ayokunle said he was then an itinerant preacher and had preached at the said wedding service, adding that he however detested the Seminary believing it would dim his fervency in the lord.
“After I finished preaching, Baba (Okesiji) said he wanted to have a word with me. He had said, don’t you know that God calls you Ayo? Ensure you go and receive the work in full. He begged me in the name of God that I should go to the Seminary. That was part of the impact the ministry of Baba had in my life.
“I don’t even know I will get to where I am today in the Baptist pastorate that I was running from and I must say that the Baptist pastorate is worthy of running from for those who are familiar with the work.”
He later thanked God for Okesiji’s years of service which were without a record of immorality and prayed for the family of the deceased.
In a letter of condolence published in the funeral programme, Otunba Alao-Akala, spoke glowingly of Baba Okesiji, portraying him as a dedicated minister of God.
“He was a Baptist pastor who dedicated his life to the service of his creator. Our paths crossed in 1969 when I arrived from Ghana, and he baptized me in April 1971.
“During his days, as a pastor of First Baptist Church Okelerin, he touched many people’s lives in the church and beyond.
“Baba boosted the numerical strength as well as the spiritual growth of the church. His exemplary lifestyle will never be forgotten.”
Alao-Akala recalled some achievements of Baba Okesiji at Okelerin Baptist Church, which included, construction of the first pastorium, construction of children’s church and Sunday School building, establishment of Okelerin Baptist Bookshop and construction of its building, founding of Caretaker and Odo-Oru Baptist Churches, free medical services and acquisition of land for the church.
In similar vein, the Onjo of Okeho, Oba Mustapha, in his condolence titled, “A great historian has gone,” disclosed he was shocked at the news of the death of Okesiji, lamenting it was a great loss to Okeho.
“It took over two hours before I was able to recover from the shock, I was shocked not because Baba was too young to die, but because the type of Baba was very useful in the society.”
Oba Mustapha eulogized the departed for his many achievements for humanity and Okeho. He disclosed it was Baba Okesiji that mooted the idea of having the Okeho’s Elders Forum, a society he said Baba was very active.
Furthermore, Onjo said the deceased was an erudite scholar, “you always meet Baba in his library studying… as an historian of high repute, he took an active part in the writing of the history of Okeho.”
He also informed that Baba Okesiji was the first to suggest the idea of celebrating the return of the people of Okeho to their present location, singlehandedly composed the Okeho anthem loved by every Okeho indigene.
“I still want to add that when the Mayegun of Okeholand, His Excellency Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala was the governor of Oyo state, Baba influenced the asphaltic tarring of Isia-Rest House road in Okeho.”
He regretted he would miss Okesiji being his confidant and a reliable adviser, noting, “With the exit of Baba, we have lost a great son of Okeho, we have lost a man of ability and of course wisdom.”
Aale of Okelerin, Oba Amao, in a tribute – “Good people may die but surely not their names,” maintained that Baba Okesiji made great impact during his life sojourn disclosing that Baba joined him and his wife at their wedding in December 1971.
Oba Amao continued, “Since then, my wife and I related with him as our spiritual father, mentor and counselor. Those of us who had contacts with him in his lifetime would easily accept the fact that he was always willing to leave you better than he met you.
“He was a fantastic teacher of the Word, a brilliant church administrator with a first class penchant for robust human relation. He would preach the truth and do it. Like the Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 4:17, his life and his messages were inseparable. Baba was, indeed a lover of God.”
Saying Baba Okesiji greatly loved Ogbomoso, he affirmed, “Today, we lost a disciplinarian. We lost a rare mentor! We lost a discipler, pastor and a true Kingdom General.”
Rev’d Okesiji had the rare honour of being buried within the premises of First Baptist Church, Okelerin, Ogbomoso, where he served for 31 years as pastor.

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