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Moses Orimolade Tunolase
“The Father That Prays”
Moses Orimolade Tunolase was born approximately in 1879 into the royal family of Ayibiri in Ondo State of Nigeria. God’s hand was on his life even within the womb. It has been reported that when his mother, Madam Odijoroto, was in the bush to cut firewood during her final stages of pregnancy, she gathered more firewood than she could lift by herself. She realized she would have to reduce the bundle in order to be able to carry it. The Holy Spirit anointed the child within her and she heard a voice telling her the easiest way to lift the bundle even if she did not make it smaller. She looked around in great astonishment, but saw no one. She heard the voice again: "Do not be frightened. I am the child in your womb”. She was directed to raise the bundle up at one end and, with the help of her hands, knee and head, kick up the other end. She followed this advice and returned home. She frantically hurried home to tell her husband about the miraculous event that had happened. Tunolase, her husband, warrior and Ifa priest immediately arranged a meeting with a soothsayer or Ifa Oracle. It was then predicted that the child of conception would be an important saint. They prophesied the child was being sent by the Almighty God to preach the gospel of his Son, Jesus Christ. The young parents could not comprehend this especially as the Christian Gospel had not yet been preached in this region of the world. It was further “predicted” by the village oracle that this expected child, would be a male child pre-ordained of God as his special apostle to the pagans of Yorubaland. He was therefore to be treated as a Nazarite. The birth of Orimolade created mixed feelings for his parents; they were happy for their newest edition but were filled with embarrassment and apprehension in view of the circumstances surrounding his birth and the incidents which occurred on the day he was born. It is recorded that the new child "stood up in its birth blood" desiring "to walk out three times." However, the midwife that assisted during Moses’ birth "pressed down the baby with force." It is generally believed that, because of her action, Orimolade could neither stand nor walk until he was well over five years of age. As Orimolade grew, he was regarded as an angelic being.
Orimolade Okejebu spent his youth in Ikare. In an effort to get Orimolade the help he needed for his physical condition, his pagan parents took him to St. Stephen’s Anglican Church, the only church in the Yoruba town of Ikare in Western Nigeria at the time. Orimolade was often left for days at a time in the custody of the clergyman at this Church Missionary Society establishment of the Anglican Communion. One night, the minister saw a strange glare of light and heard a sound of singing coming from the sanctuary of the church. He could not understand how anyone could be using the building at that time of night without his knowledge. He decided to investigate. He knocked at the main entrance and the door opened. To his great amazement, the whole building was empty except for a small child of about five years old sitting on the floor surrounded in a bright phosphorescent light. It occurred to the shocked minister that the child staring calmly at him, unruffled by his intrusion, was Orimolade the strange boy who had become the talk of the town, that he was the one who had been singing as though he were a whole choir. The minister saw the incredible and tangible presence of God on this child’s life and persuaded his congregation to embrace young Orimolade desiring the child to teach them some of his spiritual songs. His performance in music was superlative. The songs he sang were original and divinely inspired.The boy obliged and taught them a few religious songs, but soon gave up owing to their poor response and out of tune ear for the sound of heaven. This was probably Orimolade's first association with the Christian church. Orimolade very soon became disillusioned by the melancholy, complacent and uncooperative attitudes of the Christians in Ikare, especially because they ridiculed him on account of his disability. He battled feeling depressed and apprehensive about the success of his life. It appeared likely that he would forever be physically handicapped. Overwhelmed by these thoughts, he prayed passionately one night, asking for a manifestation of God's power. That very night he had a dream of an angel giving him three objects: a rod, a royal insignia and a crown. The rod signified a "rod of victory," the insignia was "the power of prayer and power of speaking." The crown stood for "all honor and multi-respect of every individual to bow before him, to receive blessing” .When he woke up from his sleep, he knew that his prayer had been answered. He woke up from this dream with a personal conversion to the Christian faith. This dream formally marked his commission. At 12 years of age, the call to preach the gospel of Christ burned deep within his heart. From this point Orimolade began to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ without interruption. He preached with power and demonstration. His entire focus was instantly directed towards full time ministry. His campaigns began with political resistance in support of Christians. He successfully petitioned police authorities for the release of several Christians being persecuted for their belief in the local town of Kabba. His efforts were successful. It soon occurred to his opponents in Ikare that it would be in their best interest to be in good standing with Orimolade due to his growing popularity and influence. They attempted to win him over by bestowing on him one of the priestly titles of their traditional institutions. He took advantage of this opportunity not only to reject the offer, but also to proclaim to them the Christian message. He preached with such power and authority that God shook the earth on that day. Many were afraid and ran away. From this moment on, Orimolade’s name was one that became feared. He was recognized by some as a man who could talk to God and by others as a man who had control over “invisible spirits”. Christianity began to grow by leaps and bounds in the region after that incident. Orimolade continued this work by going street to street preaching the gospel
Along his road to destiny, Orimolade tried his hand at the trade industry by buying and selling palm oil and kola nuts as trade was flourishing between the Ikare people and Hausa traders from northern Nigeria. He was said to have travelled to a northern village called Oshokoshoko for business. On his way he encountered an angel who reminded him of his holy mission as a prophet of God and rebuked him for his efforts to succeed in the trade industry. Orimolade suddenly became very ill and his traveling companion returned with the report of his condition back to his people. Egunjobi, his brother, was sent immediately to bring him back home. But before Egunjobi reached the location, Orimolade had arrived back in Ikare by a means none could explain. He was translated. Orimolade had become very ill and went into isolation for seven complete years during his sufferings. During the period of his illness, he was taught by the Holy Spirit how to read the Bible and memorize whatever he read. This time of separation consisted of study, prayer and fasting. It is also recorded that Orimolade stated that he saw continuous visions for seven years during which he could not get up from one spot as a result of being unable to walk. At the end of his illness, he became a lame man, but God made him to walk miraculously.
The period spent in confinement represented Orimolade's heavenly training and preparation for his missionary work. He emerged from his isolation full of wisdom and the power of God. For the next five years Orimolade travelled from place to place, preaching Gospel of Christ with great zeal. Many miracles of healing were credited to him during this period. He openly confronted witches and wizards in Irun (another Yoruba town) and pulled down the image of Osijora, one of the idols worshipped in the village. He condemned the prevalent practice of human sacrifice in Benin City. He consecrated a pool in Kaba town and rid it of the evil spirit the villagers had worshipped from time immemorial. Orimolade converted many people to the Christian faith in many places. Traditional worshippers on several occasions willingly gave up their charms and images for burning in response to his preaching and prayer. He directed his converts to the existing churches, irrespective of denominations, and where no church existed he helped establish one.
Moses Orimolade arrived in Lagos on July 12, 1924 and lodged at Holy Trinity (Anglican) Church with the Sexton of the Church, Emmanuel Olumodeji from his hometown. He started preaching and praying for people all over Lagos in Nigeria. Many people in and around Holy Trinity sought after Orimolade for spiritual inquiry and counseling. He developed a reputation for seasoned preaching and fervent prayer and became known among the people as the "Baba Aladura" (Father that prays). The prosperity and popularity of Moses Orimolade provoked envy and anger among the Anglican leadership and led ultimately to the ejection of the Baba Aladura from the premises of Holy Trinity on September 11th, 1924. The ejection of Moses Orimolade from Holy Trinity aroused the sympathy and support of many people in and around the Church. They followed Orimolade out of Holy Trinity and thereafter to his places of residence. Orimolade called this group of supporters and sympathizers the "Aladura Band" or “praying people” in Yoruba and continued his preaching and prayer with them. On June 18, 1925 the Aladura Band was called to the rescue of an unconscious Methodist teenage girl, Abiodun Akinsowon, who had fallen into a trance. Abiodun remained in trance for 21 days in the care and custody of the Aladura Band under the leadership of Moses Orimolade. She regained consciousness after 21 days to the awe of many in Lagos and joined the Aladura Band. She shared the detailed account of the encounter of heaven she had been shown during the time of her unconsciousness. She became the first visioner (seer) in the Aladura band.
The name of the “band” ministry was then formally changed (per instruction of Holy Spirit) to The Cherubim and Seraphim society, founded by Moses Orimolade Tunolase, the Yoruba prophet, and Christiana Abiodun Akinsowon, the Anglican woman who had experienced visions and trances. In 1925–26 they formed the society with doctrines of revelation and divine healing replacing traditional charms and medicine. They separated from the Anglican and other churches in 1928. The Eternal Sacred Order of Cherubim and Seraphim (ESOCS) was the first indigenous African church established in Nigeria. The Cherribim and Seriaphim Society has grown from what was a small house fellowship to a congregation of approximately 10.2 Million members that worship in over 1500 houses of prayer all over the world making it one of the largest churches in the world.
Moses Orimolade Tunolase was a true father, a pioneer, and forerunner in the Christian faith. He was one of the most influential men of his time and to the Christian movement in Africa during his era. He received divine instruction through dreams, visions, encounters with angels, and Holy Spirit encounters on how to develop and spread the good news about Jesus Christ in a pagan society. Moses in his time impacted the world around him under leadership of the Holy Spirit and became the inspiration for many Pentecostal ministries in Nigeria and indeed Africa. The Gospel of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ was spread wildly because of the significance of this man’s life.