CELESTIAL CHURCH OF CHRIST AT 73
*HISTORY OF SAMUEL BILEWU OSHOFFA*
“`Rev. Pastor Founder Celestial Church of Christ.
The founder of Celestial Church of Christ, Oshoffa was born on 19th may, 1909 in Dahomey, now Benin Republic into the family of Osofa.
His father, Pa Osofa was a polygamist and his mother, madam Toun Alake Iyafo was one of his wives from Imeko, an Egbado town within Ogun State of Nigeria. Pa Osofa was estimated to have 39children in which Samuel was only the male child.
Pa Osofa sent his son to Evangelist called pastor Nathaniel Yansunu of the Methodist mission in Porto-novo when he was seven years for spiritual training and to learn Christian principles.
He couldn’t withstand the domestic challenges of the mission house and he chose to return home.
By 1922, at the age of thirteen, Oshoffa was still at home as he didn’t have access to western education for reasons beyond his control. He was sent to the mission house again.
At the mission house, Oshoffa couldn’t cope with the strict disciplinary measures which a white missionary called Rev. Garner initiated. Oshoffa and others were expelled because they refuted to follow the Rev. order of assisting in the construction of a seminary.
Pa Osofa was disheartened and decided to take his son as an apprentice being a Carpenter. Oshoffa became very good in carpentry and was one of the best carpenters in town.
On June 15,1939, Daddy Osofa died at Port-Norvo as a result of old age. After his father’s death, he began to take active part in church activities like singing, playing instruments and serving under committees.
In December 1946, Oshoffa abandoned carpentry to take up timber business which was very profitable. He began to supply timber logs in and around Porto-Novo. He didn’t have any formal education but in his short stay at the missionary house, he had learned to read the Holy Bible. He always carry the Holy book along anywhere He is going.
Oshoffa was working in the ebony trade in 1947 when he was instructed by divine order to found a church(Celestial Church Of Christ).
He reported that he had been searching in the forests to find the correct type of tree. He said he lost his way and had to live off the land for three months. When he emerged he was empowered with the gifts of healing and prophecy.
His first act of healing was reportedly the resurrection of his nephew. As a result, his elder sister, Elizabeth, was the first convert. The nephew was to become recognised as the first prophet of the new church. Over the next few years, several other people were reportedly brought back from the dead by Oshoffa. Between 1947 and 1951, the church grew in the country of Benin. In 1976, it was relocated to Nigeria because Oshoffa was in a minor conflict with the government of Benin. This was timely as he was just about to be arrested. Very soon after arriving in Nigeria, Oshoffa cured a mad woman.
Oshoffa held a public meeting in Yaba, Lagos, where those gathered reported his ability to prophecy. In the same year he again claimed a resurrection.
The new church grew rapidly, and it gained followers across West Africa and the world. The church was estimated to have several million followers in 1998.
In Nigeria, Oshoffa was sold a large piece of land after the owner was assisted by a “holy man’s” intervention in a dream with a legal dispute. The new church continued to receive resistance from the Nigerian authorities, but it was officially recognised in 1958. He took on two partners for the church, namely Reverends Alexander Abiodun Bada and Samuel Ajanlekoko.
Oshoffa died on 10 September 1985 after he was told of the death of his driver during an accident he was involved. After the accident SBJ OSHOFFA was taken to the hospital and later got better. He asked about the other people in the accident and he was given a bad news of their death. Therefore, to avoid any bad rumour that he used them to increase his life, he asked God to accept his soul which happened as he prayed to God. He was buried at Celestial City, Imeko“`