Soul winning and spiritual re-awakening of the world

Women Ministry

Pastor S. O. Oladele

Women have been part and parcel of Christ Apostolic Church, Nigeria from its inception. The impact of women, either as members, ministers or as spouses of ministers has so much embellished the history of the church both at local and international levels, even till date. The mention of women such as Miss Sophia Odunlami, Miss Daisy Crawford, Mrs Myers and various females who served as evangelists, prophets and pioneers of assemblies of Christ Apostolic Church, will motivate the present generations to strive towards excellence in the church ministry. Up till now, Christ Apostolic Church women are still involved in church ministry in various ways and capacities. Their participation under different auspices such as the Good Women Association, Ministers Wives’ Fellowship, Midwives’ Association are enormous, not to mention their day to day activities in the church. Their contributions have facilitated female education through the establishment of secondary schools, college of midwives and school of female evangelists and prophets, besides their investments in cafeteria, lodging facilities and bakeries business in various organisations belonging to the church. Although the authority of Christ Apostolic Church has supported the efforts of women, there are still areas where their attention is greatly needed to multiply their contributions within and outside the church.

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Women are in the General Council (GC), which is the highest administrative and policy making body of Christ Apostolic Church Worldwide. The GC consists of the president, general superintendent, general evangelist, general secretary, treasurer, the legal adviser, and some other management team of the church. Out of this unit is formed the General Executive Council (GEC), which is the highest consultation organ of the church, with the president of the church as its chairman.

Status of ministers of CAC also varies in the sense that there are those who are serving as full-time ministers, while others are part-time workers. There is a distinction between ministers or ministerial workers (clergy) and members (laity). The second distinction is among the ministers themselves – the ordained ministers (the pastors) and un-ordained workers (prophets and evangelists or catechists). The third distinction is between ministerial workers (ordained and unordained workers inclusive) and the presbyters (elders, deacons and deaconesses). The list of ordained workers usually consists of ordained pastors who take charge of local assemblies and guide the spiritual life of its members. The unordained workers on the other hand are serving catechists, prophets, evangelists, who are aspiring to the holy orders or simply pastorate, i.e. the shepherding of the flocks.

Most of the church’s serving ministers are products of CAC Theological Seminary, the midwifery school and the school of women evangelists. CAC Theological Seminary, Ile-Ife, has over fifteen satellite campuses in Abuja, Benin Republic, Bokoss, Enugu, Eparakwa, and Ibadan. Other campuses are in Ilesa, Irri, Kabba, Kano, Lagos, Numan, Port Harcourt and The Gambia. The midwifery school and the school of female evangelists are situated in Ede, Osun State. These institutions are overseen by the head of the seminary.

CAC Theological Seminary is at present affiliated to Joseph Ayo Babalola University, Ikeji-Arakeji, Osun State, Nigeria

Women have been part and parcel of Christ Apostolic Church from its inception. Among the seven members of the prayer band (that is, Precious Stone Society) that metamorphosed into CAC was a young spirit-filled school teacher named Miss Sophia Odunlami (later Mrs. Ajayi). Her prophetic gifts furthered the activities of the prayer band. It was through her that the miracle rainwater that cured those who were afflicted with the global epidemic in the area was revealed. Many referred to Sophia Odunlami as the first female prophet in Nigeria and a major instrument through whom the Aladura revival spread to Ibadan. Wherever she preached churches filled beyond capacity.

The Lord performed many miracles through her so much so that people around Ijebuland began to fear the Word of God.

In the same way, Mrs Myers and Miss Daisy Crayford were among the European missionaries of the Faith and Truth Temple Mission of Canada were among the first foreign missionaries that were initially invited to assist the Faith and Tabernacle Nigeria before its cooperation with British Apostolic Church. Mrs Myers and Miss Daisy Crayford both died in the course of their ministry in the mission field in Nigeria. Another figure, Mrs Pearce served as the principal of CAC Bible College for 18 years. She taught most of past and present pastors of Christ Apostolic Church Nigeria.

History has it that the spread of CAC to several regions of Nigeria and abroad were by the efforts of women. The scholarly works of Mrs Dorcas Akintunde reveals that there are examples of some CAC branches too whose inception can be traced to women. Examples are CAC Bethel at the University of Ibadan. Mrs J.D. Ogunranti founded it in 1969, with branches now in Ile-Ife, Warri, Port Harcourt, Ajaokuta, Lagos, London, United States of America and Canada. CAC Agbara Olorun Kibati was founded by Mrs Bola Odeleke. Today she is the first Nigerian female to be ordained as a Bishop on 20 July 1995 by the International Ministerial Council.

Joanah Ogunranti (a nurse of University Teaching Hospital, Ibadan) is acclaimed a church planter whose gifts straddled prophecy, pastorship, evangelism, teaching, and even apostleship as a result of the impact of her ministry in Nigeria and abroad. The first CAC in London and some other parts of Europe were founded by her in 1974. She founded CAC Bethel Special District.

The spread of CAC in the Niger Delta area is primarily through the ministry of Prophetess Elizabeth Shadowei (of Ugwerhu town in Delta State) and various yoruba business women who helped in evangelising the area, all of whose contributions are worthy of note in the history of indigenous churches in Nigeria. Prophetess Elizabeth was said to have been converted in the year 1958 (probably through the ministry of Babalola or some other minister of CAC) and was called to ministry in the year 1962. She was the instrument through whom God converted most pioneers of Christ Apostolic Church in Niger Delta region. Many of those who received healing through her later went propagating the good news and establishing CAC branches. Among those who were healed in ministry are prophet John O. Erimu, Mrs Rebecca Omotor, Mr Macaulay, Mr Seen, among others. These mentioned later became ministers and church planters in Christ Apostolic Church. According to S.A. Onoreha (who was a catechist under prophetess Elizabeth) prominent ministers of CAC such as pastor Orogun, pastor Medayese, and prophet Igabor paid her visit regularly. John Erimu claimed that several sicknesses that include insanity, prolonged pregnancy, leprosy were healed through Elizabeth Shadowei. A healing home was built to the capacity of about forty rooms which housed about four to six patients at a time.

Prophetess Rebecca Omotor, who later became a renowned prophetess and evangelist in Isokoland founded Christ Apostolic Church, Ozoro Number 2. She was cured of sickness that defied both native and orthodox medicines for two years at Elizabeth Shadowei healing home. Her husband took her to the healing home of Elizabeth Shadowei at Ogwerhu were she was healed and she was said to have received a call to ministry. She served as a prophetess in the church of John Erimu for a period of time until she was commissioned to begin her own mission as a prophetess and spiritual healer. She later founded CAC, Ozoro No. 2, with a healing home for the sick.

Other women minister in the Niger Delta region is Esther Enatiku of Iluelogbo town in the Isoko North Local Government Area of Delta State. She was born in March 1920. Church records have it that she got converted during Joseph Ayo Babalola evangelistic campaign in the year 1948. She was baptized of the Holy Spirit after conversion. Besides her prophetic endowment, she was also gifted and trained as midwife which she practiced alongside her prophetic activities.

In the present era, women are practically serving in all the units of the church except in the units that are exclusively for males, such as Christ Apostolic Church Men’s Association (CACMA) and Christ Apostolic Church Ministers’ Fellowship (CACMF). Their major areas of ministry beside the general fellowship are Christ Apostolic Church Good Women Association (CACGWA), Christ Apostolic Church Ministers Wives’ Fellowship (CACMWF), and Christ Apostolic Church Association of Midwives (CACAM). These associations (CACGWA, CACMWF and CACAM) provide fora for women to serve in the church but their ministry is not limited to these associations alone because they currently serve in other units that involve both genders.

Christ Apostolic Church Good Women Association (CACGWA) is one of the three major units of the domination where membership is exclusively adult females. It was founded in the year 1960, during the church’s national convention held in Ile-Ife. The foundation leaders were, D.T. Ajayi from Ijebu, S. Johnson, V.A. Oshun (both from Lagos). Brown from Agege, Odewumi from Ebute-Meta, Martha Rotimi, the mother of Joseph Ayo Babalola from Odo-Owa. The present leader of CACGWA is Dorcas Olufunmilayo Adebule (Lagos DCC), L. J. Sanni (Kano DCC) as assistant leader, and V.I. Adeyinka (Ibadan DCC) as secretary. H.T. Makanju (Ekiti DCC) as assistant secretary, E.A. Ige (Ogo Oluwa zone) as treasurer, Helen Menta (Warri DCC), financial secretary, D. Faanibe (Osogbo DCC), public relations officer, D.O. Awojobi (Osi zone), prayer leader, and J.O. Fagbemi (Oke Isegun DCC Ondo) as secretary, planning committee. At present, the good women national conference is zoned into three sections of the nation.

1. Babalola International Memorial Ground, Ikeji Arakeji section for Benin Republic, the south west and south south states.

2. Abuja section for the north.

3. Port Harcourt section for some south south and south east states.

Some of the functions of the good women association are to teach its members useful practical house chores, mentor the young females, fund the education of female children, and philanthropic works within the nation and abroad as well as teach their members how to assist their husbands in the church ministry. Examples of schools founded by the association are: The Babalola Memorial Girls Grammar School Ilesa, established in honor of Joseph Ayo Babalola in 1960; the Midwifery College (formerly known as CAC Faith Home) Ede, founded in July 1959 with D.A. Oladiran as the matron. CAC Women Bible College Ede was established by CAC prophetesses/lady evangelists association led by prophetess Emily Oladoyinbo Jojolola with the active cooperation and support of prophet Samson Ola Akande  (a.k.a. Baba Abiye Ede) and in 1986.

The national body of CACGWA has embarked on the building of lodging accommodation at Ikeji Arakeji, Osun State, in which the first phase is already in use. They have also built cafeteria and toilet facilities at the same venue few years back. Besides the mentioned achievements, their role in the welfare of their church ministers is noteworthy. They are also involved in the welfare of orphans, widows and the destitute in their communities as well as prison visits and donations. To achieve these huge financial commitments, members are required to pay levies periodically to be able to meet their responsibilities at the local and national levels.

The good women association is organised from local assembly level up to the national level. They have choral groups, welfare units, and prayer bands at the same levels. The association organises programmes at the local levels where they are taught about their spiritual, financial, and family responsibilities from time to time; health programmes where elementary medical issues are also handled from time to time by medical personnel. Some members of CACGWA have waxed musical albums. A popular one is the piece by the Ibadan team led by Mrs D.A. Fasoyin, with a track titled odun nlo s’opin o, Baba rere (translated as: the year is running to an end, good Father) with other tracks like, odun yi a tura, ko ni le koko mo mi (translated as: I will be comfortable this year), eje Jesu ti ba colour mi mu (translated as: the blood of Jesus matches my colour), and several other tracks that have become the songs of all years because they usher in and out every new year and remind all christians of their confession as children of God.

Another one is more than a conqueror led by Mrs. Joy Aaron Arubayi with several other tracks that remind christians of their position as children of God. In addition, CACGWA have businesses within and outside the church. Some examples of their investments at the national level are: a bakery in Joseph Ayo Babalola University, a guest house complex with a cafeteria at CAC International Miracle Ground, Ikeji Arakeji, Osun State and these along with their investments at individual assemblies nationwide.

The ministry of women is also substantial among Christ Apostolic Church Youth Fellowship (CACYOF). Females between the ages 12 and 50 years feature greatly in CACYOF. The ministry of the adult females in the youth fellowship provides mentorship as well as financial support of the young members. Females are usually preferred as officials in assistant president, treasurer and welfare. The percentage of females among the youth fellowship is commensurate with their male counterpart.

The royal shepherds is another unit where the cooperation of women is noteworthy. It is the CAC version of boys’ brigades, girls’ brigades, boys’ scouts, girls’ scouts, and other related preeminent leadership organisations for boys and girls within the ages of 11 to 15. The royal shepherds assist in monitoring programmes at all levels of the church. Their official uniform is white on brown and a brown beret to match. Their operation is in form of a brigade with ranks that mark their levels.

The Sunday school and bible study departments are the major units in which The Word of God is taught. The Sunday school unit spans the adult church to children departments and women folks are involved. Most of the teachers in the Sunday school are also involved in the bible study programmes. Some assemblies have a committee which is saddled with matters concerning bible study and Sunday school programmes. While bible study days vary from one assembly to the other, Sunday school is now uniformly on Sundays.

Similarly, the bulk of the teachers in the children department of CAC are females. The children unit caters for children between the ages of one to eleven years, so that they may learn at their own levels. They are so organised in some assemblies such that the pupils are grouped according to their classes in formal schools. Examinations are conducted for them on an annual basis and they are graded and promoted until they graduate into the adult church. Certificates and prizes are awarded during their anniversaries. Besides teaching, their duties include feeding, coaxing their pupils when they cry. In some assemblies, nursing mothers are asked to join the units until their babies can be on their own in the children unit. Deaconess Owoyomi of CAC Bethel, Effurun is an example of women coordinator of the children departments.

Besides the units mentioned above, women are prominent among CAC church choir, usher, sanctuary keepers, prayer band, and evangelism/follow-up.  In most cases the ratio of female to male choristers is invariably 3 to 1, beside the fact that they are more noticeable as soloists and praise leaders in the church. There are assemblies where women are serving as choir mistresses.

The scope of women ministry extends from the local assembly to the national level. Besides their contributions in the units named above, they also serve in different committees at different capacities where they are making invaluable input to the development of the church. In the same way there are financial obligations for the members. Women services go beyond the church to their immediate communities even though most of them are self-supported in addition to the goodwill of members and clients because constitutionally, the church does not have them on their payroll. The church midwives are the only workers that are placed on salaries. Individual assemblies may employ female evangelists and prophetesses.