Sunday, November 10, 2019 4:21 pm
Monday, 11 November 2019, is the 65th birthday of Tunde Bakare, Pastor in charge of Latter Rain Assembly, Lagos. Goodwill messages, starting from President Mohammadu Buhari, are already being sprayed on him like confetti. Like him or hate him, Bakare is not a pastor who concerns himself only with the pulpit without showing concern for the goings-on in the polity. From time to time, he speaks truth to power. Like the Latin American clergy, there is a way he too can be called a liberation theologian.
How did he pitck his character traits and from whom? His mother was number one!
In fact, Pastor Bakare committed that mother of his, Mama Abigail Eebudola Bakare, to earth on 30 June 2018 in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital. As published on this platform same day, the event was attended by many dignitaries, including VP Yemi Osinbajo; APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu; Aliko Dangote of Dangote Group; Segun Awolowo, DG Export Promotion Council; Gov Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State and wife and other special guests.
About the influence of his mother, Mama Abigail Eebudola Bakare, on his life, TheNEWS had an encounter with Pastor Bakare in 2014 in Lagos. When the magazine raised an issue concerning his mother, he burst into tears in the presence of the journalists. He wiped his face with a handkerchief, saying “I apologise gentlemen”.
That day, Bakare was emotional, talking about how she suffered to raise him and all that. That year, she was 106.
In the words of Bakare: “She has lived a good life. I can call her for you and you can hear her voice loud and clear. She has lived a good life. She was waiting to see Bumi get married and now she is waiting for Bumi to have a child. So we are still at the long haul. I don’t think she is preparing to get out of here quickly, but she has said to me: ‘you took care of me in my lifetime, your children will do more for you, don’t waste money on expensive funeral for me because it does nothing to me and don’t let it hurt you. ‘She is the first school I learnt from and I thank God for her influence in my life. I am what I am by the grace of God. I have a disciplined mother and a supportive wife.”
How did his mom take the fact that he converted from Islam to Christianity? Bakare responded to TheNEWS thus:
“You would say how did the whole family take it? I was given quit notice by everybody. They wanted me to recant. My brother said if I would renounce in five minutes, I could come back, but I didn’t want to go back. I didn’t have much to pack, but I packed my things and left and I thank God I left.”
That notwithstanding, his mother stood by him, come rain or shine.
Bakare, that day, narrated the story of his conversion, his encounters with Pastors WF Kumuyi of Deeper Life, Enoch Adeboye of Redeemed Church and why he left their churches. Read his responses to TheNEWS questions:
My Encounter with Adeboye, Kumuyi
How did you get born-again?
On 10 April, 1964 I had a vision in the night. I saw a picture of an extremely bright light; big like an electricity pillar pole. It went high into the sky and deep into the ground. Where I sat, I could see that everywhere it penetrated, it was light all through. And the desire was in me to embrace this light. So I got up. The first obstacle on the way was a well, and on my left and my right was like thick jungle. I stretched one leg, manoeuvred the well and got to the other side, still pursuing the great light. From the left side of the thick jungle, came a python. I had no knife, no weapon, nothing. As it opened its mouth, I gave it my left leg and it swallowed it up to my thigh and could not go further. We began to roll on each other.
Eventually, the python died and I pulled out my leg. Remember, in the natural I had just been circumcised. A short distance from the pillar, there was an outbreak of water and at that period, I didn’t know how to swim, but I waded through the water and it didn’t carry me away. About 10 metres to the pillar that I wanted to embrace, there was an outbreak of fire. Because I was wet, I ran through the fire and embraced the pillar of light. Then I woke up. By the time I woke up, there was a pool of blood. All the time I was struggling with the python, I was sqeezing my circumcised part in-between my thighs and there was blood on the ground. So it was like I was gasping for breadth. My step-mothers all surrounded me; they called the elders. I was telling them what I saw, nobody understood it and we left it at that. There was a blind man, but elderly. I went and narrated what I saw to him, and he said: “You know, from what you have narrated, it appears there would be obstacles in your life but you would be great.” That was the end.
On 24 September 1974, a Muslim friend of mine, who became a Christian, wanted to be baptised at the Yaba Baptist Church and he invited me to cover it for him. I said: “You must be sick in your mind. How would you think I, a core Muslim who read the Quran from cover to cover and graduated from Quranic school on 16 April, 1967, can become a Christian? Perish the thought.” Then he said: “Are you going to cover the event or not?” I needed the money. So I told him I would come and he said 4pm, because it was going to be an evening service. I finished my Muslim prayer and I had my little cap at the back of my head. I got in and an elderly man (I now know who that was) came to me and asked me to remove my cap. I told him I was not a Christian but that I’m a Muslim and we wear caps in the Mosque. That elderly man said: “In Rome, you must do like the Romans do. This is not a mosque. It is a church and we don’t wear it here.”
I removed the cap and went to sit at the back. Then one by one, they started dipping them inside the water. I learnt that was baptism, I had never seen it before. I was wondering why they would allow themselves be dipped into the water. You don’t know if they are peeing inside or what others are doing inside. If you want to take a bath, why not in your house? That was the thought inside of my mind, but I was there on an assignment and money.
So after the baptism, the reverend came out of the water. They had all changed and he was wearing white agbada, a shortish man by the name Reverend Emmanuel A. Alabi. And he said: “Before we receive communion today (I had never known what communion was), I thought that was what they would give to dead people or an old man that was about to die. The young man who brought me asked me to wait around and take the photograph of him taking the communion. But before the communion, Rev. Alabi came and said he was preaching the message: ‘Jesus, The Light Of The World.’ Remember, I was at the back and would only come to the front to take photographs. But the moment he announced the topic, that pillar I saw in 1964 stood behind him. I was looking at it and thinking the whole church was seeing it, but I was the only one seeing it. I said this is familiar. I never heard a word about what he preached till tomorrow. I was arrested and the next thing was to see my camera shaking in front. And when he asked who would like to receive Christ, I screamed: “I’ve seen Him! I’ve seen Him before!” And it was like, “What is wrong with you?” I narrated the whole story to him and I was eventually baptised in that church and that’s how I got born-again.
You were in Deeper Life and The Redeemed churches. At what point did you decide to open your own and why?
That’s what you call memory lane. I was in Deeper Life for five years, between 1978 and December 1983. Brother Kumuyi was and is still a great teacher of the Word. The person that put the fear of God in me was Brother Kumuyi. He laid the foundation for systematic teaching that many people see me do today. However, I rose through the ranks. I preached while I was there and conducted youth meetings. I was doing some legal works for the ministry also. I registered some of their companies.
But one day, while I was ministering and a brother was interpreting, I was giving example of the “faith cometh by hearing and hearing the word of God” and I said, ‘Supposing you go to a supermarket to buy soap, you might not know what soap to buy but because you watched the advertisement of Joy soap on television, then you would look for Joy soap because you have been hearing about it.’ And my interpreter said: “If you have been watching the devil’s box…” I told him I didn’t say devil’s box but television, and he repeated saying the devil’s box and Brother Kumuyi was behind us. I said I didn’t say devil’s box and that the normal interpretation is amu ohun mu aworan, (the box that captures both the voice and the visuals). Anyway, he still said what he said. The following Sunday, Brother Kumuyi came up with what he called “Sunday Exaltation”; he said that even if you repair television, you are a child of the devil. Then I took my Bible and left. I went home and said I would serve my God, but was not interested anymore in church.
So I returned to Surulere Baptist Church. And one day, my photographer came to me and said I should not just sit like that and that I should come and join his church because I would enjoy it. I asked, ‘What is the name of your church’ and he said The Redeemed Christian Church of God. I said okay and that I would come one day since I was not interested at that moment. The first Sunday of March, 1984, I invited my wife and said we should go (we were not married then). I borrowed a car because I had no car then. We drove to that church and I discovered I had been to that church before. That was the place Deeper Life was doing their Bible study in 1978. Then there was this gentleman who walked up, they called him G.O. He is still G.O. today, but they call him Daddy G.O. He was the one who preached that day and the message was titled: “The Mercy of God.” I said this seems better than the background of what seems I was coming from, because, in fairness to Brother Kumuyi, he himself eventually went on television. He must have changed his mind, because that time he was very hard on such things. By the way, looking back today, there is a lot of evil on television. It is not the television that is the devil’s box, it is the programmes that people put on it. So you can choose what you watch.