Benson Andrew Idahosa before his death was one the foremost revolutionary religious leaders in the history of Nigeria and Africa. He was the founder of Church of God Mission international and has been recognized as the father of Pentecostalism in Nigeria.
He is also the founder of Benson Idahosa University situated in Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria.
Idahosa was a man who grew from humble beginnings to become a pastor, teacher, builder and a man of immense wisdom.
Benson Idahosa indeed was the greatest African ambassador of Christian faith to the world and made impact in the life of so many who presently are doing as much as he did.
Benson was born in Benin City on September 11, 1938 to pagan parents, John Idahosa and his wife Sarah. As a child he was always on his sick bed and often lost consciousness whenever his sickness stroke.
Due to his incessant illness which had put a strain on the family’s finances and patience, his father ordered his mother to package the young Benson and throw him into the dustbin.
Stories have it that at just eighteen months, he was left by a heap of rubbish to die.
Though he was later brought back home, life for him was filled with pain and neglect. His father rejected him and treated him badly. Benson Idahosa during his teenage days worked as a servant on farms and never went to school until he was fourteen years old.
His education was uncoordinated and without regularity due to his parents inability to bear the financial commitment to train him.
He later took lessons in form of correspondence courses from Britain and the United States when he got a job at Bata Shoe Company in Lagos.
Call from God
Benson Idahosa got his first interaction with God one sunny Sunday afternoon while playing football. A Pastor known as Pastor Okpo had that day ministered to Benson and his friends while they were playing.
He accepted Christ teachings after that ministration and Benson became one of the earliest members of Pastor Okpo’s church.
Overwhelmed with the power of God he set out with zeal to preach the gospel of Jesus from one village to the other in Benin City. Soon Idahosa was holding bible studies where people came to listen to him mostly at night after work.
He recalled in one of his interviews how in a night vision the Lord appeared to him and confirmed to him his divine mandate to be his messenger. After this encounter He fully plunged himself into doing the work of God, preaching the gospel wherever he went.
Growth of his Ministry
In October 1968, he officially inaugurated his church the Church of God Mission International which initially started out as a small prayer group. Over the years even before his death the church had spread over the world with more than 1000 branches.
In 1971, he travelled to the United States where he gained a diploma in Divinity from Christ For the Nations Institute in Dallas, Texas. In 1972 he returned and started his ministry of spreading the word of God.
His ministry grew rapidly that the first crusade he organized pulled a crowd of more than 10,000 people from all parts of the country.
In 1981 he once again travelled to the US where he obtained a Doctorate of Divinity from the Word of Faith College in New Orleans and thereafter was anointed a Pentecostal Bishop.
As a man who desired knowledge he in 1984 also obtained a Doctorate in Law at the Oral Roberts University.
Benson Idahosa became a renowned man of God who mentored several ministers who have also become known and popular in the country. Some of his protégés include; Bishop David Oyedepo, Pastor David Ibiyome, and many more who benefitted from his teachings and blessings.
Today his protégés have well established ministries with branches all over the world spreading the word of God.
In addition to founding a church he is the President of Faith Medical Centre and also the President of All Nations for Christ Bible Institute.
During his life time he held positions of importance as far as Pentecostalism is concerned including the College of Bishops of the International Communion of Christian.
He became well known and important that both state and federal officials sought for his spiritual blessings. Even beggars and destitute were not shielded from getting close to him for prayers.
People seeking pastoral guidance came from as far as India, Japan, Hong Kong, Europe and even the Middle East to learn at his International Bible training center.
As a missionary his Motto was “Evangelism our Supreme Task” which he worked towards achieving, not just in Nigeria but across the world.
He has a record of preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ in over 125 countries in the world.
Winning souls was his major focus as well as liberating communities still enmeshed in fetish and diabolical practices. At least throughout his life as a minster he held one crusade every month and to reach out to more people he established the redemption Television Ministry. With this he was able to reach an audience of more than 50 million people.
He has a record of raising several dead persons back to life and as a young minister took the bold step of raising a young girl.
After listening to his pastor who during one of his morning services said Christians have the capacity to raise the dead back to life. Benson Idahosa challenged by this statement went round his community looking for any dead person. He searched until he came to a place where a young girl had died and the corpse was being prepared for burial.
Embolden and motivated by his pastor’s speech he walked up to the father of the girl and asked his permission to pray for and bring back the child to life.
According to his personal account he said he prayed and with a strong faith in God he called the girls name and said “Arise in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the child came back to life.
He died on March 12, 1998 in his sleep after having a lunch meeting with a group from the Oral Roberts University in Benin. He is survived by his wife Margaret Idahosa who took over affairs of the church and four children. His son the Bishop F.E.B Idahosa is now the president of Benson Idahosa University.
Achievements and legacy
Benson Idahosa was the founding president of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria and is a member of the school of Bishops of the International Communion of Christian Churches.
He is reputed to be the pioneer of gospel campaigns which spread across the country with the number of his church locations spreading rapidly. Benson Idahosa has the record of spearheading the foundation of more than 5,000 places of worship in Nigeria.
He was well known for philanthropic, offering grants and feeding the poor around him and beyond.
During his life time he travelled to and ministered in more than 143 countries of the world including Switzerland, Ghana, Britain and the United States.
He initiated the Idahosa World Outreach Television Ministry (IWO TV) which aired his messages to more than 50 million people.
In Africa he was considered the foremost TV evangelist with his TV programme “Redemption Hour”.
The All Nations For Christ Bible Institute he built in 1968 trained several people who rose to become prominent minister of God’s word. People like Bishop Oyedepo, Mike Okonkwo, Francis Wale Oke from Nigeria and many others from different parts of the world.
He was used mightily by God and has a record of raising 28 people from the dead and healing many others too numerous to count.
In 1978 he built a school; Word of Faith Group of Schools and also a university which is named after him; Benson Idahosa University in 1994. He also established an emergency clinic in Abuja the Faith Mediplex Hospital in 1989.
As a writer he wrote several books of motivation for pastors and believers of the faith
Strangers to failure (1993), Faith to change the world (1994), Faith can Change your Destiny (1994).