BY Banji Ojewale
If the world would have its way, Pastor William Folorunsho Kumuyi at 75 should be the grand old man sitting by the fireside at night in a fenced house built for him by the Church. The young and the old would form a circle about the retired preacher, listening to great exploits of the man in his active days as an evangelist. At sunrise the following day, he would sit in a cane chair overlaid with soft cushion, reading the Bible and watching the world go by, waiting for the moon to announce the delivery of more tales of the past to anxious listeners.
But the man God moved to found the Deeper Christian Life Ministry (Deeper Life Bible Church) in 1973 has confounded popular thinking about a so-called diminishing power in old age. As we mark his 75th birthday on June 6, he will be preoccupied with the Church’s main event every Monday: the Monday Bible Study. He faces a large congregation of the faithful every Monday evening. They are those he has infected with his fervour for holy living and a genuine readiness to make Heaven through the Bible’s prescription.
Pastor Kumuyi will be on duty today again as he has always been every Monday, since that Monday on August 1973. He will be on his feet for close to one and a half hours opening the pages of the Bible to present the truth about the love of God for man. As the session is video-cast live worldwide, many watching the man would come to understand his passion for evangelism and why he is nowhere close to shutting down until death arrives or Christ returns according to biblical prophecy.
These days, the General Superintendent of the Deeper Christian Life Ministry rather than slow down on account of old age, as some have proposed to him, has taken up more laborious work. He has become part of the Sunday evening House Caring Fellowship with a revival and miracle sermon which he delivers. The session sees him undertake a circuit tour of different locations in Lagos. Also every Saturday he preaches to the Church’s workforce, dropping nuggets of Bible truth to prepare them for worship service the following day.
In 2015, Pastor Kumuyi undertook a brawny 18-day citywide crusade, with the Christian Association of Nigeria and the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria partnering Deeper Life for the programme. If you analyse his sermons in the past six months or so you would notice a literary style that would challenge even the masters of prose and poetry. In addition to the alliterative method of his traditional three-part discourse, Kumuyi now builds three points (sometimes more) in each point. These sub-points are not arbitrarily given. They come with figurative panache to titillate your soul and make it yearn for the undiluted truth of the Gospel of Christ. For Pastor Kumuyi the mode of presenting such a message is not less important than the content. At the end of the day, a Kumuyi treatise turns out to be a massive structure resting on a tripod with more three-legged contraptions inside. As you move in, it becomes a labyrinth you enter, hoping to leave soon after exploring its entrances and exits.
But once the sincere seeker of the truth and Heaven submits himself patiently to a guided tour, he would settle in to become one of its denizens. That was the experience of a man more than four decades ago. He was told about a young man called William Folorunsho Kumuyi who was teaching something refreshing about the Bible and the salvation of man’s soul. The man decided to listen to Kumuyi, leaving Ibadan for Lagos where Kumuyi was. After his encounter with the DLBC founder, he declared: “Kumuyi teaches the Bible (quite masterly and convincingly) as if he was there when it was written!”
That Day-One fixation on a painstaking attitude to teaching the Word of God and living by what he commands – come what may – has been the cleric’s abiding lifetime preoccupation. Stormy seasons that have come along – shattering desertion of trusted associates, death of wife, Mummy Biodun Kumuyi, disciplinary measure on his son, John, for breaching Church canon on marriage, mishaps during preaching tours, health concerns etc. – have not retarded or discouraged the revered clergyman. Instead, they have, as they did in the case of Apostle Paul, “fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel.” Correctly interpreting Leviticus 6:13, Pastor Kumuyi has remained the fire that must retain its brightness and burning power to the end. It is the reason he has disowned the world and its enticements and thrown in his lot with the Heaven promised by Jesus Christ. It is the reason the Bible with its doctrines of Christ-like holiness, humility and servanthood is his only treasured property, not money, material prosperity or such other transient worldly possessions. His Lord does not fail Him. His Lord takes care of his soul and body. He watches over him so he would not lack or fall into error.
Our world is character-poor and corrupt for its repudiation of these values. Kumuyi never fails to warn his Church-men and others who listen to him of the dangers consequent upon neglecting these mores or scruples of integrity. He would tell his congregation that as a born-again child of God you must not steal government money or your neighbour’s. You must not write down 8am as the time of reporting for work if you reported at 9am. You must not be numbered among those ganging up against the law of the land. You must not jump the queue at a bus-stop or at a bank. You must not seek to harm your neighbour.
Indeed, some have held the view that for President Muhammadu Buhari’s war on corruption and indiscipline to gain some new traction, government should send public office holders to the Monday Bible session of the Deeper Life Bible Church. Let them go there to learn the sense of godly honour and conscience Kumuyi preaches.
William Folorunsho Kumuyi was born on Friday, June 6, 1941 at Erin-Ijesha, a few kilometres from Ilesha in Osun State. He went to Mayflower School, Ikenne, Ogun State, where “there was a time of confusion” in his life as the “militant atheist” Tai Solarin, the Principal, sought to oust God from young Kumuyi’s mind. Ironically, he became born-again there on April 5, 1964 at age 23. He would then go on to the University of Ibadan to obtain a first class degree in Mathematics. After a post-graduate course in Education at the University of Lagos, Kumuyi taught Mathematics there. The Flat 2 apartment the institution gave him was the starting platform of the Deeper Life Christian Ministry. The rest is not history…
The rest is the on-going narrative of God using a poor man to prove that He does not need the so-termed mighty and rich of the world or their wisdom and wealth to build His Church. All He needs are simple men and women wielding the weapons of holiness, meekness and courageous commitment to stick to biblical precepts.