A Passion and a Purpose

May 04, 2020

The founder of the Apostolic Faith work in Nigeria tells how God made a radical change in his life, which inspired his zeal to share the Gospel with others.

By Timothy Oshokoya

M

y heart is grateful for the light that has shone on my life. I was born of parents who were professing Christians, though my grandparents were pagans. My parents were greatly interested in my training, but I was very naughty and rebellious from my youth.

After my schooling was completed, I was sin-bound: a drunkard, a smoker, and a counterfeiter. For many years, I lived without peace, destitute of God. One time, while under detention in an Abeokuta prison, awaiting trial for being in possession of counterfeit coins, the Lord convicted me of my pride and worldly ambition. Alone in the solitary cell I had, as it were, a panorama of my past life, and a heavy remorse came into my heart. I reflected that if my father’s plans had been allowed to materialize, I should have completed a theological seminary course and become the pastor of a church. Then, God spoke to me that it was pride that had brought me thus far. I admitted it, and started to plead for forgiveness. I entered into a covenant with God that if in His mercy He would set me free, without being imprisoned, I would give the honor and glory to Him alone. I would also serve Him faithfully the rest of my life. I promised God I would not engage in the illegal business again, but I would live to tell of His love and mercy.

Whilst praying one day, I had a wonderful experience which flooded my heart with joy that knew no bounds. I felt a great change in me and all about me. I knew I had one special blessing from God.

God answered my prayer and early in 1938, I was acquitted by the court and discharged. Shortly thereafter, whilst praying one day, I had a wonderful experience which flooded my heart with joy that knew no bounds. I felt a great change in me and all about me. I knew I had one special blessing from God. I felt the presence of God with me every time and everywhere. But more than that, God changed my heart. He delivered me from all my sins and other ills. I lost the taste for anything flamboyant. I straightened up my life and gave away all I had to the poor as restitution. Later, when I confessed my counterfeiting to the government, I was freely forgiven.

The experience put so much thirst in me that it prompted me to desire more of God and prayer. I came in contact with a church that was very popular throughout Nigeria. There I became a preacher, preaching holiness without practicing it, and teaching others to receive a fleshly experience. I carried this false doctrine for several years.

About that time, I received an Apostolic Faith paper. I shall never forget how my heart thrilled when I read the true teachings of our Lord Jesus. I knew I needed something more than I had, so in 1942, I wrote to the Apostolic Faith Church in Portland, Oregon, for more tracts and papers. One day, the testimony of one who had been saved and sanctified caught my eye. I read tracts on sanctification and realized that the experience of sanctification was what I needed. I wanted to travel to Portland because nowhere in Nigeria was there an Apostolic Faith Church, and I hungered to worship and be sanctified and filled with the true Spirit of God.

It is wonderful to look back and see how God led us. Though we had no leader, He taught us, for we were willing to learn and to receive His blessings. This glorious Gospel taught us that we could live a life of victory over sin, and what a change it made in our lives!

I tried to join the cleaning crew on an American boat in order to go to America, but that was not possible. So I started to pray with a group of four men, and we resigned from the church we were connected with. We began following the teachings I read about in the Apostolic Faith papers. God then sanctified and filled us with the Holy Spirit. It is wonderful to look back and see how God led us. Though we had no leader, He taught us, for we were willing to learn and to receive His blessings. This glorious Gospel taught us that we could live a life of victory over sin, and what a change it made in our lives! We were able to live overcoming lives!

After receiving my experiences, I had a burden to preach the true Gospel. God moved upon the hearts of the ministers in Portland and they sent us a missionary, George Hughes. What rejoicing that brought to our souls! He was able to show us more Gospel truths and teach us by example.

In the years since then, God has led and directed in every area of my life. His protecting hand has been over me through the years. He has kept me under His wings as I journeyed through many African countries. There have been times when I faced ghastly and near-fatal motor accidents, but God miraculously spared my life. By His stripes I have been healed of many illnesses. And for well over a quarter of a century, I have been able to preach the Gospel.

I cannot praise the Lord enough for His goodness and mercy. I lay my life down at His feet so that He can purge me and mold me into His image. I, along with my African family in the Lord, want to be among the redeemed who will meet Him in the Rapture.


The life of Timothy Oshokoya cannot be separated from the growth and progress of the Apostolic Faith work in West and Central Africa. By the year 1944, the work in Lagos was born as he started holding meetings in his home. Tracts and magazines arrived regularly from the Portland headquarters and were faithfully distributed. He traveled far and wide with the Good News, and the Gospel soon spread to various parts of Nigeria, and then throughout western and central Africa, and even beyond. In 1951 and again in 1956, Reverend Oshokoya attended camp meeting at the Portland headquarters church and was greatly impacted by these visits. As a result, in 1952 he organized the first camp meeting in Lagos with delegates coming from Ghana, Cameroon, Sierra Leone, the Republic of Benin, and all parts of Nigeria. Later in Lagos an orchestra was formed, a printing plant was established, and construction of a tabernacle was begun. His life continues to be an inspiration to believers today. 

About the author

Timothy Oshokoya was the founder of the Apostolic Faith work in Nigeria. His missionary undertakings, fortitude through all types of circumstances, and exemplary personal life were inspiring to all who came in contact with him. He went to his reward in Heaven on November 16, 1983.