Rev Dr Kikelomo Bola Adeyemi’s testimony especially on her 70th birthday challenge the church on the accounts of the history of Christian theology that ‘tend to neglect material concerning widows in antiquity and their contribution to Christian discipleship.’ KBA Adeyemi’s experience continue to help in appreciating the contribution of widows in Nigeria and Christian antiquity generally. Using the words of Lisa More, KBA Adeyemi’s Christian stewardship and widowhood as “Altar of God” helps us to understand ‘the Jewish roots of the widows’ contribution to Christian theology,’ evangelism and church leadership. KBA Adeyemi’s experience resonates with the ‘enrolled widows in the early Church … which are essential to understand the motif of the widow as the altar of God.’ Just as the widows in the early Church offer a challenging ethos, which derives from their good works and from a rootedness in ascetic practices that comprise a whole way of life for Christian discipleship, KBA Adeyemi offers a visible ethos of functions of Christian altar and discipleship.
In contrast to the way widows are pitied, scorned, and denied special place in the society and the church, KBA Adeyemi, a widow as “Altar of God” at 70 provides a reflection on vocation of widowhood and a call to renew the order of widows. KBA Adeyemi’s ‘efficacy as a salvific figure is intrinsically related to her relationship with the Lord. This relationship entails complete surrender to the Lord’s will and direction.’ KBA Adeyemi’s ministry like ‘Judith’s works are rooted in her piety and in ascetic practices that facilitate this piety’ and ‘not limited to, or by, gender or the status of widowhood.’ KBA Adeyemi’s ‘strength and moral authority come from the Lord, and not from insisting on power for herself or by herself.’ Most of the evangelical members, families, friends and church members look to her ‘as an authoritative figure because she is ‘a righteous woman, in virtue of her piety.’ It is right to say that in KBA Adeyemi, God is doing great work through her humility, courage, moral authority and openness to God.
Born 70 years ago to Pa Joseph Bolarinwa Ayinde and Mama Felicia Taiwo Ayinde both of Totoro, Abeokuta, Ogun State. KBA Adeyemi attended UNA Primary School, Kano (1959-1965) and secondary education at Lisabi Grammar School, Abeokuta (1966-1970). She travelled to United Kingdom to study at Southwest London College (1974-1977). On her return back to Nigeria, she started her banking carer in 1977 and retired from the First Bank of Nigeria Plc in 2007. KAB Adeyemi is an Associate of Chartered Institute of Bankers, Nigeria and had her Doctor of Philosophy PhD in Theology from Faith Christian Theological Seminary, Ota, in 1993.
KBA Adeyemi met her husband in her office where she worked and had a very brief courtship, ‘beautiful but one-sided’ because it was all her husband’s effort. According to her, my ‘husband was very persistent and overwhelming. I was more like a sheep for the slaughter even though I was matured. There were four different dreams that I had about my husband before met which should have prepared me for what laid ahead but I missed all the points. 1. His appearance – his dress style and complexion 2. His character 3. Their family house (as it is in real live) and I was locked inside 4. I had a white shoe on but the soles were made of cork material. The first fourteen years were sweet, sourer, sometimes near disaster and penury. This ship was very rocky. It was nothing like the novel love story at all – not even close. But we survived those terrible periods of our lives. It was during this period that I had all our children. He quit his salaried job and went into manufacturing which metamorphosed into Laundry business.’ KBA Adeyemi explained that it was during this period that she gave her life to Jesus Christ and thereafter attended Faith Christian Theological Seminary, Ota.
KBA Adeyemi is a typical description of Ruth in the Bible. In the early 90s when I first invited KBA Adeyemi to minister at the Methodist Praying Partners quarterly COMING ALIVE and the Wesley School of Prayer and Discipleship (WESPLE), she asked me to first go and take permission from her husband, Uncle Adegbola, an addicted Methodist. I obeyed and I received Uncle’s approval though with a warning that she must return the same day. KBA Adeyemi, a model of Proverb 31 woman honoured her husband after God, even when her husband was not yet a Christian. Uncle Adegbola studied in Germany and there, they drink beer like water. Coming back to Nigeria, it got to a point, KBA Adeyemi’s prayer was that God must love beer drinkers or her husband must stop drinking. Miraculously, Uncle Adegbola stopped going out to drink and gradually he started playing Gospel music at home asking his family to be dancing. This is the same Uncle Adegbola that when his family heard the sound of his car, they put the Bible under the table. KBA Adeyemi, a virtuous wife and mother whose worth is far above rubies, the heart of Uncle Adegbola, her husband safely trusted her till death and even after death. After several persecution Uncle Adegbola meted to his wife, especially on an occasion when he came to the church to stop his wife from an evangelical meeting, some people had to pacified him. To the glory of God, Uncle Adegbola finally yielded to the Lord. Some years ago, KBA Adeyemi facilitated the building of a church named after her husband – Adegbola Adeyemi Memorial Methodist Church, Asese.
KBA Adeyemi and her husband, as an ideal couple with better communication, understanding, and consideration experienced the unexpected on the 22nd November, 2001. According to her, ‘This day was assumed to be like any other day in my life. I woke up and as usual, went about my daily core. Little did I know that this day was going to be very different. In our household, my husband was usually the first to wake up and traditionally, he will go down stairs, make coffee and just relaxed on the sofa. This particular day, I left him in bed thinking that he was still sleeping; more so that he complained about having malaria the previous day. I even covered him up because I felt he was cold from the air conditioner. I went to our son’s room, woke him up, bathe him and dressed him up for school. I was going downstairs with him when he noticed that his daddy was not in the sitting room. He then asked: “where is daddy?” I replied that he was in the bedroom still sleeping. He turned back and headed for the bedroom. I was racing against time because I had to get him to eat whilst I prepare myself for work. An instinct just told me to follow him. Somehow I just did. As soon as he entered our room, he playfully jumped on his dad. I stood there watching the drama unfold with this pasted smile on my face. I noticed that my husband did not respond neither did he move which was highly unusual. So I called his name and said: “if this was a joke, it has gone too far joo. Please respond”. It was then that my eight-year old son picked his daddy’s hand, lifted it up and dropped it. The hand was lamed like it was lifeless. He repeated it again and that was when I took a closer look, the unthinkable crossed my mind; I blocked it out. I panic and fear overwhelmed me. Immediately, I started shaking him.’ KBA Adeyemi saw people coming to the house but could not register them in her brain anymore and could not make sense of what they were saying. According to her, ‘I went into a dark tunnel. A place I had never been before. It was terrifying. I felt naked, ashamed, bitter and angry all at the 3 same time. I felt betrayed. To be honest, I did not want to come out of this state of mind but I was brought back to reality. I am a widow. Nobody prepares for this day and you are never prepared for it either. You have witnessed it happened to other women but you never want to accept that it will eventually be your turn. Everyone pushes it out of their minds. It is also not an issue for discussion among friends or family. It will be misinterpreted. Death is inevitable.’ “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, (1 Peter 1:24 NIV).
In one of her books, The Strength of a Widow (What God joined together-death separated), KBA Adeyemi pointed out the reality of widowhood new lives, the grief, and the disappointments especially in a stigmatised world. On the typology of widowhood, KBA Adeyemi explained the different types of widows based on differences in ‘ages, circumstances surrounding the death of the spouse, how it happened, the types of responsibilities left behind to shoulder, the financial strength, types of support available or not available and the level of faith in God. All these and more shapes the immediate future of the widow.’ In all, the common factor points to ‘the death of a husband, the grieving of a loved one, the absence of a part of you, the bleak future, and the fact that you are blank with no clue.’ On the types of death and the damaging effects, widows need mental process and support in managing the news of disaster. KBA Adeyemi’s vocation of widowhood in relation to altar imagery according to her is based on her search and revelation in Ephesian and I Corinthian. According to her, ‘the order in the family is: God is the head of the man and man is the head of the woman. The head of the woman which is her husband has been call home to be with the Lord; so there is a vacuum. God then becomes the direct head of the widow’ (Eph 5:23, 1 Cor 11:3). To overcome the reproach of widowhood, KBA Adeyemi’s visible vocation of widowhood under God’s Fatherhood, calls widows to become God’s holy dwelling, “Altar of God” trusting and obeying God’s instructions (1 Kg 17:12, Jer 49:11). The reflection is that God who stood by the widow in time past, He is still doing it today. To be an “Altar of God” as a widow is to be strong, intelligent, beautiful, inspirational, determined and focused. According to KBA Adeyemi, widows as “Altar of God” seeks and serves God, and put their hands in God’s hands. KBA Adeyemi was prepared as “Altar of God” based on her salvation, hence serving as the Coordinator of her local church Prayer Warrior not only lifted her above her personal situation, she became an instrument of blessing and counselling to many people and communities.
KBA Adeyemi, a widow as “Altar of God” is an object for God’s service, a church planter, preacher, and embodiment of sacrifice for God and well being of others, a meeting place where people find refuge and celebration, where poor and vulnerable in the society are empowered and sent out. KBA Adeyemi as “Altar of God” functions as a means of reconciliation through counselling, writing tracts and publications under frequently asked questions (FAQ). KBA Adeyemi, a widow as “Altar of God” offers herself and wealth for reconciliation and renewal in the context of covenant ratification and support. KBA Adeyemi as a focal point, a witness, a platform, and forum for spiritual and business activities serves as a kind of conduit of welfare and gospel communication, employment and sponsorship of the less privileges. Just as the ‘widow is admonished to be morally and ethically pure,’ because she is an “altar of God” and so that the offerings she makes upon it, the petitions of others, are kept pure as they ascend to heaven, KBA Adeyemi remains a model of integrity to her children her workers and people around her. It is true to say that KBA Adeyemi’s widowhood ‘affords her God’s protection and lends itself to God hearing her prayers with special favour, as we seen with other widows in the Old Testament’ (Exd 22:22-24, Deut 10:17-18, Ps 68:5).
KBA Adeyemi, a widow as “Altar of God” remains a witness on the Board of Governors, Methodist Girls’ High School, Yaba, as Treasurer, (2012-2015), a Fellow of Faith Christian University FFCU (1997), holder of Susan Wesley Award, 2003, Women Achievers, Women’s Wing, Christian Association of Nigeria (WOWICAN), 2006, Pillar of Support Folawiyo Bankole Memorial Methodist Church (FBMMC), Ikate, 2005, a Distinguished Alumni, Faith Christian Theological Seminary, 2009. KBA Adeyemi, a widow as “Altar of God” served as the Co-Ordinator. Methodist Evangelical Movement (MEM), FBMMC, Surulere (1996-2002), Sunday School Superintendent, FBMMC 2002-2007, Chairman Harvest Committee, FBMMC 2008, Trust Treasurer, FBMMC, 2008-2014, Co-ordinator and Lecturer at Faith Christian Theological Seminary – Surulere Annex, and Circuit Co-ordinator for the Directorate of Evangelism, FBMMC, Ikate. I remain grateful to God for the role and leadership of KBA Adeyemi and MEM, Ikate, during the 2000 Methodist Convention, Orimerunmu.
In continuing the legacy of her husband, KBA Adeyemi is the Chief Executive Officer, Topwash Nigeria Limited. Among her Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) is the KBA TRACTS free production and distribution, Member Body of Trustees of Comfort Elders Care Initiatives and Treasurer to date. She is a member of Ikoyi Club, Lagos. KBA Adeyemi is the Publisher, KBA Tracts and Practical Christianity Series. Her ambition as “Altar of God’ is to touch lives positively and lead people to the TRUTH.
Please, remember her and her children in prayer. Happy renewing 70th birthday to my mentor, mum, confidant, and teacher, though I am her PRESBYTER.