If the Christian faith and the hope of the resurrection were real, and if the songs we Methodists knew so well were more than a mere comfort blanket (especially the one by John Ellerton with the words – MHB 975: ‘When the day of toil is done’), then death was also about vindication. Experiencing death in the hope of the resurrection made perfect sense to Sir Olusegun Ayodeji Sofunke, a Knight of John Wesley (KJW), vindicating his life, his ministry, and anticipating his ultimate hope in Jesus Christ. Indeed, his death was dead on arrival, hence his transition to eternal life. Sir Sofunke was a gentleman, compassionate and thoughtful. He was the embodiment of a Methodist Christian and Christianity in general.

Sir Sofunke believe that ‘a high view of Scripture, including an affirmation of inerrancy, is not the preserve of a narrow strand of right-wing Christendom, but the common heritage of Christians everywhere across the centuries until the faith was pillaged by theological liberalism.’ The Bible is the Word of God, Sir Sofunke preaches —a stance justified by exegesis, sound theological reasoning, and the witness of history. It is as a preacher, leader, and teacher of the Word that he will always be known. And what a preacher and teacher he was? He was always himself; and he was always passionate; and he was always speaking of Christ. Sir Sofunke’s preaching and teachings were marked ‘by awe, wonder, a sense of the presence of God in the midst of his people, and by the sheer power of the Word’ Sir Sofunke did not thrust himself forward nor ‘obtrude himself upon the awareness of the congregation. Rather, a humble servant of Christ gathered the people in his arms, and together they approached the throne of grace in adoration and petition.’

To the Nigerian Methodist Evangelical Movement (MEM), Sir Sofunke was our Patron, our leader, our mentor, our older brother, our confidante, our boss, and our theo-political sounding board. Sir Sofunke was so many things to so many people. He was nurtured in a Methodist manse, but he was also a charismatic apostolic evangelist and ecumenist. He was a pastor, preacher, theologian, and supreme communicator. He was a unifier and a diplomat, negotiating the ‘choppy waters’ of competing evangelical traditions, as well as the inevitable conflicts arising from his deeply held Christian convictions as he sought to make relevant and accessible the Christian voice in the public square. In September 1994, Sir.Olusegun Ayodeji Sofunke had a personal encounter with Jesus Christ during a crusade by that renowned Evangelist Timothy Obadare of W.O.S.E.M. in Katsina State. He became born-again consequently that year, and has served in various capacities in the Church namely: Member, Elders Council, WOSEM, Katsina up to 1996, Local Church Steward, Methodist Church Nigeria (MCN), Igbogila-Ipaja, Diocese ofLagos, Senior Circuit Steward, MCN, Igbogila-Ipaja Circuit.

Sir Sofunke was a Lay President, Methodist Diocese of Lagos, Chairman, Wesley Guild Society. He was an Accredited Methodist Lay Preacher, Chairman, Harvest Committee, Banham Methodist Cathedral Port-Harcourt (1998). He served as the Chairman, Fund Raising Committee M.C.N.lgbogila-lpaja, Grand Patron, Boys and Girls Brigade, Port-Harcourt and Igbogila-Ipaja, Patron, The Boys Brigade, Ipaja Ayobo Battalion Council, Legal Adviser Methodist Mens’ Fellowship, Diocese of Lagos, Assistant Legal Adviser, Diocese of Lagos. He served as Patron, Young Women Christian Association and Busy Bee for Christ Igbogila-Ipaja. He was a pillar of the youth, MCN Igbogila-Ipaja till date and Port-Harcourt Circuits (1999), Vice Chairman, Egbe Irepodun Igbogila-Ipaja. Honorary member of Christ Ambassador Society. He is a recipient of the H. O. Davies Award for Philanthropy (D.A.P.) by the Diocese of Lagos and a member of the Association of National Accountant of Nigeria (A.N.A.N). He is an active member of COMFORT ELDERSCARE INITIATIVE (CECI) an NGO established at the initiative of Deaconess Comfort Olaniran for Christians from age 60 years and above, where he served as the Chairman of the Central Working Committee.

Indeed, Sir Sofunke was an ‘Ambassador of Christ.’ Although it would be quite disingenuous to say, like St Paul, that Sir Sofunke became ‘all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some’ (1 Corinthians 9:22), he had a way of reaching diverse groups of people with the gospel. In his local church, the children and young people loved him.

The facts of his life are soon told. Born on 5th February, 1952 to Very Revd. Emmanuel Adeoye Oyebola Sofunke and Omo-Oba Wurade Ololade Sofunke (Nee Osinloye) both of blessed memory and both who also hailed from Ode-Remo in Ogun State, Sir Sofunke attended Methodist Primary Schools of Elekuro-Ibadan and lIogbe-lfaki Ekiti for his Primary School Leaving Certificate (1963); Methodist Modern School, Ifaki-Ekiti for one year in 1964, Ifaki Grammar School lfaki-Ekiti forhis West African School Certificate (1969); Yaba College ofTechnology Yaba-Lagos for his HND (BUS. ADMN) (1981); University of Abuja for his LL.B (2003); and the Nigerian Law School for his BL(2005) after which he was called to Bar in November 2005.

After obtaining his W.A.5.C. in 1969, he commenced his working career as a teacher at Methodist Primary School Soyindo, Sagamu; a Laboratory attendant at Remo Secondary School Sagamu, and later, in October 1971, joined the then P & T as a treasury clerk in Finance and Account Division. It was during his service years in P & T that he embarked on efforts to improve his education by going on study leave to the Yaba College of Technology. Even few years after resuming in P& T from study leave, he went on an in-service course at the Continuing Education Center of the University of Lagos where he obtained a Certificate in Executive Management Accounting. With the transformation of P& T into NIPOST/NITEL in 1985, he opted for NIPOSTwhere he had the opportunity of serving in various capacities notably as the Area Postal Manager in charge of Katsina State (1993-1996) and later Rivers State (Bayelsa State inclusive) (1996-2000). He was moved to the Abuja Headquarters in year 2000.

He rose to the position of an Acting Senior Assistant Postmaster General and retired in year 2006 after 35 years of meritorious service and he was into legal practice in Lagos under the name OLUSEGUN SOFUNKE & CO. (EPIPHANY CHAMBERS).

What made Sir Sofunke fulfilled especially in the proclamation of God’s Word? What is a great or fulfilled local preacher? There are no answer to such question but the truth is that Sir Sofunke’s received a first-rate parental and spiritual nurturing coupled with his natural endowments – brilliant mind, an expressive and resonant voice. The discipline of his accountancy, management and law trainings prepared him for the study of the Scripture and Christian leadership. Sir Sofunke exhibited ‘the strength of Puritan preaching lay, not only in its intensely biblical character, but also in its vital concern to bring the truth home, to apply it, to apply it closely to those who heard … in a forceful and poignant way, showing neither fear nor favour, exhorting, rebuking, admonishing, because he himself knew the terror of the Lord.’ One cannot but noticed Sir Sofunke remarkable boldness in preaching not dwelling in generalities that he “left off preaching and gone to meddling.” As a grassroots Christian leader, Sir Sofunke’s power as a preacher and teacher ‘lay in his acquaintance with the human scene and Holy Spirit. He did not preach up the times; rather, he preached Jesus Christ. But he knew the times, and he knew the hearts of his people.’ Sir Sofunke’s preaching and teaching ministry was characterized by his supreme confidence in the power of the preaching of the Word of God. All the world knows that the Sir Sofunke kept to his Bible and Methodist hymn book: it was the basis, the polestar, the foundation for all he said and did during his years of preaching, teaching and leadership.

Sir Sofunke’s profound personal experience with the Lord Jesus Christ, and his hearty commitment to Him, sustained and supported his whole life, family and ministry. For the love of Christ he turned his back upon the fame and plaudits of the world. To him it was no sacrifice at all in comparison with the knowledge of the Redeemer.

Sir Sofunke was happily married to Lady Olaide (nee Taylor) “my mother-in-Israel”, and blessed with children and grandchild. Let us thank God for Sir Sofunke and for the wonderful gift of God to us in him. Let us learn form him that we can be useful men and women of God and ministers of the imperishable gospel. We who are evangelicals and committed to the Wesleyan Scriptural holiness let us listen again to ‘the authentic voice of the preacher: of the Lord Jesus Christ himself, as Paul promises us, speaking through the lips of those men whom He has separated to Himself and to His service. We listen to the likes of a Sir Sofunke and we remember. We remember what preaching is, and what it can do — what it must do when God blesses and uses and empowers it. Then our doubting, fearful hearts are stilled. We know that, till the last little one for whom Christ died has been brought in, the joyful sound will reach to the ends of the earth and will accomplish that where to God sends it.’