I was fortunate to be a member of the ECU when Papa E. Elton and Benson Idahosa were alive to minister to the ECU members in the mid 1970s. indeed, it was Papa E. Elton who laid hands on me after being elected as the Bible Study Secretary. This took place after the home calling of Brother Kingsley Orie who was my predecessor.
Prior to this time, the ECU was basically an evangelical outfit whose teaching and preaching programmes were centered around personal witnessing of the gospel and indoor activities. Essentially, the ECU that I met was very similar to the scripture union of those days. It was not a popular thing to be called a born-again Christian. Indeed it was generally regarded by unbelievers as a thing of misfortune if anyone claimed to be converted.
Born-again Christians were called ‘new lifers’. They were perceived as people who had been misinformed about the Christian faith. Incidentally many of the ECU members were characterized with morose countenance and uninspiring worldview. I recall some lecturers like late Professor Adegbite of the department of Chemistry who believed that ‘new lifers’ could never perform well in the sciences as long as they believed the Bible and its teachings. It was his joy to ridicule believers inside and outside his lectures. Unfortunately many ECU members were characterized with failures and poor grades in their examinations. Many had to repeat classes and indeed some had to withdraw from the University.
ECU women were noted for shabby appearance and poor dressing. The men were notorious for wearing native tops on English trousers. ECU members literally behaved like pilgrims and strangers in the campus. It was so easy to identify an ECU member in those days. ECU members were generally regarded as fanatics. In spite of all the foregoing, something was quite clear; it was difficult to pretend that you were a Christian in the ECU if you were not!
But the advent of Papa E. Elton and Archbishop Benson Idahosa brought a new lease of life to the fellowship. On many occasions Papa E. Elton would be invited from Ilesa while Archbishop Benson Idahosa would come all the way from Benin City to minister to us. They both exposed us to Pentecostal teachings and encouraged us to exercise boldness in our Christian faith. They gave us lectures on “The Authority of the Believer”, “Baptism of the Holy Spirit”, “Faith that move mountains”, and so on. Indeed we were exposed to Christian booklets written by such authors as Gordon Lindsay, Maxwell Whyte, Kenneth Hagin, Oral Roberts, T.L. Osborn and many others. The ECU library became enriched with many Pentecostal books.
At one time, the entire body of ECU travelled to Benin City for a Discipleship Training Programme at Church of God Mission International under the supervision of Archbishop Benson IdahosaThis new lease of life enhanced the enthusiasm of the radical traveling group that stormed many secondary schools in and around Ile-Ife ministering deliverance to the oppressed and baptism of the Holy Spirit to the new converts.
All these helped in no small measure in transforming the ECU from the cold and reserved fellowship to a strong, virile and vibrant fellowship that it became from mid 1970s. There was tremendous improvement in the performance of ECU members in their examinations with many graduating with first class and second class upper degrees. The ECU resolved to be associated with the best not only in moral behaviour but also in academic work. The resultant effects include our boldness to preach to students and lecturers at all cost, village evangelism, mass rallies like Jesus Harvest, Open Air Crusade like ‘April 20’, Love Feast at Agric Garden and so on. Members became very bold to preach in the Hostels, Dinning Halls, Classrooms and even at social gatherings. All these worked together to cause tremendous revival in the ECU in the 1970s. Even some of our choruses received some transformation. Some of the popular ones include:
01.To them that believe Him gave He power…
02.Jesus Christ is Lord…
03.There is power mighty in the blood
04.By the anointing Jesus breaks the yoke…
05.I love Him because He first loved me…
06.I am going higher, yes I am …,etc.
Brethren, the foregoing is an emerging article which may constitute part of the Historical documentary of the ECU. You are free to contribute, comment or event modify the article as deemed fit. May you all be blessed. Pastor Dipo Filani