There goes the popular aphorism: "birds of a feather flock together." However, there is an exception to this saying. Eagles, though they are birds, do not fit into this epigram. As a matter of fact, eagles never fly in clusters, they fly singly. That perhaps, aptly describes why eagles are so distinct from all the other birds. So also are some men, who bear semblance to the eagle.
No doubt, there are a great number of successful people across the globe, each of whom represents an institution. They are authorities who have distinguished themselves in their God-given endeavors. The truth is, these "success stories" are rare to come by; however, for four decades, the entire world has been shaken to its very foundation by one man, propelled by a force of curiosity over the signs and wonders that followed him.
This great man stands out in the crowd. Without mincing words, this man is synonymous with faith; he is an institution; an international figure; a statesman whose finger print on national issues is readily sensed and his influence on all issues concerning life cannot be waved aside with the back of the hand. He is a legend who has left an indelible mark in the sands of time.
This man has been known by different appellations: a father of fathers, a spiritual dynamo, an exemplar of faith in our generation, a world acclaimed preacher, a great teacher with special pedagogic abilities and excellent vision, a "possibilitarian," an epitome of justice, equity and fair play, an advocate of peace, a man whose life is replete with immense charisma, a trail blazer, a visionary leader to whom none compares, a prolific writer, an evangelist, a philanthropist and above all, a very good husband and father. Wherever this man's name is mentioned, the world stands at attention.
This man is Archbishop Benson Andrew Idahosa.
Archbishop Benson Andrew Idahosa was one in a million. A rare gem! Possibly, that is why he is an enigma to all those who have known or heard about him. He was born on September 11, 1938 in Benin City to an Edo family, the Idahosa - Ezomo family.
He was the fourth of nine children of Late Pa John Idahosa. He was only a few months old, when on the order of his father, he was dumped on a rubbish heap because he was a sickly child. However, because of the unfading love of his mother, the Spirit of God stirred her up to rescue him.
As a toddler, he often experienced fainting spells. This re-occurring phenomenon, in the thinking of his father had brought disgrace and dishonour to the family. This forced him to resolve that the infant Idahosa be dumped on a refuse heap just behind their little house and left to his own fate. His father gave a stern warning that he should not be rescued from the garbage but because he was destined for greatness he lived to become one of the kingdom of God’s greatest men.
As the years rolled by, the sickly lad noted for fainting spells grew in strength and wisdom. He chose to change. Like the plant Saxifrage, often noted for its rock breaking abilities, Archbishop Idahosa surmounted the many obstacles that lay precariously on the road to success.
Benson Idahosa had a penchant for education and a great desire to study. At the age of eight, he was enrolled into primary school. Through thick and thin, he managed to scale through an initial western education in the Salvation Army School, Benin City and the Methodist School, Owo, Ondo State.
However, this only whetted his appetite for more knowledge. Accordingly, through a correspondence programme with the London Benneth College, he obtained a Diploma in Business Administration, and a Higher Diploma in Office Management, while he worked in the Bata Shoe Company as a salesman.
As a result of his desire to excel and through hard work, coupled with God's favor upon his life, he soon ascended to a supervisory position at the company. Little did he know that his experience as a supervisor was part of God's way of preparing him for leadership in the ministry.
The young Benson Idahosa was ready to be an instrument in God's hand and in 1962, at the relatively young age of 24, he launched into the ministry. He had great zeal for the work of God and his uttermost desire was to carry out the command of the Lord to finish the work which God had assigned to him.
Quite a lot can be said about his pastoral life. At the very beginning of his evangelistic crusades, he used his cultural advantage as a Bini to gain access to the surrounding Bini villages. His evangelistic crusades consisted of taking his team to the villages where, with the permission of the heads of the communities, he would preach to the people and pray for the sick. His first crusade was at Ajagbodudu, near Sapele, in 1961. His crusades were followed by signs and wonders.
In 1962 after his first evangelistic crusades, he enrolled as a correspondent student of a Bible College at Illorin. That same year, he held a crusade at Abraka. Over the years, he continued his theological education, and the following is a list of some of his degrees.
Papa (as he was popularly called) had a phenomenal popularity predicated on his achievements, and the seeds he has sown in the lives of the hopeless, and those who needed a touch from the Lord Jesus Christ. Little wonder then, that during his ministry he raised many persons from the dead, much to the consternation of many who doubted the efficacy and power of the word of God. With signs and wonders his popularity spread like wild fire.
(i) Diploma of Divinity
(il) Associate of Practical Theology
(ill) Masters in Church Administration
(iv) Ph.D. in Theology.