Ayodele Joseph Oritbemi Oritsejafor, known as Papa Ayo Oritsejafor is the founding and Senior Pastor of Word of Life Bible Church, located in Warri, Nigeria. He became the National President of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) on February 7, 2005. A position he held diligently for 5years. In July 2010, Oritsejafor was elected as the President of the Christian Association of Nigerian (CAN), the apex body of all Christians in the country. In doing so he became the first Pentecostal leader to hold the position. Oritsejafor his known to be brutally honest and fearless. Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor Ministries was the first to launch a Miracle crusade (Lagos Miracle Crusade) from Africa to world audience, via satellite, in 1987 with Evangelist Joe Martins.
Early lifePastor Ayo Oritsejafor, the man who has customized the name “Ayo” all over the world, was born on November 10, into the family of Mr. Joseph Monday Oritsejafor and Mrs. Roli Durojaiye Oritsejafor in Lagos, Nigeria. Desperately in need of a male child, his mother had prayed earnestly, believing God for the blessing of a male child. She would say to God, “if you give me a child, I will give him back to you”. His parents, both of blessed memory, felt fulfilled with the birth of their son and named him, Ayodele: joy has come to our home.
Strange as his long-awaited arrival into the family was, even stranger was the fact that little Ayo could not utter a word until he was five years old. The Doctors said nothing was wrong with him; yet he couldn’t speak. The miracle of his speaking occurred on his fifth birthday. Not a few were amazed when eventually he started talking; not as one learning to speak, but fluently and maturely like any normal child. Ayo’s mother, a staunch member of the Christ Apostolic Church (CAC), then used to lay baby Ayo on the church altar for hours praying that God would heal, bless and use him.
This love and affection was short-lived as tragedy struck rather too early in young Ayo’s life – his father, whom he was so fond of, died. His father’s death ushered in a new era to his life’s journey. It was an era marked with confusion, uncertainty, sorrow and much pain. Young Ayo was left at the mercy of relatives that made his life miserable while his mother remarried and moved to the UK with her new husband to start life afresh in her new home. So he grew up on his own and got involved with all kinds of drugs. He was rough and utterly violent.
Pastor Ayo got married to Helen Oritsejafor in 1997 at the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Lagos, Nigeria. Their union is blessed with beautiful triplets: sons Ayodele Joseph, Ayodeji and daughter Ayodeta Helen. The family resides in Warri, Nigeria.
In an interview with African Broadcasting Network (ABN), Oritsejafor stated in regards accessing himself as a labourer in the Lord’s vineyard:
Ayo Oritsejafor is a man that genuinely loves God and tries to please him. I always try to do everything in fulfillment of what I feel is God’s plan for my life. Ultimately, my standard is Jesus. The more I think of where God found me, the more I feel humbled
In 1972, Ayo went out to visit his relative who lives in Sapele, Nigeria. On that memorable day he had stopped by a local store to purchase some “crack/wrap” of Indian hemp, there came a young man who handed him a flyer inviting him over to a crusade to hold on the 2nd of November.
The day finally came and he was half drunk, but he still managed to get to the crusade ground in the company of a friend. Ayo heard the word of God with much clarity and precision which reached into the depth of his soul like never before. It was like God was directly talking to him, and when the call to receive Jesus was made, he reached out for the opportunity he had silently waited for all his life. He struggled with tears as he rose to step forward, shrugging off his friend who was trying to stop him.
At that moment, he observed that he immediately felt joy, peace and so much love. Something dramatic happened to him that can’t be put into words. On their way home from the crusade, his friend accosted him “a fool” for allowing his emotions to overcome him. Today, the one that was once called a fool has become the envy of many. Some said then: “he will not last”, but he has outlast them and is still burning for God. With his life totally transformed, Ayo made a commitment to serve the Lord Jesus for the rest of his life. Though he was offered a free Bible, young Ayo refused the offer saying that he would rather buy himself a Bible with his money. He actually bought one the next day and from that moment onward, he began sharing the love of God with everyone he came across.
Oritsejafor decided after the remarkable experience of being born again, which ushered in another phase when God began to re-fix his life, to go to Bible school. He enrolled at the All Nations For Christ Bible Institute, Benin City, Nigeria.
While in Bible school, Ayo could not preach and could not do anything as far as ministering the word of God is concerned. He got to a point where he felt he had made a mistake in attending Bible school. His inadequacy was so obvious at that time, he began to question why a person like him should go to Bible school to become a preacher. He had the zeal of attending a Bible school to be a preacher, and here he was in Bible school and couldn’t preach. He would escape classes, because he could not preach and he couldn’t do anything. He could not even stand before people. After a while, Ayo decided to pack his luggage and leave. ::“It is better to correct your mistake early than to get stuck later”, he told himself.
On a certain day, while in the bathroom, he saw a vision. It was a quick thing. He saw himself wearing a suit; it was a jacket with a tie. He was preaching to thousands of people and he heard a voice: “This is what you are going to be doing the rest of your life” and the voice said, “Take my word to the world”. Instantly he came to himself, got out of the bathroom, unpacked quickly and remained in the Bible school.
Due to his unending determination to please God, he enrolled with the Nigerian Baptist Seminary, Ogbomosho in Oyo State, Nigeria and later proceeded in 1979 to the United States for further studies at Morris Cerullo’s School of Ministry (El Cortez), San Diego, California.
Pastor Ayo, popularly called “Papa Ayo” has over the years raised and released over 200 local assemblies across the world. As a keynote speaker, he has ministered in crusades with well over 2,000,000 souls in attendance. He has also ministered and still ministers in various international and local conferences and seminars which has taken him to well over 50 countries and every continent of the world. His vision is to build and equip people who will in turn build nations. He has, as a result, pioneered a number of activities. In the late 70’s when the watching of television then called “the devil’s box” was considered a sin; he started the Hour of Deliverance TV Programme in 1980.
He was first to start Home/House fellowships. He was first to produce a customized church sticker then captioned “I am a winner”. He was first to introduce “yearly themes” such as “Year 2000, The Year of a New Beginning”. He was also first to build a storey building with agallery as single church auditorium in Warri and environs.
Pastor Ayo has remained humble and focused. His messages, beliefs and principles have remained unchanged. All who know him have always emphasized that he is a man of matchless integrity, excellence and hard work. He has been tested over time and proven that he can be trusted. As a general in God’s army, he has fought many battles and has triumphed in all. He is very receptive of both the great and the small. He is one man amongst very few who knows something about everything. His talents, gifts and abilities are immeasurable.
From a very humble beginning characterize by pain, misery and poverty, God has shown Himself strong in the life of this man who rank as one of the most influential Christian personalities in the world today. He has ministered at various international and local conferences, seminars and crusades in almost all the nations of the earth today.
Pastor Ayo is evidently imbued with the intense passion for souls. He is today not only a Pastor; he is a Teacher, Evangelist, Prophet, Author, Philosopher and a Philanthropist. He is a father, a friend and a mentor to millions of people around the world. He is a proponent of leadership by example. This is evident in the role he played in bringing the crisis in Niger Delta area of Nigeria to an end.
Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor says he owes all his life’s accomplishments to God, and his success in ministry, he attributes to the influence of God-given mentors like Late Archbishop Benson Idahosa, Dr. Morris Cerullo, Evangelist Robert W. Schamback, and Evangelist Tommy L. Osborn amongst others. In line with the saying: “Like begat like”, Pastor Ayo has raised thousands of sons in the ministry all over the world and he is still consistently depopulating hell to populate heaven. Pastor Ayo’s driving force in life remains God, and his desire to help the poor is born out of the realization the he was once like them. He is detribalized and open-minded. Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, a man who prefers to be addressed simply as “pastor” is the Senior Pastor of Word of Life Bible Church in Warri, Delta, Nigeria.
- “One of the challenges facing Nigerians is that we are so good at pretending. We bury our heads in the sand and just pretend that nothing is happening. But something is happening” – Oritsejafor said.
In 2014, the so-called “group of young men” was not only labeled as a Terrorist group but an International Terrorist Organization that have taken over 5000 innocent lives alongside massive territory damages since mid-2009. The Global Terrorism Index said the group has killed more people: 6,644—in terror attacks during 2014 than any other terrorist group.
Seeing all evidence of infidelity and hypocrisy amongst several personalities in position to silence this group at the earlier stage of uprising, no apology was by any means tendered to Oritsejafor, whose image most influential persons capitalized on tarnishing based on false accusations.
In all this, those who knew the good intentions of Oritsejafor towards the wellbeing of the citizens of Nigeria stood up against all critics. The humble Pastor Ayo had no iota of fear in him. He remained confident in God and focused on his work;
- “It is not strange for people to make accusations against you, but be sure that what they are accusing you of is not true” – Oritsejafor in an interview with ABN, 2012
In recognition of his contributions to the development of humanity, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor has received several awards both internationally and locally in regards of his various peace and humanitarian initiatives. He has been honored with the Golden key to the City of Kalamazoo, Michigan by the mayor of the city. He was also honored with the International Youth Ambassador for Peace Award. He was conferred an Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic (OFR) one of the Nigerian National Honours at the International Conference Centre, Abuja on December 22, 2008. Oritsejafor received an award of ‘A True Servant of God’ by The Northern States Christian Elders Forum (NOSCEF) May 9, 2013.
Speaking on the choice of Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, the Chairman of NOSCEF, Evang. Matthew Owojaiye said: “Oritsejafor was chosen because of his commitment and dedication for the things of Christ, noting that when others tried to save their head, he dared to speak the truth.”
Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor sees himself as a servant of God and an instrument through which the God ministers to the spiritual and physical needs of people. He places emphasis on salvation, repentance, holiness, deliverance and empowerment of the less privileged, through social responsibility programmes. Over the years, he has, condemned wastefulness and encouraged giving back to the society, regardless of religion orrace. Over the years he offer scholarships to indigent students in various tertiary, secondary and elementary institutions both within and outside Nigeria irrespective of tribe or denomination.
In December 2005, Pastor Ayo and his wife Helen Oritsejafor took it upon themselves to partner with Eagle Flight Micro Finance Bank to start an empowerment programme for the people. Oritsejafor, ever since, makes it a tradition to empower the less privileged and to alleviate the sufferings of families all over at the end of every December. Cars, tricycles, sewing machines, grinding machines, mobile phones, clothes, scholarships amongst other items, are distributed for free to the needy members of the society, irrespective of their religious inclinations.
Being conscious that not only must he birth visions, he must also articulate and drive them to completion, he was led to start several organizations and establishments, such as;
Eagle Heights International Schools (EHIS)
To further improve on the standard of education in the country he started Eagle Heights International School (EHIS); a Coeducational Private Christian School. It is aDay/Boarding School which offers qualitative education in both British and Nigeria Curricular in a wide range of subjects at the Nursery, Primary, and High School levels of education, to offer a First Class education to pupils and students from all walks of life. His vision is of course complemented by his beautiful wife- Helen Oritsejafor, an indefatigablebanker, who also doubles as the Chair, Eagle Heights International Schools Board of Governors.
See more: EHIS
The International School of Ministry (ISOM)
The International School of Ministry under the leadership of Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor is an arm of the Word of Life Bible Church solely setup to equip the life of believers. It is a non – denominational institute with training session that is structured to span for a year. The one-year period is made up of four (4) semesters each spanning approximately three (3) months. The school is beneficial to every believer in their daily relationship with God, regardless of their profession, as concrete Biblical principles, Christian beliefs/ethics, moral values are inculcated in them. Also, the fundamental doctrines of the faith and what makes Christianity more of a life rather than a religion are being taught. As you walk with God, some unanswered questions are bound to arise, some of which can be well dealt with in ISOM.
See more: ISOM
African Broadcasting Network (ABN)
Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor’s divine mandate in bringing the message of salvation, deliverance and healing to the homes of countless millions propelled him to set up African Broadcasting Network. It is an international satellite Christian television station strategically fixed to serve as a strong voice for the gospel of Christ from Africa to the world. The station serves as a voice to major ministries and Christians, based in Africa and the world.
ABN is a satellite channel broadcasting from London, with a coverage that spans across the whole of Africa, parts of Asia and parts of Europe. ABN is currently viewed in seventy five (75) countries world-wide and online via WebTV.
See more: ABN
Other establishments started by Oritsejafor:
- Eagle Hand International Foundation (EHIF)
In 2009, Ayo and Helen Oritsejafor created a charitable Eagle Hand International Foundation which was registered in September 2009, as a non-profit organization in Nigeria. The EHIF is dedicated to improving the quality of life of under privilege communities and individuals in the Niger Delta Region.
The foundation is organized into four program areas: Eagle-hand Orphanage Home, Eagle-hand Foundation Old People’s Home, Vocational Skill Center and Recreation Center.
- Eagle Flight Micro-Finance Bank.
- Eagle Strength Bookshop.
- Eagle Guests House.
- Eagle Health Centre.
Christian Association of Nigeria, (CAN)
- Further information:Christian Association of Nigeria
In 2010, Oritsejafor was declared the National President of CAN. His arrival sprung many spontaneous paradigm shift. He is the most misunderstood, the most troubled, the most misrepresented President of CAN; but because he’s a human being, sometimes they find it difficult to understand his good intentions and what he is doing for the good of everybody and people call him all manner of names. He was re-elected  as the president in July 10, 2013.
He came up with what he called a Jubilee Center; to generate funds. He chose not to operate same way his predecessors did, he created an office where he will be on ground, funded the office, spent a lot to give it a suitable outlook. Something tremendous about Oritsejafor is the fact that regardless of your position in the Association, and you put a call through at any time, he picks his call by himself.
In an interview with a CAN Official, he lauds Oritsejafor:
If people need to celebrate any man, it is this man because he has lifted the profile of the Christian Association of Nigeria. Before, people talk down on CAN, today you don’t just talk down on CAN without CAN responding. That is a very huge achievement. One of the greatest achievements that he has done which has never ever happened before in the history of CAN, there has never been any President of CAN who interfaced with all the different blocs of CAN, and there is no bloc that can say the CAN President has not come either physically to worship with them or participated in one of their projects. Do you know that some of the Christian leaders that were killed, like some pastors in Maiduguri, he gave them accommodation, gave their children scholarship.
As a visionary, he came up with the idea that can generate funds for the association, which birth the idea of a Jubilee Centre; a 50 – bedroom structure with a huge conference hall. This innovative idea will in turn profit anybody who will succeed him to be able to handle the office without sourcing for funds. The Jubilee Centre, National Christian Center,Abuja was completed in 2015.
As a prolific writer, to date Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor has authored several books:
- Walking in Unity
- Breaking the Power of Yesterday
- The Non-Essentials
- The Stone That Killed Goliath
- How to get answers to unanswered prayers
- Power through the Church
- The Battle is in the Mind
- Be an Over-Comer
- Power for the Journey
- Faith Antidote for Daily Living
- A Voice in the Wilderness
- A Man amongst Men.