The new biography succinctly titled, “Kumuyi: Defender of the faith” is set against the backdrop of Kumuyi’s unbridled commitment to scriptural injunctions as in Jude 1: 3, which implores believers to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints.”
The book portrays William Folorunso Kumuyi as a stout defender of the faith, providing a series of instances in which “the man of God” had to fight the good fight of faith to prove his mettle as an apostle of faith.
Moreover, the biography tells the story of how the quintessential leader grew the ministry from a 15-member campus fellowship group to a multi-million-member church rated globally as one of the largest with branches in virtually every continent.
The seminal work is an illuminating narrative that captures a barrage of hidden truths about the revered cleric whose name, “William” actually means “defender of the faith.”
As it is characteristic of biographies, celebrating the lives and times of great personalities, the plot of the story revolves around the protagonist whose inspiring legendary lifestyle evokes admiration in millions of ardent followers around the globe.
Kumuyi: Defender of the Faith juxtaposes the account of the persona’s dramatic transformation from abject obscurity to prominence with that of the mercurial rise of the Deeper Christian Life Ministry, from a little-known students’ campus fellowship group to a church organization of global repute.
The book portrays Kumuyi as a man whose destiny anchors on the practical intervention of God. It reveals that Kumuyi was so nonchalant about his school work that he narrowly missed repeating classes.
He was “promoted on trial until his final year in high school when he braced up for the West African School Certificate Examination which he passed with distinction, a feat he repeated at the Advanced Level and subsequent examinations, culminating in his emergence as the overall best graduating student with a first-class honour in Mathematics in 1967 from University of Ibadan.
Moreover, he had made a definite decision for Jesus in 1964 for the salvation of his soul and subsequently became a strong crusader of the gospel with a burning passion “to have all men saved” wherever he went or worked as evidenced in Mayflower and University of Lagos where he taught Mathematics, but creatively devised ways of also sharing his faith without breaking the rules.
Following his outstanding academic performance, Kumuyi was offered a scholarship for a doctorate degree, but he shocked those who were keenly following his progress like his former Principal and mentor, Tai Solarin by rejecting the offer on the grounds that he had a call to serve God.
However, they further reveal that Solarin’s principles of hard work, industry and independence Spartan discipline rubbed off on young Kumuyi who experienced his own transformation, especially after his conversion from a nominal Christian a genuinely regenerated one.
The book authored by Banji Ojewale, Segun Babatope, Emeka Izeze and Tunde Opeibi is a revelatory mine that encapsulates virtually everything a probing mind would want to know about the cleric. Banji et al remark that “Kumuyi: Defender of the Faith demystifies the revered man of God.
It shows the reader how much he is ‘a man subject to like passions as we are.’ For instance, he is widely known as a man of academic and spiritual excellence, but at a point in his childhood days, he was written off as a never-do-well.”
In writing about Kumuyi, the biographers deploy many narrative devices. The most prominent techniques include biblical and classical allusions.
Biblical allusion is realized through copious references to the Bible in all the chapters, especially in the riders to the subtitles while the classical allusion involves the works of earlier writers like Frederick W. Faber (1821-1863), James G. Walton (1821-1905)), Henri F. Hemy (1818-1888) and Kittie L. Sheffield (1924).
Some of the works, including Alert B. Simpson’s “Jesus Only is Our Message” are the sage’s favorite hymns, reflecting his philosophy of life and doctrinal disposition in ministry. There are also insightful glimpses from Alan Isaacson (1990) who wrote on the phenomenal growth of the Deeper Life Bible Church and Kumuyi’s ministry in a titled, Deeper Life: The Extraordinary Growth of Deeper Life Bible Church with Foreword by W. F. Kumuyi.
The 325-page biography contains 14 chapters with subtitles such as Divine Affirmation, Early Life, Mayflower, Turning Point, March into Ministry, Davidic Exegesis, Passion for All, The Catalyst, Peculiar Persona, Archetypal Leadership, Perceptive Watchman, Perspectives and Personal Stories (Parts 1an2) and The Years Ahead. There is also a list of content contributors, references, webography and an index which the reader can explore to maximize the treasures in the book. Each chapter anchors on a key scriptural reference, capturing the essence of the intended message.
Published by Elite Publishing Academy, United Kingdom seminal masterpiece comes in a glossy hardback edition with a portrait of Kumuyi as cover picture and lots of inside telltale pictorial illustrations that compellingly appeal to the reader’s senses of sight and reasoning.
Besides, a pseudo prologue tagged: “Milestones” is used to give the reader an insight into the main content, beginning with his birth to the family of Mr. Gabriel Kumuyi Akinfenwa and Mrs Comfort Idowu Kumuyi Akinfenwa in 1941at Erin-Ijesa, Osun State, South-Western Nigeria to 2020, the year he collaborated with the Bible Society of Nigeria, to produce the Holy Bible in Yoruba.
In Chapter 1, the authors explore Kumuyi’s style of ministry with emphasis on the role of the miraculous in the growth of the Deeper Life Bible Church headquartered in Gbagada, Lagos, Nigeria.
Anchored on 1Corinthians 2:4, the chapter reveals that the pastor never preaches to entertain, but to compel men to repentance. Methodically, he follows each sermon with a prayer after which he begins to command miracles mainly through “the word of knowledge.”
ALSO READ: Uche Elendu’s predicament on Instagram
Sample testimonies are cited in this chapter to support the view that instantaneous miracles characterize Kumuyi’s public meetings as he preaches the word.
The non-fictional narrative also showcases what life was like in the early days of ministry for not only the pastor, but also his ardent followers who belonged to other churches. Many were excommunicated for attending his bible study.
Those who wanted to get married had to look for churches that were sympathetic to their plight. Kumuyi himself was excommunicated from the Apostolic Faith Church for preaching without being formally ordained whereas he believed and fervently taught others that evangelism was every believer’s personal responsibility.
Pictures are infused into Chapter 3, subtitled, “Mayflower”, Chapter 8, “The Catalyst” and Chapter 13, “Perspectives and Personal Stories Part 2.
These help to enhance the aesthetic quality of the text, amplifying not only the messages embedded in lucid prose, but also drawing attention to the socio-cultural and religious implications.
For instance, some of the erroneous beliefs held about cleric, concerning his social life and relationship with leaders of other ministries are tacitly dispelled with pictures of him passionately exchanging pleasantries or attending evangelistic functions with leaders of CAN, PFN and presiding pastors of mega denominations such as Pastor E.A. Adeboye, Bishop David Oyedepo, Bishop John Osa-Oni, Apostle Alex Bamgbola and Pastor Paul Enenche.
The book also contains pictures he posed in with dignitaries such as President Mohammadu Buhari of Nigeria, former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, serving or former Governors of many states in Nigeria, former and current Presidents of countries and other leaders of the international community.
Chapter 3 likens Kumuyi in Mayflower School under his benefactor and unapologetic atheist, Dr. Tai Solarin to the Jewish Daniel in Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylon, vowing that “He would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank…”
Kumuyi who had miraculously been transformed from a struggling to an outstanding student, returned to Mathematics at Mayflower fully aware of a possible collision with the founder and Principal, Tai Solarin, especially with regards to his zealous commitment to his new-found faith.
With wisdom, however, he managed to steer clear of trouble by doing his job well and sharing his faith according to the rules and his personal lifestyle.
The following expressions excerpted from the book captures the essence of the prevailing environment: “Mayflower School was established on the basis that students and staff were at liberty in the matters of religion – they could opt to worship God or disregard Him.”
One of the testifiers described as his close associate and aide in the 90s has this to say of him: “He is a man that stands by what he believes, no matter what the whole world says. He does not raise his shoulders or engage in self adulation even when God performs wonders through him.”
He is also depicted as an exemplary character as expressed in the following words: “Kumuyi exemplified a balanced life. He was a neatly dressed mathematics teacher, always in shirt and trousers neatly tucked in.
He was regarded as a compassionate man, ever ready to help his student to any level and, of course, in a legitimate way. The approach he used in teaching mathematics so that everyone could understand was the same approach he used to teach the Bible.”
Kumuyi’s commitment to a studious lifestyle lends credence to the saying that “readers are leaders.”
He is depicted as a voracious reader who also ardently subscribes to the works of authors and revivalists such as John Wesley, Charles G. Finney and Charles H. Spurgeon.
One of the most astonishing decisions Kumuyi made as revealed in the book was his rejection of a scholarship opportunity for PhD, following his brilliant performance as the Best Graduating Student of his set, with a First Class in Mathematics.
The biographers recount that “Solarin thought Kumuyi was wasting away his bright brain when he rejected the offer of scholarship to pursue a doctorate’s degree in his area of specialization because it was not in tandem with vision that God gave him. He was initially baffled that Kumuyi had made up his mind not to compromise on his conviction even ifit meant standing alone.”
The writers add that “Years later, when Solarin visited Kumuyi in his church in Gbagada, Lagos, Solarin was to admit that he knew that Pastor Kumuyi would make a success of his ministry.”
Laced with a plethora of testimonials, chapters 12 and 13 subtitled Perspectives and Personal Stories Part 1and 2 present the reader the strident voices of ardent admirers, close associates, pastors and pioneer members of the gospel fellowship group that later metamorphosed Deeper Life Bible Church.
The views harvested from different parts of the world significantly augment the authorial voice as they are ingeniously incorporated into a unique narrative device that stylistically validates the saying: “The voice of the people is the voice of God.”
The voices from these twin chapters echo through the succeeding and final chapter, “The Years Ahead” which focuses on the future plans of the octogenarian whom the authors say has no intention of retiring from the ministry although he might minimize public preaching and dwell more on writing.
In the foreword, the General Overseer, The Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG, Pastor E.A. Adeboye captures the essence of the personality of the iconic preacher thus: “In our opinion, Pastor W.F. Kumuyi is one of the greatest teachers of the Bible in our generation.
“He will be remembered for generations to come for his in-depth exposition of the word of God, his passion for evangelism, his commitment to Christ and his life of purity and self-discipline, which combined to reveal the manifold presence of God among men.”
Adeboye concludes that: “Pastor W.F.Kumuyi is a living testimony of the faithfulness of God to anyone who devotes his life and time to seek and serve God.”
Kumuyi: Defender of the Faith, as the authors stress, seeks to provide a window of insight into the life and work of the man that has positively and immensely influenced the course of Christianity in Nigeria and beyond.