Benson Andrew Idahosa (11 September 1938 – 12
March 1998) affectionately called PAPA or BABA by his
followers, was a Charismatic Pentecostal preacher, and
founder of the Church of God Mission International with
headquarters in Benin City, Nigeria. As the first Pentecostal
archbishop in Nigeria, he was renowned for his robust
faith. T. L. Osborn remarked on him as the greatest
African ambassador of the apostolic Christian faith to the
1.1 Personal life
Born to non-Christian parents in a predominantly non-
Christian community, he was rejected by his father, John,
for being frail and sickly. He constantly had fainting spells
as a child, and on one of his spells, his mother, Sarah,
abandoned him at a rubbish heap presuming him dead.
Hours later, he came to, and began wailing and was rescued
by his mother. He grew up in a poor household.
Like most of the surrounding houses, his family home
was a mud house. This reality denied him access to education
until he was fourteen years old, when he was able
to attend a local government school.
1.2 Early ministry
As a youth, he got converted to Christianity by a certain
Pastor Okpo, and joined his fledgling congregation as one
of its first members. He was very active in evangelizing,
seeing many come to Christianity. After experiencing a
revelation from God calling him into ministry, he began
to conduct outreaches from village to village, before establishing
his church in a store in Benin City.
By 1971, he had established churches all over Nigeria and
Ghana. Known for his boldness, power and prosperitybased
preaching, as well as an enormous faith in the supernatural,
he was instrumental to the strong wave of revival
in Christianity and marked conversions from animism
that occurred between the 1970s and 1990s in
Nigeria. He is regarded by Christians folks as the father
of Pentecostalism in Nigeria, and was the founding
President of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN).
Many prominent Nigerian pastors like Ayo Oritsejafor
(current President of the Christian Association of Nigeria
(CAN)), David Oyedepo, Felix Omobude, Fred Addo,
Bishop Mike Okonkwo and Chris Oyakhilome were his
1.3 Ministry growth
The headquarters of his ministry, Faith Arena is a cathedral
that seats up to 10,000 people. Church of God Mission
has branches the world over, from Europe to Africa
to Asia to America. With his main task being evangelism,
he launched Idahosa World Outreach television ministry
(IWO TV), which was a broadcast reaching a potential
viewing audience of 50 million people.
He is reported to have been used by God in performing
many miracles, including healing the blind, and raising up
to twenty-eight people from the dead at different times in
his ministry. A claim made by Idahosa that he had raised
eight people from the dead was dropped when challenged
by the Advertising Standards Authority, who sought evidence
that the individuals concerned had in fact been
He was known for many notable quotes including “my
God is not a poor God”, “your attitude determines your
altitude”, “it is more risky, not to take a risk”, “I am a possibilitarian”,
“A big head without a big brain is a big load
to the neck”, “If your faith says yes, God cannot say no”,
amongst others. Many of his messages on faith, miracles
and prosperity remain a classic among Pentecostals.
He had strong links with international gospel ministers
like Billy Graham, T. L. Osborn, Kenneth Hagin, Benny
Hinn, Reinhard Bonnke, Morris Cerullo, Oral Roberts,
amongst others; and took the gospel to 145 nations in his
lifetime. At the time of his death in 1998, he was reputed
as having preached to more whites than any black man,
and to more blacks than any white man.
His desire to meet the needs of the total man led him to
establish several other arms of the ministry apart from
the church. They include the Faith Mediplex, All Nations
for Christ Bible Institute, Word of Faith Group of
Schools and Benson Idahosa University which is currently
under the leadership of his son, Bishop. F. E. B. Idahosa.
His wife, Margaret Idahosa is the current presiding archbishop
of the church.