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Nigerian stays vigilant for troubled homeland

RALEIGH, N.C. (BP) — Dreams have played prominently in Adeniya Ojutiku’s life. Before coming to the United States, he had a dream that would dictate a vision for salvation and discipleship of the lost in his Nigerian homeland riddled with religious strife.

The year was 1986. Ojutiku clearly remembers the early hours of Feb. 18 in Lagos when he was confronted with his sins and the question of eternal destiny.

“In the dream, I was reminded of the passage of Scripture in which Christ emphatically stated, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life; no man cometh to the Father, except by me,'” Ojutiku said. “The dream led me to seek to know more about Christ’s salvation. I was later united with a local church in Badagry, Nigeria, and baptized by immersion upon my profession of faith in Jesus Christ.”

Living for Christ became challenging for the husband, father of three and senior veterinary officer for the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Agriculture in Lagos, where he was in charge of planning policy for Nigeria’s livestock industry.

“I was getting a lot of pressure from my boss to be fraudulent with … some of the data. And I saw how they were spending the money; it was really not spent correctly,” Ojutiku recounted. “We were made to report something else. So I just did not want to be … under that pressure of having to be corrupt.”

Ojutiku’s newfound dream of living for the Lord led him in 1987 to the U.S. in search of “the American dream,” first as a student at Tuskegee University in Alabama and later at North Carolina State University where he earned an M.S. degree in life sciences, accompanying the doctor of veterinary medicine and master’s in agricultural economics he already held from the University of Ibadan in Nigeria.

Ojutiku describes America as “the freest nation on earth and a land of opportunity for those who are willing to work hard and play by the rule.”

“I came here and I knew that I could not go back right away to Nigeria because I just did not want to defraud my faith,” Ojutiku said. “Most of my colleagues who stayed behind, they became multi-millionaires. They have a lot of money and houses, but I’m satisfied with where I am today, even without all that.”

With his wife Elizabeth, Ojutiku has co-founded Lift up Now, a nonprofit, grassroots-style foundation in Nigeria to solve political, economic and social challenges such as poverty, hunger, disease, war, religious extremism and terrorism. He works with a small core group in the U.S., managing a team of what he estimated as 2,500 volunteers in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous and oil-rich nation. The workers are mainly Christian youth leaders available for mobilization as needed.

Ojutiku described Lift Up Now as “an organization to refocus the people to their original purpose of creation and encourage them to aspire to that purpose.”

“Our goal is to work with the people in restoring their individual self-dignity and worth through improved work ethics as well as personal efforts at sustainable wealth creation,” Ojutiku said, “rather than continued reliance on dehumanizing welfare and ‘hand-outs.'”

Acknowledging that Sub-Saharan Africa continues to benefit from many years of global Christian outreach, Ojutiku said “the fundamental cause of the people’s sufferings stems from the malevolent political structures inadvertently bequeathed to the nations by the colonial masters (post-independence), as well as the extremely corrupt and inept leadership who stepped into the colonial masters’ shoes and maintained these structures.”

Lift Up Now maintains an extensive catalogue of Islamist jihadist attacks on Nigerian Christians by a group called Boko Haram and has encouraged Congress to classify it as a “foreign” terrorist organization.

Ojutiku also serves as an itinerant preacher to the Nigerian diaspora in the U.S., preaching in guest pulpits in North Carolina and New Jersey, mobilizing pastors in the U.S. and mentoring Nigerian youth during visits to Nigeria.

“I have opportunity when I go to Nigeria [at] different churches in Nigeria and just share with them the Word of God,” he said, “encourage them, exhort them.”

He speaks English, the African dialects of Yoruba, Ibo and Hausa, and limited French.

“Despite years of living in the USA, I still make some efforts at maintaining my language ability in Hausa,” Ojutiku said. “This language skill helps to facilitate my communication with the victims of Boko Haram, Islamist jihadists.”

Ojutiku has been a member of Providence Baptist Church in Raleigh, N.C., for 20 years, where he and his wife Elizabeth have led Sunday School classes for international members. He initially was referred to the church by a professor while he was studying at Auburn University.

He works full-time as a chemistry and forensic science teacher with the Durham Public School System and part-time as an associate professor of health education with the University of Phoenix. He also is chief executive officer of Agriboard Industries Limited, Nigeria, seeking sustainable solutions to the country’s agriculture, housing and renewable energy sectors.

Ojutiku grew up in the Anglican and Methodists faiths. His grandfather was an ordained pastor and his father a lay reader in the Church of England, but Ojutiku said he personally was a “nominal” Christian in his youth.

He was baptized by sprinkling at age 6 and experienced the Anglican rites of passage as a student at a parochial school, he said, but laments that he did not have a transformed heart. His 94-year-old father, Vincent Adenreti Oludayo Ojutiku, still lives in Lagos and has retired as a state government accountant.

“The actual living for Christ … and relying on the power of the Holy Spirit and all that, was not [a personal reality],” Ojutiku recounted. “We were just trying to be good. We did not have a firm foundation in the teaching, in the Word of God, that makes us know … that salvation is by grace and that we rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to live the Christian faith…. That was not something that was well articulated.”

It was not until he had a personal encounter with God in his 1986 dream that Ojutiku began to live for the Lord.

“I will consider my greatest achievement to be the protection of my Christian testimony,” he said, “through a life evidenced by the continuing work of God’s grace in the area of personal integrity, humility, growing faith, raising a Godly family and an endless desire to see God glorified.”
Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ staff writer. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).