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Nigerian student ministry leader, SWBTS alumnus dies in wreck

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–A leader of the Nigerian Baptist Convention’s True Love Waits youth movement was killed in an automobile crash near the southwestern Nigerian city of Ibadan Jan. 12.

Josiah Adegoke “Goke” Adeleke, an alumnus of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, was among 21 people killed when two buses collided on a crowded road. Another 27 people were injured and taken to the hospital, many with severe burns and fractures, the Associated Press reported.

Adeleke had returned to his homeland after graduating from Southwestern in 2003 to serve as professor of student ministry and chaplain of the Baptist-supported Bowen University in Nigeria.

The Nigerian Baptist Convention was preparing Adeleke for the role of coordinating all student ministries for the convention, according to Richard Ross, professor of youth and student ministry at Southwestern and one of the architects of the True Love Waits sexual abstinence campaign.

“In recent days, Goke had done important work in bringing the message of True Love Waits to Nigeria,” Ross said. “He was one of the principal speakers at the True Love Waits global celebration held during the Olympic Games in Athens this past year.

“Goke was dearly loved by the youth leaders of Nigeria. He was father to a houseful of beautiful children and husband to a faithful wife,” Ross said.

Adeleke was featured in a Baptist Press article in June 2002 in which he said his conversion to Christianity was the result of his education from Southern Baptist missionaries.

Following his graduation from the University of Ilorin, Adeleke began working at the Southern Baptist headquarters in Ibadan in 1993. He served as national youth director from 1996-2001, when he left the country to study at Southwestern’s Fort Worth, Texas, campus.

Adeleke said he wanted to provide leadership for the youth pastors of his country. “We have about 7,000 Baptist churches all over Nigeria and no single one has a full-time youth minister,” he said.

Adeleke is survived by his wife and three children. He gave each of his children a special name. The oldest, Jil, has a name which means “Jesus is Lord.” The second child is named “Jim,” which means “Jesus is mine.” The youngest child is named Jik, which means “Jesus is King.”

“I love to name children in such a way that when people call on them, it will be an opportunity for them to talk about Jesus Christ,” Adeleke said in 2002. “None of them has a biblical name. I gave them names that reflect my own understanding of the lordship of Jesus Christ.”

Ross said that the contributions Adeleke made to the Nigerian Baptist Convention would be long remembered. “Those of us who were blessed by his life and found his joy infectious smile as we picture his dancing before the throne this morning,” Ross said.

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  • Gregory Tomlin