Being strong in times of adversity and trials is a trait that is achieved by true warriors, who know how to conquer their fears and still stay true to themselves.

This is because all humans are made of flesh and blood; only a few are cast in relentless cloth of unflinching faith. A remarkable few, like Taiwo Odukoya, occupies a place among these gifted individuals.

When his death was announced on Tuesday, the Pentecostal congregation in Nigeria and beyond was thrown into mourning.

He was a good example of good things to the faith community: a leader, pillar, teacher and importantly, a reference for strength.

Odukoya was a cleric who demonstrated toughness against the tests of life. He remained steadfast and full of praise amidst a storm of grief that would have sent lesser men out of control.

He was also a philanthropist who impacted lives through the Fountain of Life Church, which he founded with his first wife.

Taiwo Odukoya was born a twin on June 15, 1956. He was born and raised in Kaduna in a family of nine siblings.

He attended Baptist Primary School in Kigo Road, Kaduna, before proceeding to St. Paul’s College (now known as Kufena College, Wusasa) Zaria, in the same state.

He proceeded to the University of Ibadan (UI) in 1976, obtaining a petroleum engineering degree in 1981.

Odukoya started working with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) immediately after graduation until he heeded God’s call 12 years later to become a full-time minister of the gospel.

Before his resignation from NNPC, Odukoya established Fountain of Life Church (FOL) in 1992 alongside Bimbo, his wife. He had met and fell in love with Bimbo during their days in UI. The passion strengthened through love for the words of God and resulted in marriage.

The couple started the church from a humble beginning as co-pastors.

The Odukoyas soon became the energetic outlet of God’s gospel with leverage on the trendiest technology of the time.

The couple became renowned televangelists, with Bimbo winning more souls with her famous ‘Single & Married’ TV show.

Odukoya attained fame in his own right with his refined brand of preaching the gospel. His messages were based on leadership development and building successful relationships and enterprises, which fetched him a wide-range followers worldwide.

He was an accomplished author with over 100 books and praying manuals. Titles like Unleash Your God-given Potential, Created for Blessings, Limitless, Home Affairs, The Proof, Get All You Want, The Portrait of a Champion, 120 Days of Victory, 121 Days of Blessings, 125 Days of Favour,

Taiwo’s union with Bimbo produced three children, but tragedy struck in the 21st year of the marriage.

On December 10, 2005, Bimbo was on a two-part ministration scheduled for Abuja and Port Harcourt. Bimbo had completed the Abuja event and called Odukoya as she was about to board the flight bound for Port Harcourt. He hoped to hear again from her when she landed, as customary through their marriage.

Unfortunately, the plane Bimbo boarded was the Sosoliso Airlines Flight 1145 and crashed, killing all passengers but two.

After the death of Bimbo, Odukoya did not remarry until five years later.

He met Omthi, a South African, at the Triumphant Church International, London.

The union produced two boys. The marriage threw Nomthi into the limelight. She became an acclaimed author and an advocate against bullying, among other courses.

Then tragedy struck again. Nomthi passed away on November 9, 2021. Announcing the death, Odukoya revealed that Nomthi “battled cancer for the better part of two years”.

“She stood on the word of God, and she fought,” he wrote on his Instagram page.

“She gave me 11 beautiful years of marriage and two wonderful boys, who I know will be very significant in life. I loved her with all my heart, but who am I to fight the will of God?

“The truth is, at one point in our lives, we all will have to say goodbye. So, for now, till we meet again in glory, Goodbye, Nomthi.”

Nomthi died on Tuesday, and the following Sunday, Odukoya was back on the pulpit espousing the teachings of God.

Odukoya led a worship session at his church in Lagos and his action spurred Jimmy, his son, to take to his Instagram page to heap praises on his dad.

Jimmy commended his father for fighting what “would break a lesser man”.

Seven weeks later, Odukoya also lost Kehinde Hassan, his twin sister.

Describing her father’s passion for God, Toluwani said Odukoya understood that “God gives and takes, and we shouldn’t lose the giver and hold on to the gift because the giver will always give us gifts”.

“My father is a good Christian. As a human being, he has the right to question God for his wife’s death, but somehow, he understands God and His works,” she said.

“Despite his wife’s death, it didn’t shake his faith in God, and that also challenges the children. My mother died on December 10, and I fell seriously ill during that period, but my dad left me for the church. He called my aunt to stay with me, saying the church needed him. The church was really in disarray during that period too. He rates God higher than any other thing. Since God gives and takes, we shouldn’t lose the giver and hold on to the gift because the giver will always give us gifts.”

Beyond his gospel teachings, Odukoya touched lives and impacted communities through his philanthropic deeds. He is a staunch believer in the role of the church in the socio-economic life of the nations, and his ideas are demonstrated through the social initiatives of the Fountain of Life Church.

The church has a hospital, an orphanage, a school for the indigent and a vocational farm. Through the Grace Springs Rehabilitation Home initiative, the institution took young children off the streets, rehabilitated and reconciled them with their families and society. The church claimed the initiative had touched over 24,000 beneficiaries since 2004.

The institution also launched Education Support Project (ESP) to salvage the falling standard of education in public schools within its environs. The programme provided infrastructure for schools and teachers and granted scholarships to outstanding students.

Pastor Taiwo Odukoya breathed his last in The United States of America on Monday 7th August 2023.