Taylor, Daniel Olaleye
c. 1894 to 1977
United Missionary Church of Africa
Daniel Olaleye was from Ipoti. He was born around 1894. His parents were traditional worshippers and he was dedicated to their gods when he was born. As a school boy, he lived in Offa. Here is the story of his conversion and call to the ministry in his own words:
Before I was led to find the true source of salvation I had called myself a Christian for ten years. Why? Because in the year 1912 I was baptized and became a member of the CMS church at Offa. All I knew was to memorize our church catechism. As a school boy, I could do this very easily because catechism was part of our school studies. All that I thought was if anyone had been baptized he had been born again. From 1912 to 1922 I had tried hard as I could to be a good church member until I was considered as one of the lay readers on probation.
D. O. Taylor's first assignment with the UMS was to be a teacher at the UMS primary school in Jebba. On weekends he travelled on foot and by bicycle to many villages around Jebba and Share for evangelism. From 1933 to 1939 he was the headmaster of the Jebba school and helped raise the standards of the school so that it trained many people who became prominent all over Nigeria.
In 1921 I was transferred from Offa to Zungeru because I was a railway clerk then. In 1922 I was asked by the engineer over me to come down to Jebba for a few weeks to do some work. The head carpenter at Jebba, named E. T. Quanor, a man from the Gold Coast (Ghana), had a gospel newspaper called "The Sword of the Spirit" sent out to him from Philadelphia in America. One day, this man came into the workshop office where I was, to drink some water, and he laid this paper on my table. I liked the name of the paper and I asked him if I might read it. He agreed, and I began to read.
When I read about the second birth and its true interpretation, it gave me a shock. I began to look back into my previous life and I trembled. I was afraid that if death overtook me in such a miserable state, I would be hopeless.
I asked for more of the papers. The paper was sent monthly and Mr. Quanor had received it for a long time, so he gave me more of what he had. In reading as many as I could get, I discovered many things I ought not to do that I had done, and those I ought to do that I had left undone. Finally I realized that if I failed to know what the second birth was, I would not get any victory to make me able to cleave to the right and abstain from the wrong. As I kept reading and searching the Scriptures quoted in the paper, I was greatly helped by the Lord to understand the meaning. I finally saw I had relied on useless human effort in my past so-called Christian experience. A few weeks went by. I returned to Zungeru and began to meditate on all I had read. In fact, I had some of the papers with me.
I began to ponder over what I had read. My heart was heavy. I became disconsolate and sad. I said to myself, "If I had died before this time, would I not perish? Yes, no doubt I would have perished." I instantly knelt down to pray to God as I was led by his Spirit. One by one I remembered many of my sins and I began to confess them to God with the promise that if he would save me and remove the burden from my heart, I would do whatever he asked me to do.
I prayed with bitters tears. I don't know how the tears came, but I was so sad because of the things I had done which would have resulted in the everlasting destruction of my soul. A few years later, I realized that many converts got their conversion in the same way. I did not receive assurance of removal of my sins at the same time, but I prayed many times before I began to feel that the burden had really been removed.
About four months later I was appointed as godfather to some young men who were being baptized in my church. When the pastor came down from Kano to Zungeru to do the ceremony, he came to see me and asked me a few questions. "Do you not feel like working for the Saviour? If you do, I will arrange for you to come to Kano where you will be given work in God's vineyard." I said to him, "Yes, I know the Lord has called me to be his messenger, but I am not yet ready to start." "Why?" he said. I exclaimed, "Because I have not married, and before I can do that, I must have about fifty pounds or more." He replied, "I don't think you should wait that long because I believe what you are doing now is not the work God wants you to continue in. I think your work is that of a shepard."
After the pastor left, I tried to forget about what he had said and I became restless and sad. In the midst of this, a silent voice came into my heart saying, "Yield." I said to the voice, "You know, to become a preacher of the Word does not bring in much money and the work is much. I need money to do this and that. Let me wait a while to gather some money and marry first." In my heart I agreed to be God's servant, but I wanted to delay it in order to satisfy by desires, and my happiness left me.
After a few months, I was brought to Jebba to do some work just for a short time. The church in Jebba belonged to the UMS, so I started attending. One Sunday morning, the missionary Rev. Finlay asked if one of the congregation could come to read the lesson in Yoruba because the man who was the teacher in charge didn't know Yoruba well. I stood up to read the lesson, and he called me to read the lesson every Sunday I was present after that. One Sunday afternoon he needed an interpreter. I came to his help again, and he had me help whenever he saw me in the church. He needed an interpreter because he used to preach in Yoruba in the morning service and in English in the afternoon service.
One prayer meeting night I was present. After a short address, Rev. Finlay said to the people that he felt that God was calling someone among us to work for him. The silent voice came into my heart once more saying, "You are the person; I have asked you to carry my message to some people. Will you not answer?"
My heart was sad and I burst into tears. I sobbed and sobbed for a while till the meeting was over. Rev. Finlay did not know that I was present. I too did not greet him that night before I went to my house. If I had tried to greet him, I would not have been able to control myself, but would have burst into tears again, and the matter would have been known that night. However, on our way home, I revealed all the secret to an elderly man in the church named Mr. O. B. Samuel.
When Mr. Samuel heard my story, he followed me into my room at the railway quarters and prayed with me. I could not pray very well because I was sobbing and weeping. When we were through, I felt happy again because I had confirmed my promise that I was ready to yield at any time the Lord opened the way. I said to the Lord, "Whether or not I marry, I am ready to answer the call."
A few weeks elapsed. I was transferred back to Zungeru and the fire of my call began to burn dimly. As I became depressed again, I remembered my promise. I knelt down and made a fresh promise to start the work. That same week I was transferred back to Offa. In Offa, I submitted an application to Rev. Finlay to do the work of the gospel.
When Rev. Finlay knew that I was ready to do the work, I was employed as a pulpit teacher on July 1st, 1924. I had been disobedient to the call of God for almost two years, but in his great love and mercy he did not cut me off and I am thankful.
In spite of all these experiences, there was one thing I did not know and it took me six years to find out about it. That is, the infilling of the Holy Spirit. The missionaries with whom I worked and who knew me from 1924 to 1928 can tell you this is true. I had my second birth in November 1922, and answered the call of God in July 1924, but I was not very useful in God's service until 1928. Some of the missionaries who heard me give my testimony about my salvation asked me many times if I had the filling of the Holy Spirit and I frankly confessed that I had not. Many times they prayed with me and for me that I might receive it, but it did not happen until one night in our workers' meeting at Share in 1928 when I yielded to all the will of my Savious, giving him all, that he might give me all that he had for me. Only then did he see it best to give me the filling of the Holy Spirit. In 1931 when Miss W. Caffray visited Nigeria for revival meetings, I had rapidly grown in grace from 1928 to 1931 so that she could use me to some extent as an interpreter of the Word of God to my people. Coming in contact with her is one of the best spiritual blessings I have ever received in the service of Christ, and one of the best helps to my ministry.
In 1939 he became full-time pastor of the UMS church in Jebba and in 1943 he was the first Nigerian to be ordained in the Christian ministry by the UMS. After five years of pastoring in Jebba, he was transferred to Igbeti. There he spent five years pastoring and consolidating the Igbeti church (now Jerusalem church) until it became the biggest UMS church in Nigeria. He also helped to build up the Bible School there. After this, he was transferred back to Jebba. In those days, Jebba was the headquarters of the UMS in Nigeria.
In 1951, the missionaries asked Rev. D. O. Taylor to visit Canada and the United States to promote the work in Nigeria. He was the first Nigerian asked to do this. On his return, from 1952 to 1958 he was at Share, establishing the church there and working in the Bible School. During this time, he helped train many of the UMCA's future leaders.
In 1959 Rev. Taylor was elected District Superintendent of the Yoruba district of the newly created UMCA (United Missionary Church in Africa). He did this work for seven years, until he retired in 1966 at the age of 72. He had devoted 42 years to the work of the Lord under UMS/UMCA.
On his retirement, Rev. Taylor moved back to his home town, Ipoti. In 1974, his six children and many former wards organized a big 80th birthday celebration for him in Ipoti. The thanksgiving service was held in St. Saviour's Anglican Church, Ipoti. The UMCA church choir from Pake Ilorin went to render special numbers. Others who attended from the UMS/UMCA were Rev. and Mrs. O. Traub and a number of the UMCA ministers whom he had trained and led over the years. A photo taken on the occasion shows Rev. Taylor with the following UMCA reverends: J. Babatunde, J. Adeyemi, D. Sunmonu, J. Adelodun, P. Taiwo and S. Adedokun.
During the celebration Rev. Traub told a story about Rev. D. O. Taylor during the days that he was leading the church. The school teachers complained that their salaries were not enough. Although Rev. Taylor was earning less than they were, he suggested that he himself could take less so that the extra money could be used to supplement the money received by the teachers.
Through his evangelism and discipling, Rev. D. O. Taylor led hundreds of people to the Lord and built up many in the faith. May God grant more ministers to UMCA with his dedication and anointing.
The Taylors were blessed with six children (Paul, Timothy, Peter, John, James, Bola) and also raised many relatives and wards in their home, including Colonel Ariyo. Of their children, Paul became a lawyer, Timothy a university lecturer, and others also distinguished themselves.
Rev. D. O. Taylor went to be with the Lord in March 1977.
This information is from the Emphasis magazine, December 15, 1974 and adapted from Rev. Taylor's article in the Missionary Banner of July 1943, pages 6-8.
This article is reproduced, with permission, from Faith of Our Fathers: Life Stories of Some UMCA Elders, copyright © 1999, edited by Lois Fuller, Ilorin, Kwara State, Nigeria. All rights reserved.