Rev. Moses Adekola | Nigerian pastor reflects on journey to Nova Scotia, life devoted to helping others

By Carole Morris-Underhill | Cape Breton Post

Rev. Moses Adekola smiles when he sees falling snow. The mere sight of snowflakes falling to the ground makes the Nigerian-born pastor grin from ear to ear.

“Winter is my favourite. I just love wintertime,” said Adekola, sipping on a hot chocolate while sitting inside a Tim Hortons restaurant.

He chuckles.

“Why? Because when you see the snow on the ground, you see the purity of God.”

Adekola, originally from Oke-Ayo, Kwara State, Nigeria, was born into a large Muslim family on Jan. 21, 1945.

However, he knew at a very young age that his heart belonged to the Lord.

It wasn’t an easy path to set out on, he said, but he had faith that if it was the correct path, the Lord would always provide.

And, Adekola says, He has.

Adekola, who now resides in New Glasgow and is the senior pastor at the Second United Baptist Church, spent his formative years preaching in Three Mile Plains at the Windsor Plains United Baptist Church, attending school at Acadia University, all while harvesting fruit and vegetables to make ends meet.

How he arrived to settle in Nova Scotia, Adekola said, is all thanks to God.

Moses Adekola and his wife, Sarah, spent many summers picking various fruits and vegetables in order to make a living while he attended school and preached at a local church. Here, they’re pictured picking blackberries. – Contributed


Adekola’s parents would not pay for his education because of his religious conversion in 1957. But he was driven to succeed. He learned how to type quickly and take down short-hand and established his own typing institute.

“That was the beginning of my academic ambitions,” said Adekola.

He said when he received his call into ministry, he had to take an exam.

“There were about 45 students in that examination room. They asked us to wait outside until they finished marking,” he said.

His overall mark was 92 so the Bible school accepted him as a student. He spent four years there and graduated on June 3, 1979. Within days, he was the pastor of a church with more than 2,000 members. That September, he was appointed as the principal of a nearby college.


“So, I was doing two jobs but with only one salary: a pastoral job and the principal of the school,” said Adekola.

The ministry then sent him to Jerusalem to study and he met a Canadian who encouraged him to apply to Acadia University.

He looked into it but there wasn’t a scholarship available for international students. He also considered studying at the University of Washington, where he was told they would decide on a scholarship once they saw his performance at the school.

“By then, my wife was pregnant with our fourth child.”

Moses and Sarah Adekola posed for photos after he received his doctorate degree from Acadia University in 2006. – File Photo

Through hard work and prayer, Adekola managed to provide the University of Washington with a $50,000 U.S. bank draft, which they put in trust. He worked as a custodian at the school to pay for his rent and tuition. Meanwhile, his wife and children remained overseas.

“At the end of the year, they said they’d give me a full scholarship.”

He obtained his BA and a masters degree and then applied for a second masters degree. As he was progressing with his studies in the United States, a letter arrived from his father, asking him to come home.

Adekola knew the trip could be dangerous but he made the journey anyway.

In 1901, Adekola said his father had pioneered bringing the Islamic religion to his hometown. So, when Adekola arrived home and his father asked to become a Christian, he was surprised.

“My mom overheard that and all of my aunts and uncles. Because in Africa, we have an old saying: the wall has ears,” said Adekola, with a hearty laugh.

Pretty soon church members were listening to the testimony of his father, who converted to Christianity that same day.

“My dad confessed the Lord Jesus Christ three weeks prior to his death. He lived to be 110,” he said.

But when word spread about Adekola’s visit, a plot was hatched to kill him because he was Christian. Luckily, a group of supporters helped smuggle him out of the community.

“They took me around 6:30 to 7 p.m. because it was getting dark. If they didn’t, I would not be the Moses that is speaking to you today,” said Adekola.

Years later, while he was serving at a church in Africa, his mother arrived, asking to convert to Christianity so that she could be with her husband in death.

Rev. Moses Adekola isn’t afraid of hard work. While attending university and serving as a pastor at the Windsor Plains United Baptist Church, he helped pick a variety of fruits and vegetables at J.W. Masons and Sons Ltd. throughout the 1990s. – Contributed


Adekola eventually applied to Acadia University and was accepted in 1990. The university agreed to provide a scholarship, based on his previous university performances, but he had to pay for his own food and rent.

“I had to go out every morning at 5 a.m. and go to the apple orchard in Wolfville picking apples,” recalled Adekola. “So, by 6:30 a.m., I would come home, wash up and go back to the classes.”

Around the same time, Windsor Plains United Baptist Church was looking for a Black minister to lead the congregation. They approached Acadia Divinity College and met Adekola. It was a perfect match.

While studying at Acadia, he served as their pastor, making $15,000 a year.

He longed to be reunited with his wife and family, but he learned he must earn $32,000 a year before he could start their immigration process.

He was involved with a prayer group at the university, which is where he met Jennifer Longley. She was from New Brunswick.

“She said, ‘Moses, in this country, you don’t have to suffer in silence. Maybe my church can assist you so you can bring your family over,’” recalled Adekola.

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With all the red tape surrounding immigration, he welcomed her involvement, saying if it was meant to be, the Lord would provide.

She arranged for him to attend the First Congregational Church of Fredericton, where Rev. Brad Little Junior presided. Adekola was invited to preach, becoming the first Black man to do so in the church.

He had no idea what would happen next.

“After my message, the pastor said, ‘come to the door so we can shake people’s hands.’ I went. To my surprise, they shook my hand with cheques, with cash. That morning, I was able to raise over $3,000,” said Adekola.

Then, he was told if his church in Three Mile Plains agreed to continue paying his $15,000 salary, their congregation would pay $17,000 a year to ensure he had a salary of $32,000 — just what immigration required.

“I thought I was in a dream.”

Rev. Dr. Moses Adekola, who spent 17 years at the Windsor Plains United Baptist Church, spent the first four years trying to bring his family to Nova Scotia from Nigeria. The happy reunion occurred in February 1995 when his wife, Sarah, and his six children arrived safe and sound. – File Photo

And so, they set to work on bringing Adekola’s wife, Sarah, and six children, Felix, Timothy, Mary, Grace, Lucas, and Eunice, to Canada.

“The immigration officer said, ‘Moses, why did you come to Canada?’ And I said, ‘I love Canada for two things: No. 1, Canada is a peaceful country; No. 2, I love snow.’”

His family arrived on Feb. 26, 1995 at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport.

The church community “brought warm jackets, winter boots, mittens and hats and gloves. They brought it to the airport because my children came to Canada in bare feet in the bitter cold of February,” recalled Adekola.

It was the most joyous reunion.

The Fredericton church congregation financially supported the family for three years, something Adekola is forever grateful for.

To help pay the bills, the family would pick apples, strawberries, corn — whatever was in season.

“At the same time, I’m a pastor at the church; at the same time, I’m a student at Acadia,” said Adekola.

Within the decade the entire family had become Canadian citizens.

“We were all here in Canada living in peace,” said Adekola, smiling.

His children are all well-educated and living across the country, with one living in the United States.

Rev. Moses Adekola is proud to say that his six children, who all became Canadian citizens, went on to graduate from school. Pictured here is Adekola’s daughter, Grace, on her graduation day from Saint Mary’s University. – Contributed

Adekola graduated Acadia University in 2006 with his doctorate degree. He left Three Mile Plains in 2007 for Alberta to be closer to his son. However, he found it difficult to get a job in ministry; he was told he was overqualified.

He spent eight years in Alberta, where he worked as a security officer and volunteered as the chaplain at the Calgary International Airport. He also received a stipend when he served as a guest preacher at various churches.

In 2015, representatives with the Second United Baptist Church in New Glasgow reached out and asked if he would be willing to be their pastor. They said they couldn’t pay a big salary.

“I said ‘whatever you have, I am willing to serve,’” Adekola said.

The seemingly always-smiling 75-year-old said he firmly believes it was God’s will that brought him to Canada some 30 years ago.

“He deserves that credit,” said Adekola.

In light of the worldwide pandemic, Adekola said now, more than ever, people need to have a little faith and believe that everything will work out.

“No matter how tough is the time or no matter how tough the decision, no matter how rough is the road, no matter how foggy is the day, God can be trusted and we have to continue praising Him, both in bright days and blue.”

Read from source Cape Breton Post