Master of Arts (Theology) Student Matthew Opayinka shares his journey in discerning his call and the joy he experiences in ministry
Encounter With Jesus: A Brother’s Influence
I encountered Jesus at the tender age of eleven. This marked a major turning point I will never forget.
Before encountering Jesus personally, I followed my parents to First Baptist Church Ilorin religiously and participated in many church activities such as the Royal Ambassadors and the children’s choir. But I was a nominal Christian – I did not quite understand the need for a personal decision to surrender my life to Christ.
In November of 1990, while at home in our living room, my eldest brother Joshua shared a simple gospel message with me. I had noticed a difference in his way of life, and I desired such a transformed life for myself. He prayed with me and led me to Christ.
Joshua became an Instrument in God’s hands in many ways at the beginning stage of my Christian life. He taught me about the importance of developing a solid relationship with God in the place of prayer, the study of God’s word, and the believer’s fellowship. He taught me the discipline of setting apart a day in a week to fast and pray. He did not only teach me in the necessary disciplines of the Christian life, but I also witnessed him live out those same spiritual disciplines in his own life.
Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.
2 Corinthians 4:1
Call To Ministry: An Internal Struggle
I perceived from the beginning of my Christian journey that God’s hand was on me to serve Him, but I was not quite clear what that would look like. As I continued to seek Him and go on short-term missionary trips in Nigeria, I felt God’s call to serve as a missionary pastor. However, I hated the idea of going to a theological school. I wanted whatever sense of calling I was experiencing to wait until I had completed my university education. It was my plan to follow my three elder brothers by attending university and pursue my childhood dream of becoming a medical doctor.
But there was a serious struggle within me – struggles that I was not willing to share with anyone. Despite this internal conflict, I decided to purchase the university application form anyway.
After the hour-long trek to the designated bank, I arrived at the gate with cash at hand to purchase the form, but I was too afraid to go inside. At that point, I knew I needed the counsel of a mature Christian. I tried to speak with a pastor nearby, but he wasn’t at home. Summoning my courage, I rushed back to the bank and purchased the Nigerian Universities Joint Admissions form.
But my sense of calling did not fade, and my internal struggles continued.
Later, I sought counsel from two pastors and my brother Joshua. All three of these men attested to my sense of call as a missionary pastor and provided helpful support to me.
Although I was admitted to study at the University of Ilorin, I instead prayerfully chose to pursue a Bachelor of Theology with an emphasis in Missions at the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary, Ogbomosho beginning in August 2002. I went on to complete a Master of Arts in Missiology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.
While studying at the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary, I found a prospectus for Acadia Divinity College in the library. Later, when I was rounding off my studies at Southern Seminary and applying for further education, I remembered this College that I had read about years ago and decided to apply. I ended up being accepted into three schools, and after prayerful consideration, my family decided to move to Canada.
Faithful is the One who calls, who also will do it.
1 Thessalonians 5:24
Looking Ahead: Serving with Joy
Ministry has taught me that God is faithful. There is so much joy in serving the Lord. The joy of being used by God in some little ways to make a difference in the lives of others is satisfying.
Ministry can be quite challenging sometimes, but the joy of ministry far outweighs the challenges.
Acadia Divinity College is helping to further equip me to develop a dynamic servant leadership attitude. There are many people who need the Lord who are outside the doors of our churches. I trust my future in the hands of our Great God. Wherever He leads me next, I want to be prepared to reach people in our communities where they are. I believe my training at ADC will equip me to do just that.
Matthew Opanyinka grew up in Ilorin, Kwara State, Nigeria. His call to pastoral ministry led him to the Nigerian Baptist Seminary where he earned a Bachelor of Theology degree. He served as a missionary intern and in various churches throughout Nigeria, developing a deep passion for all God’s people, especially those not engaged with a church.
Along with his wife and two young children, Matthew left Nigeria to further his education in North America. He made his way to Acadia Divinity College where he is enrolled in the Master of Arts (Theology) program with a specialization in Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care.