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From klieg lights to God’s vineyard: Nigerian superstars that left entertainment for God’s works

Written by Ade

Some Nigerian superstars in the fields of music and acting have left the entertainment world at the heights of their careers to turn to God’s works

Ade Ishola

Musical and acting stars are hailed by almost everyone in society. They are courted by the rich and powerful while they are revered by the commoners.

The best among them seem to have the world at their feet as seemingly living in glamour and affluence. All to the envy of many.

But some of these personalities have forsaken these lifestyles. Even when their careers were at the ascendancy. To follow God, work in His path and preach His words.

This is a list of some of these Nigerian entertainment superstars that took the bold decision to shun the kliegs lights and work in the Lord’s vineyard.

  • Elizabeth ‘Liz’ Benson

Benson is an actress that brought glamour, talent and panache to Nollywood. The

Dramatic Arts graduate of Sylvania State College, United States of America, started acting at the age of 5 years. She has many TV series, movies and plays to her credit.   These include Fortunes (TV series); Glamour Girls (movie);

Benson, who lost her first husband when she was in her mid-twenties, remarried in 2009 after giving her life to Christ. She married Bishop Great Ameye of Freedom Family Assembly in 2009. She is now working as an Evangelist, helping in her husband ministry.

In an interview, she said she is a born-again Christian who now preaches the gospel on fulltime-basis. She explained that she would only act in films that she believed was in line with her faith.

Liz Benson
  • Felicia ‘Efunsetan Aniwura’ Iyabo Ogunsola

Iyabode Ogunsola, was the second wife of the late veteran actor Isola Ogunsola (I show Pepper), who made her own marks as a professional actress. Born in 1950, she attended Anglican Grammar School, Orita Mefa, Ibadan and started acting on the stage from her school days.  

In 1976, she came to the limelight when she acted in Iyalode Efunsetan, based on the drama written by Dr Akinwumi Ishola. Her interpretation of the role made her so famous that the title name became her nickname.

Iya Efun, as she is popularly called, who has acted in many stage plays and movies decided to work for God in 1990. This was to fulfil the various messages she has been receiving of God’s calling since 1970, with her husband’s consent, she enrolled at Christian Light Bible College, Ogbere, Ibadan but unfortunately her husband died before she could complete her theological training.

She has also attended Mount Zion Academy, Ile-Ife in 1995 while she enrolled and got a Doctorate in Theology at The Lord Bible School, Lagos in 1999.

Since she started on God’s works, she has left the popular theatre to preach the words of God, produce Christian films and songs, which she markets by herself.  

Her evangelic movies include Omo Oloja Irole and Adehun Agan and her gospel songs include By Fire By Mercy, Adura Mi Gba 1, 2, 3, Next Level, Akiikitan, Adura Ibewo, My Testimony (which narrated her life history and how she became a minister of God), In Jesus Name, Redeemer And Winner, Sword of Fire and Aanu Leekan Si i and others.

Evangelist Iyabo Ogunsola
  • Idowu ‘Mama Rainbow’ Philips

Born in 1942, she worked as a healthcare assistant/ nurse in many hospitals before going into full-time acting after the death of her husband – Augustine Ayanfemi Phillips, to sustain his legacy. She has featured in many films including Back to Africa, Lagidigba, Jesu Mushin, Irepodun, Eyin Ogongo, N150 Million, Ìfé òtító, Fila Daddy, Arewa okunrin, Omo oku òrun, Okun ife, Apaadi, Eru, and Aje ni iya mi.

Phillips, who said she bosomed in her acting career at an ‘old age’ in her middle age, dedicated herself to God’s work almost two decades ago and now has a church, built inside her house in Ojodu, Lagos. She said pray to God to preserve her life so as to be able to continue with her missionary work.

She said she initially did not heed God’s call and she suffered for that as ‘God intentionally blocked everywhere she and her children could possibly get help.’

“It is the work of God that I’m doing now. I go from mountain tops to pray, to America, London, Canada, and other countries to minister. I find joy in being in the ministry. It is easy, and at the same time, not easy because it is a congregation of different types of people. People come to you with various problems, and it is my prayer that God should intervene in whatever issue they bring to me,” she said.

She is a brand ambassador for Airtel. She has a foundation, ‘Mama Rainbow Foundation’ to help in her charity and evangelical works, and the empowerment of widows.

Madam Idowu Phillips
  • Kunle ‘Dizzy K’ Falola

 Now, based in the United Kingdom, the 1980s pop star, noted for the hit “Baby Kilode”, is now a pastor, who occasionally now sing gospel songs.

Called ‘Dizzy’ because of his dreamy eyeballs, Falode was a Music graduate of Obafemi Awolowo University, who found fame as an artiste signed on EMI Music Nigeria label while still at the university. His tracks were hits in the 1980s before he found Christ in 1986. He was a member of Christ Chapel International Churches, in the United Kingdom, with Pastor Tunde Joda as his mentor in the Lord. He is now Senior Pastor at Power Church International, London, UK. He still sings and produces gospel music. His major preoccupations are preaching, gospel music, youth activities, family gatherings/worship.

Dizzy K Falola
  • Omawumi Michael Efueye

The Senior Pastor of Chapel of LIFE in the United Kingdom was a viewers’ darling in the eighties as a dashing actor on many Nigerian TV soaps, particularly acting as Tosan in Mirror in the Sun.  

Efueye shunned acting when he found Christ in the 1990s, he was a Pastor of the London Light House Parish of House on the Rock Church in the UK before he founded the Chapel of Life, called ‘A Church Without Walls’ in 2004.

Affectionately called Pastor O by his church members, Efueye is now actively involved in mentoring, teaching, encouraging people to live their lives for Christ.

A graduate of Literature in English and a Master’s Degree holder of Mass Communication, he is a poet, an author and a motivational speaker and pastor churning out books, poems and audiobooks. Some of his works include ‘Different by Design: Marriage: a Joyful Union of Opposites.’ 

Pastor Omawunmi Efueye
  • Charles Okafor

He was a popular actor before shunning the limelight to walk with the Lord. The actor and producer acted in Nollywood movies. A University of Port Harcourt graduate of Theatre Art, Okafor has a Masters Degree in Political Science and International Relations from the University of Lagos.

A former staff of the Security and Exchange Commission, Okafor pursued a thriving career in acting, which started in 1996 with the movie titled “Domitilla”. His other roles were in movies like “End of the Wicked”, which earned him an award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role at the Africa Movie Academy Awards; Conspiracy, Blood Billionaires, Executive Connection, World of Riches, Tomorrow Lives Again, Super Hero, Abuja Boys, King of the Forest, Price of the Wicked, Forest of Promises, Billionaires Club, which won him the award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role at the Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards and Most Promising Actor in Nigeria at the Best of Nollywood Awards.

In an interview, he said he has found Christ and he is devoting his life to serving Him and is now mindful of the scripts he does.

“A time comes in the life of any professional when he seats back and takes stock of his professional issues

and the legacy he wants to leave behind from the spiritual standpoint of view. You cannot just do any kind of film anymore if you are going to be the light to the nations of the world. We must be seen in the context of the things that glorify God in totality,” he said.

Charles Okafor
  • Zachee Ama Orji

Orji, an actor, producer and director is also a musician who speaks English and French languages fluently. He has acted in many leading and supporting roles in movies before he became born-again and started devoting his time to Christ.

These include Unforgiven Sins, Glamour Girls, Above Death, Games Women Play, Zonal Leader, All My Life, Head Gone, Three Wise Men, Beson’s Villa, Half of a Yellow Sun, Bridge of No Return, Mama Africa, Heritage and others.

 Now, he is a preacher with loaded preaching and speaking schedule within and outside the country. He said he living his life to the fullest as he tries to win souls for Christ.

He was officially ordained a pastor by Bishop Lawrence Osagie.  

 “When I reminisce on my journey into Nollywood, and my meteoric rise to the top, I always come to the conclusion that it was by God’s unstoppable grace.”

Zack Orji

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