Sam’s Stories: Happy 70th Birthday

On the 30th day in December 1952, a special baby was born into this world. That baby grew up to be the most dashing man I have ever met, and I have met many. That baby became a source of joy and encouragement to the people that crossed his path. That baby became a brother, friend, classmate, husband and father. Loved by many, respected by most, adored by me; that baby would have been 70 years old today.

That baby: MY DAD!

Me; nestled safely in his arms

On the 17th of June this year, we celebrated 20 years since my dad went to be with the Lord. On the run-up to that day, the Lord led us to write a book about the man that walked so closely with Him, by compiling stories from those who knew him and those who met him. It is my most priced possession at the moment: written memories of the man who touched my life, both by his life and his death.

Allow me to share one of those stories:

It has been 20 years since that phone call from Niyi so late at night. Yet, there are 20 old things that one can still say about Engineer Sam. And there are probably 20 new things that have become the reality of having known this man for almost 50 years of his existence. For the sake of brevity and because it is still somewhat painful to think or talk about him, I will dwell on only two things that are most endearing about this man of God. 

First, who is the man, Sam Osunlaja? We called him Ade, a short form of his given name – Adegbesan. Bro Ade married into my family but soon became an integral part of us in a very quiet and unobtrusive way. He didn’t seek to be known or loved. He was just himself and it was difficult not to love that! As a matter of fact, he was more or less ‘a presence’ at many of our family functions, discreetly taking pictures on the latest Nikon camera and greeting people with his trademark smile. I say he was a presence because it is remarkable how a man who sat in a corner and said so little left such a profound impact. He had a presence! Now I know that presence to be the Holy Spirit. 

Two things are unforgettable about this man. The first of these remarkable things that will remain in the annals of history is his love for God, love for the people of God and love for all things of God. His love for God compelled him to do all things and then go above and beyond to do many things that most of us would not do. He was able to relate to people and leave them with a supernatural effect. He was a peacemaker and a peacekeeper. A big part of his modus operandi of love was not letting his left hand know what the right was doing. Many of these acts of love he did very discreetly, virtually anonymously. It was only at his funeral that scores of people came out to testify to how he touched their lives by “giving them a cloak, a cup of water or visiting in their affliction”. He simply did it all for Christ. 

The second thing that stands shining in his memory was his ability to recognise early in his life journey the vanity of life. The preacher in Ecclesiastes repeats for emphasis that life is vanity unless you have God in it. Bro. Ade understood this and avoided the vanities of life. He had an uncanny ability like Solomon to determine what parts of life are meaningless and he simply didn’t care much for such things, nor did he invest his money in them. He had no time for frivolities. Of course, that made him odd, parochial, misunderstood … I don’t think he cared! He held on to these Christian principles until the very end. And I think he has left those principles with us – family and friends – as a legacy. An offshoot of living a life devoid of vanity was that he had plenty of time for his ministry. He was a prolific writer, leaving several books to his credit. He was also very gifted artistically and somehow found the time to express that part of his personality because he had no time for the vanities of life. This gave him plenty of time to read, write and create all to the glory of God.

Bro. Ade was our pointer to Christ. He modelled his life after Christ. His grandchildren may not have had the privilege of knowing him, but I’m assured they will turn out like him as long as they’re raised in the way of the Lord. He was not one for giving expensive gifts, but the paradox is that he has left his family with the biggest, most expensive gift of all: a Christian heritage and an untarnished name. I know they will continue to pass the torch and keep the flame burning. 

Bolaji Obadeyi

Sam’s Stories: When God Transforms a Man

Daddy, you are the only person who leaves me short of words yet you are still the one who leaves me with much to say. I don’t know how else to celebrate your 70th birthday than to share your stories with the world. I know it will continue to bless people and transform lives.

I love you forever.

Happy birthday.

If you are interested in a copy of the book SAM’S STORIES: WHEN GOD TRANSFORMS A MAN, you can order a copy from Amazon below:


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