Who is Yinka Oyekan?
Yinka is the president elect of the Baptist Union (UK) for 2020/2021. He is also the pastor and senior leader of The Gate, a church in Reading, Berkshire, UK. He founded THE TURNING in 2016. The Turning is a rapidly growing initiative that seeks to empower churches to reach out to people on the streets of their neighbourhoods. This is happening across the UK, and throughout Europe and America.
Born a Prince:
Yinka was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, and lived there for the first 9 years of his life with his mother and grandmother, who was a tower of strength to them. His parents had met at university in Scotland but his father had returned to Nigeria afterwards. When Yinka was nine he moved to Lagos, Nigeria to be with his father.
His father, Adeyinka Oba Oyekan II was actually the king of Lagos! This heritage made Yinka a Prince through his ancestral bloodline. Adeyinka was also a devout Christian, who had been a member of the Tinubu Methodist Church where he taught in the Sunday School before becoming king.1 Yinka's great grandfather, Oba Oyekan I, had also been king over Lagos and reigned between 1885 - 1900.2
It was in 1965 when his father Adeyinka Oba Oyekan II was installed as Oba (king) of Lagos where he reigned as Monarch from 1965 till 2003. Oba Oyekan was only the second Christian Oba of Lagos, he was considered a pacifist and bridge builder during his reign.3
Return to Edinburgh
When Yinka was thinking of university he decided to return to the Scotland to study.
After graduation he contemplated the future and decided to work with the Good News Crusade with Cornish evangelist Don Double. In 1998 he went on his first mission to Canvey Island in Essex, where he was billeted for a week with Wessex's Brian Edgeley and his wife Angela, who were part of the Canvey Island mission and ministry team and living local to Canvey in the town of Benfleet.
After a relatively short period of time Don DOuble, who had been looking for someone to pass the leadership baton onto asked Yinka if he would lead GNC forwards, but working closely with Don. Yina headed up the team at GNC for 7 years before moving to Scotland to train for the Baptist ministry after which he became a church pastor. In 1990 he met and married Fiona; the couple recently celebrated 28 years of marriage. They have 3 sons together.
In 2005 Yinka and Fiona moved to Reading where he took on the pastorate of the new Reading Community Church. The Community church was formed when Tilehurst Free Church and Groveland’s Christian Fellowship amalgamated under the Yinka's leadership. Reading has a thriving church leaders forum where leaders from all the different streams and denominations come together for prayer and worship and to seek the way forwards for the area. Yinka is a key element to this forum and regularly networks with others.
In 2016 the Church upgraded its name to 'The Gate.' There the leaders seek to be a multi-generational church which builds up and empowers individuals to take God's presence with them into whatever sphere of life God has called them to. Then they release them into ministry.4
The Reading Revival
In May 2016 The Gate started a 2 week mission called 'Awakening in the UK' 5 with Tommie Zeto, an American pastor and evangelist from Fort Myers, Florida, who founded 'The American Awakening' - a national movement to bring Christians together to impact their communities across America 6. The mission entailed training in outreach, prayer and street work. The training enabled the ordinary church member to move out onto the streets of Reading and talk to people about their faith. Before the first day was over it was clear that this was not to be a normal mission, over 80 people had accepted the invitation to pray to Christ on the streets of Reading. Many more were told the that “God loved them and had an awesome plan for their life” and allowed a member of the church to pray a blessing over their life. On the 8th June Reading Christian Network affirmed that something out of the ordinary was happening on the streets and agreed to be part of it; what had started in a Baptist Church was not just for one Church or even one town.8 By the end of 10 days over 720 people had prayed on the streets of Reading. 9 People across the country started talking about this extraordinary outpouring in Reading calling it 'The Reading Revival'
Yinka believes what's happening in Reading is transferable, as it's 'not a technique, it is not a program, it is not a church growth plan but something Holy from the Lord.'
"It is simply the empowering of ordinary believers to be able to share the gospel on the streets and that is where the power to transform our cities lies. If we will humble ourselves, not try and control it and allow the Holy Spirit to flow we will see incredible things on the streets of every city in this nation." 10
Lynn Green Dreams a Dream
In June of 2016 Lynn Green (General Secretary of the Baptist Union [BU]) asked Yinka if she could come and share a word with the church that God had woken her up with previously. It was a flying visit as she was travelling to ministry in Cornwall. She read over the congregation Isaiah 43: v18-19 (listen to her 15 minute talk on Youtube)
"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland." Isaiah 43: v18-19
Afterwards she shared that God had given her a dream the previous year when she saw 'God lighting beacons of fire that spread all over the nation and which started in Reading'. Lynn issued a national call to prayer to all 2000 Baptist Churches in the BU across the country in an initiative called Beacons of Prayer. This initiative was to motivate believers to call upon God to move and to make space for 'Him' to do 'His' new thing. This was key! She said people needed to pray so that "we can perceive what God is doing and not just go ahead do our own thing".
Lynn continued to encourage the church to move out as a church without walls and bless the local community sharing the gospel with them. She also reminded them that in the parable of the sower some seeds would grow and some would wither, but the role of the church was to sow the seeds of the gospel and to pray that God would create good soil for the seeds to grow in and for Him to send his holy rain to water them. 10
As the 2 week mission mentioned above came to an end it was clear that God was moving and so the mission was extended and THE TURNING was born. However it wasn't just the locals in Reading that were eager to hear the good news, people across the country especially church leaders began to visit The Gate to find out what they where doing to allow this outpouring. They came to soak up the atmosphere and to listen to testimony of God's grace in peoples lives before returning to their own churches and moving out on the streets.
Suddenly invitations started to come in from churches all over country for Yinka Oyekan and his team to go and lead them forwards and to bring this grace upon their towns and cities. It appeared the prophetic word given by Lynn Green was coming to fruition.
Within a month the number of people who had responded on the streets had reached over 1,850 but, more staggering, was the openness of people on the streets to hear about God and to accept prayers as well as the sheer number of ‘regular’ Christians being equipped to do what, previously, only evangelists had done and to do so with confidence and seeing fruit.
Since that time THE TURNING has grown with teams from Reading travelling across the UK to equip the local church in evangelism and discipleship. Yinka says of this:
“The Turning is becoming a phenomenon. What looked, from a distance, like a technique, on closer inspection is revealed to be a gift from heaven. A gift that miraculously empowers ordinary Christians, enabling them to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. The fact that we are looking at the possibility of reaching over 3 million people across 6 nations in 5 years bears witness to the enduring power of the gospel.” 11
Next year 2019 will see the implementation of a cross denominational outreach across the whole country with Turning Teams going from County to County taking the local churches out on the streets.Coming after the completion of the 'HOPE 2018 Year of Mission' headed up by Roy Crowne, the beginning of the year will see churches from every borough in London reaching out on a mission which will see nearly 60 churches working together simultaneously on evangelistic street mission.
THE TURNING BOURNEMOUTH 2019
After the London mission it is hoped that the Turning Team will visit Bournemouth for 9 days of evangelism on the streets of Bournemouth. Dates have been negotiated to coincide with Moorlands College Missions week which could see the students joining churches across the area for street missions across Christchurch | Bournemouth and Poole. DV.
The proposed Turning Bournemouth 2019 has been diaried for June 14th through 22nd next year. Colin Bennett of Moorlands, Colin Mitchell of Baylink and Brian Edgeley of Wessex Filling Station are exploring the possibility of working together to spearhead this proposed mission.
Speaking to Roy Crowne recently about HOPE and also the possibilities for further mission in 2019 he said:
"As we gauge the impact of HOPE 2018 on the life of churches the length and breadth of the country, we see the true impact is in communities which are touched by churches working together for the good of their neighbourhoods. It warms my heart to hear how Moorlands, LEAF, Baylink and Wessex Filling Station have worked together on HOPE 2018 and how there is the potential - the possibility, of them working together again with Yinka Oyekan's THE TURNING; that would be so exciting for 2019.”
- see - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adeyinka_Oyekan
- see - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oyekan_I
- see - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adeyinka_Oyekan#cite_note-4
- see - thegate.uk.com/vision-3
- see - https://www.baptist.org.uk/Articles/469870/... (paragraph 2)
- see - https://www.tommiezito.com/about
- see - theturning.eu/index.php/history
- see - Yinka's Facebook status on 9th June, 2016 : facebook.com/PrinceYinkaOyekan
- see - YouTube link for Lynn Green Prophecy at the Gate
- see - https://www.baptist.org.uk/Articles/469870/Evangelistic_outpouring ... (paragraph 10 including quotation)
- see - Quotation from Yinka Oyekan, Turning Team Leader - theturning.eu/history/