Emmanuel Oladipo

“It nurtured me to maturity in the faith”

Former International Director of Scripture Union International, Emmanuel Oladipo looks back on how he first heard about Scripture Union and the impact it had on his life...


Emmanuel Oladipo, was just 15 years old when a meeting with SU trainer John Dean, steered his life in a different direction.

“The movement had just started in Nigeria,” explained Emmanuel. “John Dean was a travelling secretary visiting the school. Most of us were from Christian homes, but it was he that got us organised in our own regular Bible study groups. We had weekly meetings and that is what really formed the foundation of our Christian group.”

Emmanuel explained that John didn’t leave it there, he followed up his group of Christian students from school to university.

“When I was in my second year of university, John came to our fellowship and asked us to pray for one of us to join the staff of SU – I made the mistake of praying and it became clear that God was saying it should be me.”

But it wasn’t an easy step, he explained, “In Nigeria at that time there were very few university graduates – very important jobs were waiting for us wherever we turned.” As the first born in his family, earning a big salary would have helped ease the burden on his father, which was the expectation. The job with SU wasn’t the most highly paid in the world, but the family were very supportive of his calling and he became an SU Schools Worker in Nigeria, going on to work for SU for the rest of his working life.

Emmanuel met his wife through a Scripture Union Conference and they had four children and four grandchildren.

Emmanuel went on to become the director of SU for Northern Nigeria and then moved to Kenya when he became director for Africa Region for 10 years. He was the International Director for Scripture Union International for 12 years until 2005.

He believes SU has a vitally important ministry in building up the youth and nurturing young believers through the progam of Bible study and group meetings and camps.

“I came from a Christian home but it was Scripture Union that clarified the basics of the faith for me and nurtured me to maturity in the faith.”

The most important thing it did for me as a Christian is to make me an interdenominational Christian. I am able to accept people of all traditions on the basis of the common faith.

Emmanuel’s hope is that SU will continue to train a new generation of leaders for the Church. He believes it needs to rely more on the work of volunteers rather than paid professionals to do the work and said there is a vital need to recruit and train volunteers.

Looking back on his earliest Bible studies with John Dean he has a photo of himself with John and seven other students. He said they are all still going on in their Christian faith, while one became a high flying lawyer, another an army general and another a state governor.

He said, “By the grace of God it was Scripture Union that brought us into the faith and it was Scripture Union that has kept us in the faith.”