Simeo Melkio Ondeto, also known as Lodvikus, Hosea, Enure, Santa Maria, Laurida, Messias, is the founder of Legion Maria of African Church Mission (or simply Legio Maria).
While many founders of churches and religious movements are simply known as leaders, Simeo Ondeto is one of the rare founders who is worshipped by followers and known as God.
What makes Simeo Ondeto to be revered as God? Is he really God?
God is Known by His Self-Revelation
The supreme, omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent being we call God has never been seen by human eyes. All that human beings know, say and believe concerning God has come through God’s own self-revelation.
It is only God who makes known his being and inspires belief in millions of people who have experienced him through revelation. Prophets and religious teachers, pastors and priests, and all the spiritual leaders that the world has hosted have only known God through revelations. And those revelations have come in the form of dreams, visions, natural phenomena, interactions with angelic beings, the power of human conscience, the experience of beauty, truth and justice, and the incarnation of the son of God.
When humans say there is God, they do not mean they can produce him or point people to where he is located here on earth. But they mean they have experienced the supreme and divine being in one way or the other. This is what the scriptures declare, for scriptures are records of human experiences with the divine.
The stories recorded in the Bible, right from the creation narratives to the audacious declarations of the Book of Revelation, are human experiences. In Genesis we read of Abraham’s experiences and interactions with God; in Exodus we read of the mighty power of God in the journeys of Israelites; through prophets Elijah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Micah, Zephaniah and Malachi, we hear of the experiences of different men with God. All these are revelations. All these are the self-revelation of the unknown God whom eyes cannot see.
Legio Maria Declaration of God
When Legion Maria declares that it has God, it is merely stating that it has experienced the self-revelation of God and mastered the truth of God’s existence.
God who was revealed to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; God who was revealed to Moses through the burning bush; God who was revealed in visions and dreams to prophets Ezekiel, Elijah and Isaiah; God who was revealed by angels through angelic visitations; and the same God who was revealed through the incarnation of Jesus Christ is the almighty God that Legio Maria is declaring.
Legion Maria believes in one God, the creator of heavens and earth, and everything that lives and which do not live. He is three in one (trinity), made up of three persons of the same substance. He is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
Simeo Ondeto is God
When Legio Maria states that Simeo Ondeto is God, it is affirming the truth that God who is unknown and eternal has been revealed through a human person called Simeo Melkio Ondeto, who lived on earth from 1926 to 1991.
The same God who revealed himself according to his own discretion as Jesus of Nazareth has revealed himself as Simeo Ondeto. And in Simeo Ondeto, divinity and humanity have become one, so that there is no gap between what is divine and what is human.
In Simeo Ondeto, the son of God that is only known by faith, the Christ of faith who exists eternally as spirit has been revealed as a real human being. Simeo Ondeto is the human existence of the spiritual Christ.
Why is Simeo Ondeto God?
On Friday 9th March 1962, when members of the lay Legion of Mary movement were at the home of John Baru in Suna Migori, they experienced the self-revelation of God and the Holy Spirit’s declaration that Simeo Ondeto is God.
It was 6:00 p.m. when the group heard a multitude of voices singing four familiar songs from the nearby Kachola Hill and moving towards the Home of John Baru. As they were gathered at the center of the home in awe, not knowing what was happening, the unseen multitude entered the home singing and the mysterious revelation of God occurred.
Immediately after the unseen choir sang the last song over the home of John Baru, the over 1000 people gathered in that home had their eyes opened and they were at once taken up into spirit and rapture, becoming ecstatic and seeing heavenly visions.
All of them concurrently, simultaneously and at once had the same vision of angels and saints descending from the clouds of heaven, of Simeo Ondeto seated on his heavenly throne and passing judgment over the living and the dead, and of angels and saints falling prostrate before the glorious seat of Simeo and worshipping him.
When they had experienced this edifying occurrence, the Holy Spirit spoke through one of them called Siprianus Ochieng. The Holy Spirit declared Simeo Ondeto as the son of God who had taken up flesh to bring the message of the glory of God on earth.
The Spirit called Simeo to introduce himself to the people as God; and at first; Simeo declared that he is Simeo Ondeto Son of Joseph Owiti Obimbo of Angoro Awasi, of Kano, Watombori Clan. The Spirit rejected this introduction and asked him to re-introduce himself properly. And doing his introduction a second time, Simeo declared he was the Messiah (Christ), son of God, who was sent by God for the glorification of men.
The Public Revelation is Worthy of Faith
This experience of over 1000 people gathered at once at the home of John Baru is the basis of Legio Maria. For when 1000 people concurrently and simultaneously see the angels and saints of heaven descend from heaven and join them on earth, it is a greater and more believable vision than the vision and experience of one prophet.
A single prophet can lie. Two people can collude. But when hundred people say they experienced the same vision and saw the same things at once, it is worthy of belief. And even more believable is when 1000+ people re-tell the same vision and heavenly experience.
Moreover, the public revelation given to Legio Maria was accompanied by the coming of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit filled many Legios several years later and did many great things. The same Holy Spirit that still works in Legion Maria today is the same Spirit that came on that day. And because the public revelation is true and the declaration that Simeo Ondeto is God was made by the Holy Spirit, He is truly God.
Reasons Why Simeo Ondeto is God
1. He was revealed publicly to 1,150 people concurrently, simultaneously, at once on March 9, 1962.
2. The Holy Spirit declared Him as the son of God.
3. A voice from heaven called Him son of God in the presence of Legio Maria members on more than one occasion.
4. He fulfilled biblical prophecies of the second coming of Christ.
5. He gave followers the Holy Spirit, something only God can do because the Holy Spirit is God.
6. He knew everything before happening, including his persecution and death.
7. He knew all who went to him by name, background and problems even before they introduced themselves to him and told him of their problems.
8. He did many miracles including bringing the dead back to life. He brought back to life Amoke of Asembo, a Roho church faithful at Gombania in Tanzania, the son of Kalaudia in Nairobi, and Angelina of Seme, among others.
9. He spoke through the Holy Spirit to his followers when he was physically dead.
10. He appeared physically to his followers when he was already buried, removing Salome from prison, talking to members of the order of angel Michael, visiting Dalmas Oyier, appearing to Gombe and other Legios in his memorial of 1992, and appearing to over 30,000 Legios gathered at the memorial of 2011.
Truly Man: Simeo Ondeto Parents
Simeo Ondeto was born in 1926 to Joseph Owiti Obimbo (Ka-Msumba) and Margaret Aduwo near Awasi School, in today’s Kisumu County, Nyanza Province, Kenya. His parents never knew that this child would be worshipped 35 years later as the African incarnation of God.
As a young child, Simeo Ondeto was a herd’s boy who looked after his father’s cattle in the fields regularly. He was obedient to his parents and compassionate to all. According to Simeo Ondeto’s elder brother, Wilson Owino Obimbo, Ondeto was mysterious right from childhood. Owino counts around 8 miracles that Ondeto did as a child in order to affirm the fact that Ondeto was God right from birth, and not made God later on by Legion Maria faithful.
The Names Jesus and Simeo
The son of God does not exist in heaven as a human being and so when he comes to earth, he has to take up flesh. When the son of God took up flesh among the Jews, he was called Jesus son of Joseph (Yeshua Ben Jose).
Jesus is not the heavenly name of the son of God. In fact, Jesus was a common word and a common name among the Jews. Even Christ is just a worldly name and title given to the son of God when he came on earth. He was named by people in a normal way. Similarly, the names Simeo Ondeto are earthly names given to the son of God in a normal way.
The Spirit of Christ Took Up Flesh
Simeo Ondeto came upon the clouds of heaven as a spiritual being and landed in the home of Joseph Owiti Obimbo in 1926. He came with angels, saints and Mary, but they were all spiritual beings who could not be seen by human eyes.
To be a human being, he took up flesh naturally. His divine being indwelled his embryonic body and he was born as a child of the world like all other children. He was born according to the will of God to Joseph Obimbo and Margret Aduwo in 1926 in Awasi. And he was the third child in a family of four children as is testified by his elder brother Owino Obimbo who saw the infant Simeo and baby-sitted him.
Simeo Ondeto as Teenager
Ondeto left home in 1936 at the age of 10 and stayed away for 19 years. During his long absence, his family got worried about his condition. But when he returned in 1955, he was completely different and strange. Indeed, he was now only focused on his mission. His family tried to get him married, but he refused, and, instead went ahead with his fasting and prayers.
And when he was at home in 1955, he was taken up to heaven (he died and lived again) in preparation for his mission. Soon after this experience, he left home and traveled to Tanzania Mara, and then to various villages across Migori County. By 1959, he had spoken of being “God sent by God” while preaching to people at Segegi. Only three years later and Simeo Ondeto had been revealed as God by the Holy Spirit.
Simeo Ondeto Did Not Undergo Bodily Resurrection
While many Christians believe that Jesus was God because of his bodily resurrection, Legion Maria does not believe in Ondeto because of his death or bodily resurrection. In Legio Maria Theology, God can never die. Death and bodily resurrection is, therefore, insignificant in making Ondeto God or not. Instead, Legio Maria subscribes to Ondeto’s teaching that he was God before he came on earth and remains God after departing.
Essential to Legion Maria is a belief that life continuous regardless of the state called death. People simply go through transitions, they are never lost. To Lejo Marias, Jesus is not God because he resurrected bodily; otherwise, he would not be God because he died completely. Nonetheless, Jesus is God who pre-existed creation and exists forever regardless of the transition he levied upon himself through the redemption mission.
“Our God and Lord, Simeo Melkio Ondeto; you were declared God to 1150 Legios at John Baru’s home on 9th March 1962. They saw your true self. They saw you seated on your heavenly throne and judging the living and the dead. And they saw angels worshipping you. Oh, heavenly king, grant that we see you in paradise. Also grant us true and unshakable faith so that we believe in your father who has given you to us for our glorification. Amen.”