How has it been on the driver’s seat of the CAC?
It is a mixed grill of the pleasant and the not so pleasant. But we thank the Lord who has made us to sail through all weathers. On the good side, we thank God for the good aides who have worked with us throughout our tenure in office. By this I am referring to my lieutenants, the DCC chairmen and the zonal chairmen. All district superintendents, the assembly pastors and indeed all the members of this great church, The Christ Apostolic Church. They have been wonderful and whatever success we are able to record during our tenure, these people share a lot of the glory. They cooperated with us and made sure whatever we decreed are fulfilled. They gave us cause to smile all the way throughout our tenure. I pray that they will all be richly blessed by the Lord Jesus Christ. They will be rewarded by God who alone is able to reward their labour of love. It is, however, quite unfortunate that there are few cases where things were arbitrarily made difficult. I said unfortunate because this is a church of God where you expect that things will run smoothly. The truth is that some people chose to be truly humans, who are subject to all forms of passions and emotions. Matters that are supposed to be simple and straightforward are deliberately twisted to achieve selfish ends. I have come across people who play politics with the affairs of the church as if it was a national politics. I have also encountered those whose objectives are quite different from those of our forefathers who established this church. What many people talk about as crisis in the church stemmed from these tendencies. These people cried wolf where there was none. They made mountain out of molehill. We thank God who has been strengthening us.
How have you been able to overcome the inherited challenges?
Life itself is a long process of problem-solving. These challenges are there for someone to solve and we thank God that with prayers and clear focus given by the Holy Spirit, we were able to identify the problem areas and we did our best, with the cooperation of members and all the ministers we tackled the major challenges to the glory of God. Problem will get solved when you move against the identified causes. For financially weak centre, what we did was to arrest the causes of financial weakness by starting a new budgetary system, which brought stability to the central administration and it became strong. But in all cases we make sure that God gives us directive on what to do.
For sure, you have brought much development to the church. May we hear from the horse’s mouth some of these achievements?
The achievements are there for everybody to see. Before coming to the national leadership of the church, God used me to start the Sunday School programme for the CAC as the first Sunday School Superintendent. On being promoted to the national leadership, God has achieved significant successes for the church during our administration. As I earlier stated, before we came on board, the church used to have very weak centre. We identified this problem and removed it. There used to be plethora of associations of youths all of which were competing rather than complementing themselves. We noted that this would not augur well for the future of the church, so, we brought them together under one umbrella called Christ Apostolic Church Youth Fellowship. We also established a uniformed, regimented, youth organisation called the Royal Shepherds. They function in the same way the Boy Scouts function, offering voluntary public service in control of traffic, rescue of accident victims and assisting law enforcement agencies during emergencies and monthly sanitation exercise. Others are the physical structures erected at the Babalola International Miracle Camp at Ikeji Arakeji. Before our administration came on board, there was nothing on ground at that camp. Today, we have constructed residential quarters; two out of five-winged 5,000-seater prayer halls and sheds for use by groups or churches. We have also established Joseph Ayo Babalola University, JABU, also in Ikeji Arakeji, Osun State. Also we now have a befitting secretariat together with official residence for the President of the church as well as other principal officers. At the Missionary Headquarters here in Ibadan, we have constructed a befitting worship centre aptly called the All Saints Chapel. There are so many others we can’t recount fully. Last but not the least, the apparently intractable leadership crisis that rocked the church for many years was brought to an end through the Federal High Court’s pronouncement. The court ruled that the General Executive Council, which I lead, is the authentic ruling body in the Christ Apostolic Church. For all these modest achievements we give glory, honour and adoration to our Lord Jesus Christ.
Which of all the laudable achievements do you value most?
I value all that which God has accomplished through us. Though on the psychological plane I feel more happy that the court case which had been more traumatic to most of us was resolved in our favour much against the unwarranted propaganda of the splinter group that was operating an illegal parallel structure alongside our own. People who were following the newspaper and radio propaganda mounted by our opponents would see how I was called all kinds of names. They painted me as if I was the residue of everything evil. I thank God for putting a lie to all their propaganda. On our part, we have always seen them as brothers, and so we have stretched a hand of fellowship to them. We have consistently been inviting them to come back to the Christ Apostolic church fold. Next to this is JABU. Nobody who knew the financial standing of our church when I came in would ever think we could achieve this feat in the next 25 years. But when God gives you a vision, he also gives you the means to realise it. When God first told me to start the university, for several months I kept it to myself. I was praying to God. Even at that, the time I told the General Executive Council, several people were vehemently opposed to it on the ground that it is a capital-intensive project and the Church was not strong enough to shoulder it. But eventually, they agreed to give it a trial. Today, that dream has become a reality to the glory of God. What gladdens my heart most are the multiplier effects of that singular project. Not only has it created jobs for many people, it has given hope to many while also giving a lot of others very bright future. I am also elated by the opportunity to influence positively the lives of our youths who will be passing through the university.
How were you able to fund those projects and programmes in spite of the fact that the church is a non-profit making organisation?
It is by grace. The grace of God provided everything we needed for all our projects. Members of the church were informed what we wanted to do and they responded with eagerness because they knew what we wanted to do was for God’s glory. There is a Yoruba adage that says: Aba kii gbee di otito, ojo ni kii je ki a da; meaning: dreaming of a big project often easily becomes reality, only cowardice prevents one from pursuing such dream. In the Christ Apostolic Church we don’t impose heavy financial burden on our members. But when there is a project to be executed, we announce it to our members who usually respond according to the grace of God in their lives. We thank God that He has never disappointed anyone who cheerfully gives to Him.
What are the challenges you faced?
There were many. I have been physically threatened several times. In February 1995, hired assassins were sent to my official residence. I have faced psychological torture. What of intrigues from supposedly Christian brothers. I have been falsely accused several times. I have been charged to court as if I were a common criminal. There was a time I was detained on false accusation for eight hours. All of these because of the work of God. But in all of these things we are more than conquerors. To God alone be praise for all these victories.
Could you let us into how you have been surmounting those challenges?
The weapon of our warfare is not carnal; 2 Corinthians 10:4. These challenges are not only physical, they are spiritually instigated. That is why one cannot rely on one’s ability or wisdom to overcome them. Prayer is the most effective weapon in such warfare. Then you must ensure you live a life of holiness and get yourself guided daily by the word of God. There is no other way to victory than that.
As the curtain is finally drawn on your glorious reign this December 31, what legacies are you leaving behind for the CAC, for members and the entire Christendom?
The lines are fallen unto us in pleasant places; yea, we have a goodly heritage: Psalm 16: 6. The Christ Apostolic Church is a church with enviable pedigree. The church has a very rich heritage. All we have been able to do is to ensure that the foundation already laid by our patriarchs are well preserved. It is on this foundation that we have built whatever we were opportune to build in the last few years of our leadership of the church. The Apostolic foundation is an enduring one: it is based on the belief in one God and Jesus Christ His son. The empowerment of Christians through the Holy Spirit, the divine inspiration and authority of the Bible. All these we have upheld throughout our administration of the Church. By the grace of God, I have no doubt in my mind that this foundation that God has laid through our patriarchs will be preserved by the new generation of leaders and the laity. Some Churches nowadays try to say that certain pronouncements of God are outdated, that they are not relevant to today’s existence. That is why they say that same-sex marriage is not a sin; contrary to what God specifically stated in Lev. 22:18. God denounced same-sex copulation and even makes it a capital offence. Some churches not only permit this, they also ordain openly gay ministers. This situation will never arise in Christ Apostolic Church. We believe that the whole Bible is still very relevant to us today as it was to the generation of the first apostles. No other foundation can any other person lay than that which God had used our patriarchs to lay. We are happy to leave for the church a sure foundation based on the true word of God. We continue in our faith in the power of God that never fails and so we are leaving a church that is alive to her responsibility to the business of prayers and sound doctrine.
What special valedictory message do you have for the church?
The message is simple and straightforward: stand firm in the faith that was first delivered to the apostles. Do not waver either to the left or to the right. Be constant in season and out of season. Always abounding in love and good work. Surely there is reward in heaven for anyone who will be so found.
What is your message to the members of the church as you retire?
We received this church as a wholesome entity from our patriarchs. We must do everything possible to preserve her unity. This church must be one. Evidences of division are very rife. The signs are very glaring for all to see. We must try our best to see that we keep the church one. There is no way we won’t encounter this issue at one point or the other because of the magnitude of the church’s expansion, but God will not excuse us to divide His Church on the basis of our spread. Jesus Christ says I and my Father are one and he prayed that the church would be one as he is one with the Father. Whatever it will cost us, let this church remain one.
It is perceived by a few people that some churches nowadays preach prosperity instead of posterity. How do you see this?
The Bible has clearly predicted that this thing will happen. In the last days people would not be able to stand by sound doctrines, 2 Tim. 4: 3. The Bible puts it this way: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears”. Prosperity teachers exist because there are prosperity-seeking listeners. Though God has not said His Children should be wretched, He wants them to take the first step first. The first thing God commands is ‘seek the kingdom of God’, then He added: ‘all other things shall be added’. But the tendency is that people jump the gun. Rather than seek the kingdom of God, they seek prosperity at the expense of salvation. Preachers must preach balanced gospel. Not one-sided nor one-handed message. The same God who inspired Paul to write that He wishes above all that we prosper even as our souls prosper, also inspired the same writer to write that love of money is the root of all evils. Also, the same Paul wrote that if all our hope is in this world, we are of all men the most miserable. One fact we know about our God is that He will ensure that no good thing draws back from those who are steadfast or upright. He is the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Preachers ought to balance their teachings.
What is your New Year message?
We are happy for God’s divine assurances to keep Nigeria and Nigerians safe and sound throughout the year 2012, despite the fact that the year will surely be full of socio-political and economic challenges. We are assured of His covenant with us which is to keep in perfect peace all those who trust in Him. But then, God is warning against violence and senseless spilling of innocent blood. God is against destruction of lives and property for whatever reason. Unless the criminally minded terrorists in our midst repent from their devilish ways and return to the path of peaceful co-existence, I assure them that nemesis will soon catch up with them. Then God has warned all Nigerians against that hydra-headed monster called corruption. It is a malaise that has almost conquered the soul of our nation. It is plaguing everyone, the high and the low; it is not limited to the ruling class. It affects even the religious leaders. Except we resolve to extirpate corruption in our individual lives, this nation cannot know progress. If the nation is free of corruption, the issue of subsidy removal would not arise. The budget will work if there is no corruption and many unemployed youths will be engaged in positive endeavours because Nigeria has enough for everybody’s need but not for everybody’s greed.