Pastor Raphael Ola Adesina is the General Overseer of His coming Evangelical Church which has well over 100 branches spread across Nigeria and beyond. The ministry’s passion is mission. The ministry has spread to some nook and cranny of Nigeria and neighbouring countries doing mission work. In this interview, Adesina gives insight to the mission field plus his own personal experience. Below are excerpts
Tell us about His Coming Evangelical Church ?
The church was established in 1970. The founder, Rev. Samson Ogundeji was a member of the Redeemed Christian Church of God before he received the vision to start the ministry. The then founder of RCCG said he did not share the same vision with the man in the sense that the RCCG believed in planting churches while he did not believe in doing that but rather distributing converts to existing churches.
He was a notable member in the church. He was well known during his time. When he started his zeal was too much for the church to contain, so the founder of the RCCG called him and sent him out of the mission formally. He prayed for him and he began to run with the vision God gave him.
How did you now translate to a church?
I think the founder now discovered that just handing over converts to existing church was not the best because of the way the converts were handled. They soon found out that the souls they handed over to churches were staying steadfast in the church. That prompted the church leadership to convert from being a ministry to becoming a church. They started church in 1973 just to make sure that their converts were grounded. I’m a third generation member of the church because I joined the church in 1985.
What led you to the church?
I was a Muslim. I had been into a lot of things. I was a bit deep. You can still do juju and practice Islam.
I have been into black power. I cannot say fully that I was a member of any cult but I used juju and voodoo I did marketing by correspondence from a college in London . I started my own business and I had people working under me. I was marketing for many manufacturing companies. I take products of companies and promote for them. I was into this and doing all kinds of things that I soon realized was offensive to God.
My conversion is a wonderful work of God. Initially I was introduced to a church in Lagos , but the church allowed all kinds of laxity. I could drink my wine in the church behave anyhow. In that church I did not experience any change.
But on this faithful day a friend invited me to see a versatile herbalist in Ibadan so that I could get some charms to boost my business. As we were going I heard a voice from heaven say to me, “all powers in heaven belong to me, If you give me your life I will give you the power.
You mean you heard a clear voice?
Yes the voice was so clear that my friend thought I was under some spell. He knew somebody was talking to me the way I reacted so he thought the talisman I had on me was what was working and he said to me, that one day my talisman will run me mad. I told me that I was hearing a voice which is authoritative and which pierced through my system. He did not believe.
We walked another few metres I heard another voice repeating the same thing. Since I was looking for power I began to consider what the voice was telling me. My thinking faculty changed. By the time I got to the place I met a lot of top bankers and captains of industry who had also come to consult the herbalist. I was shocked and some of the people I knew at the place started singing my praise. Some of them were surprised to see me and made remarks like, eyin na ma wa sibi? Meaning, so you too used to come here
So you joined them?
I joined them and had to wait for my turn to see the herbalist. When I met the herbalist, he asked me to bring N1 and the voice spoke to me and again asked me not to give out any money. I obeyed. But my friend was furious. So as not to be disgraced before the herbalist he quickly brought out the money and they asked me to speak something into it but the voice said to me that I should not say anything. I obeyed the voice but my friend was annoyed still.
The herbalist then said I should get two goats and kill and give to people around. As we were going home that day the voice said to me never to do what I had been asked to do. We parted ways that day. When I got home that day I started to read the Bible. I got to a portion of the Bible which says Jesus was teaching with authority. As I read that place a voice came to me and spoke to me that the person who spoke to me was the same person the Bible was talking about. I started developing interest in the things of God. I had a strange encounter by the time I stepped out a lady just walked to me and said I had become a Christian and invited me to her church. I went to Church on Christmas Eve and I heard a meaningful and powerful message. I sat where liquid from candle light was dropping on me but I did not feel it because the message was penetrating and powerful. That was in 1981. When they made altar call I did not hesitate to surrender to Jesus. Since then I had remained in this church.
How then did you become the General Overseer and why does your church does more of mission work?
The founding general overseer died in 1993 and the one after him retired and I came in. I just have interest in mission. I have suffered a lot. It was after coming to Jesus that I experienced real peace. I have traveled to many places while I was doing my business and I know what people go through that is what informed my involvement in mission. There is a lot of suffering around. And people need to hear the gospel because that is the only thing that can liberate them.
From your experience on the mission field, what do you make of a missionary?
A missionary is like a hunter going to the bush to get bush meat. My father was a hunter so I know what it means to hunt because I used to follow him. There are times when you shoot an animal a demon will come out physically and you will have to face them. A demon looks like a deformed human form. They usually appeared to us then in the bush when we go hunting and they will want to prevent us from taking the animal that has been killed. They will come out physically and we will have to demonstrate power by exchanging incantations. There are juju powers. The hunters are more disciplined than many Christians because they take the pain to study and memorise incantations which they used to ward off demonic beings.
That seems strange. Are you saying demonic beings appear to you and you have dialogue with them?
It may interest you to know that animals do talk like human beings. An animal will talk to another animal. One day I went to hunt with my father and two anteloples were talking. One was telling the other that that evil man is coming. That man, that has been destroying our children. They speak the language you understand. They were speaking Yoruba language. If an animal is killed in the bush they can transform to human beings and come to meet you at home. The way the animals behave you may not want to eat them. That is why prayers is important. There was a time we were in the bush and we took time off to eat pounded yam which we brought from home. In the course of eating a man came to join us. We did know where he came from but we welcomed him and we all eat. The man left. Shortly after we went hunting and killed an antelope
When we got home and opened up the animal we saw the pounded yam inside the antelope. I cannot just understand why this is so. But If you see elderly hunters ask them. Many of them don’t like to relate stories like this. That is why one should pray before eating. Ephesians Chapter 6 v10 is a valid scripture for any missionary. When we are going for evangelism we must understand that souls are under some demonic influence. Going to win souls is like snatching the souls from principalities. They always like to fight back. That is why the missionary has to be very fervent in prayer. The devil will not like to let go those under his captivity.
Can you share some of your experiences on the mission field?
I went to a town in Benin Republic and had cause to do some evangelical work there. I went to meet the king of the town. When I got there I discover that the king had an idol in his palace and nobody was permitted to touch the idol. They said if I touch I would die. I defied the them and dared to touch it. In fact I carried the idol from the spot it was and brought it to close to and told them it was nothing. The whole palace erupted. They all ran out and thought I would die. The king then asked me to leave the palace and come back the following day. They thought I would have died the next day, when they saw me the king was wondering. He took him sometime to believe I was the one. I used the opportunity to preach the gospel to them and we were able to establish a church in that town
Many of them in Republic of Benin are into idol worshipping. When you go to preach the gospel they will try their power there is always spiritual conflict. If you are not strong they may attack you and make you into something else. Evangelism is a must for every believer. I think churches need to devote a great deal of their budget to mission work because that is where the challenge is. It is both rewarding and exciting. But the missionary has to be firm in the Lord.
Joseph Mohammed Alli
What we were and what we are now. If you become a Christian and you lose nothing you are not and if you become a Chrsitian and you gained nothing you are not. I grew up in Okene in Kogi State . Left the town at the age of 17. I had learnt all the tricks in the place. Born in a Muslim home. I was attending quaranic school. By the time I was 12 years I had perfected all forms of rascality the average Christian could get into it. Mischief which developed to something else. In the middle part of the Ramadan we have a play call kura. We get a cow horn and tie it on your head. Every neighbourhood had it. Middle of the Ramadan is a bright mood. We play around to get money. That developed into a neighbourhood street clashes. It could develop into perpetual fighting. It was from their the rascality grew from. It graduated from stick to knife and then the gun.
I left for Lagos . I’m the only child of my mother. Grew up with my mother and my grandmother. Because of the issue of rascality my mother could not take care of me. The total time I spent with my father was just about 7 years. Moved from uncle to uncle. I finished primary school at the age of. I perfected rascality in Lagos . I had to increase the measure of my rascality to survive in Lagos . That is the irony about Islam. I was still committed Muslim. U can be rascally. It doesn’t stop you from going to the mosque. We did not think it was anything to throw a stone at the crusade. They won’t condemn you they will not. Majority of radical muslims are happy about what Boko Haram is doing. They have respected him until he talked. He never had an outright condemnation of what Boko Haram was doing. As soon as he did it he was attacked. You don’t know why but Jesus is the last thing anything could talk to me about. On that ground it becomes an offence to preach me. There was a young man who sings all the time. He had no job but to sing and pray. And francis will always want to talk about Jesus. I had a big motorcycle then and he called me and said he wanted to talk about Jesus. He made a mistake to drop a tract in my room and I told him not to try it again. He saw that I did not like it. He did it again and I said next time he tried it I will stab him. I said im a muslim and nobody should come and tell me about Christianity. I said to him I have told you shut up your mouth and don’t tell me anything again. He said he would pray for me. One day something happened I was in the office. I was working in NRC and sat in the office of a person in the office a table and my hands were stretched and my hand went on top of a book, a red book. I thought it was a mao book. I took the book and opened it. I saw it was about new testament. I had not opened a Bible by then. I decided to read it. As a ladan (shouts for prayer) I was suppose to be defending Islam. My hand went to the book again. I went out with the book from there I put the book in my pocket. I discovered that the book was following me around. I went home with the book. In the evening
Along side with islam I also smoked Indian helm and sell it. As I started reading the book I did not get the supply for my Indian. It is hard for an average Christian to believe that jesus could be killed. As I began to read and I was encountering it in the Bible. Ignorance is another problem with Islam. I kept reading the Bible. You Jew men. I said it was the New testament. He said it was the Bible. He said in all the Bible he said the aspects of the Bible he likes is the Psalm. I became interested because in Islam there is an aspect of Charm and Incantation. And if you hit somebody it will be like a rock hitting something. The strange. He invades a fanatic quietly. He would have put his rope round you before you escape. Its like I was hearing a voice. I read the Bible under the influence of Indian helm and I thought It was the Indian hemp disturbing me. I took enough garri and I thought I maybe I did not call the prayers. I went to look for a mosque but a voice kept coming to me. I started reading the Bible secretly. “if you don’t turn to me I will tear you to pieces.” I am the way the truth, I heard a voice that there is no way outside Jesus. I never had such a thought. It was a king James Bible that I read. There was a supernatural understanding that God gave me. An average Fulani are very occultic.
As I was reading the Bible God was giving me understanding I started asking questions. Suppose Jesus is the way. There is no cloud over them. Thoughts coming to me. Mamman Bello who became Christian. This thing changed people. He became gentle nice and calm and something will say to me don’t go there. I discover that there was a strong thought coming to me not to take it away. He said it is the Bible and there was no name written on it. I was reading it. After two weeks I had finished reading the Bible. I was loaded with the Bible. I could tell everything about the Bible. I was between going to the mosque (remember ye that forget God or I tear you to pieces.)
One day I called Francis and said to him I had no peace and he started dancing. He prayed that I should not have peace until I know God. He said that was the prayer I needed. I asked him to ask Jesus to reveal himself to me. I woke up in the night and I knelt down and I said to myself Oh God, if Islam is the way to u do not allow me to ever consider becoming a Christain and if not make the way known to me. I heard a voice I am the way the truth. I started telling people jesus is the way the truth and the life. I was still not going t church. I was still a Muslim but I was talking about the Bible.
Finally I went to Mamman Bello. I went to question him about the father son and holy spirit. I went to ask about trinity. He said Jesus is the son of God and He is God. At that time I wanted to be sure of where I was going. He tried to explain to me. Finally he said I should come to church with him. He said to church I said Sudan Interior Movement. SIM. He said he will pick me up for church. I was confused. I thought told me go and see. I was overwelwelmed by the reality of reality of Jesus. I was in Church. The preacher talked for 30 minutes. I was there and looking at what they were doing. They collected money and sang. When he stands up I would stand up and when he sits down I would sit down. Uncle wilmont prayed. He said shall we pray while all heads bow and all heads closed, he said, if you have not had any encounter with Christ, he asked I should raise my . A voice came to me and said he is talking to you. He said he I would wait and he asked me to wait behind. M.A Bello said we should meet them at the vestry. Joseph. He said Mr. Aliu u are welcome to Jesus. He told us that we were taking a decision for a life time and encouraged me to have a Bible. Read the Bible, study it and meditate on it. Pray God all about your life, Attend a living a church, obey what God asked you do to do and tell others. I wrote it down at the Back of the Bible. I went home I began to practice what he told me. When I left the church everything changed. I started preaching and a lady laughed hysterically and wondered that I must have taken Indian helm. Everybody discovered that I had become a Christian.
My room mate said I was keferi. I left him Somebody owed me 10 shillings and I went to collect the man. the man could me. I left there and the spirit of God said to me are you my child, I could not carry knife. I went to tell him I loved him and I told him I will never attack him again. Before I know it I was all over the streets of Lagos . I used to have a box of charm and I set fire on it I flung it open. I had to protect myself. By the time I was one month I was following Christians around. Any book on Christianity I bought and read. Nobody told me how to evangelise. I would order tracts and telling people about Jesus. After a year, I was preaching all over the place. I was the first 35 people to start Bible study. I did not have denominational confusion. The traditions of ECWA did not click to me. I had always known I would be a preacher. I was moving from one youth fellowship to another. Nobody ever sat me down to disciple me. I became trained as a historical theologian in an American university.