Bishop Abraham Olaleye the president of Abraham Evangelistic Ministry and the coordinator of the newly founded Apostles and Prophets Global Mission . In this interview with Church Times Nigeria, Olaleye who has been in full time ministry since 1983 gives insight into the problem of the church and the way out.
Many would want to know where you are coming from given the new cause you’re championing in the body of Christ?
I have a background in the Christ Apostolic Church because my father was a colleague to Apostle Ayodele Babalola of the Christ Apostolic Church . My father was the first pastor of Holy Apostolic Church but it was a prophet who founded the church. But there was a similarity with the CAC in doctrine. I had been a pastor’s son all my life. But in the mid seventies I came to a personal knowledge of Jesus Christ at about the age of 14. I was active in Christian activities in my secondary school days. I read some of the books of TL Osborn and that increased the hunger in me for God’s work and evangelism. Before then there had been prophesies concerning me that I was going to serve as an evangelist to the ends of the earth. My evangelical ministry however began in 1983 when I was in my twenties.
You grew up in CAC setting. Did you have challenge with your theology after you gave your life to Christ going by the doctrines of the church you were used to?
As we grow in the Lord we understand better. I got to a point where I had become so objective and had to pick what is good from the old and dump what is not so edifying. You know the emphasis in Apostolic Church is prayer and prayer and prayer which I will not lose but coming to become a Pentecostal believer which emphasizes the word and its integrity, I had to find a way of combining these two areas of spiritual living. The important thing in the church is to strike a balance and not go to the extremes.
With your background you must know a lot about the history of the church in Nigeria. Did you meet Pa Elton, the white missionary based in Ilesha who God used greatly for the Pentecostal movement in Nigeria?
I didn’t meet him but my wife met him. It is true that God used him greatly for the Pentecostal movement in Nigeria . What we must understand about the church in Nigeria is that the missionary brought Christianity to us but at some point, what they brought had become religion. But the education they brought became so helpful to us too. They were not just preaching but they came with social work. They brought hospitals and helped to bring civilization to us as a country. It was through people like Apostle Ayo Babalola that God gave us the power ministry which started in the south west of Nigeria .
We saw the power of God in manifestation. There were divers’ miracles. There was a woman who had died for four days with a baby in her womb but was raised back to life. There were people who were lame who walked. Many incredible things happened, terminal diseases were healed and there were manifestations of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. People were able to interpret tongues. When the faith movement came the power continued but then emphasis was now on the word while prayers was not being neglected.
Pa Elton came to Nigeria , he was based in Ilesha . When Archbishop Idahosa started his ministry God told him to go Ilesha to meet “My servant” that was Pa Elton. He had not heard about him before. Before he got to Elton, God had told Elton that he was going to receive a visitor. It was Elton who introduced Bishop Idahosa to Gordon Lindsay then based in the US . As God would have it, Lindsay had had a dream where he saw a black man kneeling before him and he had shared that with Elton. So when Idahosa met Elton, God spoke to him that Idahosa was the black man. Elton then sent message to Lindsay that he had found the black man. Lindsay then asked that Idahosa be sent to him for training in Dallas . That was how Idahosa went to Dallas to train in Gordon Lindsay School which he eventually brought to Benin City .
You just gave testimonies of wonderful things happening in the church years ago. Where do you think we got it wrong?
We got it wrong through materialism which we now brand prosperity. If you know Babalola, he was not a man who was materialistic. Every money that came to his hand went to others. He was a typical apostle. The Bible describes the apostles as having everything in common. Nobody said the thing he had belonged to him. They had all things in common. There was no competition and this craze of wanting to build the biggest church was not there. Materialism is what has taken the fire of the gospel from us. Remember Peter said gold and silver I have none but what I have I give unto you. He was carrying the power of God and God used him mightily because was not interested in the gold and the silver
It is interesting you are saying materialism is the cause of the loss of power in the church. But people accuse Idahosa of promoting material gospel when he was alive?
People misunderstood Idahosa. He was so many things to the Pentecostal movement. I will give you an instance. In 1976 when Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo had become the military head of state, he was visiting Benin City to tour Bendel State as military head of state. Among those who would meet him at the airport were dignitaries like civil servants, justices in the law court and the clergy. So the security men went to the queue of those waiting to welcome the head of state to identify them. And Idahosa who was there introduced himself as Rev. Idahosa and they said he was not suppose to part of the dignitaries that it was for bishops, those who were recognized by government. That was why he changed his status from Rev. to Bishop and later Archbishop.
Many people do not know that was why. He saw that the Pentecostals were schemed out. And he was concerned about bringing them to some form of national relevance. In those days we were not even known as Pentecostal. People called us gospel church. In those days if you go to a gospel church and with about 3000 members you hardly had three people who had a car whereas in the Catholic and Anglican churches we had people who had cars.
In the process of mingling with believers across the world and studying the scriptures, Idahosa began to preach that we don’t have to live in poverty in the name of serving God that prosperity is for God’s children. It was people who took it to the extreme.
You don’t believe Idahosa took it to the extreme?
No I don’t believe he did. I followed Idahosa. He ordained me. People took it to the extreme. When something comes newly there is tendency for people to take it to the extreme. I’ve heard people say pastor Kumuyi’s doctrine is obsolete and extreme but by the time I listened to his explanation I found out that it is not really so. You can’t believe that there was a time the late Mrs. Kumuyi told women in Deeper Life that it was not every time they should be covering their heads that they should do it only when they are praying and prophesying. The women even thought Kumuyi’s wife was not doing the right thing by telling them not to put on their scarfs always.
That was what happened to Idahosa too. Those of us close to him know that he was a simple man and he did not elevate materialism above holiness. You know it was an exciting thing for us to know that we could still prosper and be Christians. He gave us that revelation but unfortunately people over stretched things to the point of preaching heresy.
So in what way is the Apostle and Prophets Global Mission and Elijah Commission going to help in changing this error?
Very simple. There was idol worship in the land of Israel , and people were lost between serving idol and the true God. Elijah said there is only one God in Israel and that there will be no rain in the land. He stood on the side of God and challenged the people. What we are saying is that whenever you stand for God, for what is biblical, righteous and just course God cannot but support it. Even though the prophets of Baal were prophets of rain they could not bring rain until Elijah prayed for rain.
The reason why we don’t see miracles today the way we used to see is that nobody pursues materialism and power at the same and have them. That was why Peter said gold and silver I have none, Philip was used mightily to preach and heal people and Simon the sorcerer wanted to buy the gifts and Peter rebuked him. The trend now is to want to buy the gift of God with money, which is impossible. Money is deceptive and has corruptive tendency. Jesus said you cannot worship God and mammon. The same Peter who said he had nothing, if you go to the book of Acts chapter 4 people willingly brought their material things to the feet of the apostles. So material prosperity is just an addition. The important thing to do is to seek the kingdom first and its righteousness.
Have you met some church leaders on this issue of errors in the body of Christ?
When you fellowship with people the only reason you can continue is if there are points of agreement. The idea of redeeming the first born with money for instance is very wrong and totally against the scriptures. Peter warned against it. He said we are not redeemed with corruptible things of gold and silver. So, I don’t know why we talk about redeeming the first born when Jesus had redeemed us and shed his blood for us. It is totally wrong. There are also instances of people having special prayers for the first born. And they give the instance of Reuben and the curse that was placed on him. But people don’t understand the circumstances leading to that. There is no in depth teaching and study of the word and that is why we find ourselves in the mess we have found ourselves.
But these churches were not doing this before. Why do you think they now have this doctrine?
I think they do it because they want to bring more crowd and to bring more money.
Babalola used water a great deal in his ministry while praying for people. People still pray on water today as a medium of miracle. Do you think there something wrong using water to pray for the sick?
It is not about whether it is wrong. It is that people are making religion out of what they should not make religion of. When Babalola used water it was a demonstration of faith. With the simplicity of drinking water people were healed. It wasn’t a doctrine. In the days of Babalola he had to contend with the occultic background of people who were used to objects and rituals. This was a man who was a caterpillar driver when the Holy Ghost came upon him. The power of God had to manifest mightily in his life and he was using water not because water was what was doing the miracle but because he had to help the faith of the people. He was not an academic person. He knew nothing about the Bible. It was after he experienced the power of God that he began to study the Bible. So you can excuse him. But Christianity and revelation should be progressive. Instead of us taking it from that point and advancing in faith we are still locked up in the doctrine of water. That is where error sets in
But you don’t think Babalola would have continued with water if he was alive?
I don’t think he would have continued. He was a progressive person and an apostle to the core.
What vision do you have for the church?
Our vision is to evangelise the world and revive the church. We have been doing that since 1983. But God is now directing our attention to the church because we are not doing the right thing again in the church. We are materialistic and self centred. We are always praying about our wants and needs. We have reduced Christianity to give me this give me that. It is no longer about what we can contribute to the work of God. We now use God as a means to an end. The reason we have corruption in the land is because we have lost our savor.
As church leaders we have influence on the people but unfortunately we are not preaching the balance gospel. We believe it is a debt on us to reach out to many people as possible to tell the world that there is a need to go back to biblical Christianity.