For 30 years, Nathaniel Adekolu has been carrying the banner of Christ preaching the gospel and helping in God’s vineyard.
From Jos to Kano and then to Lagos, Adekolu who is the founder and general overseer of Faithlife Bible Church based in Social Club Road, Abule Egba Lagos has a thousand and one stories to tell about his walk with God.
Though he became born again in 1976 under the ministry of the duo of William Okoye and Wilson Ezeofor who were then in Jos, he did not commit himself fully to preaching the gospel until 1979 when he had series of encounter with God.
Heeding the call of God however did not come easy. But for the vow he made at his conversion, he would have just preferred to work, become a money bag and sponsor the gospel. But God wanted him to surrender all. And this he did without looking back.
His journey of faith started in the midst of Islamic zealots in Kano. “I started going from place to place to preach the gospel. Eventually we started a fellowship in Kura in Kano State. It was the dwelling place of Islamic zealots.
“I remember we were singing and marching on Kura one day when some of our members were arrested and sent to the police station. The police eventually released them because there was no visible offence they had committed. The hatred for the gospel was not as vehement as we have now.”
By 1989 however he moved to Lagos on God’s instruction while on a mission with Bishop David Oyedepo. “It was in Bishop Oyedepo’s guest house that God spoke to me to come to Lagos. The vision was to come to Lagos and started a ministry where Islamic converts in the north could come to hibernate because of threats to their lives.
“There was the case of the son of a prominent Muslim who got converted and there were threats from his family that he would be killed. So the need for such ministry was important then. I began to pray about coming to Lagos and we came eventually. That was between 1989 and 90.”
He described what is happening now in the North as painful noting that Nigeria cannot make any meaningful progress with the religious insensitivity of some Islamic fundamentalists. He recalled many instances of terrorists’ acts in the north saying, “People have said the unity of this country is not negotiable but I don’t want to be in a country where human life is not regarded. I believe I should be able to worship in any part of the country but that is not what we are experiencing. If we want one Nigeria we should be able to tolerate one another.”
He posits that lack of tolerance is the root cause of BOKO HARAM, placing the blame at the doorsteps of northern leaders. “The people that should be held responsible are the northern leaders and all those who were against the imposition of state of emergence in the north. If northern leaders can support the government fully in taking action against sponsors of terrorism in the north, there will not be Boko Haram”
He called on Christians in the south to “wake up and support our brothers in the north financially, morally, and also speak on their behalf in the south.”
Adekolus first arrival to Lagos however meant with a sort of “baptism of 419” he was a victim of dubious landlord. “When we were about to take possession of the accommodation we had paid for we met a military man with his boys also wanting to take possession. It was obvious that the supposed landlord had collected money from several people on the same property. So we had to leave.”
So for months, he and his family stayed without accommodation. He made up with friends while his children had to put up with family members while trusting God for where the church will run.
“As we were looking for a place to use for ministry I saw a property and prayed about it. The Lord said I should go and tell the owner of the place to give me the place. That day I asked my wife to follow me to deliver God’s message.
She refused thinking that would have been a foolish thing to do since it was obvious we had no money to pay. I went there by faith and met the owner of the place. He was in a very angry mood. I told him I wanted to see him but I wouldn’t be able to see him that day because I could see that he was very angry.
“But as God would have it, the man insisted that he was ready to see me that I should go ahead with what I wanted to tell him. I just summoned courage and told him that I wanted the property but that the money for it was not ready but that when we had occupied it we would pay later. Amazingly, he said, okay if that is how you want it no problem. That was how we got the accommodation for our ministry and we were there for 10 years.”
The man of God who was born to an Igbo mother and a Yoruba father said many of the members of the church who started with them in Lagos have remained committed to the ministry adding also that “People need honest people to pastor them. Unfortunately there are pastors who are not born again. We know them by their fruits. If you are living a fraud, your message will not make impact.”
He does not join the bandwagon of critics of prosperity preachers. “People that are preaching the truth are still preaching the truth. People are jumping over one another to condemn the gospel of prosperity but as far as I’m concerned that is stupidity raised to power five because the whole gospel is about prosperity. It is taken for granted that a Christian should be blessed. There is too much poverty in the land that we need to teach biblical prosperity. We got to a point in our walk with God in Nigeria where we believed poverty is a virtue and this has to be corrected.”
He believes many men of God are still going to acquire jets. “We have not seen jets O! more are coming. God will so prosper men of God that journalists will have many things to write. How can a journalist tell a called man of God what to preach?. It is not the duty of journalists to tell pastors what to preach. Any pastor that is not teaching biblical prosperity needs total deliverance.”
Sounding quite agitated, Adekolu said, “I’m not interested in people liking me but in preaching the gospel. Anybody that is not contributing to the gospel and to people’s lives is a poor man. The wealth of the church is to change lives.”
Defending pastors who own private jets, he said, “People say Pastor Enoch Adeboye was not supposed to buy jets because he is a pastor and that many people are suffering in his church. Is that not madness? How many people have complained in that church and for God’s sake who says he is not helping the poor?
“Dangote and Otedola are using jets. And nobody is complaining. It is only when men of God use it that we complain. The Adeboye I know has a private jet because he needs it. When you have ministries in over 100 countries across the globe then you will know that you will need it. And for God’s sake if members come together to buy the jet why are people crying wolf?”
He posits further that: “The idea of criticizing pastors who own private jets is satanically orchestrated. Have you done your investigations on what these people are doing? Believers don’t announce what they do? I know of the mission work that Bishop Oyedepo has done in many African countries. These churches have helped a lot of countries outside Nigeria and have given many people scholarship. There is no way Adeboye would not help the poor and I’m sure that he has many projects that are tailored to the poor. The fact that it is not being advertised does not mean that he is doing nothing. The Bible actually asked us not to advertise what we do.”
He believes that many small churches will soon manifest and explode. “The church is taking over the land. A few years back the Pentecostal churches were called mushroom churches but now they are the envy of the people. It is God’s doing.”
By September, Adekolu would join the community of Bishops. He explained that he never criticized those who carried the title as being erroneously believed pointing out that he just did not feel led to carry such title. “But now, God has given me the go ahead. And I will be ordained by God’s grace next year to the office of the Bishop. I believe that we are entering a new phase of ministry and this will see to the expansion of God’s work in our care.”