Nigerian born United Kingdom based pastor and General Overseer of Christ Faith Tabernacle, Apostle Alfred Williams began so early with God. He grew into the church system right from his early days and that perhaps informed his commitment to the cause of Christ. He is a Quantity Surveyor, a lawyer and a media man. He belongs to various professional bodies and also on the board of many corporations. But all these are just a drop in the pan compared to his evangelical work in the last thirty-five years. God has used him tremendously in revival meetings across the nations of the world, breaking barriers and winning lost souls for Christ.
Recently, Williams came to Nigeria where he caused a stir among some church leaders during a weeklong ministers training cum retreat. His European orientation will perhaps not make many Nigerian pastors fall in line with his views. In this interview with a handful of journalists including Church Times representative at the Lagos branch of Christ Faith Tabernacle, Williams speaks about his convictions about the church in Nigeria.
Below are excerpts:
How did you come about working in God’s vineyard?
I was heavily involved in my practice as a quantity surveyor when the Lord told me to leave my survey pursuit and then go and preach the gospel. It was very hard for me because as at that time, I was site agent for George Wimpy. I was the one who supervised the first construction in Abuja which is the base camp for those who designed Abuja. I love so much the practice of highway engineering design and construction which is part of surveying.
So, when Jesus told me to go and preach, I argued with Him and He said to me, what you should do first, you now do last. So, I went back to England and that’s how my calling began. But over the period in England, God had used me among the groundbreakers for the black race. I sat as the president of African/Caribbean Association for over 15 years. God used me in the lifting of many blacks in England.
I have a degree in broadcast media. I did law too. I have just finished my LLM with a distinction and my dissertation is European single market and Brexit. I just passed my Institute of International Arbitration with distinction just last week. So, I teach organizations on corporate governance. I’m on the board of a good number of organizations. I teach politicians on corporate governance and also church leaders in various parts of the world. That’s just a little background about me. So, if you want to ask any question under heaven, you can ask.
Your credentials are quite intimidating?
Well if you say so. One has to keep moving. I got involved in academics not for myself but for the people around me so I can be able to help. It will surprise you that I also went to learn bricklaying before I went to law because church in my concept is not just people gathering together and singing; it is people’s lives and families. I’m a certified bricklayer. It is because of this that we are involved in building facilities to train people on vocational training. Nigeria doesn’t have many artisans but they have graduates that are jobless. The purpose of the vocational training centre is to train young men and women on artisanship. So, we have this vision we call Jesus City and we have acquired the land now for years, about 430 acres, we are building vocational training, hospitals and other facilities. Our idea is to build hospitals and schools that are free.
Our priority is to train artisans. We have been able to achieve this in England. It’s a rundown area and we are giving back to several graduates who are now in politics, in government and other sectors. And that’s what I want to do in Nigeria, so that in Nigeria, if church has money, the money should be for the people, not for the minister.
Why do we then have churches build schools that members cannot afford knowing well that some of those finances came from the donation of the members?
The answer to that question is because of the structure of the nation. A church should be an enterprise that invests every penny of its enterprise towards the well-being of the poor in the society. If you look at Nigerian churches now, do pastors pay tax? Many of them don’t. Do they have auditors that audit them every year? In England, every year, we are audited by VANTIS, one of the biggest auditing firms; they will audit every penny we spend. And by law, we must put our account in the company house like any company must do. The church doesn’t pay tax because they are charity but they are subject to the regulations of the country and they are subjects to the people themselves. The reason why some churches are not getting involved in the welfare of the people is because they don’t care about the masses, churches don’t invest in their people, it’s because of the Nigerian sickness because the church is an extension of the society.
But the church should not behave the way the government is behaving because Jesus gave the church a mandate to take care of the poor among them. The church is supposed to be a community. I went to Baptist Primary and Secondary Schools in Nigeria before I moved abroad, and if there was a Baptist university then, I would have gone. I went to primary and secondary school free and CFT church intends to do that in Nigeria because if the money given by the people to the church is a free gift, that money must be used for the betterment of the citizen, even if it’s just church members, but which is not limited to church members because the church members have to look into helping their own people first and then the community because Jesus said let your light shine into darkness. In England you cannot be a church without community project, it’s impossible.
Sir you are friends with some of these church leaders who charge heavily, what has been your interaction with them?
Well let me say that if you meet them and ask them what is your view about Apostle Williams, they will have the same view. For years I’ve been teaching about corporate governance, that is as applicable to the church, and I use institutions like Roman Catholics, Baptist, Methodist to teach the Pentecostal church. These churches build schools, build hospitals and those teaching there are ministers and members of churches and it doesn’t have to cost them. The overhead cost is so low. So, they know me for teaching what I’m telling you which is the written word. They know me for what I am and they know me for the sound doctrine of the word of God. Over the years, I spoke through the television and to the whole nation and to them. If we meet and when we meet, I challenge some of them in these areas. But you know it’s a thing to tell people what is right, it’s another thing for them to accept. And there’s a state in humanity when lie becomes the truth. And that’s the place where we are now that some of us who are abroad must come home. It’s not a criticism but it is to live the type of life that the church should really live so that Nigerians can know what the true church of God is. So, we are coming home now.
The response of some of these leaders that build schools and charge exorbitant fees is that the cost of doing business in Nigeria is way out of the ordinary. What is your response?
Jesus says if a man wants to build a house, will he not first sit down and count the cost? I did LLM in international Business and Corporate Governance at the University of Liverpool. One of the areas I took interest was corporate failure; why did all these big conglomerates fail? And when I studied it, I had to write about the corporate governance of Shell comparing it with Unilever. When I was studying it, I saw why churches fail. If a church has money and they have thought of helping humanity, which one should they do first: invest that money in a business that will bring dividends to fund the social program or put the money into education and charge the people they are supposed to serve? Corporate governance teaches us to invest it which is the brain behind the successes of the orthodox churches. They involve in corporate organizations and businesses and the money they get from there, they use it to fund education. Can a church not have businesses in Nigeria and employ their members, and the profit that comes out of it, use it to fund education?
Can they not go to Nassarawa state and acquire land? The governor of Nasarawa State came to England and was begging us to come and take acres of land. We are going there. Why can’t churches in Nigeria buy acres of land there and produce food to export level, and when they export it, the dividends that come from there, they fund education. It’s a matter of somebody just changing the way they think. That’s not an excuse especially for these churches who have trillions in the bank. In England, if you are a charity organization and you have too much unspent money, government will confiscate it. My area of concentration is what can we do for Africa. What drove me into education now at my age is what can I do for Africa?.
Africa is not cursed like some say. I’ve heard people who have traced Africa to the Bible where they say it’s cursed; it’s a lie of the devil. If Africa is cursed, why should Africa have the best land on earth? We are highly geographically placed. We have minerals untapped. Nigeria especially, is the richest under heaven as far as I’m concerned by statistics because we have a lot of resources untapped. The best brains of Nigeria are in America. A Nigerian own Gatwick Airport in London. He’s an engineer who lived and worked in America. He’s involved in the government of America. His head is correct. Not only that, we have many Nigerians in England and America, many of us left this place and built empires, developed academics, advise governments. If we advise the government abroad, they listen but our government don’t.
I’m doing my thesis now on European single market and corporate governance. The first area I want to do in my thesis is banking system in Nigeria. I got distinction in international banking law but when I was going to do it, I thought if I do it, who will use it? They will dump it and I don’t want to waste my time so I said let me help England and the things I’m writing now is what is going on now within the UK and European government, and we have many Nigerians like that, better than me over there but if they come to Nigeria, they frustrate them.
So, our decision now is that rather than coming to Nigeria trying to penetrate government, let us also go and buy land, let us also go and join the government who wants industrialists to come and we can own industries. Those interests are not meant for us, they are meant for the church. The industries that we are setting up, I’m not the owner. The land I bought for CFT is not mine though I used my money to pay the deposit.
So that now when we come to Nigeria and we begin to unleash these plans, we are not talking to government now except those ones who say come so that we can do farming. I will die within 20 years. If I don’t die, I’ll be ready to die. When I die, if I have in Lagos 500 houses, who will inherit them? And I will stand before God to give account face to face what I did with my position and what I did with the money. The problem of Nigeria is not the government, it’s the church.
What are your takes in the way things are currently being run with this government?
As a lawyer, I’m trained not to believe anything without evidence. And I’ve searched for evidences concerning what they alleged of president Buhari, I have not seen those evidence. So as a human, I cannot believe any such false allegations. I was listening to television news two days ago where they showed Business Summit in Niger State 2017. The acting president at the time, who is the vice president now, talked sense. When the Nasarawa State governor was talking, I was moved to tears that are Nigerians not hearing what this man is saying? Nassarawa state has landmass that can feed half of Africa and that governor made up his mind to use that landmass in agriculture to feed half of Africa, that is to feed the whole of Nigeria. To me, government has good plans, but when government has plans, who fulfils it? Its citizens. The majority of the citizens, where do they go? Churches and mosques. So, do you see why we are frustrated? If the churches and mosques are not teaching righteousness so that their mind is away from what and what can I grab, and a basic Nigerian is thinking what can I give as a legacy, then how can we have success.
Let me tell you about Fulani herdsmen, I will not talk academics now, I will talk spiritual. The Lord Jesus in 1986 took me to heaven and He brought me to the middle of Nigeria, the airspace of Nigeria between and Nigeria and where God is. And He told me to look down. When I looked down, I saw Nigeria as in a map and I saw sheep eating grass. But the more they eat grass, the more they became thinner. And God said that is the church of God in Nigeria not fed. But this sheep, they have different fences separating them.
And the Lord said to me that He sent His ministers but they have built empires around themselves separating the flock and not feeding them. The sheep lifted up their heads and they have human heads and they started praying because they have been so famished, so punished and tortured. And when they started praying, suddenly a wind blew in Nigeria and blew the fences away and brought all of them together and one fence surrounded them. They didn’t know it, they kept on praying and I saw a cherub from the throne of God came, between where I was and Nigeria, where River Niger and River Benue met, that very line on top of it, is a palace of a spirit that rule over Nigeria. That spirit put his leg on the chair and his hands around him in anger.
He has vengeance, rage and wrath in his face. This spirit is lascivious. And the Lord said to me, this is the spirit that has ruled over Nigeria after our independence. it’s the spirit of greed and it gripped the nation like that. But when that fire came down when the sheep were praying, it passed where I was and it hit that throne and the throne engulfed in fire. When I looked down there were flakes of fire around Nigeria and those flakes of fire were burning, and as they were burning, they were meeting, and in a short time, there was conflagration. And the Lord said to me, until when the church leaders in Nigeria leave their abode, gather themselves together and repent from their wickedness, He said Nigeria will be so impoverished, they will be so tortured until things will now come to a point where our denominations will not matter to us.
And these Christians under severe torture will begin to form a prayer cell in their homes asking God for mercy and repenting of their sins. And the Lord said to me that when that time comes, then the fire will fall from heaven and destroy that throne over Nigeria. This was 1986. I’ve discussed this with Dr. Badejo and he gave instructions to his church at the time when he was General Superintendent of Foursquare Church. Fulani herdsmen are human beings. It is evil spirit that is working in them. Boko Haram are human beings. But there is a spirit of Boko Haram. I was in a meeting with some pastors in Lagos about five years 5 years ago, I told them I saw Boko Haram fizzle out in a vision but they now went under the ground and suddenly they began to pop up in every state in Nigeria and they began to destroy and bomb places I won’t mention now, and people couldn’t go to church anymore. Fulani herdsmen is not a problem, the problem is that the spirits that worked in those who called themselves Maitasine, went into those who call themselves Boko Haram and now is manifesting in those who call themselves Fulani herdsmen. Get rid of Fulani herdsmen, another thing will arise. It is not man, it is spirit. Until the church leaders, Pentecostal leaders especially, stop investing money of God into lacivious spending, living extravagantly we will not get out of the woods.
We blame politicians for living extravagantly, now general overseers and bishops, what do they need jets for? Do you know how much they service jets? Or how much you pay for hanger for them to stay there? Jet is not a vehicle you park in your backyard. If they don’t repent, this punishment you are seeing is a punishment for the sins of the church leaders and of course, like father like sons. Because the church leaders are godless, majority of the children of God are godless. In Nigeria now, to an average Christian, his interpretation of blessing is money. And it is not money they earn through sweat; it is money they earn by any means. So, until that time will come that they will repent, you will not have solution in Nigeria. I have no problem with Fulani herdsmen or Boko Haram, they are human beings. What makes a man do evil? Is it not Satan? A man who kills another man is possessed of demons.
The problem is that can we have men of God in this nation and Satan is killing our people like this? If there is anyone to query, it is not the government of Nigeria, it is those who call themselves men of God. Can we have righteous people in the land and then a man is killing people? Can their message not change their hearts? Can someone not hear what God is saying? And they are all looking for ways. But I tell you, Fulani herdsmen is not the last, there are more punishments coming over the nation unless the people repent.
Is it not in line with what some people say that there is a plot to Islamize Nigeria?
That’s another scam. Who says there is a plot to Islamize Nigeria? Let them give us the blueprint on television and show us the plan so that all of us will know there is a plan. Let me ask you this, Ezekiel 22 is the problem and solution of Nigeria. It talks about the godless prophet and government officials and there’s no one to intercede so God said I’ll pour my wrath. So, if they want to Islamize Nigeria, are you just knowing that Nigeria is a member of Organization of Islamic Countries OIC? Did Nigeria not have Christian presidents? Obasanjo was a Christian president, why didn’t he take us out of it? Jonathan was a Christian president, why didn’t he take us out of it? Why can’t church leaders in this country say that we are not Islamic country and take Nigeria out of this thing? So, if they cannot, who wants to Islamize Nigeria? It’s those Christian leaders and all those people who live a life of greed.