Pentecostals: It’s a pity I belong to the Pentecostal
Who is Pastor Femi Emmanuel?
Well I am the presiding Pastor or what they call general overseer of the Livingspring Chapel International. I studied Engineering and was in gainful employment until God’s own appointed time, the dimension of going into the ministry came in. I was once the Deputy Speaker of Oyo State House of Assembly in the year 1992-1993. It was while I was in the House of Assembly as the Deputy Speaker, the number 4 citizen of the state that it became clear to me that God would want me to take up Pastoral calling which I had always been running away from. But every vision is for an appointed time. The time appointed came and I had no choice than to answer the divine call.
What is your View of the PFN President?
Bishop Felix Omobude is a great man of God, a man I respect very highly. I haven’t had too close relationship with him because I am not an officer of the PFN but on the church platform and programmes where we meet I come to respect him and God’s calling on him. For PFN I have been invited many times but for now I have my hands full and have always pleaded for some time to get some things done. He is definitely a blessing to PFN. So many issues came up and to the best of his ability and his executive, he has been able to take the PFN further and we all owe him appreciation because PFN belongs to all of us.
Some Pastors do not wish to be associated with PFN or CAN because of some activities they are not okay with in the body, where do you belong?
One of the biggest problems in the Christian body in this country is disunity. Disunity is the bane of the church in Nigeria, especially the Pentecostal. Pentecostals are so divided, indiscipline, uncoordinated, and it is a pity that I belong to the Pentecostal. If there is any effort to bring unity, oneness and discipline and more sanity to Pentecostal churches, I am definitely in support. We must know this that a house divided again itself will not stand. You heard of the recently suspended FRC code, that effort was aimed at uprooting Pentecostal churches and destabilising them. The orthodox churches are well organised and disciplined. Catholic is organised from Rome and has been around for almost 2 thousand years. So if we are talking of succession plan, this has nothing to do with Catholic. It is already established, up to the way the Pope is selected. In essence, they have become well established and well organised in this regard. This same thing is also applicable to the Anglican, the Baptist and the rest like that. A well-structured system has been established and being followed, so the people that evil law was aimed at are the Pentecostal churches. The Pentecostal history of this country is not up to a hundred years. How many of the Pentecostal churches around are even up to 20 years when the code says 20 years to step down. I think 20years is so small. How many churches of 20years have an established structure? Many Pentecostal churches are yet to have a very good structure. So if there is anything that would bring us together, bring sanity, maintain order and not just doing it anyhow, I am in support. Some people preach any message, any method just to gather people. It is like Pentecostal is in a mess; it is like a house of noise. Let’s strengthen the PFN/CAN to be stronger. If certain things are wrong, we can restructure it. The point is that we cannot go far without some level of unity and oneness of authority and discipline. We should be able to call erring pastors to order. You can’t be in Catholic or Anglican and be doing what you like; it is only in the Pentecostal that everyone is a government to himself. I believe that endangers the life of the Pentecostal. There must be authority, there must be sanity. There must be a father, there must be a way to get better organised.
“One of the biggest problems in the Christian body in this country is disunity. Disunity is the bane of the church in Nigeria, especially the Pentecostal. Pentecostals are so divided, indiscipline, uncoordinated, and it is a pity that I belong to the Pentecostal. If there is any effort to bring unity, oneness and discipline and more sanity to Pentecostal churches, I am definitely in support. We must know this that a house divided again itself will not stand.”
It seems the church is gradually neglecting the messages of righteousness, holiness and Christ second coming, why?
That is not general and I can say that is not for all churches. Like I earlier said, the Church organisation, especially the Pentecostal is where you see somebody just saying he is called. He is called and nobody can do anything about it. His handbills are out, his billboards are there, shouting on the radio and other media and there are gullible people who will go there. No questions like: where he is coming from, who licensed you, who ordained you, who is your father? Acts 13 says, ‘while we fasted and prayed, the Holy Spirit said, ‘…separate me Paul and Banarbas for the journey where on I have called them’. So a body sent them out and they have a body they must report to. That is why we have what you just noticed. So the gospel of righteousness, of holiness, or purity is still the fundamental and the central gospel for today, any church that deviate from that is doing something else. Holy living, righteous living, Christ likeness is all that the preaching of the gospel and Christianity is about, people who are like Christ. I can’t deny that there are over emphasis on the mundane things of this world to the detriment of the fundamental and I think the church should return to preaching the balance gospel. Salvation, purity, holiness, Christ second coming and even empowerment. What people call prosperity preaching I call empowerment because people need to be empowered. People need to be taught what they can do, they need to be taught about discovering their potentials, developing it, deploying it, creating platform to earn their living. If that is what people call prosperity, to me is more of giving them messages of empowerment. Lot of Nigerians, youths have no focus. They want quick money and there is nothing like sudden wealth, it is delusion, a deception. You must create platform for wealth, you must be empowered, learn something and acquire a skill, starting small and growing big. That is my own understanding of prosperity and when you do that, God’s power comes over it and takes you further. Money does not come from Prayer Mountains. Nations and people that control wealth don’t even go to church but they understand the principle of wealth creation. I believe we should teach our people all these things but not at the detriment of righteousness, holy living and purity. In a simple term, we must learn to preach the balance gospel.
What is the focus of Livingspring Ministry?
Our vision is lifting. Lifting the sinners to sainthood, the poor to prosperity, the confused to finding focus. It’s all these we put together when we say lifting. We reach out, we reach in, and we release people to their calling. My calling is raising people to fulfil their calling and to serve their God.
Many churches are now at a convenient corner. Evangelism is put at the background?
I’m a called Evangelist. I say to people, my calling is evangelism and sometimes I wonder where I got the grace for pastoring. Evangelists are impatient people. No matter how many thousands I see in my church, my heart is out on the street for that sheep that must come in. Jesus Christ said, ‘other sheep have I that are not in this fold’, that also must come in. He also gave us a parable of a man with 100 sheep and lost 1 who kept the 99 and went after the lost one. My anointing is strongest when I’m making altar calls. My joy knows no limit when I see people troop out to give their lives to Christ. It gives me more fulfilment than riding a jet, a jeep or building mansions. I feel elated seeing people hear the Word of God enough to make them make decision for Christ. I was the training secretary of operation I found it in Ibadan, many years ago which focused on evangelism. I was also the first general secretary of Full Gospel Business Men Fellowship International in the Southwest then became the Vice-President. My whole life is soul winning and that is what it is now. That is why I went on radio turning point for years. I’m still on radio now, am live streamed all over the world.
But there is something we must understand. The world is changing, to win souls now, we’ve got to be more strategic because the social media, the IT had refined things and a new generation has been vested on us, the E-generation, your generation. I gave my life to Christ in 1972 that’s about 44years ago. The mode of evangelism then has changed. In those days we go to the town corner, show a film, ‘the burning hell’, people gather and you’re preaching to them. You won’t have much success if we remain with that. They are on Facebook and therefore we must meet them where they are. I say to people that if Jesus is to be in this present world, he will do certain things differently. He will be on Facebook, the social media, he will be on instagram, he’ll be streaming live just to reach people. The most effective evangelism now is the house cell system evangelism. When you look at the Acts of Apostle, they met centrally at the temple, met every day at the house level and the bible says God added to the church, such that are being saved. Why did He add to them daily? This is because they met daily. Evangelism is at the community level now because the modern day man will not wait to take tract or read it sometimes. He won’t wait at the roadside to watch the burning hell because he has all his films on his Ipad. People can reject tracts and handbills but nobody can reject love and Jesus came for love. The strategy of our church is not a new strategy; it is that which was adopted in the Acts of Apostle. We are very loud and strong in cell structure and as we meet in 10s in 15s we reach out to neighbourhood. We bring them under the love and atmosphere of love and show them Jesus Christ. The whole work of the church is evangelism but we must be strategic about it.
Lot of Nigerians, youths have no focus. They want quick money and there is nothing like sudden wealth, it is delusion, a deception. You must create platform for wealth, you must be empowered, learn something and acquire a skill, starting small and growing big. That is my own understanding of prosperity and when you do that, God’s power comes over it and takes you further. Money does not come from Prayer Mountains. Nations and people that control wealth don’t even go to church but they understand the principle of wealth creation. I believe we should teach our people all these things but not at the detriment of righteousness, holy living and purity. In a simple term, we must learn to preach the balance gospel.
What is your View of the Buhari’s Administration so Far?
The expectation of the nation was very high when Buhari came in because everybody was crying for a change and he came with a change agenda. However, having being there, we are yet to see the desired change the much we would have love to see it. But then I would like to state here that the state of the nation when Buhari came in was appalling. Things had gone so bad that the Federal Government was borrowing money to pay salary. The infrastructures were down, the economy was down. The 6 weeks postponement of 2015 election was a disaster and if you follow what is going on, it was like the entire central bank was open and money, I mean entire what was left as money was used for that election, so that the government that lost could come in again. Even Buhari himself once said if he was aware that that was what he was coming to meet, maybe he wouldn’t have contested.
Nigerians are impatient people, nobody wants to talk about that, their concern is that since you are there, you should fix it. It is like me giving you a car with a knocked engine and says I don’t want to know how you do it, make it work and drive. To further make the matter worse for him, the oil price went down and we live on mono-economy which is terrible, no diversification. Add to that is the Niger Delta issue. So where would the man get the money to fix things? These are the issues, apart from the fact that he also has some issues that we trust God to help us with. Personally I think Buhari meant well because up until now, I have not seen anybody that has been able to pin corruption down like him. But again I have said in some other interviews that to be a successful president is more than not being corrupt. You may not be corrupt but then we need systems, structures, we need a veritable team. You will recall that for 5months or so we couldn’t appoint ministers and that was when everything further degenerated. That was when many foreign investors withdrew because nobody thrives under uncertainty. The uncertainties were so much that we didn’t know where we were going and at the same time, he was also making some utterances that were also scary and that was when naira further died because there was a massive withdrawer of foreign investment and how do you bring that confidence back?
Is it not possible to have a Saint, I mean true Christians in Politics as some preachers discourage Christians from going into politic because they’re of the opinion that the terrain isn’t okay for Saints?
Preachers who do that are uninformed and it is unfortunate. I will say this without any fear of favour, that until the church, the Christians, good people in Nigeria rise up to take on the reins of power, this country will continue as it is. The Bible says, ‘when the wicked rule, the people suffer’. The only way to send darkness away is to switch on the light and if we are the light of the world, why are we not shining for the world to see even in politics? I went into politics the year I went out of protest, it was a protest. I was protesting against the lethargic nature, the slothful nature of the church. I have been a Christian for a while and I know these things.
In the 70s and 80s when we gave our lives to Christ, no Christian wants to move near business. But by the time the understanding came, in fact, we moved from creed to greed. We now over preach it that it became like other truths where no longer important. It is God’s will that righteous people, people who fear God, those who love the nation, those who will not sell their conscience for a morsel of bread come into the governance of this nation. The church is a sleeping giant that must wake up. Sometimes I wonder why I went into politics when I did and now am beginning to see why God took me to politics. My understanding of politics and governance of this nation is totally different from that of so many pastors because most of the prayers we pray in our churches are blind folded prayers. We are praying like blind people, praying for what we don’t know. Most of us are still folding our hands, waiting for God to come down and take over and God is not coming to take over anything, he has giving us that power. He said unto Joshua that everyplace that your feet that thread upon, that is what I give to you. If we step into the economy, politics of the nation, it shall be well. Now Christians are stepping into the educational sector, you can see Colleges, Universities and so on. It is a revolution and with time you will see the transformation.
In the same vein, we need true and sincere Christians in politics and that why I’m glad when daddy (Pastor Adeboye) said we should go to ward level and become a member of any party. But again, it is more than being a member, there must be strategy, there must be mobilisation, I mean deliberate mobilisation and teaching. Good enough for the church, the church is a network that is easy to mobilise. We are in our Sunday Schools, we are in our house cells, we are in our churches and we take words from our leaders. The problem actually is the leadership of the church. Many leaders are still preaching against the involvement of Christians in politics and yet they are praying for God to take over, can you see the blindness? I have been in politics, I have been among the politicians, I have canvassed for votes, I have voted, sort for election and I understand the gravity of power. Next to God’s power is governmental power, the people’s power is next to God’s power.
The earlier Christians wake-up to know that that is a territory we must not leave to the devil, a territory we must capture. Every Christian in all churches and pastors must mobilise their members to join the party at the ward level. You don’t have to be a politician to do that because political activities are high when elections are coming, after elections everybody relaxes. There are 7 executives at the ward level: the chairman, the vice-chairman, the secretary, the welfare officer, the social leader, the financial etc.
These people are elected in open ballot, politics is about the people. When they are electing their executive at the ward level, it is an open thing. Politicians are in caucuses; hence we must also have our righteous caucus. It is at this ward level we select righteous people, those who have the touch of God, once we can get this right, there will be improvement because it is this 7 members of the wards that makes up the delegates that appoints the governors, senators. The church is satisfied with just telling our people to vote but for who? Who nominate those we are voting for? This where the church is missing it, except you installed good people, you are just voting for vagabonds, those who would continue to steal. It’s more than announcing, we must strategize and make sure our voice is heard at the ward level and on the day of election, we should be there at the ward level. Just elect righteous men, go back to your home, you don’t need to be there anymore.
What should we do as Christians in the face of provocations?
The leaders of the church must work together; this country must not go to the Jihadist. It is a very serious threat to Christianity. What gospel are you going to preach in Borno now? What gospel can you take to Southern Kaduna now? It is getting stronger and the church is asleep. I think what happened with the FRC Code is a wake-up call to the church that with all our efforts of winning souls for Christ, a single policy, devilish policy, can destroy it. That was why I said; next to God’s power is the governmental power. The governmental power is too strong to be put in the hand of a non-God fearing person. These issues will be addressed when true Christians wake up to take up the reins of power. People ask why I didn’t go further in politics having served as Deputy Speaker of the house, but I tell them, this calling to be a church leader is bigger than being a governor or a president because in the Old Testament, the kings go to the prophet to take instructions. But that is a king we installed, the king you didn’t installed won’t come to you. Sometimes we refer to some unsaved souls in politics as Christians. Most of these people the church didn’t put them there.
The church didn’t put Professor Yemi Osinbajo there. Thank God for the maturity of the Vice-President and for his own depth of Christianity, trying to balance the issues but the church didn’t put him there. Somebody single-handedly put him there and he owes his allegiance to that person. Adding to that is the fact that he is the Vice-President that has no constitutional role except the one that the president gives to him. I said to him, my prayer for you is that God will grant you the kind of favour that Joseph had before Pharaoh. Unless you have favour, there’s no role for you. How many Christians are conscious of the fact that this is not Yemi Osinbajo’s government but Mohammned Buhari’s government? He is there to assist him and to the glory of God, he is doing it well. As for my stand on Christian’s reaction in the face of provocation, I think we will solve that entire problem, when the righteous takes over the ruler-ship of the nation.