Prison: I was imprisoned as a pastor for disobeying God- Apst. Bassey
Apostle Alexander Bernard Bassey is the founder of Pentecostal Movement Ministry and a senior pastor, Assemblies of God, 47, Palace Road, Amikanle Worship Center, Lagos State. He hails from Obiooko (Creek Town) in Efik tribe of Cross River State. He was born into a royal and Christian family. He had his primary education in his hometown, then moved to Lagos where he attended his secondary school. Bassey went to Bible College in Calabar, Cross River State before he obtained his first degree in Economics from University of Lagos.
In this interview with Wilson Adekumola, he narrates how he went to prison for a divine assignment.
How was your growing up?
I grew up, I won’t say naturally but supernaturally in the awareness of God from my infancy. It is not by my power but due to the divine hand of God that picked me from the womb. I am one of the privileged people that got picked that way.
My parents formerly worshipped in Olumba Olumba but God used me to liberate them because I was not happy about how I met the denomination when I grew up. I worshipped in Christ Life Gospel Church whose activities were similar to Deeper Life Church. I have that burning desire to serve God right from my childhood. I was not pleased with the way things were. I just wanted to know God the more. Because of my zeal for the work of God my father did not have much interest in me though he loves me very well. But he later embraced me when it dawned on him I was doing the best thing.
Where have you worked before?
I have never worked in any organization before. I grew up serving God. I am still serving God. The only place I have worked before happened to be my own company that God gave me the grace to establish. I have a chain of businesses managed by me and my wife.
Can you share your salvation experience with us?
The awareness started fully in 1996 at the convention where the Lord marvelously touched me in Christ Life Gospel Church. God did not just come to me anyhow. I had the hunger to serve Him. I was hungry to propagate the gospel. I was like I can’t be serving somebody I don’t know. Who is He? How does He look like? In fact, I don’t know how to explain that decision to follow Christ.
I have been enjoying the joy of salvation since December, 1996 when I had a real encounter with God at the retreat. At one of the Bible study days, the Holy Ghost descended on me when our daddy G.O of Christ Life Church, Apostle Dr. Blessed Amanah Effiong Oroh was preaching.
The man of God is a good preacher of the scriptures. He was handling a series for about three to four years. He chose his topic from Matthew Chapter 5. It was during that period the power of God came on me and I experienced speaking in tongue. I knew I was speaking in the language I did not know but I could not stop or control it.
I had that little awareness that something strange was happening to me. I knew something was amiss. I was just rolling on the floor. It was a good experience indeed. That singular experience made me to realize that the Holy Spirit is real and God is real. You know, the best way to know God is to encounter Him. Preaching and teaching are secondary. You may choose to accept it or not.
But when you have an encounter with Him you know who He is. You may not be convinced or led by preaching. It is only a fool that will say there is no God. When you know Him no calamity will befall you. I actually got baptized by that wonderful experience. Nobody can tell me speaking in tongue is not genuine. I got baptized by immersion in the Assemblies of God.
Sir, is speaking in tongue the sign of being born again?
No. no! It is not the sign of being born again. It is a divine gift. It is physical evidence; let me use that word, that you have been endowed with the Holy Spirit because speaking in tongue is not a man’s language. It is not learn in any school. I know many people who do not know the nitty-gritty of how Holy Ghost moves are just making caricature of themselves. Some copy how to speak in tongue, some open the school of the spirit. But there is no school of the spirit than Holy Spirit and how to get connected is to be hungry for Him. You must develop that passion to serve the Lord. You must strive to know if He is real or not. But as for me, I have come to the knowledge that the Holy Spirit is real. God is real. Jesus is real. Heaven and hell are real because of my personal experience.
How did you receive the call to start a ministry?
I don’t know what people mean by call. I know God still call people. People also call themselves to serve God which is not bad. If calling is what people think, then I discovered the urge to serve the God at the age of 6 or 7. It is something I was born with and everything I have done on my own kept failing. I started preaching from primary school to secondary school. My name is still on record in Igbobi College and some other schools in the Akoka area. I had no break time then. I used my break for evangelism. They did not even know my name because they called me pastor. I preached from class to class, from school to school. I went about to remind them of fellowship on Wednesday and Friday after school.
At a time, we were so committed that the Christian Student Movement made me an executive of that fellowship and we were still under scripture union. We were going from school to school to organize crusade and revival. We were preaching end-time revival in many secondary schools in Jibowu. That was how I spent my life in secondary school.
At 18, when I finished secondary school, the Lord led me in the spirit to start a prayer ministry which was predominantly youth-Bassey Ben Evangelism Team and Prayer Ministry. The Spirit of God moved in our midst. When many of my friends saw how God was using me to save souls they keyed into my vision. We spread like wildfire. We had branches in Ojuelegba, Egbeda, Lawason, Sango among others.
Why did you leave Christ Life Church for Assemblies of God?
I did not leave Christ Life Church. Christ Life Church was in Calabar. When I finished my primary school then I came to join my parents who had already relocated to Lagos. So where the Lagos branch of Christ Life Church was situated was very far from where we lived. You know as a child under his parents I must dance to the tune of my parents. They did not allow me to go some distance to worship. That was how I joined Assemblies of God where my parents were worshipping.
Why did you change the name of your ministry to Pentecostal Movement?
You know our spiritual father used to tell us that ministry is in phases but the zeal of evangelism was in us. We believed we could not start a church rather than going out for evangelism. My father in the Lord said they did more than that but they ended up in His Vineyard. God cannot show you everything one day. You can never be God. He will give you a specific assignment at a particular time. When you are committed to it and do it faithfully, He will then add another one. He might be showing you glimpses or signs of what to come. Those signs may not come to pass if you are not faithful with the first one He gave you. It is only when you do the little one He gave you today He will now promote you. I never wanted to pastor or own a church until God had to send me to Kirikiri prison twice before I submitted myself for His use.
What led you to prison?
You know I have told you earlier that I have been into evangelistic program, like crusade, revival and so on. God has been faithful and blessing me through His work. A time came when I wanted to start investing. I mean I wanted to start a secular business. As fate would have it, I have series of businesses I owned and managed with my wife at AIT area of Alagbado-Lagos. We have Recording Studio, Unisex salon, Computer Engineering School, Micro-Finance Bank (Saralex Global Resources Micro-Finance Limited) to mention but few. Hearing the name of these businesses of course you know they are laudable.
These things diverted my attention. They made me derailed from God’s way. They made me lose focus on the ministry because you can’t serve two masters. These things also need time especially the Micro-Finance Bank. I had to contend with vigorous activities that were involved. I was going to meeting here and there, every now and then. I had visited many ministries and offices, including Ministry of Commerce, EFFC and all that.
As a matter of fact, for good two years I did not stand on the pulpit to preach the gospel of Christ. When the business was blossoming, I thought God was on my side. I felt on top of the world. Later, God started to send people to warn me. I was actually going astray, I was going back but I still maintained my stand. I went ahead to manage my own Micro-Finance bank. I employed a lot of workers. When the business was flourishing I felt I had arrived. I forgot what God has called me to do. I started giving out money. There was nobody I had given money to that had problem. But God proved His supremacy to me. I remember an occasion when about five men of God came for a loan. I never knew they were pastors. They did not know I am a pastor as well. One of them had a bakery he needed money to boost. They heard we were funding people and they came to obtain form. As we were discussing terms and conditions, I was even about approving their loan when the presence of God came in a mighty way.
One of them had to prophesy to me. He said, “Thus said the Lord, my son, I did not call you to serve mammon, you have derailed and you have left my calling. Go back to your first love. Go back to the Lord. So for God to speak through somebody you don’t know, you should know it is not a joke. I wanted to stand up and hide under my table because I could feel the presence of Almighty God. After the young man prophecy, I wanted to give them the loan but they did not collect it. They said they did know I am that kind of person and left.
Like I told you, nobody had collected loan and had problem but now after that visitation the people I gave loan started having problem so they could not pay back. I was duped several times. You know when you open a bank and one or two people put their money there, it is no more private property. It is now limited liability owned by people. So, by the time people that deposited money came and could not get their money, problem started. I was arrested and charged to court, then prison. But my going to prison was on divine order because before this time I had dreamt twice that I saw myself in a room that had no window or door.
In the dream, I saw some people who were given hard labour. Some of them were like robot but nobody touched me among them. I was just standing wondering what it was. God did not send me there to punish me. He only wanted to remind me of my divine assignment. Three armed robbers who had been convicted in the prison had also dreamt that a minister of God came to pray for them and used water to wash their faces. They were not bailing people in that particular cell they were in unlike others. It was like they were in bondage. That reminded me of my dream. Those three inmates revealed that the man of God they saw in their dream prayed for them and washed their faces with water. They did not know I was a pastor when I got there.
The Marshal, that is what they call their head in the cell, chose me to lead them in prayer the following day. That was how I got an opportunity to preach and pray. I used Open Heaven Devotional. I think that was what they used there. Coincidentally, the topic that day was “Setting the captives free.” It was a very unique one. I ministered on that topic. Believe me you, literally and physically I did not see but over eight of the inmates saw Jesus especially unbelievers among them. About five of them were Muslims. They began to speak in tongue and gave prophecies. Anywhere anyone of them point to that Jesus was, all of them would fall under anointing.
After the prayer session, I was led by the Holy Spirit to use water to wash their faces. It was then all of them shouted and screamed for joy. They lifted me up. There was a Redeemed Christian Church of God pastor who was also there because he had an issue, he called and asked me if I knew why they were screaming, he said that few days ago three of them had a dream that a man of God came to pray and wash their faces with water. This is to show that my going there was on divine arrangement.
Thank God, after that, scores gave their lives to Jesus Christ. From that day, that was how they started calling their names out for bail. Before I left, because I did not stay there for long, about 30 people were bailed. Some of them are still in communication with me till today. God directs His people. If God gives you an assignment if you don’t do it what will make you to do is in the offing. When I came back I had no option than to surrender myself to the Lord. Ever since then I have not had any reason to doubt my faith.
What is the mandate of your ministry?
There should be no mandate than saving souls. Making Jesus known and only His name should be glorified and preached. The church is a driving tool to take people to heaven. Quote me anywhere, anytime; any healing, deliverance, breakthrough or miracle without salvation cannot stand. It is not of God. That is the mistake people make. How will somebody open church and tell you this is just for healing or miracle. The first healing and miracle is nothing but salvation. That is the foundation that every other thing will stand. The Bible says, there is no foundation which will be laid than that which had been laid-the Lord Jesus.
So it is the foundation of salvation that is paramount. You cannot be saved and still live in sickness. If you get salvation every other thing follows. Unfortunately, many people are just messing these things up. I thank God that I did not know God in this my generation. God used my spiritual father, the G.O and his wife of Christ Life Gospel Church, Calabar, Apostle Dr. and Rev. Mrs. Blessed Amanah Effiong Oroh to give me a solid foundation. God now through Assemblies of God opened my eyes to see more things both physically and spiritually. The Bible is one. The message is one. The basic of the scriptures is salvation. Salvation is a bulk enveloped in one. The package is salvation. Everything is in the package.
Bible says, we should preach the wholesome word of God to make the whole man. When you talk about heaven is not half-baked food. You must be well baked. The scripture is there primarily to prepare us for heaven. I know there are business centers everywhere now in the name of church. God is virtually calling everyone. I wonder whether we will still have congregation because all the congregations will become pastors one day.
Apostle Bassey could be reached on:09093341084, 07058585933.