By Gbenga Osinaike
Pastor Yemi Davids knew where he was going and he did not waste time pursuing God’s agenda for his life. A graduate of Urban and Regional Planning from the prestigious Obafemi Awolowo University with the reputation of being the best student in his set, Davids needed not be told he was not going to work as an urban and regional planner but as an instrument in the hands of God to plan the lives of people and shape their destinies
Despite the busy academic schedules in school, he started a campus fellowship that is still in operation.
Formerly known as Yemi Ojelade, he confessed to our reporter that he had to change his name due to personal conviction adding that he would perhaps not counsel any other person to do so. “I changed my surname to Davids because of a specific instruction from God. I was praying about certain things. It was in the course of the prayers that God instructed me to change the name. Ojelade means masquerade is royal. But then I was praying and fasting when the Lord laid it on my heart the need to change the name. it was so strong . I spoke with my parents and they too said they had been bothered about the name and that I could go ahead. So I adopted my Baptismal name which is Davids. And they gave their consent. incidentally I am the only one in the family that has changed name.”
While explaining that he did not go through any particular challenge because of the former name, he said, “I met the Lord through the SU movement at the Abeokuta Grammar School. They came to preach to me and the message convicted me. I was tutored and discipled. That was the experience that I carried to the university. I have always had a great time with God and I am still having a great time with Him. But the idea of changing my surname only came a few years ago. I had already left the university so it was not that the other name brought some challenge.”
He however offered that starting a ministry came to him naturally. “I started Living Word Campus Fellowshiip at the OAU. That was when I was in my part four. But before then I was attending Christ Love Fellowship on campus. But the love for the things of God came after my school certificate. When I left secondary school I had a waiting period during which I was involved with some evangelical friends. It was then that my faith was strengthened.”
When he got to the university the preponderance of strikes also afforded him the opportuity to deepen his faith. “During those strikes I had the opportunity to attend Winners Chapel at Raji Oba in Lagos and also had opportunity of interacting with pastor Sam Adeyemi who God used to build my faith.
A teacher and pastor by calling he recalled, “I was privileged to be the youth pastor of the Winners Chapel in Benue when I was undergoing the compulsory youth service. While I was serving I still maintained regular contacts with some of my friends whom we started the campus fellowship together. So we were busy praying and waiting on God during the service year on the next line of action to take. So when I finished serving the Lord helped us to start the church in 2001.”
Davids who wrote his first book, In pursuit of Academic Excellence while on campus said his experience at the OAU was a great moral booster. “There was a lot of fear in my head when we began the church but I had faith in my heart. Since I was campus pastor i was confident to begin judging by what the Lord did through me while in school. I said to myself if I could do what I did on campus the ouside world should not pose much of a problem.”
But then, he had established a foundation for his relationship with the duo of Bishop David Oyedepo and Pastor Sam Adeyemi who according to him are his mentors. “I wrote a letter to Bishop Oyedepo in my part 2 and I got a reply two years after. He said God said he should respond to my letter. That was how my relationship with Bishop Oyedepo began. I used to relate and I still relate with Rev Sam Adeyemi. So these people have been wonderful in terms of offering me counsel and guiding me on certain decisions.”
While describing the duo of Adeyemi and Oyedepo as wonderful people he notes, “People dont know how to manage relationship. That is why they have problems with some top servants of God. Adeyemi ‘s personality for instance is different from that of Oyedepo. So in relating with these people one has to bear in mind their peculiaities and one should not take advantage of them. There are those who go seeking for favour in the name of wanting to learn from servants of God. That should not be.”
For 17 years now, Davids have been at the driver’s seat of Global Impact Ministry drawing heavily from the Holy Spirit for direction. The ministry has branches in Lagos and across the country. He linked the apparent success of the ministry to the support he got from his friends and those who believed in the call of God in his life right from day one. “We started the ministry from the scratches. We taxed ourselves. Those who were in paid employment contributed their resources and that was how we began. From the little beginning in Surulere people started joining us from 12 members we became 70. Today we are in thousands.”
Presently the church’s headquarters is located on a large expanse of land in Oworonshoki. The Lord has also helped the ministry to retain many of its members despite their movement from Surulere end of Lagos to Oworonshoki “We are always grateful. God has blessed us not to be in a crisis situation. One of the prayers we prayed at the early stage of the ministry was that God should send us men and women like Joseph because Joseph gave his master rest. We have rest so far. Those who left did not go out of fight. We still have good relationship with them and I am like a father to them.”
His wife according to him “have been so much involved in the ministry. She heads the junior church and has been quite supportive. We are both in the work together. There is nothing as good as having a wife who believes in what you are doing and who supports you all the way. My wife has been always there supporting the work. And God has been good to us. The work he committed to us have been growing.”
He reasoned that many church leaders sometimes have problems because they give the impression of a super man to their congregation so if anything untoward happens to them their ego is deflated. “I feel pastors need to be authentic as much as possible. When you pose like a super man, if anything happens to you the whole world will scream. You must not present any invincible posture. ” he said.
He also advised that Pentecostal pastors especially need to be more theologically sound. “I feel we pastors especially young pastors need to be theologically sound. If you are not you will act emotionally. The scripture is complete and can’t be broken. But they have to be read in context and not taken out of context. Jesus for instance made some categorical statements and places emphasis on some new issues.”
On the issue of tithing for instance Davids says, “I think from my own understanding tithing is still relevant but we don’t tithe like the law but we tithe out of love. People like to say Abraham’s blessings are theirs but they don’t want to do the sacrifice of Abraham. Because they did not have the holy spirit in them the law came like a regulation. The Holy Spirit came to us and simplified the law to us. I am not stealing not because the law says so but because I love my neighbour and love the Lord.”
He however counseled that “If people are not comfortable with the way money is spent in their church they should leave such church ” adding, “The church is a social and spiritual environment that has to be nurtured. We need money to run the church. The body of Jesus is on earth and that body has to survive. When Peter raised issues about what he would gain, Jesus told him anybody that left anything for his sake would gain much more in this world.”
While lamenting the undue persecution the church is facing in the recent time he said, “it is painful that the church is being accused for what the government should be doing. The church is helping the poor. If not for the churches, Nigeria will not be what it is today. The church has done a lot for the society. if you walk around you will notice that many of the schools we have now were established by churches. Pastor Adeboye for instance was a don in the university if he was running a secular organisation and he has a conglomerate we won’t expect him to be living in penury of course. The enormity of the assignment of these men of God should be seen and should be credited. How many people can gather millions like the RCCG and they will still remain humble like Adeboye. If the men of God are using jets the question is: have they come to beg government for money or is government money missing”
He observed that many of those criticising the church are only playing the ostrich. “Nobody is forcing people to attend any church. People know the right church. People want to get a miracle without a personal responsibility they fall victim of fraudulent people who call themselves pastors. Many of the schools in Lagos state are run by churches if they are removed the government will have a lot of problem to contend with.”
While agreeing that the church has not communicated well enough with the outside society he said, “For instance in the last couple of weeks we were able to support over 1000 widows, we gave a lot to charity and give scholarship. We were able to establish a hospital in one remote village in Oyo State. It is about four hours drive from Ibadan and we also had to put a borehole in that community called Agbopa. We support a lot of missionary efforts. But we don’t go shouting on the rooftop what we do because it is not in our nature to do that. But now I am beginnning to feel the church is not communicating enough. We need to let the world know what we are doing not necessarily because we want to show off but we need to encourage others to do likewise.”