Getting Apostle Paul Adenuga for this interview was indeed herculean. The appointments were set and reset. He was just too busy to spare time for a lengthy talk. But just about a few days to go to press, he put a call through and asked that this reporter should come.
Before the interview commenced that faithful Saturday, Apostle Adenuga whose passion for evangelism is legendary had engaged in a hearty talk with some of his church members.
He was brutally frank telling them many of the things people labour to get at the place of prayers could have come to them easily if they had obeyed God’s simple instructions. He believes the gospel is simple and straightforward but we have introduced complexities to it by our attitude and disobedience.
Prayer according to him “is about 10 percent of what we require to succeed in life. It is just a request. Where the work lies is obedience which I believe is about 90 percent. If we obey God, we won’t have trouble getting answers to our prayers. God is willing to answer us and to give us what will bring glory to His name only if we obey His words.”
He gives an analogy: “If a man has two servants and what one is interested in is to make demands while not doing the master’s bidding and the other is always ready to obey the master and go on errand for him; who do you think will get stuffs from the man most? Certainly it is the servant that obeys. That is how we are before God.”
While delivering this homily he wondered aloud why servants of God are so carried away with worldly and material possession pointing out that, “Whatever we acquire will perish with this world. Why then is it difficult for us to concentrate on the mandate of heaven?”
By the time the interview began, Apostle Adenuga, who is the General Overseer of Faith Revival Apostolic Church, whose headquarters is located at Car Wash Bus Stop, Egbeda-Idimu road, Lagos, did not mince words . Below are excerpts from the encounter:
Your passion for crusades is quite legendary. How did it all start?
I was born in Ijebu Ago Iwoye and I had my early education there. My parents are from that part of the country. My parents were Methodist and I grew up attending the church. But the change of life that I experienced happened when I followed a cousin to a church programme in town in a church called Trinity Apostolic Church. It was in this church that the word of God hit me like thunderbolt. It was there I surrendered to Jesus. Since then I have not looked back. I gave my life to Christ in the 80s and I became an evangelist in 1989. The burden for souls came to me primarily because it is the call of God upon my life and the fact that we had teachers of the word then who preached to affect our heart. If the word you heard did not affect your heart you can’t be born again. But if you hear the genuine word of God you will submit everything you have to Him.
When I heard the word I was ashamed of myself. The preacher was Pastor Jeremiah Adesina. His message pricked me in the heart. I was one of those that God caught at a young age. And since then I have been working according to his leading.
Were you not doing anything before you embraced evangelism as your life?
I was a footballer and had played for division 2. I was in Kaduna playing football for a particular club. I can’t recall the name of the club now. I was in the process of joining IICC football club in Ibadan that the Lord brought me to full time ministry.
You certainly have story to tell about the message preached in those days and what we hear now
The gospel was raw and hot. You cannot compare what is happening now with what we had then. The messages we heard were delivered in such a way that people wake up to their responsibility in the church. The messages preached in those days affected our hearts. But today many of the messages we hear don’t affect our heart they only remain in the head. Many ministers of the gospel are interested in brainwashing their members. The passion for the kingdom is not there.
But lately people talk about revival and they seem to be coming to certain awareness that we have to go back to the old time religion. What do you think about this?
The truth is that the word that will awaken people to their consciousness is not common again. We talk about revival but very few people understand what it means to be revived. When you say revival you are talking about bringing something back to life. It is like somebody who fainted and needed to be brought back to life. The church is in that state now and there is need to wake the church and bring the church back to consciousness.
What people are doing today is not derived from the Bible. Imagine a scenario where somebody collapses. There will be effort from all fronts to bring the person to life. So, to revive a spiritual situation everything has to go into it. Unfortunately many pastors don’t really understand the purpose and method of revival. To revive is to make people conscious and aware of their dire situation and bring them back to the life of Christ.
With all the breakthroughs and manifestations in our churches you still think we have not got it right?
The messages we hear today only make people have anxiety and make them anxious. They are not messages that make them conscious of their dire situation and make them to change. Many of the messages on our pulpits create a situation where people are anxious and always want to belong and achieve some material prosperity. It makes us run a race that is needless. There is difference between being conscious and being anxious. When you are conscious you are aware of your surrounding and this makes you live right. But messages that bring anxiety could make people do things that are not right because they want to get the perceived breakthrough. If you look around you will see a lot of hypocrisy and greed around us. Many people are in church but they are thieves.
Many of the things we call breakthrough today is what our fathers called abomination. In those days if you take anything that does not belong to you it was an abomination. Our parents then were not committed church members and were not born again by our interpretation but they would never take another person’s things. What our fathers, who could not read Bible abhorred and hated are the things we celebrate today. The irony is that we have Bibles of many versions and we have many resources at our disposal yet, we are making a mess of the kingdom.
We are empty inside. We only have Bible to show to people and not in our heart.
You seem to have interesting perspectives about the kingdom. Who are your mentors? Or rather who did you look up to in your early days as a Christian?
I gave my life to Jesus when I heard the gospel. There was no man in sight. I saw the reality of Jesus. During the years I gave my life to Christ, we did not follow mentors we followed Jesus. We are still following him. The reason why we have lackadaisical attitude in the church today and a situation where many don’t want to serve God is because pastors are not telling their people the truth. They tell people they are their mentors; that they should follow them because they want to lord over them. This is not proper.
But Paul encouraged people to follow him even as he is a follower of Christ. So don’t you think there is a Biblical foundation for mentorship?
Yes it is true that Paul asked people to follow him. Then, God used Apostle Paul as an example for us all. But today, who are we? Do you want to measure Apostle Paul’s life with that of Nigerian pastors? I follow Jesus. I appreciate people and men of God that God is using. But I can’t follow any servant of God because I can’t read the mind of such man of God.
We should appreciate men of God. By God’s grace we have wonderful men of God in many churches. I appreciate what these men are doing for the Lord. But I don’t preach and would not encourage any person to follow any pastor in the sense of wanting to be like such pastor. Our focus should be on Jesus. The Bible should be our mentor. We can’t go wrong with the Bible. Man will fail but God’s word will not fail. Any question you want to ask your mentor is in the Bible except you want to dodge your responsibility.
But how then did you begin your ministry?
I was in Ijebu when we started ministry and then moved to Lagos. I have been doing full time ministry since 1989. I came to Lagos in 1997 and the Lord has been doing great things among us. The church, Faith Revival Apostolic Church is the mother of our evangelistic outreach. We started as a church and then we moved out for evangelistic outreaches. We have a few branches of Faith Revival Apostolic church outside Lagos. I thank God for my brother, Emmanuel Adenuga whom God is using to pastor the church here in Lagos. He has been a great blessing.
But will people not accuse you of making the ministry a family concern with your brother being the pastor?
It is great when you have an entire family serving God. If they are called to specific offices, they should be encouraged. But it is not just about carrying people along. There is no sentiment in God’s work. If you are not called, you are not called. It is about being called. My younger brother and I attended the same Bible School, Trinity Apostolic College in Ijebu. We have come along a long while. We are mates in ministry. So, he is the pastor not because he is my brother but because he is called and he had distinguished himself in the work.
How do you cope running a church and doing crusades that are non-denominational. Don’t pastors feel threatened by your crusades and probably think you want to snatch their members?
My younger brother handles the church matter. God is using him to stabilize the home end of the ministry. It has not been easy doing evangelical work. But the Lord has been sufficient. Evangelists are like hunters. When a lion lays its hand on a particular prey, it will take a hunter with a lot of courage to deliver the prey from the lion. We are hunting for souls from the claws of the devil. It is not easy for a sinner to abandon sin. Those who have something to hide find it difficult to come to a place of light. The evangelist has large heart and there is a sense of urgency in the way the gospel is being presented. So far, I don’t have problems carrying pastors of other churches along for our evangelical outreaches which are always well attended by people from various denominations. We carry the Christian Association of Nigeria and Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria along in many of the crusades.
In concrete terms what are the practical experiences you have had in the field preaching the gospel?
The experiences are diverse. I will not like to share them for security reasons and for the sake of some people who may feel offended. But let me just say that the reason why we don’t have many evangelists today is because of the bad experiences some of them have had in the field. If you are genuinely called, you may run into debt organizing crusades.
There are times you get to the field and the equipment pack up. You still have to do the crusade. Many ministers in Nigeria love to do programmes that will bring them gain. They want to lay hands on events that will bring profit. Evangelists can’t have gain because on the crusade ground you go to spend and not to receive. It is not about what you want to have but what God will gain.
What in fact was the experience that you had that informed your passion for souls?
Whatever you are led to do, if you don’t do it there are more people that will do it and you will blame yourself. When God called Abraham, it was not easy for him to abandon his comfort zone. God will not give you things that are convenient. He will always give you things that are bigger than you so that you will not take the glory. It will not be convenient to your body. But remember if you don’t make yourself available for the assignment there are a thousand and one people that are willing to do it. If servants of God realise they are dispensable, they will not see themselves as the best. There are many pastors in Nigeria today that are wasting God’s resources. But they should remember that there are many that are coming behind that will do God’s bidding. Because of this realisation I don’t compromise the gospel.
How do you get funding for the huge crusades you hold across Nigeria and outside?
The martyrs in the early days of Christianity were okay they had all they needed. God will supply our needs not our wants. He has been doing that. Anything you see in this ministry is needed for the gospel. If they are not necessary we will not have problem discarding them. There are times we have foreigners that have to travel with us for our crusades. That is why we have a situation where you see us in convoy. We carry a lot of crusade equipment to the crusade ground. God has been supplying our needs and making us to do His bidding. There are people who give to the work and who are always willing to put their resources down for the sake of the gospel. So there are people who give sacrificially. But we don’t compel them. There are people who understand the need to reach out to the lost world who commit their resources to crusades. I don’t have anything as in terms of property as it were. I live in a rented apartment. Many people don’t want to work as evangelist even when they have been called to it because they can’t sacrifice. If you are looking for physical gain you cannot succeed as an evangelist.
But why do we have a situation where the church pays little attention to crusades in this era? Could it be because of the availability of modern technology like internet and television which are now being used to disseminate the gospel?
You can’t evangelise through internet alone in the real and practical sense. On the internet you read stories but on the crusade ground you see facts. Thank God for the internet. It is a wonderful medium for disseminating the word and reaching out to people. But it is not enough and it cannot be compared with the results we get on the crusade ground in terms of the impact. There are many things you can’t put on the internet for security reasons but on the crusade ground you see it life and you feel the impact.
Are you saying it is miracle that happens at the crusade ground that brings people to Christ?
Miracles can only excite people and make them think if they come to Christ they too will benefit. The Bible says if they don’t see they will not believe. But in the real sense it is the spoken word of God that brings people to Christ. The word in the internet is not as potent as the word you hear on the crusade ground. Whenever I am on the crusade ground I feel a sense of purpose. The evangelist delivers the message raw and the live audience are able to appreciate it and respond to it.
If this is so, why is it that churches don’t want to spend money on crusades?
Churches don’t want to lose money. They are investing in physical things and things they don’t need. Many invest in things that will perish. They are not investing in bringing souls to the kingdom. The devil hates crusades. That is why he frustrates all moves to ensure lives are being saved.
The apostles had no physical things to show for their ministry but they were content with doing the bidding of the Lord. Many of our pastors don’t have foundation. They read different kinds of books. There are some books that don’t really enhance growth. Bible must be interpreted for people to read. You may give somebody the Bible but he needs divine understanding and wisdom to cope with what is written in it. That is what happens on the crusade ground.
So in all your years of ministry what salvation experience did you experience on the crusade ground that is outstanding?
There is no difference among souls. Anytime we minister we don’t take that as a priority. What is important is that lives are saved. Every soul is the same. There is no big sin and there is no small sin. The Bible declares that all have sinned and have come short of the glory of God. So, anybody who surrenders his life to Christ; whether a pen robber or armed robber are of equal value before God. Nobody is special before God. We should give glory to God. The same hell fire is for all sinners irrespective of their sin if they don’t repent.
Your wife must also be quite active in your ministry?
Did God call her to ministry? I can’t do things because others are doing it. There are women that are called no doubt. But I don’t believe it should be the norm. It is not proper for a man that has been called to call his wife if God had not called the wife. The wife should remain the wife except she is called of God. Her role is to support her husband in the place of prayers and other domestic needs rather than coming to take the pulpit. For me God has not called my wife. I don’t know about tomorrow but for now, God has not called her. She remains in the background. And she is doing quite well.
Many pastors’ wives have already been bewitched because they dabble into what they have not been called to do. Some people celebrate women in ministry and encourage them to take up roles they have not been designed to do. It is not automatic that a woman should also be in ministry like her husband.
What role does she then play in the church, leader of the women?
Why must she attend to the women in the church? Why must she lead the women? What is wrong with the women? If a man of God wants his wife to make heaven, he should not lure her into the temptation of doing what she has not been called to do. Ministry is about being called. A woman should not jump to the front and think leading the women is a natural role she has to play if she does not have that grace. By handing over the souls of the women in your church to your wife, you are taking a risk. Handing over the women to your wife for me is like customizing the souls of the women. You are seeing the women as customers and not followers of Christ, which I think is dangerous. But there is no trouble if your wife has a calling in that direction. When you are called you are called don’t call somebody who don’t have the calling. A woman should be well taken care of by her husband who is in ministry. I am not saying she should be ill-treated. But she should not be given roles that she has not been called to occupy. See what women did to the government of Jonathan, you can imagine if ex-President Jonathan was running a ministry.
Now, finally, we hear cases of people who go to heaven and come back. Do you believe such stories?
I don’t discountenance such messages. It does not matter who the messengers are. If somebody comes and says I did not make heaven I will not push it aside. I will have to seek God’s face the more and move closer to Him. The fact is that I have not yet made it. I am still here on earth. Paul said I count not myself to have apprehended. But one thing I do I forget the past and move ahead. So such message should make us to move closer to God. We should not just push it aside. God can even use devil to wake us from slumber.