For holding crusades, I was charmed in Ijebu-Ode, attacked in Owo –Bishop Wale Oke

Very interesting interview. Everything from his spiritual antecedents to his views on politics. I particularly like his views about public officers seeking treatment abroad for health issues. He is correct – a great security risk. Enjoy!

Bishop Francis Wale Oke is the President, Sword of the Spirit Ministry, Ibadan and the presiding Bishop of Christ Life Church, worldwide. He is also the national Vice-President, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) in South West. He speaks with EMMANUEL ADENIYI on the 30th Holy Ghost convention of the church, roles of the Holy Spirit in the end-time church and how Nigerian leaders undermine collective security of the country through incessant trips abroad for medical care. Excerpts:

Your ministry started in 1983…?
NOT quite. 1983 was when the Holy Ghost convention started. Prior to that, I had begun to preach in 1975. The first crusade where I preached was organised by the Christ Ambassador Evangelistic Mission, Ibadan and it was held in Ode-Omu in December of that year. From that time the hand of God has been moving me from one level to another, but it was in 1980 that we began to get our own ministry organized when we started to publish the Sword of the Spirit magazine in May, I was still a student of the University of Lagos at that time, but when I finished I served in the same organization for whom I preached in 1975, and as soon as I finished my service year in 1982, we started the ministry like that; that was what led to the Holy Ghost convention being held in 1983. So, the ministry had been on with preaching in various parts of this nation before the convention, that was why when the convention was first held in 1983, 13 out of 19 states in the country then were represented. We never knew it was going to become a phenomenon like this, and God has blessed it in the last 30 years.

How has it been from 1975 up till this moment in terms of your experiences, challenges and having to start a ministry from scratch?
It has been very challenging but very exciting, because when God calls you, you are not alone. He stands by His servant. He didn’t promise that everything would be rosy and easy, He said in the world you would have tribulation, but be of good cheer because I have overcome the world. He also said many were the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivered him out of them all. So, we have had challenges, from men, from unfaithful brethren, challenges of finances, challenges of land owners and challenges of the occult who confronted us in crusades and meetings, but in all of these, God was with us, fought for us and made us more than conquerors.

Could you mention any specific challenges you will never forget in the course of starting the ministry?
Of course, there are quite a number of them. In 1984 when we had our crusade in Owo, it coincided with Igogo festival during the reign of Oba Ogunoye, and the Igogo people thought that we organised the crusade to confront them, and I didn’t know, we just planned it as directed by the Holy Spirit. The Igogo people came to attack us on the crusade ground with dangerous objects and I had to stand my ground to speak to their leaders in the name of the Lord and rebuke the demonic forces behind them. At the end of the day, a good number of them gave their lives to Christ.

When I went to Ijebu-Ode in May 1985, they threw what Yorubas call ata with charms and all that. I just saw a part of my body peel off, and somebody told me that it was ata, I asked what was ata, they explained to me that if one was attacked with the terrible charms that person would either be paralysed or go blind or die, but none of it happened. At the end of the day some of the people behind it gave their lives to Christ. We won’t leave this place if I begin to tell you all the challenges, but the greater the challenges, the sweeter the victory, it is good to serve the Lord.

What would you say informed the choice of this year’s convention theme, “The Anointing”?
In Zechariah 4:6, the Bible says it is not by might or power, but by my spirit, says the Lord. So, this end-time battle, whether it is a battle against Boko Haram, personal or general battle, it is the ability and strength of the Holy Spirit that enables us to have victory. If we do it on our own we will fail, we would be like Moses before he was anointed who went to do it his own way and he failed; he had to run and escape to the wilderness where God took him through the university of wilderness to learn that if you are going to succeed as an individual you have to depend on the Holy Spirit. It is about the Holy Spirit. In Isaiah 11:2, God promises the seven spirits of God: the spirits of the Lord, wisdom, understanding, counseling, might, knowledge and the spirit of the fear of God. When these seven-fold spirits rest upon an individual it will not just be you working, it will be God working through you. He will be giving you directives, and He will make sure you succeed; because He is God He cannot fail. A man of God or an individual who works in partnership with the Holy Spirit cannot fail in life. We have invited the people of God to come and connect with the anointing of the Holy Spirit, partner with Him so that through the help of the Holy Spirit the challenges of their lives will be resolved, mountains in their lives will be made low, while the operation of darkness in them will also be destroyed, and then they will be empowered to do what they cannot do by themselves, because the anointing of the Holy Spirit is upon them. All the people that succeeded in the Bible did so because they were anointed, including Jesus our Lord, He had the anointing of the Holy Spirit on Him. If you allow the Holy Spirit to envelope you, then you will fulfil your destiny and not fail.

How can you relate this to the larger society, Nigeria for instance?
Many problems that confront Nigeria, political, socio-economic, Islamic insurgency, called Boko Haram, armed robbery, youth unemployment, the rot in the education and health system, they were not created in a day. We need the help of God to solve these problems. Our leaders need wisdom, because wisdom solves problems any time, and it is the Holy Spirit that gives wisdom. That is why we are praying for our leaders to be anointed with wisdom to be able to deal with the multi-faceted problems facing the country. With the anointing of the Holy Spirit, wisdom comes, understanding comes and difficult things become easy. If we are going to go about it carnally, the problems will get complex. We are calling on the leadership of the country to ask God for wisdom to be able to deal with various problems in Nigeria. We are also calling on all Nigerians to pray and ask himself/herself, “in what way am I contributing to the problems of Nigeria, and in what way can I be part of the solutions to the problems of the country?” The problem is not about the leadership alone, it also affects the led. Nigerians should not ask for money from politicians before they are elected, rather they should ask them to provide potable water, fix the roads, provide electricity, good rail system and make aviation sector secure and safe, equip the universities and teaching hospitals, so that when the president or his wife is sick, he/she doesn’t have to go outside the country. When you fly the president or his wife out of the country for medical treatment, you jeopardise the security of the country. In a society where people ask for money and place demands on their leaders, the leadership will be corrupt, because the people are corrupt. This is why the leaders need to change, while the led should also change. There is a need for general re-orientation, we are trusting that the Holy Spirit will bring this about.

The church is supposed to serve as the megaphone of God to the society, would you say it has lived up to this in view of untoward happenings we see on a daily basis?
The church is doing its best, but it is having its own challenges too; we are trying to deal with that internally, because a corrupt church cannot change a corrupt nation. From time immemorial, when a prophet speaks, it is not everybody that listens; some do, some don’t, and Christianity does not spread by coercion, or through the sword or through the shedding of blood. It spreads by persuasion. God does not want to force anybody to serve Him, God wants everybody to choose. All we can do is to speak and try to persuade you, so if you choose to be persuaded, good, and if you don’t there is nothing anybody can do, because man is a free moral agent. So long that freedom of choice is there, we can’t get everybody to do what is right. The church is doing its best, but there is a room for improvement.

Would you give a pass mark to the church if you are to consider its efforts vis-à-vis the rot in the society?
The Bible says where sins abound, grace much more abounds. The only problem we have as a people is that we tend to focus more on the negative aspect of life. Some of the best private universities we have around today come from the church. It’s just that the society is not seeing this. Some of the people who have moved this society forward are products of the church. Church is working, but like I said we are not giving any kudos to ourselves, because the Bible even forbids us to that; we are pushing ourselves to do more. So long there is one soul, one sinner to be saved; the church still has a lot to do. We are not there yet, by the grace of God we will get there.

Has God told you anything about Nigeria?
Yes, the future of Nigeria will be great. The problems we are passing through right now will get more challenging, especially between now and 2015, but we are going to come out of them and emerge a prosperous nation.

What about the predictions of break-up?
It’s not going to happen. It looks the easy thing to do, but it will not happen; the people will be weary of the problems, and agree to talk on the way forward. They will sit down and talk having discovered that there is no alternative to it.

You said flying the wife of the president out of the country for medical check-up would compromise the security of the country, how do you mean?
When you are in the hands of your doctor, you are most vulnerable. He can see your nakedness; ask any question, he can extract any information from you. Any nation that wants to compromise the security and integrity of Nigeria just needs to plant its agents where these leaders are flown to, and you have all the critical information about Nigeria in your hands to attack and undermine its territorial integrity. What stops the government from equipping each of the teaching hospitals in the country to the highest standards? Nigeria has the largest number of qualified doctors in America than any other country, apart from Americans. These guys are ready to come back home if the government will provide the equipment to work with and pay them well. There is no reason why Mrs. Jonathan cannot go to the National Hospital in Abuja or other teaching hospitals in the country where she can be treated. So, the security of our nation is being compromised at the highest level. Can it happen that President Obama will be flown to Nigeria or South Africa to be treated? Will it ever happen? Why must it happen here? Our leaders are jeopardising our national security, we need to tell them to put things right. It is a reproach to us as a nation that our leaders are flown to Germany to be treated, whereas we parade some of the world’s best doctors. Most of our hospitals are glorified mortuaries; government should do something about them.

Could you tell us about your background?
I was born in 1956 in Kasumu village. I spent the first 11 years before coming to Ibadan where I went to Wesley Teachers’ College, then later the polytechnic and gained admission to the University of Lagos. I studied Land and Engineering Survey; it was while in the university that I heard the call of God and got connected to Pastor Adeboye, Pastor Kumuyi, Bishop Benson Idahosa, Bishop David Oyedepo. My relationship with Pastor Adeboye started in 1977, he was my lecturer. He taught me mathematics.

How was Pastor Adeboye’s relationship with his students and teaching style?
He taught his students to pass, in fact at a time we had to name him the lecturer of the year. He was very principled, simple and straight forward, he never came late to class, and he would never leave until his time was over, and he wouldn’t make himself absent from class. When exams were approaching, if you missed Pastor Adeboye’s tutorial, you are finished, because he would bring like 10 questions and say, “In case they ask you these questions, this is how to answer them”, and he would work all of them out. And you can be very sure that four out of those questions would come out, though they wouldn’t come out verbatim. He wanted all his students to succeed. If anyone failed his class, I wonder if that person could ever pass again. I went to introduce myself to him in the first month of entering the university in 1977 having attended his lecture. He told me to see him, and from that time the relationship has been intact.

What would you say make Sword of the Spirit Ministry unique amongst others?
We have a commission to win souls massively all over the world, through mass evangelism. We plant churches, and I have conducted crusades in every major city of this country. God placed a special unction on the church to reach the world with the word of God. It is the prophetic and evangelistic edge of this ministry that makes it unique, and this is recognised all over the world.

The ministry has become an international brand, what remarkable achievements can you say God helped you to record in the last 30 years or thereabouts?
For two reasons I want play low on it. One, they say those who do the things that count do not stop to count them. I wouldn’t want to stop counting things. Two, there is nothing we do with our own strength; God is the doer of everything, because except the Lord build the house they labour in vain that build it. For example our university, I can’t say it is my university, it is a university God raised in our hands, or our schools, our books or our churches, I wouldn’t say this is what I have done; I have done nothing. All I have done is to yield myself to the hands of God to do what he likes with me. God is the doer of everything, so we cannot take the glory, we are just His vessels.

…and your expectations for the ministry in the next five or 10 years?
We are trusting God, He is going to multiply us. He will multiply us, we will not be few, He will also glorify us we will not be small. Governors, rulers will come from among us. He has promised to make this ministry truly global having its strong presence in every nation of the earth, and at the same time having strong presence in every part of this country. What He said in the past came to fulfillment, what He said now, we know, He will fulfil. He keeps His promises, so the future is bright; all we need to do is to follow Him and move with His instructions. So long as we walk with Him heaven is the limit.

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