In Congo, I was sacked for being decently dressed – Revd Kelvin-Israel

I love missionaries! They do such difficult work for such little pay. Very refreshing interview.

It is unusual to find preachers entirely sold to mission work since, for many, it is not as lucrative as establishing a church. However, Reverend Niyi Kelvin-Israel, President of Redeeming Love Renewal Ministries and a missionary, tells MODUPE GEORGE the challenges and expectations in missionary engagements. Excerpts:

When did you become a missionary?
I stayed in Deeper Life Bible Church for over 15 years and I was among the first set of missionaries sent out of Nigeria. I was sent to Congo Brazzaville and I stayed there for 10 and a half years before I came back to Nigeria. The reason why I came back was because crusades were not allowed in Congo Brazzaville since 1949. They became socialist and they sent out all missionaries from the place. The time we went was a period of transition. After I came back, the Berlin Wall collapsed, apartheid fell and socialism went up and they were forced to open up and today there are many churches in Congo Brazzaville.

How has it been serving for over 30 years?
I started preaching in 1977 and I became a full-time pastor in 1984 and it has been a life of faith. When I became a full time pastor in Deeper Life Church, I just got married and then had a baby. We got a new car and living in a good house, but the allowance I was given could only pay for my house rent and we had to take good care of the baby. We had to believe God for all that we needed. A life of faith is not a rosy life. It is the life Paul referred to as “I know when I’m hungry and when I fast, and I know when I have plenty.” There were times when there was not much to eat. For example, when I was in Congo, I ate once a day for two and a half years not because I wanted to fast, but I had to do a compulsory fast. If I did eat twice a day my children wouldn’t be able to eat, because they were already two in number then. When I applied for a job, the supervisor of the company looked at me and said, “You are a spy” and I asked him why he said so and he said, “Don’t you see the way you are dressed? Your shirt is even better than mine”. Though I was given the job, but I was sacked after two weeks. The man felt I was too decently dressed to be paid. However, in all God was faithful. We were still able to help other people, even pay for their children’s school fees.

As a missionary to the Francophone African countries, what are the challenges of mission work in that part of the world?
In Africa we have 22 nations that are speaking French. 18 of them got their independence the same day but they are 20 years behind Nigeria, be it political, spiritual, economic and in every other thing. I feel it is because of the total assimilation of the French culture.

The best wine is produced in Bordeaux State in the whole of France and not only that, the best perfume is produced in France. To the French, drinking alcohol is very normal. A French man will prefer not to eat in the morning but rather take alcohol to wash his/her mouth, they call it appetizer. There is a part of Congo, where if your husband, as a rich man, desires to marry another wife, you as a wife will have to go back to your village and bring your sister for him. They don’t care, they can go and bring two or three of their sisters to marry the same husband. I had to first learn their language. At times, I preach with an interpreter for fluency sake. However, when it comes to counseling, the people feel more secured when they talk to you without an interpreter.

In spite of the various criticisms many deliverance ministries today, how have you kept yourself?
A deliverance ministry is one where you help people get rid of their demonic foundation and ties and bring the message of liberation to them. It is supposed to be a subjective ministry in the church, and not a ministry that has its own doctrine. The problem with deliverance ministers has been that, they have become involved with doctrinal issues which do not concern them. Leave doctrine to the teachers and the pastors in the church. As for me, when I’m called to minister deliverance to the people, I do just that and I leave. I don’t dabble into people’s doctrines.

It’s been said Nigeria’s problems of insecurity and political instability have a spiritual undertone. Is it true?
The problem of Boko Haram is both political and also spiritual. We have a lot of praying going on. I’ve had several revelations that Nigeria will break up and I don’t want that to happen. If we pray Nigeria won’t break up, but if we don’t it will break up. However, we need leaders who can confront the nation like Elijah.

You are a prolific writer; what inspires you?
I started writing because I felt that I don’t have a congregation and I have a lot of revelation about things that people go through.

How many books have you published so far?
I have written about 17 books; but just 7 out of them have been published.

Will you allow any of your children to be a missionary?
Every one of them has a tendency of not wanting to stay in a place. I have been trying to get my daughter to stay here with us, but she prefers to go to the North; she is used to staying in the North.

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