Reverend Solomon Adewole Anwo, the General Overseer of Christ Landmark Ministries Inc., speaks with RITA OKONOBOH, on his calling, his 20-year experience in the ministry and the way forward for Nigeria after 56 years of independence.
HOW did you find yourself in the ministry?
It was divine; the journey of my life has been wrapped in mystery. From my childhood, people always referred to me as pastor and it became an appellation I could not really explain. Maybe it was because of my attitude; I was very committed to the things of God because my mother taught us to be very devoted to the work of God. All through my secondary education, people still referred to me as pastor. Maybe it was because of my nature. I wasn’t very outgoing. In fact, at that time, if you didn’t find me in church, you would find me at home.
In the early 80s, when I finished my secondary education, at that time, I was bent on studying Law at the University of Lagos. I kept seeking admission but somehow, even when scores were high, I didn’t get it. After so many attempts, I still didn’t get into UNILAG. I was in the business of shipping at the time. One day, while on a ship, the Lord asked me to go to the topmost floor. He told me to look around and all I could see was water; there was no dry land in sight. That was when I began to imagine the mystery of God. He asked if I loved Him and I said ‘yes.’ Then He told me that I could not plan for myself unless I allowed Him to. That was when He opened my eyes to the fact I would attend the University of Ibadan and that I would study Sociology. When I got back to Lagos, I received an admission letter that I had been admitted into the University of Ibadan to study Sociology. I still cannot explain how that happened till today.
By the time I got to the University of Ibadan, registration had been on for a few weeks. The queue of people who came for admission clearance was so long and I was already feeling frustrated. While I was contemplating this, a man came to me and asked why I came late. As I was explaining, he simply asked me to follow him. And he took me through the line, into the admission office and he attended to me. People were just looking at us but nobody questioned his action. After we finished, we went out of the office and he sat at the front of Trenchard Hall and said I could go for my faculty and departmental registration and that he would wait for me. However, that was the last I ever saw of the man. That is when I knew that angels could appear in human form.
However, the real encounter came when I was at the University of Ibadan studying sociology in 1989. I was almost rounding off my programme then when I had an encounter with God. When I settled down in the university, I wanted to join a fellowship and the Ibadan Varsity Christian Union (IVCU) came to mind. However, God took me round the campus to a place where I found about 14 people gathered to fellowship and He said this was where I must fellowship. That was The Apostolic Christian Fellowship of Nigeria (TACSFON). That was where God groomed me for the ministry. When I left school, when I was on camp, people began referring to me as pope. How they came about it, I really cannot explain. After our orientation at the NYSC camp, I was supposed to serve at the INEC office in Abeokuta, Ogun State, but somehow, all my service year was used in the church. God sent us there to assist them and God made revival possible. It was a great revival. I was ordained a pastor at Christ Faith and Miracle Church, Abeokuta. This was in 1994.
As time went on, we were assisting the pastor at the time and I was quite okay with that. The pastor in charge said as much as he would have wished to have us under him, he knew we had the calling and he would encourage us to follow that calling and that he would pray along with him. I never wanted to be on my own but I heard a voice telling me to go down to Ibadan. There were so many challenges, especially when I didn’t want to heed the call. Going into ministry is something I didn’t pray for because my grandfather was a prophet in the Christ Apostolic Church before he died and he went through so many challenges. Like people would tell me, it was like leaving certainty for uncertainty.
How would you describe the experience so far?
It has been wonderful. That’s why we made the 20th anniversary theme, “The Goodness of God.” When we look back, we never thought we could do it. It’s not necessarily about me, but about the people God has raised with me in the mission. I couldn’t have done it alone. I have enjoyed wonderful support from my wife, the pastoral team and the church.
What is the greatest testimony you have recorded in the past 20 years?
Our testimonies are countless. However, our greatest testimony is that lives have been positively affected. It’s like God sent us to rescue the perishing and the dying. We have had testimonies of people being blessed with the fruits of the womb after 20 years and even 30 years of marriage. God has used the ministry to touch so many lives and He has been very wonderful.
How would you assess the Nigerian journey in the past 56 years?
We are blessed with so many resources but with the current situation of things, one wonders what is really happening. Whatever the case may be, we still need God to intervene in the case of Nigeria. I would plead with Nigerians to trust God. It takes God that rules in the affairs of nations to make things happen. Human reason to better Nigeria will not work. We must allow God to take charge. It is only prayer, not might, that can help us as a nation. That’s my advice to President Muhammadu Buhari. He should also consult experts on moving the economy forward. God just put him there to be a coordinator. He can’t do it alone. He needs the support of others. He also needs to allow God have His way and God would prevail over Nigeria.
Some people would say religion has done more harm than good to Nigeria. With your experience, how would you respond to that notion?
I would not subscribe to that notion. Thank God for the power of prayer that is keeping Nigeria. See the situation in other countries. Worse things have happened in Nigeria that could have made things worse but we thank God for the power of prayer. We are just trying. God is the only One that can save man and it is the same God that we can call upon to deliver Nigeria. Unrighteousness seems to be on the rise and this is part of the end time programme. The devil knows the time is short and so wants to use all means to drag as many people back to hell. That’s why we must use religion to make people conscious of the faith.
Where do you see the ministry in the future?
Like God has been revealing for some days now, it’s like we’re just starting. He wants us to pray that the God of the harvest will raise the right people for the work of the gospel.
What is the greatest challenge you have faced so far?
That would be what is happening in this end time. As much as one tries, you discover that the kingdom business is becoming more complicated. Infiltrators have entered into the kingdom now. This has always been a burden and there are signals everywhere that Christ is coming back very soon. People are getting deeper into iniquity but we trust that God will help us touch people so as to make them heavenly citizens.
We hear of more Christian leaders involved in major scandals, compared to earlier times. What do you think is wrong?
Most of them started very well, but maybe because of the challenges of life, they lose their focus. We also have people who have entered into the work of the ministry without being truly called. The motives of people are different and that would determine the kind of input one will bring into the kingdom.