Reverend Gideon Oluseyi Adeyele is the minister in charge of the United Christians Evangelistic Ministry, a body that unites Christians of all denominations and a prince of Ile-Ife, Osun State. He speaks with RITA OKONOBOH on the task of preaching without denominational barriers, how tradition doesn’t clash with his faith and his vision for Nigeria.
HOW did you find yourself in the ministry?
I started as an itinerant evangelist and that is what I have been doing over the decades. I wanted to work as a church pastor. You know in those days, being a minister of the gospel was not as financially rewarding as it is now. So, those of us who were called were regarded as ill-lucked and truly speaking, things were so rough in those days. An itinerant evangelist in those days did not attract financial support unlike pastors attached to churches. It was hard to make ends meet. I was called when I was working as a sales supervisor. Then I made five pence on each product that was imported. However, I left all to answer the call. I had to work as a minister and as a labourer because I wanted to protect my integrity. I engaged in menial jobs to make ends meet. Still I thank God for everything.
Didn’t your family support the call into ministry?
Parents then didn’t really support their children going into God’s work because it wasn’t financially rewarding. I have been very attached to the ministry right from my secondary school days. My parents even hid the calling because they knew. What they told me was that when I retired from active service, I could come into the ministry. I was a little over 22 when I came into the ministry. They didn’t support my call into the ministry at the initial stage, but things are different now. I am now their son.
Are you affiliated to any church?
I belong to Christ Apostolic Church (CAC) worldwide. However, UNICEM is connected to all Christian denominations in the world. I’ve worked with orthodox and pentecostal churches. UNICEM is a gathering of all Christian churches to evangelise.
If you were not a minister?
Maybe, I would have become a king. I am of the Osikola ruling family in Ile-Ife and our royal compound is Akui in Ile-Ife.
How did UNICEM start?
It began as a result of the vision which God gave me and which I was trained to realise. At the beginning of the ministry, God said I must not join any denomination and must not become a paid staff to any Christian denomination. Although, it involved much suffering, perseverance, endurance and faith in God for my supply. However, God has never disappointed me and He has sustained me. UNICEM started in 1984 with seven young men who had the same vision to promote the gospel. Then, I was in Lagos. Now it has become a global ministry.
Now, you’re organising a ministers/workers retreat. What is the significance of such event?
I don’t just do things because it has been done before. One thing that I am very attached to in the ministry are the ministers of God because the rise and the fall of the ministry rests on their shoulders. If they are righteous, so will their congregation be and vice versa. God’s work is not about theory but by example. Clerics impact lives and our lives speak louder than what we say. When a cleric lives as a true Christian, no matter the portfolio, that is equal to one million souls. One can only give what one has. That is how we arrived at the theme “the church before the watching world.” On a global level, it is as if the devil has gained entry into the church through the altar, that is, through clerics. Corruption, immorality have entered into churches and members are jettisoning spiritual ordinances because of the actions of clerics. We want ministers and workers to realise that heaven and even unbelievers are watching us. We want us to come together and reason together. So, the retreat is to call ourselves to order and help us understand what we should be as clerics.
How would you react to the statement that Christianity is under attack?
The global attack against Christianity today is in fulfilment of prophecy because when Jesus was still with us, He said that the time would come when people will state that killing Christians and destroying churches is in the name of God. That shows that it is a fulfilment of prophecy and there’s nothing anyone can do about it because it is a pointer to us that Jesus’ second coming is at hand.
How do you get funding?
By the grace of God, we have combined church planting with evangelism. We have a church building in Ile-Ife. It is the children of God that sponsor UNICEM.
Even with the number of clerics in the country, moral standards seem to be on the decline. What would you say the church isn’t doing right?
I will not agree with that because it is not the fault of religion. The problem is not with religion but religious practitioners, especially those who preach and teach. The problem is with religious leaders. Even in Nigeria, we have good resources but the problem is leadership. So it is with religion. That is why the retreat is important because we want to make ourselves realise what we have contributed to negatively affect the good image of Christ.
Does your affiliation to a traditional ruling house not clash with your faith as a Christian?
We misinterpret tradition and culture. Tradition and culture is different from idolatry. In Yorubaland, our tradition is very rich and it doesn’t mean idolatry. We respect culture and that is why in politics, when our elders say this is where we are going, we follow. As a royal son in Ile-Ife, my tradition doesn’t contradict my faith. I am a Christian and a Yoruba man. I am a Christian leader and I am a prince. Do you know we have clerics who are traditional rulers? They don’t destroy their tradition in the name of religion. Religion is a matter of the heart.
Has God told you anything about Nigeria?
Even if God tells me anything, I won’t tell you. There are forces people don’t recognise and every spiritually-conscious cleric must be very careful when saying ‘thus says the Lord.’ For instance, if a cleric wakes up one morning and says he had a dream in which he saw Nigeria disintegrating, I will say such a person is wrong. I will go back to God and will give Him reasons that should not happen. In the spirit, there are hierarchies that control the spiritual atmosphere. When God shows you something and in the spirit realm, you are not superior to me, I will use my spiritual superiority to annul what God told you. This is what obtains with genuine clerics. We can approve and disprove. God has given us that authority. That is why we are calling clerics to come together to use that spiritual authority God has given us over the power of satan that wants to destroy this country. My vision for Nigeria is peace. The present recession will soon end. We just need to persevere.
You’re a cleric with the CAC but you’re a Reverend. The CAC uses just Pastor. How did you come about that?
Many other denominations wanted me to minister in their churches, especially the Baptist churches. They said they loved the ministry and so they gave me the title Reverend. So also the Anglican Communion and the Methodist Churches. They gave me the title of being called a reverend so I would be able to minister in their churches. It’s just a title, it’s not an unction. The unction to minister is spiritual and that is why I can minister in any denomination.