Pastor Bode Awowole is the General Overseer of the Followers of Christ Gospel Mission Incorporation, Ibadan, Oyo State. He speaks with OLAIDE SOKOYA on his experience as a minister of God and how Nigerians can move the country forward.
How did you become a cleric?
I received God’s call in April, 1976. The first general overseer of the church slept in the Lord on September 29, 2009. I came on board after the general overseer died; I was the general secretary before that time. In 1999, I became a full-time minister and was ordained as a deacon and later a pastor. Becoming a full time minister was a battle between God and I because I was doing very well in my job as an engineer. I found it difficult to leave the job just like that without another source of income. Later, I left the job and focused on the ministry fully; I started with a branch but today, we now have five branches in Oyo State.
You have been in the ministry for over 30 years, what are some challenges you have faced?
I faced so many challenges. If someone is doing God’s work and has not faced tribulations, the person has not done the work to the point of excellence. But if you have focus and you truly know the person that called you into the ministry, the fear will be minimal. The first challenge I faced was that of finance. When the first general overseer died and I took over from him, we had so many things to put in place but we were financially handicapped. So many problems also emanated from the children of God but I thank God that I was able to scale through.
How did you come about the theme for your convention, “The Celebrated Saint?”
Recently, I was passing by a popular place here in Ibadan and I saw a crowd with pallbearers dancing and singing with a coffin. Immediately, I heard the voice of the Lord telling me that as they were all dancing and singing, how many of them would heaven rejoice over when they died? Those people that would be celebrated in heaven are the celebrated saints and so, I was directed to the book of Revelation, Chapter 7 verse 17, on which the theme is based.
What is your view on the economic recession?
The present economic recession has been on for a long time but we were not aware. It is now that everything seems upside down that we have noticed it. If we take a very good look at it, it is not that we don’t have resources in this country but we lack good managers. I have been to Israel about four times and I’ve observed that their land is not as fertile as our own here. They are on irrigation but they export 80 per cent of their crops and live on the remaining 20 per cent. The agricultural sector there is thriving. How much more Nigeria that is very fertile and blessed with resources? Our only problem is oil. We have relied so much on oil and have forgotten other avenues that can be developed. There is no alternative but to go back to agriculture. Nigerians are good at praying but we are not living holy lives; we are still living in our past, which is darkness. We should seek the face of God and ask for forgiveness of sin, so that everything will change for the better for us in the country.
How has the recession affected your church?
The economic recession is really affecting churches, not only my church. Almost all the church members are government workers/salary earners and many have not received salaries for the past six months and we cannot ask them to steal for the development of the church. The rate at which tithes and offerings dropped is alarming.
With your experience as a cleric, how would you say Christianity has influenced society?
Christians do not have the fear of God anymore, rather, they fear their pastors. Being a Christian is not about title, popularity or fame; we have dumped what the Bible teaches for worldly things. We now take proclamation of the gospel with levity. If we have as many churches and we lived righteously, things will not be hard like this.
What advice would you give to the government?
The more we pray in this nation, the more suffering and hardship we see. Why? Let everybody forsake sin and allow holiness to reign in our land. Enough of political propaganda and “change” slogan without positive change. Alleviate suffering, hunger and crime by creating job opportunities for unemployed graduates. Government should improve our economy by adding value to the naira in order to help companies with regard to raw materials. President Muhammadu Buhari should find lasting solution to terrorism and the activities of militants. Where dialogue is necessary, let us make use of it because the blood of the innocents is crying for vengeance. Let us join hands together to move Nigeria forward.