Pastor Ezekiel Adeniyi Adeoye was recently confirmed as the General Overseer of New life for All Nations Ministries, headquartered in Ibadan, Oyo State. He speaks with Rita Okonoboh on his experience in the ministry over 40 years, retirement for clerics and his message for persecuted Christians. Excerpts:
How did you find yourself in the ministry?
In 1972, there was a crusade conducted by our grandfather in the ministry, Evangelist J.K. Solomon, who founded the church. Before his conversion as a pastor, he was well known as a policeman. Then, in Congo Brazzaville, during the war in 1957, he heard the voice of God and after he came back to Nigeria, he took the decision to become a minister. He worked alongside Evangelist T.A. Iyanda at the time. In February 1972, Evangelist Solomon came to Ibadan for a crusade at Race Course, now called Adamasingba Stadium. At that time, I was a young man staying with my brother. Our house was the Adamasingba compound. So, from the beginning till the end of that crusade, I witnessed the happenings at the crusade. I can say it was a lucky and divine encounter. Before my conversion, as young as I was, at the time, I had charms for protection. However, when I received Christ, I burnt all those charms and became a new person. That was how I joined the ministry. At that time, the ministry was called All Nations Disciples of Christ Evangelical Mission.
In 1975, there were some issues and Baba, as we referred to Evangelist Solomon, pulled out of the ministry. Before I was confirmed General Overseer, Pastor Lawrence Oladeji was in that position until his demise in September 2013, the church unanimously placed the general overseer and the assistant general overseer in acting position until we were confirmed in December 2016 at the annual conference.
I was ordained pastor in 1974. From that time, I have been a field pastor covering many states across the Western Region, as it was referred to at the time. I was confirmed as the overseer of Zone 2 in 1989. The church has nine zones which covers all states in Nigeria and the Diaspora.
You have been in the ministry for more than 40 years. If you could go back to that day in 1972, when you gave your life to Christ, do you have any regrets?
I have no regrets, because God has been my abundant provider. In fact, when I took the decision to become a pastor, my mother wept profusely. At that time, being a pastor required full commitment. There was no salary or incentive. It was strictly a sacrifice and a call to duty. Our mission then was to preach Christ to the ends of the earth. At that time, it was only the Jehovah witnesses who went from house to house and at the beginning of the ministry, people sometimes mistook us for Jehovah Witnesses.
How did New Life for All Nations Ministries start?
After the church split into two, in the spirit of wanting to give something new to the people, to let them know that we had to renew our lives in Christ, we went spiritual, leading with the New Life for All Nations Ministries.
What is the worst experience you have had in the ministry?
I can’t say it is the worst experience because I am not dead yet. However, so far, in 1990, I was involved in a terrible accident. We were on our way back from a peace meeting at zone 3. At the time, the zone was for Edo, Ekiti and Ondo states. There was a dispute there and our then general overseer sent for me and some other pastors. The car we were travelling in ran into a truck carrying timber – we were four in the vehicle. I spent a year and a half in the hospital. I spent the first six months in UCH. There were some delays, so I left there for a private hospital. There, I spent another four months before I was taken back home to recover. That was a very memorable experience for me.
What are the plans you have for New Life now that you’re the General Overseer?
We have good plans for the ministry. First is to establish God’s name on earth through the ministry. We keep praying that through the ministry, the gospel of Christ will spread to the ends of the earth. We are working towards achieving much in the next five years that will even surpass what we have achieved over the past 45 years.
A few months ago, the Federal Government proposed a plan for general overseers to retire after they clock 70 or after 20 years of service. Would you support that move?
Yes, I would support such a proposal. When a person gets old, he should be willing to pass the baton of leadership to someone else. I will be 70 in a few years and I plan to pass the baton, maybe even before I clock 70. When one stays in such leadership position for too long, there is the tendency to commit blunder. An adage says one should leave the stage when the ovation is high.
As you take up your position as confirmed GO, what is your message for the church?
I want us to walk in unity, because a house divided against itself cannot stand. That has been my message even before I was confirmed as GO.
A lot of pastors, who entered the ministry in the 60s and 70s, have affirmed that the level of commitment at that time was different compared to now. What do you think happened over time?
It is the message of Christ that in the last days, perilous times will come. Many pastors today have gone against scriptural teaching. We pray that God gives us a new revival.