Holiness, sanctification, our mantra at Sanctuary Church —Gbade Ojo
May 23, 2019 will mark the 20th founder’s anniversary of the Sanctuary of Christ Evangelical Church, Ibadan, Oyo State. The set man of the church, Pastor Dr Emmanuel ‘Gbade Ojo, took TAIWO OLANREWAJU down the memory lane of his two decades of service in the vineyard of the Lord.
CAN you tell us how this church started?
Twenty years ago, Sanctuary of Christ Evangelical Church was inaugurated. My call was several years earlier. I was a member of Christ Apostolic Church (CAC), where I was a Sunday school teacher for decades before God permitted me to float the ministry. The church started in a classroom at CAC Grammar School, Aperin Oniyere, Ibadan. I started with seven members, including myself and my wife. The growth of the church is a big phenomenum and indeed, physical glaring evidence of the hand of God.
How did you come about the name of the church or is it God who gave you the name?
God does not give anybody the name of a church. The inspiration for the name of the church came from my observation that happenings in some churches in the world today, are unfortunate. We desire a different ministry, with holiness as its mantra, hence the name Sanctuary, which means a holy place of God. Our motto is to worship God in the beauty of His holiness. So the church is God’s Sanctuary, where God lives, where holiness must be preached at all times.
How many branches of this church do you have now?
We have four branches of the church now. One in Kwara where I work, one at Olodo community, one in Agugu community and the other at Odeyale community, in Ibadan, where the headquarters also is.
How many pastors do you have working with you?
We have ordained 18 pastors but now there are 15 with me. Three have left to float their own ministries. We cannot hinder them. We bid them goodbye and good luck.
Why don’t you and your pastors draw salaries from the church? More so that the Bible says that if your pastor is meeting your spiritual needs, use your physical resources to support him.
In Galatians 6:6, we are told that those who are taught the word must share in all good things with their teacher. The church can take care of us. But for me it would amount to double payment. As a public servant being paid by the government, I must not be drawing salary from the church again. Apostle Paul said if you do not work you must not eat. I am not a full time pastor and I do not encourage many to be full time pastors. I pay my tithe to the church like other members do. But as a pastor, if you bless me, I will receive it and pray for you. All monies contributed in the church in the last two decades are used for the development of the ministry. We have a welfare committee taking care of the indigent members of the church.
Let’s draw from your wealth of experience. Tell us about your achievements, experiences and the miracles the Lord has brought through you?
In the last two decades, we have two major challenges. One has become history. The other we are still experiencing. In the first four years of the ministry, there was a powerful rebellion. I was physically absent from the church. I was hospitalised for eight weeks for an orthopaedic operation. I needed to correct my right leg due to an injury I sustained while playing football. The injury had healed but the spirit of God asked me to undergo the operation in 2003. During the period, the boys at home believed they could start a church like we started Sanctuary, so they rebelled. It was very painful because they were my boys. I love them. I mentored them. But the devil borrowed them and they surrendered themselves for the handiwork of the devil. If you are in a ministry, you can leave at anytime, it is not a sin. We’ll bid you bye and best of luck. But they rebelled. At the end of the day, they were unhappy because nobody heard of Elisha until Elijah departed. The second is finance. The economy of the country is bad and by the location of our church, we pastor mostly the indigents that we still have to take care of. All other challenges, God has settled. In the area of miracles, nothing is as boring as to run a ministry without the finger of God or without thus says the Lord. The hand of God is in this ministry and we keep on experiencing miracles. The ones that we cannot easily forget are two people that died and the Lord revived them after serious prayers. Another instance of some women who were barren and God gave them the fruits of the womb. One of them, who works in the Media industry, is a staunch member of this church today. There were incidences of ghastly motor accidents in which members of this church survived. There are countless numbers of others because every month in our Liberation Vigil, we allot one hour for testimonies. We hear powerful testimonies demonstrating the presence of God in the Sanctuary. On achievements, I started with seven members, today the Lord has acquired a site for us where we built our headquarters; also adjoining buildings for our children’s church. We have branches in Ibadan and Kwara State. Spiritually, hundreds of people have been baptised, those that gave their lives to the Lord Jesus Christ after listening to the gospel.
How has marrying your wife helped you in running this ministry?
It has assisted greatly. My wife was a Muslim by birth. She became converted before I knew her. She grew up in a gospel church – His Coming Evangelical Church. When God ministered to me to float this church, she was extremely useful. Most especially in handling women in the church and she had in the past attended Bible school for children evangelism, church growth, et al. So when Sanctuary started, she was very handy in coordinating the choir and the women wing of the ministry. She has been very supportive.
How did you become a pastor?
That’s another interesting story. Some five years into our ministry, Prophet Samuel Adegboyega of Salvation Proclaimers Anointed Church (SPAC) was invited to minister at one of our programmes in the church. He saw a lot of people in the school premises and I was introduced as Evangelist Brother ‘Gbade Ojo and my wife as Sister Ojo. I think the old man was surprised that the founder of this big ministry was introduced as an Evangelist, to honour me. Simply, I was Brother Ojo. About a year later, he phoned me that the spirit of God asked him to ordain my wife and I as pastors. We asked him to come to one of our evening programmes in the presence of our congregation. I can remember that Mrs Bukola Akinade, a.k.a. Senwele Jesu was around to minister that day, not for our ordination, but for our church programme.
Was there any time you were discouraged, even at the time of the rebellion?
I was never discouraged for a day because of the anointing of God. The spirit of God ministers to me what will happen and what I should do. Nothing has taken me by surprise. Even the rebellion that took place, I knew before the ministry started. The spirit of God told me to brace up my loins that in the first three years, there would be a rebellion and if the ministry could survive it, it would last until the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.
In the last 20 years, have you lived up to expectation, especially in the area of your calling?
I had a dream, depicting my calling, in which renown pastors were on hand to raise a corpse back to life but couldn’t. The angel standing beside the corpse beckoned on me to raise the corpse and I did. And he told me to go out and raise dead souls; those who are spiritually dead, the poor in spirit. We give grace to God and all glory to His name. A lot of people started like that and within the first decade, it is either one scandal or the other. To have served in the vineyard of the Lord without scandal for two decades is commendable. That is why the theme of the convention is “A Glorious Ministry” taken from Romans 11:13b. In the last two decades, it has been glorious and God has proved His word. We give glory to His name. Our emphasis is on holiness rather than prosperity.
What should we expect during the convention?
Power packed revival, seminar and special thanksgiving service.
Advice to Christendom and members
The church should go back to the Bible, to the old path of holiness and consecration. Members should redouble their efforts in serving God and giving to the work of God.