Poverty Has Messed up Christianity + why they call me Baba Cote D’Ivoire – Pastor Ola Okeyode
Pastor Samuel Ola Okeyode is the General Overseer of Mercy Evangelical Apostolic Church Int’l., Bariga, Lagos. He was a missionary and evangelist to Cote D’Ivoire for 16 years before relocating back to Lagos, Nigeria to continue the mission’s work. He recently shared his thoughts with Providence during the annual thanksgiving and convention of the church in Lagos.
Tell us about the ministry:
Mercy Evangelical Apostolic Church Int’l., started In Cote D’Ivoire and by the grace of God I received the call to come back to Nigeria and start this branch and I finally came back to Nigeria in 2013. Prior to that, I was shuttling between Cote D’Ivoire and Nigeria.
What inspired your convention theme, “when you see the blood”?
It is just the grace of God and not by power or wisdom. We were praying during one of our programmes, “Hand of Power”, on a Tuesday, when the leader of the group was leading the prayer and was talking about the blood, that is where I received the inspiration for this year’s anniversary theme, “When I See the Blood”. When I see the blood the destroyer will pass you by, sickness will pass you by, at another level I see the blood as the power of God.
Why are they calling you Baba Cote D’Ivoire (smiles)?
Simply because, when God sent me to Cote D’Ivoire as an evangelist and the missionary, I established and stayed there for 16 and half years. So when I came back to Nigeria, to this same place we started the ministry after establishing the ministry, I went back to Cote D’Ivoire and anytime I am coming for a programme or for a revival, the members here in Lagos will announced that our father is coming from Cote D’Ivoire, so they are now turned it to “Baba Cote D’Ivoire is coming”, that was how the name was generated by members here and sticks. By the grace of God, it has gone far more than expected, many people don’t even know my name. Fortunately, one of the members that named me Baba Cote D’Ivoire is by the grace of God a pastor and minister-in-charge of churches in Cote D’Ivoire today.
How was your Christian background and conversion?
I was born into a pagan family. My father was a great hunter. He was somebody that can go and kill any kind of wild animal with powerful juju. By the grace of God, from the day I was born, when he saw me, he said, this is a boy, from this day, I will not go to the forest again and since then, he stopped going to the forest for hunting and his friends told him that, I will be the one to succeed him. But now, I am a hunter of human beings for the kingdom of God and not animals. That is where the Spirit of God started working in my life and thank God for my experiences so far. I started this ministry 30 years ago and celebrate 33 years on the pulpit.
What is your view on today’s Christianity and then?
In today’s Christianity, I discovered that people are not ready to tell the truth because of poverty. Poverty has turned Christianity to another thing. People are running after what they will eat but forgot the power of God that He is the Jehovah Jireh. They manipulate the Christians today because of poverty where they give them little money they forget about God. Someone called me sometime ago, asking me for my opinion of another prophet (name withheld) for using voodoo, I told the person, I can’t say anything, since I don’t use voodoo.
Many claimed to be christians, even ministers of God, but they don’t believe that God’s power is effective and can do more than voodoo. The blood of Jesus Christ is powerful and stronger than the blood of human beings and animals. If the blood of human beings and animals can provide money, how much more the blood of Jesus that is precious and was shed on the cross of Calvary to redeem whosoever believes in Him. He has paid the great price to sacrifice for us once and for all over 2000 years ago and many still don’t believe Jesus is a great provider. Today, poverty has messed up Christianity, where pastor’s falsely claimed God sent them to do or say something He has not asked or called them to do or say. Where some ministers arranged miracle testimonies to deceive and mislead people in the name of crusade and miracle extravaganza. Nevertheless, we cannot deny that there are still some responsible christians and genuine ministers of God in Nigeria and around the world who still remain true and focus on the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
What is your advice to ministers on perversion of the gospel?
If truly God called them into the ministry and gave them specific assignments, they should trust and believe Him to make provisions for the work. They should not twist the word of God, manipulate or deceive people or their congregation to survive for God knows how He will provide for them. If they believe that God will provide for them, they will not need to deceive and tell lies to people for money. They will be bold to say the truth and correct people doing the wrong things and stand on integrity of the truth.
What is your opinion on church/community relationship?
If a church is located in a particular community, it is for the purpose to impact and affect that community with the gospel message, exemplary lifestyles and soul winning. If the church doesn’t relate or identify with their immediate environment and community, they will not be able to fulfill their purpose of impacting the community and winning souls. The church attitude and relationship with the community will attract them to the church and contribute to support the work of the church. As a church, we must show love to people of our community. “For God so love the world and give His only begotten son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” and “how would they know, if no one tell (relate with) them.” If we don’t relate and prove to them that Jesus loves them, he’s their Lord, redeemer and saviour, they can’t get the understanding and change. When with them, we act foolishly and deny them the great opportunity to change their mind and when they change, they will experience redemption, salvation and love of God with the kingdom of God increasing. Our church here is fully represented as a member of the CDA, we contribute and support the CDA in every project embarked upon for development of the community and this has made us to build cordial relationships. With this, they participate in our major church programmes and souls have been won for Christ.
What is your opinion on Muslim/Muslim ticket and 2023 election?
In the 2023 general election, Christians should not fall behind, but vote wisely and defend their vote. On a personal basis, I have nothing against any candidate, so far they are citizens of Nigeria and not foreigners. Nigeria needs a competent person with vision capable of moving the nation forward and turning things around for better.
Talking on Muslim/Muslim ticket. I don’t see Tinubu as a very serious Muslim. If his wife can be an ordained pastor in a well known church with his full support and encouragement, and his children are committed Christians, with the fact that, he has been able to manage and control his home with one wife without forcing her and the children to become a Muslim or stop them from attending church services and programmes, then he is qualified to be President of Nigeria. Have you ever heard or read that in any Northern part of Nigeria, the husband is an Alhaji and the wife a christian, and they live and work together peacefully?
Tinubu and other candidates are seeking the highest political office of the country, with every contestant devising their strategies. If he should go the extra mile to devise a suitable strategy that will help him win the election, then he is accountable for his choice of strategy. All the same, we christians should allow the spirit of the Lord to lead us and vote wisely based on our conviction, and not on sentiment or religious bias. His Muslim/Muslim ticket is a political strategy, not religious sentiments as being branded. God can use anyone or anything, irrespective of shortcomings or background to achieve the purpose of what He wants to do. He is the unquestionable power that qualifies the unqualified. Religion should be separated from politics and must not be a concept for political exercise. At the same time, we cannot say, we are not into politics, because, if you don’t play politics, you will be politicized. We are not ignoring the fact that we are Christians, but let everyone of us vote wisely according to the will of God.