Home Events The Best That Happens To My Life is Giving My Life to...

The Best That Happens To My Life is Giving My Life to Christ – Archbishop John Osa-Oni

428
0

The Best That Happens To My Life is Giving My Life to Christ – Archbishop John Osa-Oni

Archbishop JOHN Adebayo Alagbala OSA-ONI is the Prelate of Vineyard Christian Churches Inc., with other network Churches around the world. He is presently the Vice President, South West Zone, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN). His ministry, Vineyard Christian Church recently celebrated her 35 years and he took some time off to speak with Gracious Akintayo about his life, the ministry and other sundry issues. Excerpt;

Prelate, Vineyard Christian Ministries Inc., Archbishop John Adebayo Alagbala & Rev. (Mrs.) Enitan Osa-Oni

How was your conversion experience and Christian journey?

These are big questions! I got saved on February 13, 1972. Then, the moment you are saved, the zeal and the hunger  to witness to others comes on you and before you know it, you are on the field witnessing. It is a step in your life, a kind of boldness to witness people to give their lives to Jesus Christ, telling them to choose between going to heaven or hell. There and then, I got involved in village evangelism. We went as far as going to many rural areas, places like Iseyin, Shaki, and some interior places in Edo for evangelism.  As students, anytime we have a little break, we are on the move. It was very fantastic, daring and adventurous. Looking back, to me, giving my life to Christ is the best thing that has ever happened to me in life. Because I won’t know where I would have been, if Jesus Christ had not saved me.

L R: Bishop & Pastor (Mrs.) Rapu, Bishop Akintola (Chairman, Planning Committee) & Bishop Ajayi during the opening ceremony.

How did you come into the ministry and the challenges?

The call of God in my life was finally confirmed by Pa S.T. Elton in 1985 and then, I just came back from abroad. I ran away from the country. I went to about five different countries to see where I could live, but God spoke to me and said, He did not send me to any country, then I returned back to Nigeria. It was after my return back to the country that I met Pa Elton and since then, God has been good to me and that experience has exposed me to preaching the gospel.

The Vineyard Voices during one of their ministration

In 1985, Pa S. G Elton reconnected me to the man I have always loved and appreciated, the person of late Archbishop (Prof.) Benson Idahosa, who has been there for me ever since and still there for me till now. For me, he is not dead, he lives on. I still listen to his messages and any time I listen to his messages, it sends me fresh wrinkles and pulse into my system, it refreshes and keeps me strong. That is why the ministry of the word is fantastic and a lifetime calling.

Communion service lead by Archbishop John Osa-Oni

After my encounter with Pa Elton in Ilesha, I came back to Lagos. Before I got to Lagos, my friend and pastor, Rev. Dr. Tunde Joda, had come to my house at Papa Ajao in Mushin area where I lived and dropped a note. In the note, he invited me to come and join him as one of his associate pastors. I don’t know how God spoke to him, but he was my prayer partner on campus at Unilag. He was the man that God used to strengthen me to pray and to read, and for that, I can’t forget Dr. Tunde Joda who I finally worked with.

The Vice Chairman, Lagos State PFN, Pastor Akinola and the State Gen. Secretary, PFN, Apstl. Akin Akindejoye receiving Archbishop John Osa-Oni during the ministers conference

I quit my secular job on January 1st 1986 and went into full time ministry. Since then, it has been a time of no return. There were ups and downs, the road was rough, the burden was tough and the journey was not easy. But throughout, it has been God. When you pass through one hustle and it’s like the challenges are over, before you move to another level there is a bridge ahead that you must cross (smiles). But, I have taken life as progressive, the journey of life is a journey of mindset and so you keep moving. No man lacks strength, everyone has strength, what every man lack is will. The willpower to do whatever they want to do. No one lacks strength, strength is always available at any time; the means to act is the missing link.

Chairman, 35th Anniversary Planning Committee & 2023 Destiny Conference, Bishop Akintola addressing the congregation

In February 1987, I heard the voice of the Lord to leave Dr. Joda and Christ Chapel International Churches (CCIC). It wasn’t easy to quit, and after quitting, I stayed at home for about a year plus. But for a while, I was going to friends’ churches to preach, some invited me, including Baptist churches where I had friends as priests. In April 1988, a year and about two months since I have been staying at home, Vineyard Christian Ministry was born. Meanwhile, one good thing when I was staying at home was that I came across the contact of a pastor in Dallas, Dr. Tilton. At that point in time, he was one of the powerful ministers in Dallas, so I decided to make a request and wrote to him in order for his tapes and books. Before I knew it, he shipped a carton of his books and tapes to me. When my wife goes to work, I will remain alone in the house and eat the stuff shipped to me.  My wife was working then as a management accountant in John Holt. She is an accountant and qualified as a chartered accountant since 1982, when I was still in the university. She is from the family of Oshinubi in Ijebu. A blessed family with a good background. 

How were you able to manage your home all these while? 

Marrying my wife gave me another version of life. I was a son of a farmer who left the village in 1965. Even as a son of a farmer, my mind always loves the good things in life. My elder brother who I was staying with, will always warn me, should anything happen to these big men children you are going out with, they will lock you up and Baba who doesn’t know anywhere in Lagos will not know where you are, he would have assumed you are dead. But as God would have it, it navigated me to children of who is who in Nigeria whom we grew up with and today we are all good friends and family friends.

The 35th year anniversary giant cake

That’s part of what God has done for me and in summary, I am an epitome of God’s grace and my life is all about God. Sometimes, I look back at where I was coming from and ask myself, who do I know or connect with, if not God that did it for me. God has been fantastic to me and He is so sweet. Just trust in Jesus and lean not on your own understanding. Cast everything on Him, depend on Him and look up to Him. I have learned to trust Him, there is absolutely nothing you want to be or achieve in life that He would not make happen, if you learn to trust and depend on Him. I can’t do without, but to always thank God for my life. 

Cross section of invited guest ministers

How do you compare your zeal as a young convert to what is obtained in today’s young convert?

For me the zeal is still there, I’m even more on fire. With what I have seen so far, I know that I have enjoyed the grace of God. But my best is yet to come, and I am going to live up to 120 years according to the word of God for my life and I have the assurance, long life is my portion. God has been good and there are still many things to be done, many grounds to cover with many lands still need to be discovered. There is no need to compare the zeal of years ago with today. Because, it is a generation apart, what applicable and obtainable then is not the same today. It wasn’t the same experience, exposure, environment and encounter. But, no one is a failure and imperfect before God; we are all raw materials in making. Sometimes, we judge people by our standard, but no one should judge anyone by his own standard, we should rather encourage one another. When we started, there were many who started before us. If they had judged us with their own standards, we would not have been where we are now. We should allow everyone at the phases of their growth, life is in phases, not in size.

Apostle Anselm Madubuko ministering in one the day

How did you start Vineyard Christian Ministry?

On April 3rd, 1988, Vineyard Gospel Church was established by the inspiration of God with the vision to raised people of destiny, faith and prosperity and we recently celebrated her 35 years anniversary. In 1988, when we started, we were using an uncompleted building at no, 16, Owo Street, off Layi Oyekanmi street, Mushin. Then, I could not afford a candlestick and I will be the only one praying. But today, God has been good. We have raised men and women who have come and gone, but God has never left.

Rev. (Mrs.) Jane Onaolapo and Rev. Toyin Kehinde with another guest.

Was there any time you felt like giving up in the ministry?

There has never been a time I wanted to give up. But we have gone through life challenges and experiences. For instance there was a time we came down from three thousand plus membership to about less than two hundred membership, the people left. At a point in time, we were able to secure this place with Divine intervention through the now president-elect, Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu while he just came in as the governor of Lagos State. He went on the television and radio to broadcast and declared among others that, based on information available to him, the land at Osolo way belonged to Vineyard Church and Bishop Osa-Oni, therefore, it was released to them. God used him magnanimously to release this land to us and no sooner, we got the C of O. Also, thank God for people like Arc. Kayode Anibaba and Sen. Jide Omoworare with others God used to assist in securing this place. When those we trusted to support in building this church five storey building left, God stood by us and raised other people. How this place was built was only God, He used people within and outside the church and outside the country, including non-Christians to support in building this place. It is the Lord’s doing and it is marvelous in our sight. This is why I open the door of this place to any Christian body that wants to make use of it for their programmes.

L-r: Prophet Anene Nwachukwu, Bishop Mon Igbinosa, Apostle Johnson Suleiman, Archbishop John Osa-Oni & Rev. (Mrs.) Enitan Osa-Oni

When will you describe your exciting and challenging moment in the ministry?

I am always excited. For over 35 years now, any time I wake up in the morning, until I declare Psalm 118: 23; “this is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it”. I don’t talk to anyone, I don’t even respond to my wife’s greetings in the morning. I am passionate and principled about it. That is where the excitement begins. Either when I have money or not, I am excited, money does not dictate my joy.  When you understand that God is overwhelming God, He provides what you cannot afford, you will always be excited without complaining. God has been so good to me in many ways and I am always excited.

The children ministering to the congregation

When I got married was another level of life challenges. My wife and I had never had sex before our marriage and I had promised her that after a month of our wedding she would get pregnant, but that did not happen until five years after our wedding. The worst ridicule and shame any pastor can go through in the ministry is when you minister and be a blessing to others and it happens in their lives and not so in your own life and family. During that period, it was an excruciating pain, it was not easy at all. But, at God’s own time, the same womb that was diagnosed and the results said it has multiple fibroid and no assurance it can bring, later brought forth four biological children of, two boys and two girls. Meanwhile, before then, we have started adopting some children; they are doing fine and we give them the best care we could. Today we are grateful, fulfilled, satisfied and rejoice, but the best is yet to come.

The children received loud ovation for their performance

While growing up as a Christian and pastor, do you envisage getting to this level?

No, not at all and I never saw myself coming to this level. Then, it was the love for God, the passion for souls, the spirit to serve and the zeal to preach the gospel with conviction of salvation were the major motives and reasons for going into the ministry. The only thing was that, when I was very sick before I gave my life to Christ. During that period, in a vision, I was dead seven times and they were already digging my grave, shouting, he’s dead, he’s dead! They called everyone, including the high chiefs in my village, the Ojomo, Aro and Olisa. While at the other end, I was in the midst of people who are enjoying themselves. In that place, I was moving toward an elderly man, who chased me away and said, go back and serve me. As a little child and as required by the tradition, they were already digging my grave in the forest. By the time they came back to pick me for final burial, they discovered to their amazement, the child they had gone to dug his grave have jumped out through the window and of the house was seeing running back with some items in his hand, screaming motiri, motiri  (I have seen it) 6 times and was asked, kweri, kweri? (what have you seen?) As I was showing them the items I repeatedly said, motiri 6 times and immediately the sickness left me. I regained my strength and became healthy. Since then, God has been very generous to me; I have not been a sick person. Another incident was, as a little child in the village with a hunting catapult. One day, I killed two birds with one stone and ran home with an excited chorus, mo peye meji, mo peye meji (I have killed two birds). Someone just asked rhetorically, is this boy a human? How come he killed two birds at the same time, we need to carefully observe him. Because they couldn’t understand me. 

Archbishop John & Rev. (Mrs.) Enitan Osa-Oni cutting the anniversary cake with some guest ministers.

How did your parents react when they realized as a graduate, you are going to become a pastor?

Truth is, my parents never gave me a hope to go to school. My dad said, being the first child, his own dad didn’t send him to school but he will send his first child, which is my immediate elder brother to school. But for me, I will remain with him farming. I was not bothered, since we had our 3 square meals and were enjoying life. But, my immediate elder brother was already in primary three and was intimidating me with his spoken English which I couldn’t reply to him. That was when I decided, I am not going to farm again, I want to go to school. One morning, my grandmother went with me to my father to talk to him and he said, if I insisted on going to school he wouldn’t give me a dime, nor would he pay my school fees. That was how my journey into going to school started and the reason I will forever be grateful to Awolowo’s free education. It was because of the free education then, I could go to school and today and all I can say is, everything about me is God; He has been good to me. He is awesome and a good God. No matter what I might have gone through in life, I have tasted God, know Him and can boldly say, He is a good God. 

Why is mentoring no longer relevant in the ministry today?

The younger generations are too in haste and not ready to learn. They think and believe without mentoring, they can also get it rightly done. I serve Dr. Tunde Joda and have no regret in serving him. I will forever be grateful to God for the opportunity to serve and work with him. God used him to show and taught me, I can make it in life. To work with Pastor Tunde Joda, you have to be patient to survive it. He is loving and friendly, but tough, disciplined and principled. He could sack at any instance and suspend at any slight thing. Am forever grateful to work with him, and I still have much respect for him and maintained a relationship with him. Moreover he is my pastor and I don’t call any other person my pastor, but Dr. Tunde Joda is my pastor. I will forever respect and revere him. I have never worked in any ministry or served under any pastor, except Dr. Tunde Joda and at Christ Chapel International Churches. One thing is that, Campus fellowship pastor is not the same thing as pastoring a local church and campus fellowship is not the best experience for pastoring. That is where many got it wrong and missed it. Campus fellowship is a student affair with academic pursuit, but local church is a family affair with grown up adults and their own mind. Nevertheless, there’s a need for mentoring and it is important for everyone who wants to build life and future on a solid foundation. There are different ways of mentoring people; you can mentor people through books, tapes and direct teachings. I am a product of books; I read a lot and buy books randomly.

Rev. (Mrs.) Enitan Osa-Oni with Mama Ezekiel watching with admiration

What are your expectations of Vineyard in the next 25 years?

I will not be the presiding bishop of the Vineyard in ten years from now. I should hand it over to someone in 2021 and just stay as the shadow of the ministry. Unfortunately the person I planned to hand over to left, somehow painful and disappointing, almost took my life, but I have to move on. That is why I will always respect the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osibanjo, the moment that he heard I was down, he started calling and encouraging me, he did not give me money, but what he gave is more than money. Bishop Margaret Idahosa and Mama Ezekiel were there for me, calling and praying for me. As a matter of fact my wife got dissatisfied and discontent, she didn’t know what to do. I have programmed my life to be contended, to live a life of contentment and I am content with what God is doing in my life, ministry and marriage. By the age of 75 years, I don’t think I want to remain as the presiding archbishop and that is in the next eight years. The God of heaven would have raised men for me to take over and take the ministry to the next level. He doesn’t have to be my biological son or my wife, but all I need is the right person that will move the church forward. I want Vineyard to remain a vibrant and strong church for every family on the earth. When the right person comes, I will resign and create an office in my house or travel out of the country.  There is much to do and you don’t get tired or retired until you passed on (Ojo iku, lojo isinmi)

Are there no any of your children who show interest in ministry’s work?

There are. My son was pastoring the youth church and at that point in time, the youth church was vibrant and some adults would sneak out of the main church to participate in the youth service because he was doing well there. But he had to travel abroad for his masters and on completion, he found love in the USA and married a white woman. So, he decided to settle down there with his family. He is blessed with children and my daughter is also married to a son of another General Overseer, even though the husband likes us, he cannot leave his own parent Church to come here.

Vineyard voices & other Church workers Cutting the anniversary cake with the Archbishop and his wife.

What significant testimony about this ministry can you share with us?

There are many significant testimonies, but let me tell you about this facility. How Asiwaju told us the land belonged to us and asked us to pay all we needed to officially pay and after the payment, we wanted to start the construction of the building. Then Oshiomole who was the Labour President during the Obasanjo administration called for a six week nationwide strike and everything we bought was destroyed. After the strike, another crisis erupted to stop the construction, but God took control, with support of people within and outside the church, the building became reality. Thank God for people like Bishop Mike Okonkwo, Rev. & Rev. (Mrs.) Ezekiel, Pastors Wale and Paul Adefarasin, these people stood with the church and I will forever be grateful for their love, prayers and support.

What is your advice to the present generation of ministers?

Everyone should be sincere, know that they are truly called and they understand their call. Ministry is basically not about money, it’s about service and fulfillment. I am fulfilled, either there is money in my pocket or not. Things are not going to continue been the same, but where your mind is matters. If your mind is really in the ministry, you will remain focus inspite of the challenges and if in the money, you will be discourage and definitely fizzle out. The bible says, “The life of a man does not consist in the abundance of things he possesses”. Also, the younger generation should understand that, title does not make ministry, it is the ministry that makes title. They should be contended, be happy and grateful to God for whatever they have and if they heard from God, they stay tune with Him. At the fullness of time, God will turn things around. Ministry is not about do or dies affair.   

Prophet Nwachukwu, Archbishop John Osa-Oni, Apostle Johnson Suleiman & Bishop Mon Igbinosa during anniversary.

Tell about your family:

God blessed me with a beautiful family. Everyone, including my children, is doing well and the greatest joy is that we are all happy. Today and still counting, presently I am blessed with twelve grandchildren and many are still coming to be added to the family. I am forever happy, all my grandchildren are boys and they bear Ade this, Ade that, like I bear Adebayo Alagbala, because I was born in the palace and they also belong to a royal family. It’s been awesome and God has been good to me in every way.

How do you come about the name, Alagbala?

My mum was planning to have the second child, which was me. She was in the palace and wanted to go and ease herself in the toilet, so between the palace and the back of the king’s seat, I dropped (laughter). That moment people started saying Alagbala ti de (the owner of the palace has come) . Since then, they started calling me Alagbala because I was born in the palace. That was how the name came into being and stuck. Suddenly, everything I do is always big. Even the house I built in 1996 where I live is a big house.  

The planning committee chairman consulting with the Archbishop while Bishop Igbinosa & Apostle Madubuko watch with interest.

What is your opinion on Christianity today?

It is pathetic. The kind of information we heard in our own days, is not what we are seeing today, and things have changed. Nowadays, you can forget money, visible cash in the church and the ushers can find it or any other person and give it to the ushers. Whenever you come back looking for it, you will have it back intact. In those days nobody steals, these days the fear of God is no longer in the heart of people, anything can happen at any time. Some people go to church to steal without fear. This is what we are experiencing in our land. But,I know it is a season and it is going to come back. What is worrisome about the situation is our country’s economy and I believe things will change. 

A new government has emerged, what is your advice to the incoming administration?

I will advise that the incoming administration should be an inclusive government. No winners take all, let us love everybody. If Nigeria is important, let’s be magnanimous in our victory. Nigeria is already fragmented; we need to think of how we can build Nigeria back. The most important thing is to unite Nigeria. But the unfortunate thing is, tribe, religion and ethnicity does not really count, what we need is one Nigeria. Not where you come from, where you worship or which language you speak, what should be our primary concern is Nigeria first. In our days at the university, we never thought of where you are from, we are all together in one accord, one hall and one mind. It is only when you are about to marry, they will find out where you are from, even if that was for formality sake. The incoming administration should unite the country.

The Archbishop & wife took to the dance floor during the 35 anniversary Thanksgiving.

The president-elect has a lot to do to unite Nigeria. He is a technocrat and I pray, God will empower him to unite Nigeria and this would reflect in every part of Nigeria political zone and in Abuja. The state governors should be magnanimous and not neglect the area where the opposition came from, they should develop that area. They should open their hands wide to all political zones, notwithstanding any situation, tribunal or no tribunal. They should be magnanimous in their work and join hands together to make Nigeria one and to move forward. Some people like General Gowon fought for this country and to keep Nigeria one, is a task that must be done. We can be united and remain one entity. Our diversity and culture should be the strength to love one another.  

What  roles do you expect Christians to play in the next political dispensation?

Every Christian must be involved in politics of today and it must start at the grassroots. We can’t start Christian political party now, that will amount to religiosity and ethnicity. But, we cannot be watching from the sideline, we need to get involved and everyone should get involved, know political happenings in your community and local government. That was what most of us did during this last general election, we were involved and the church was able to endorse candidates in some parts of the country. We had landslide wins in Oyo State, but unfortunately we could not have a landslide in Ogun State. But, hopefully they will all be magnanimous in winning.

Vineyard Voices ministering to the congregation

What is your reaction to Lagos State governor? 

The governor of Lagos State has a lot to do, and I pray he will not listen to political sycophants. He must be willing to open his hands like Raji Fashola rightly said, ‘Eko O Ni Baje’. Something like that Eko must not spoil and cannot be destroyed. And those who didn’t win during the last election should join hands with the winner, if their interest is actually to build Lagos. Everybody should work together with the winners to see to the growth and unity of this great country, if they truly have the country in mind. My advice to those that could not emerge as winners during this year’s general election is that they should continue to grow their base and build their structure at the grassroots level, then in the next four years, they can emerge as winners.