The outgoing General Evangelist of Christ Apostolic Church Worldwide, Prophet Samuel Abiara, in this interview with TUNDE AJAJA, speaks about his ministry and life at 75
You hardly mark your birthday, were you waiting till you clocked 75 before marking it?
You’re right, I don’t celebrate my birthday and this is the first time that I want to do so. But all along, God has done so much for me, particularly the salvation of my soul. God has saved my soul, He gave me freedom and He has given me the assurance that I would not enter into eternal punishment, which is the main thing for me. So, I have many reasons why I want to give thanks to God Almighty. If you count your blessings one by one, you would see that God has blessed you. It’s not by my power, fasting and prayers, holiness; I’m not even holy. But it has been His mercy. So, I need to thank God.
At 75, do you still have the dreams of what you want to achieve or you are just enjoying life and waiting for His call?
When God called me, He told me that anything I wanted in life He would do it for me and God has been faithful. Till date, He gives me anything I want. I bless His name because He’s never let me down. There are many things I thank God for. And that is why I used this opportunity to call people to join me. One of the things highlighted for the programme is Praise Night; I just want to thank God. That is why we have also invited the likes of Pastor Enoch Adeboye, Bishop David Oyedepo and Pastor Mathew Ashimolowo to join us.
What were you doing before God called you?
I came to Ibadan in 1959, and in 1960, I was a clerk under J. Agoro. The man loved me so much. Despite feeding me, he was paying me 15 Shillings per month, which was one naira, 50 kobo. I followed him to church, and then God said I must serve Him. He said I must quit my job because He wanted to send me to the whole world.
You were just 21 then, did you jump at it or were you a bit reluctant?
I didn’t want to heed God’s call because I used to see people ringing bells, preaching and still asking people for money. I said I didn’t want that, but God said He is the Alpha and Omega; the beginning and the end. He said He would give me whatever I wanted. And God has been faithful; He gave me everything that I wanted.
What was your parents’ reaction?
I came from a poor family and they didn’t have the money to send me back to school, so there was no such opposition. I benefitted from the free primary education, and I was able to move on in my education. God has been helping me to develop myself.
When you were the General Evangelist, how easy was the job?
I thank God for everything. On September 2, 1967, God called me and said He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. He said he would give me the authority to be a prophet and evangelist, and that I must go into the world to carry out that work. By the grace of God, in December 2006, the authorities of the Christ Apostolic Church appointed me into that office and I have no regret about it. Looking at what has happened between then and now, before I joined, the church was doing well, and by the grace of God, we were able to continue with the work. It wasn’t for my glory, it was a teamwork. A building that is standing is a product of many materials – blocks, cement, iron rods, wood, etc. So it’s a combined effort. A tree can never make a forest, so we worked with other persons there and that was how we were able to make progress. Whether I’m there or not, God would see to the growth of His church. He can do it without us, but we can’t do without Him. So, it was a combined effort, not that someone made it happen.
Even though you have handed over, you still have your own ministry, is there a time you would likely retire?
Nobody can retire from the work of God; the work of God is for life. However, in the constitution of the CAC, which is an organised church, when you clock 75, you must leave the seat for the younger people. After stepping aside, I’m still free to heed any invitation to minister and I still have a ministry. God has appointed me as a prophet and evangelist for life. So, there is no retirement for me, until God calls me. I’m ready to do the work of God till I die.
When you started, it all began in your living room. How easy was it?
When God sends you on an assignment, He will back you. He won’t call you and leave you to it. Even to start a business is not easy. But when you have the backing of God, everything would be easy. I have no regret that God called me into the ministry; He provides for me and I feel I don’t deserve all He has done for me and all He has done through me. It wasn’t the length of my fasting, neither was it my righteousness, because I’m not righteous. But in His infinite mercy, He chose to bless me. I only found favour in His sight and that is why I want to celebrate and thank Him for all He has done.
You have three sets of twins. Did you ask God for it?
Before I got married, God promised me that He would bless me with twins and I just thank Him for everything. I have many things to thank God for. He fulfiled His promise and blessed me with three sets of twins. All of them are alive and they are doing well.
These days, people have criticised pastors for living a flamboyant lifestyle. What is your reaction to that?
There is also the need for moderation in everything we do, but when people don’t have anything and they see someone flourishing, they tend to criticise the person. The Bible does not put us in darkness and He has said that we must not judge. God can call you the next moment and you would have members. Let us say the members you pray for begin to enjoy God’s blessing or doors begin to open for them. Let us say after that, they make profit in their businesses and they come to give you gifts, on their own. Why should that be an issue? I want to advise those making noise to pray, so God can bless them too. Now that God has blessed me, someone is coming to criticise me. I don’t want to blame those doing that because they are ignorant of the word. They must look at the Bible critically and realise that it is not even part of God’s plan that we should be poor. Poverty or lack is not the symbol of godliness. He has made provision for those who follow him.
The CAC is riddled with some pending leadership crises, now that you are stepping down as the General Evangelist, how do you feel that you are leaving the crises behind?
We are already on the path of resolution and talks are going on among all the aggrieved parties. I assure you that everything would be settled soon, and specifically before the end of the year. That is something that I’m committed to resolving before I leave finally and by the grace of God, it will happen.
There is a growing debate on whether people should pay tithe or not. What is your view on it?
This is the end time and there are so many heresies. Your pastor or Bishop has taught you to pay tithe, and the instruction didn’t even emanate from pastors, but from God. In Malachi 3:8, He said people have robbed Him, by not paying their tithes and offering. That God is the same yesterday, today and forever. How can you stand up now and say it is wrong to pay a tithe? That is heresy. I just want to advise those who are listening to the heresy to quit and check the Bible themselves. I want to advise the whole world that they must stop the excuses and follow what God said about tithe and offering. Immediately the Israelites came out from the bondage, after God had delivered them, in Exodus 25, God told Moses to bring Him an offering and build a sanctuary for Him. He’s still the same God. He said we should pay tithe so that food would be in His house. God has said what He wants and it remains there for life. If you say you don’t want it in your Bible and you tear it, you can’t tear it in my Bible. People should check their own Bible if they are not comfortable with what their religious leaders taught them about tithe. And let me tell you that pastors who say there is no need to pay tithe know how to get money from their members, and at the end of the day, they get more than the tithe. We cannot afford to be ignorant of the word of God. I don’t know the entire Bible, but the little I know, I can break it, slice it and present it to individuals, because the word of God is the bread of life. Some of the revered great men of God fast for days and they make a lot of sacrifices. That was how people started calling me Coconut Pastor (Woli Alagbon).
Why do people call you that?
It’s because when I fast for 21 days or 40 days, I eat only coconut, and what I do is to chew it, drink the water and dispose the shaft. Why coconut? That is because I want to see God, and God speaks to me.
Today (Saturday) would make it a year that your wife was buried. How do you manage missing her?
We thank God for the strength. He has been faithful. We got married in 1965 and throughout, there was no girlfriend at home or abroad and people can testify to that. I miss her.
Since the Bible is not against remarrying if one loses a partner, are you likely to give that a thought?
All my people and my children are saying it is not good for me to stay alone. I told them God is with me and they told me they agreed but that I needed a companion. I said okay. The first time one of my daughters said to me that I needed to take another wife, I dropped the call because I was still mourning my late wife. Bible is not against it, so we are praying to God that God would provide. When it is time, we will let you know. However, until God says it is time and this is the person, then nothing changes. Many people have come to me with suggestions and many ladies have also shown interest, but I don’t do anything without God’s directive.
How come we have so much crime in the country even with the number of churches?
The Bible has said that there would be chaos in the last days. We need to thank God that churches are spreading, and the more the better, because the more people go to church, the more people tend to be saved. And I tell you that if not for the church, the whole world would have been in problem. In some other countries, you see the spread of the church as well. Until Jesus comes, that is when there would no longer be crime or chaos.
You said some time in the past that prayer could revive the economy, but some people are of the opinion that when religious leaders make such a statement, they make the citizens relinquish the need to ask their leaders questions. Is that the best counsel to give?
The pastors and Bishops follow what is in the Bible. The Bible says call on me (God) in the day of trouble and I would answer you. If the country runs into problem, we would pray. Look at the President, he was sick but we organised prayers that we wanted him to survive his illness and return to the country in better health. Christians and Muslims prayed and God answered our prayers and he’s back in good health. About a year ago, there was a serious recession but now the country is gradually getting out of it, and it’s based on prayers. Even the wisdom we use comes from God. There is nothing that prayer cannot do.
What is your most memorable moment as a prophet and evangelist?
There are many but God has said in His word that He would be with me. Some years ago, God sent me to my town to destroy the tree that they were worshipping. I went there in the night. I bought petrol and I arrived there around 1am. Of course the people had slept. I poured the petrol and set it on fire. Then I left. In the morning, people came out and started asking who could have done that to their deity. All the priests and hunters came together and began to rain curses on the person who did it. They said the person would die in seven days. I said if the idol had power, let it fight for itself, and nobody should fight for it. Meanwhile, my mother seemed to have had the idea that I was capable of doing such. I usually fast during that period but that time I didn’t fast; I was eating three times a day. I didn’t tell my wife what I did. At the end of the day, many people died. Some of those who gave me seven days started dying. No power of darkness can ever stand in my way. Would you believe that I had not been to the hospital since God called me, except the day I lost my wife? That day, my system collapsed because of the love we shared. They rushed me to the University College Hospital, Ibadan, where I spent about three to four days. So, in my 75 years, I had only been to the hospital once and it was because of my wife’s death.
Do you have any wish that you still want to accomplish?
Yes, after this birthday, I want to set up a foundation that would cater to under-privileged people, including the poor and senior citizens. I want to empower the youth. That is my dream and I want it to continue after I have left this world. That is why the divine foundation is coming up, to help all classes of people. Last year, we gave out tools and materials to people to empower them and it will only get better as the years go by. We will give money to people to get education. That is what is on my mind and I believe God will do it.