Pastor Toye Ademola is the visionary of the Dominion International Centre church in America and president of the Dominion Leadership Summit International. In this interview with SEYI SOKOYA, Ademola, who recently held a leadership conference tagged: The Empowered Leaders in his country home, Ibadan, speaks on the role of the church in the development of the nation, among other issues. Excerpts:
Do you agree with those who claim the increasing number of pastors is one of the major problems facing the church?
I do not agree. We need more pastors; we need Godly pastors and not just self-appointed pastors or people that are looking for things to do. That was why I brought the leadership conference to Nigeria. Mind you, I am not only focusing on pastors, but everyone in a leadership position both in the church and in the country at large, because everything rises and falls on leadership.
By your assessment, would you say church leaders are doing enough to protect the Christian body against unwarranted attacks and killings in Nigeria?
I feel we can do more. The reason why the country is still united is because ministers and Christians all over the country are praying. I remember how churches in Nigeria rose powerfully to pray for the nation shortly after the June 12, 1993, election crisis. But, I think the church can do more in terms of prayer, because my vision about Nigeria is that its best is yet to come and it is the leadership of the church and the country that will lead us into that. It is easy to point accusing fingers at church leaders, but what about leaders in the private and public sectors.
What would you suggest as solution to the undue rivalry in Christendom?
The church of God is not in competition. We can be motivated by what other people are doing; I mean the fellow Christians in the line of the scriptures. It is not a bad idea to take a cue from a Godly principle of a doctrine or a cleric that is doing well. It does not mean one is competing with one another. If you are a pacesetter, I can follow you. For instance, take a look at the Pentecostal and the orthodox churches; in the past, the orthodox churches didn’t do what we call aggressive evangelism; no crusade in terms on healings and miracles, among other features. But when the Pentecostals came, they believe in the power of God, the faith movement went on powerfully and people received miracles and healings to the amusement of the orthodox churches. The orthodox churches quickly fixed what was missing in their doctrines, they cued into the principle. I don’t want to consider that as a competition. It is like we are igniting one another to do the will of God; I love that.
But more clerics compete among themselves, especially on matters of following, wealth and properties?
Let me make this clear; not everyone that calls himself a man of God is actually one. Matthew 7 :21 also confirms it. Apart from being a leader in the church, if you ask many Nigerians today if they are Christians or Muslims, you would hardly hear anyone disclose to be an atheists; but, their lifestyles portray them as theists, because they don’t believe in anything. They are just following the multitude. For example, most of the time when our politicians are seeking for powers, they visit churches and mosques. Yet, some of them do not fall into the two religions. The same thing happens in the church. We can only know the genuine ones by their fruits. To answer your question, a genuine man of God will never compete with another man of God or allow the spirit of envy to control him because he knows that it is the grace of God that speaks upon all lives. The need for envy is needless.
Going by your exposure, how would you compare the church in Nigeria and Europe, US, and other surrounded countries?
I must confess Nigeria is one of the countries in the world where you see revival in the church. You have mega churches almost everywhere. The Lord has a wonderful plan for Nigeria, even to lead the world and we are the product of that revival. Those of us that left to start churches in other parts of the world are thanking God for what is happening in Nigeria and the reason why people like us came back to hold conferences here is because we don’t want the fire of that particular revival to die. It impacts every facet of the society, because anytime you see a revival, it affects the economy and the political situation of the country positively. Every minister of the gospel abroad wants to come because they know what the Lord is doing in Nigeria. Though we have mega churches in Brazil, Argentina and in the US, you cannot say you have a hundred thousand of people at a go like you have in Nigeria.
What is it like to begin a church in the US?
It has been God. I did not go to America purposely because I wanted to live in foreign land. I was led by Him; I was presiding over a church in Nigeria as a pastor when the Lord spoke to me in 1995 that it was time for me to relocate abroad and I am in America to do the will of God. If you are in the centre of God’s plan for your life, wherever he leads you to, you will definitely prosper there. We are on the mission of God and He has been helping us to accomplish the mission. We are not going to relax until we see Him in glory.
How did you overcome the challenge of leading foreigners as a pastor of Nigeria extraction?
When you leave your native country for a place like America; there would be challenges; definitely, God has given victory because He led us there. We trust Him and we still trust Him. If we have achieved any success, it is because He is in-charge.
You recently held a leadership conference in Ibadan. What was your target?
God laid it upon my heart to organise the conference in Ibadan, where I was born and grew up and later left for the United States of America to pioneer a church in the city of Huston. Before now, I was not keen to come to Nigeria to hold such conference, because I felt a lot of people had been doing different leadership conferences here. But last December, God laid it on my heart specifically to hold the conference in Ibadan. I believe if the nation is suffering because of the problem of leadership. I believe the church has a major role to play towards attaining redemption. So, the leadership conference is to teach leaders in the church and the society at large success principles that would be useful in all ramifications.
If the leaders are properly empowered by God, it will be easier for them to carry the mandate into their lives and their followers, as well teach their followers the principles that will make the church fulfill its role and make the country better.
How did you receive the calling?
Every manufacturer knows the purpose of his product and we are God’s product. To know the will of God for your life is to seek His face in prayer or fasting. So, how did I receive the calling? I remember how they taught us knowing the will of God for our lives. I could recall the particular Bible passage; Jeremiah 33 VS 3. I asked God for His purpose for my life and he told me and I was following Him and that was all. The secret is that you must understand His voice and ways. I started as an apprentice; I learnt many things in the church and at a point, He told me that it was the right time. He told me the same way what He created me to do. I know that if He had called me to be a businessman, I would be successful in it, but He called me to be in His vineyard as a pastor and someone that will raise other leaders. The experience has been wonderful for me.
How have you been able to inculcate the features of the Pentecostal, such as aggressive prayers and fasting to your members abroad?
You have to understand that Christianity did not start from Nigeria. As I said earlier, when revival comes, you have to keep the fire burning so that it won’t die. The things to keep the fire burning are the ‘woods,’ which include prayers and fasting, among other things. The foreigners do fast and pray. For instance, we hold prayer meetings and fasting in the first 30 days of the years and we meet every day. We hold meetings both day and night and every member of the congregation is always part of it, even in America. It is not in our church; others are doing the same thing. We have also let them know the importance for them to be in the presence of God in the New Year and other white churches have followed suit.
Would you say that your target was part of the efforts to restrain leadership in the Christendom?
As I said earlier, if there is a problem in the leadership of a country, the church has a role to play, because the Bible made us to understand that we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. If we must bring light to the darkness of the nation, it has to start from the church, then to all corners of the country. I believe that if church leaders are properly empowered in God’s way, it will be easy for them to do their job.