ON Saturday, December 12, 2015, famous preacher of the Word and founder of Royal Army Ministry, Bishop Tom Samson will be 50. And activities are already lined up for the golden age celebrations.
ENCOMIUM Weekly visited the Ikeja, Lagos parish of the vibrant clergy on Sunday, November 22, 2015, where he granted us an interview on life at 50 and much more.
First, we congratulate you for clocking the golden age.
Thank you. I see it as a honour, privilege and expression of God’s grace to keep one alive.
How does it feel being 50?
In body, I don’t feel any different. I still remain my usual vibrant self. But I know I am 50, despite not feeling it. But the fact remains that looking around oneself, one is full of joy that all these years the mercies of God have been so visible and evident. It feels so good.
What’s the greatest lesson life has taught you at 50?
The greatest lesson I have learnt is that without God, your labour will be in vain. Without Him, you will amount to nothing. Looking back is God. I have looked at other people we started together, and I have come to conclusion that it’s all about God. Without Him, one’s labour or effort will amount to nothing.
What would you say clocking 50 will be denying you?
It’s just that with age, there are certain foods you have to avoid. And as you’re aware, they tell you when you’re 50, you don’t eat too much meat, you need to slow down on certain things and all that. But I am a vibrant person, anyway. And everything I do is full of activities. Apart from what they will tell you medically when you attain a certain age, I don’t feel any 50 at all. I remain very vibrant. For example, I am a pounded yam and egusi soup person and a workaholic. People around me may be saying, ‘See, you’re not getting any younger, you need to slow down a little.’ Apart from that, which is the normal caution anybody can give you when you’re getting to 50, you don’t do things the way you used to do them anymore. Apart from that, nothing changes.
What’s the sweetest thing that ever happened to you in your journey to 50?
The sweetest thing that ever turned my life around, that ever brought joy to me, that ever changed the whole course of my life is salvation. Giving my life to Christ turned everything around. The journey of hardship that I could have still been on till today has been turned around by salvation. Without salvation, I wouldn’t have been a graduate. Without salvation, I won’t be a successful man. Even without salvation, I could have died. That salvation was the turning point in my life.
When the journey started, it’s full of labour. But perseverance, faithfulness, consistence, faith in God brought favour of God. And no doubt, you live a successful life. A life where it’s not only about my food anymore, you can give food to others. A life not only about you alone wearing clothes, you can clothe others. Also a life not only about you drinking water but you can give others water to drink. A life not about you alone travelling abroad but you can send other people there. A life not about being employed but employing about 200 people. A life which is not about being to school but sending other people to school and all that. Until you’re a blessing to other people, you can’t call yourself a successful person. Nobody will tell you you’re a success but when you see yourself as a blessing to others, that means you have attained success.
At 50, how vibrant are you now in your calling as a preacher of the Word?
I just discovered that the more I thought I have achieved, the more needs I see. For instance, when I sank a borehole in Iyesi, Ota, more communities showed up. They needed help. When I gave a transformer to the community I live in Iyesi, Ota, about five communities also applied for help for transformers. I started a church in Cotonou, Republic of Benin, I have a church in London, UK. I also have a church in Atlanta, USA. I see more needs in other places. Some people sent for me from Italy to establish my church there. So, it’s like the more you do, the more you see the need to do more. And the more salvation programme I do, the more television programme I have, the more people are coming to our area requesting me to do this and that for them. I now discovered that we’re just men. We will always go back to God to ask for more. If I want to do more, I go to Him the owner. The Bible says no man can do it except the Lord be with him. Paul says I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me.
When I had College of Education, the more I saw the need for a university. I started primary and secondary schools in Egbeda, Lagos, the more I saw the need in Iyesi, Ota, Ogun State. I also discovered they needed it in Ikeja, Lagos. After that, I discovered they needed it in Ijoko, Ogun State. Later, I discovered they needed it at AIT environs, Alagbado area, Lagos. After that, I discovered there was a need for it in Ojokoro, Lagos. At least, that has led to the establishment of about 16 schools, both primary and secondary.
When we had a college of education, people that graduated there saw the need to go for degrees. Now, I am involved in a university. The project is going on. So, maybe after that, we will go for Post Graduate. So, one thing I discovered is that at 50, the more success you think you have achieved, the more you see the need to go further.
At 50, what has been your landmark achievement?
Apart from the ministry, touching lives, I would say one of the major achievements one is able to point at, at 50 is the establishment of the university and how far we have gone in impacting lives. Do you know in the last three months, over 6,000 women have been empowered, teaching them how to make soap, how to bake, how to do tie and dye and many more vocations that will be of benefit to them, their families and their communities as a whole. I have given them money, N5,000 each. What the government is planning to do by giving graduates N5,000 each, I have been doing it for over 6,000 women. I have tried to empower them and give them a token each to start their business interests.
So, at 50, I am able to do that when many of my age mates out there have not even found their feet. I am able to employ 200 staffers, including Ph.D holders, Masters degree holders, graduates in various aspects of my establishments. At least 200 families feed from me.
I see that as some level of achievement. And a global ministry, I mean having my ministry across America, Europe and Africa. And with a television programme running across Africa, I am touching lives of many people, that alone is amazing.
No doubt, you have done so creditably and you have been marvelously blessed at 50, what more do you look unto God for?
Like I told you, whatever I am doing now, the more I achieve that, the more I see the need to do more. One Igwe was talking to me in America, he said their place is so backward he promised his people he would bring educational institution there. He now told me, ‘Please, if I give you land, can you come and build a higher institution, either polytechnic or college of education for my people because the government is not putting them into consideration?’ And I wish God provided more for me, I want to build either polytechnic or college of education in that place as he requested. I discovered that when a school is established in a place, it opens up that place.
My presence in Iyesi Ota, opened up that place. And in Ewekoro now, when we have over a thousand hectares for our university, the place is something else now. Even when we’re fencing the place alone, if you see the way businesses are thriving there now. The people have started coming there, buying land. Iyesi Ota was like a forest. When I started the work there, people started buying land. Now, there is no empty land there again.
With one establishment or the other in a particular place, it will surely revive the place. So, at 50, I still want to do more.
How supportive is your wife? And how happy are you that both of you are age mates?
My wife is a gift of God. That I am able to accomplish this much at 50, apart from God, I need to thank God for her life. For me to have come this far, it involves too much of hard work. For me to have global ministry, I travel a lot. My wife is as gifted as I am. I am a proactive and vibrant pastor, and my flock are used to me that somebody else might not even be functional much. My wife has the same gift I have. And when I am away, people don’t miss me. We have eight primary schools and eight secondary schools. Even though we have principals and headmasters in all these schools, my wife manages them very well. She is a good administrator. We have other establishments, including printing press. My wife is so hard working. Apart from the pastoral work, she is so diligent in almost all of these works as well. She is a friend, my counselor. We just complement each other.
You will turn 50 exactly by Saturday, December 12, can we know your wife’s exact date of birth as both of you are age mates?
On that one, I just want to leave it because women don’t really like that.
What are the activities lined up for the 50th birthday celebration?
Yes, the celebration cuts across a week, December 6 to 13, 2015. On December 6, 2015, we’re starting at the Lagos Airport Hotel, Ikeja. We’re having a lecture plus crusade preaching at Lagos Airport Hotel, Ikeja. And we’re having former Ogun Commissioner for Education, Hon. Odubela, who will be handling the lecture on the role of church in nation building. And on Monday, December 7, we will be having a conference in our church in Ikeja, Lagos. And on Monday morning, I will also be visiting motherless babies home in Ijamido, Ota, Ogun State. Then, on Tuesday, December 8, 2015, I will be visiting orphanage home at Akowonjo. On Wednesday, we would move to Iyesi Ota, where all my branches are coming from all over the world including United States of America, Europe and across Africa. All of us will be congregating at our 100 hectare land in Iyesi Ota, where the programme would be going on for the rest of the week. And there will be a novelty match for men and women.
Then. On Saturday, December 12, that’s the D-day for the 50th birthday celebration. And that day, we will be commissioning two of our Monarch University, and that’s Faculty of Humanity and the School Library. These two structures will be commissioned by the Governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun. Then, on Sunday, December 13, there would be thanksgiving.
What was your childhood like?
Nothing much, but full of struggles until I met Christ in 1985. And that was my turning point.
If you’re not a pastor, what would you have been?
Looking at a poverty background I came from, my wish was to be a businessman. I wanted to liberate my family from poverty. I saw my father struggling with his bicycle, I saw my mother selling fufu and firewood. Even myself, I was also selling fufu up and down after closing from school. I went to Modakeke Islamic Grammar School. I knew this hardship. I wished I would do this business and redeem my family from the yoke of poverty. And as God would have it, He put me in the ministry line, and everything has since been working fine for me. And today, I have businesses. God has promised, if you do my work faithfully, everything you wish I won’t deny you. So, He has granted me my wish.
Going by the happenings at the government level and the comments and prophecies of some men of God, especially on the success and failure of the present administration, we never heard you say anything on that or what’s your take on such things?
A lot of people just talk so that they can be heard, simple. They just want their names on pages of newspapers and magazines. All we need is to be praying for the government. Why all kinds of funny prophecies? Nigeria has been through a lot. Few months ago here, we all cried for change. The economy was so bad, everybody was feeling it. Some people you saw, atimes walk up to me to seek financial support when there is nothing to eat in their houses. And that’s the role church have been playing for quite sometime. Some don’t know their senators, they don’t know their legislators, they don’t know who to go to. They only know their pastors. So, the economy is so bad. Even Buhari has spoken himself he’s not been finding things easy. All we can do is to pray for those in government and encourage them just the way I talked to my flock today. We need to encourage these people in government. We should give them time. They need our prayers. If this country collapses, it would not be easy for all of us. And running a church at this little level of my own is not even easy let along running a nation.
Some people are just talking for the fun of it. To run a government is not easy. People run their businesses to failure, how much more of a government of a whole country. So, we shouldn’t just be talking for the fun of talking. Let’s put ourselves in their shoes. This government needs our prayers. And we don’t expect what has been damaged for how many years to be repaired in one year. It will surely take time.