PROLIFIC film maker, singer and General Overseer of Liberty Gospel Ministries, Lady Apostle Helen Ukpabio is in the news again. Releasing two gospel albums at a go, the widely travelled author and firebrand preacher of the gospel of liberation is defending her recent criticism of Synagogue Church of All Nations’ Prophet T. B. Joshua.
In an interview with ENCOMIUM Weekly, Evangelist Helen Ukpabio explained why she’s fighting the controversial cleric. She also talked about her ministry, movie and musical career as well as her many controversies. And why it would be difficult to forgive those who murdered her three blood brothers early this year.
Helen Ukpabio was recently in Lagos to officially release her latest musical effort, Superlative Jesus and Not As They Thought. Excerpts of her interview with us…
Why have you always been in the forefront of attacking perceived enemies of Christ?
Jesus Christ came to set the captives free. And we His disciples have to continue with this spiritual mission. My ministry is liberational.
You recently attacked a respected man of God, Prophet T. B. Joshua. What is your problem with him?B. Joshua should not be deceiving the world. He is not of the Lord. I also said he should stop mixing spiritism with Christianity. I know what he is doing because I have been there before.
So, no regret attacking T. B. Joshua?
Why should I regret what I said? I am not afraid because He who is in me is greater than he that is in him.
Away from T. B. Joshua, you also had issues with Olumba Olumba for all of 30 years?
I stand on a solid rock, which is Christ Jesus. That is why the devil can’t touch me.
Who gives you the strength to carry on with all of these fights?
Who else but Christ Jesus? I know He sent me on a mission I must accomplish before He calls me.
Are there still true men of God in Nigeria?
Yes, there are a lot of them.
What, to you is the sweetest thing about being a woman of God?
The joy of serving the Lord, despite all odds. When you serve the Lord, you feel good and look young all the time. Don’t forget that the Bible says in His presence, there is fullness of joy. I cherish my calling and I can’t trade it away for anything. When I sing, I preach the gospel of liberation. When I make a movie, it’s a continuation of the same mission. This is my life. I don’t just wake up and start writing songs. I always get the inspiration whenever I’m preparing for a seminar or crusade.
How does it feel to be good at all you touch your hand, film making, singing and pastoral work?
It is God’s grace. I believe that if you love what you are doing passionately, you will do it very well. I don’t just dabble into a project, I first pray about it and then brainstorm. And now you are saying I’m outstanding in my works, I give God back His glory.
Why are you no longer making movies?
That’s not true. I still produce movies but I don’t sell through marketers. My movies are sold through Liberty Ministry’s branches. I withdrew because of piracy. My current movie is Light Affliction. There is also Ego of the Ancestors in the works.
Apart from piracy, what are other problems afflicting Nollywood?
Film producers are no more, as far as I am concerned. How can you spend millions of naira on a film and sell it to African Magic at $500! That’s ridiculous.
Are you then kicking against African Magic?
No. I’m not kicking against them, but I can’t sell my movie at such ridiculous rate. Not after spending millions of naira and creative effort on the movie. For me, film making is no more. It’s almost dead!
So, what’s the way out?
We are planning a programme, maybe early next year, so we can pray for restoration of Nollywood. This is definitely not the Nollywood of our dream. We have to pray to God to restore us to our former glory.
You recently released two albums, Not As They Thought and Superlative Jesus, how are they doing?
We thank God, we are getting positive reports from our fans across the nation and beyond. I released the albums to bring in some inspired new gospel tunes into the system so that churches would have it in their collection of songs while praising God.
Can you please tell us the number of tracks in each of the albums and the central message in the songs?
There are six tracks in Superlative Jesus while Not As They Thought has five tracks. I see God as a superlative victor over demonic powers. I like giving God His place in all my songs. I do songs that can liberate people from demonic enclave, from forces of darkness and put them through the part of liberty. If I’m singing, I’m doing it to exalt God and to praise Him for whom He is. I’m equally singing to triumph over the power of darkness. There is power in music. Music, to me appeals to the soul. That’s why the kind of music you listen to can determine your action. Music goes straight to the soul.
But it appears you are more popular as a film maker and minister of the gospel than a singer?
They are all the same mission. My songs are very popular. Jesus Na My Best Friend is known all over the country and beyond. The one I did with Sammie Okposo is also doing very well.
Other than your latest effort, how many other albums do you have?
My debut album, Jesus Na My Best Friend, was released in 1999. Another album, The Little Work with Jesus, a compilation of hymns, I am a child of God, I heard about you, are some of my albums.
It is difficult these days to tell contemporary gospel artists from secular singers. What do you think about this?
I honestly believe that the church should remain what it is, a church. And Christian tunes should be Christian tunes. These are the frustrations some church leaders like us have at the moment. Some of the songs gospel artists sing are rather worldly and out-right nonsense. They obviously want to sing like worldly musicians. For me, we don’t need to be like them. We need to sing to please God. Even our dances should glorify God. That is my stand.
What prepared you for what you are doing right now?
I will say God. People used to ask how I started acting and film making. In case you don’t know, I’m not even a graduate. I didn’t need to go to the university to make films or go to a music school to sing professionally. But once you are born again, you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.
You also write books, how many publications do you have to your credit?
I have written about 30 Christian books.
There was this one you recently released, that is The Child-Witch Scam, what inspired it?
I told the true story of how scammers invaded our ministry to propagate falsehood about us. Unknown to many, they are atheists who don’t share the Christian view of spirituality. They made up stories about Evangelist Helen Ukpabio, alleging she maltreats children after branding them witches. But since they were challenged to name the affected children, they couldn’t do so. Still, they are not relenting on their effort to rubbish us. It is painful that Nigeria is so porous for foreigners to come in and do whatever they like.
And now you have been vindicated, how does it feel?
After the State Security Service (SSS), investigated us, they found out the atheists were just spreading unfounded rumours on the internet. It was a kind of money-making venture for them. I never lost sleep about it knowing that God knows the truth. Prominent Nigerians know my person. Nobody or agent of the devil can stop me from doing the work the Lord sent me to do.
So, no regret?
Not at all. I have never regretted being a preacher. Trials are normal. If trials don’t come, then you don’t have a calling. To me, trials are normal things that must happen in the ministry. Despite the fact that I’m constantly attacked and opposed, that doesn’t make me feel I’m in a wrong place, rather it makes me feel happy that what the scripture says is coming to pass in my life.
So, there is no stopping Liberty Gospel Ministries?
By the special grace of God Almighty, we have come to stay.
You recently lost three of your blood brothers. The family is still mourning…
It has been very painful and traumatic for me and my family. We cannot forget the unfortunate incident. And I will not relent until justice is done.
What actually happened?
That’s what the police and other security agencies should tell us. The police that arrested them said they were acting based on order from above.
How are your aged parents coping with the death of their children?
It’s too much for them to bear. Besides, they are aged.
As a child of God, won’t you forgive your brothers’ killers?
Let them come out first and confess. It is only when they come out that I would know whether I can forgive them or not. I can’t forgive them now.
- This story was first published in ENCOMIUM Weekly on Tuesday, October 2, 2012