BISHOP Isaac Idahosa is the General Overseer of Illumination Assembly, Ajah, Lagos. The popular clergy who operates in the Lekki-Ajah axis is currently building a N700 million, 4,000-seater cathedral at Ajah, Lagos.
ENCOMIUM Weekly’s check on Wednesday, June 13, 2012, revealed that the structure sits on 12 plots acquired for N20 million apiece (N240 million). The project also included a 600-seater auditorium, administrative offices amidst others. In a chat with ENCOMIUM Weekly, the amiable preacher of the Word opened up on this and many more.
How do you feel now that your multi-million naira cathedral is near completion?
I feel humbled that God could use me to do such a thing. At a time David had all the resources to build a temple for God, He turned him down so that his son, Solomon would build it. Thus, it’s a privilege to be empowered for such a huge task. It is an opportunity to be used by God.
It’s interesting to know that you started your ministry with N50,000 – can you tell us the success story?
It’s actually a secret to outsiders, but to an insider it’s not. The secret is tied to hearing and doing. It’s obedience to divine instructions. I don’t walk by common sense but divine sense. Any act of divine intervention is a by-product of divine obedience. My walk with God made me realize that the more intimately you relate with God, the more He relates with you and gives you blueprint of His divine agenda.
When you started the Ajah ministry three years ago, did you envisage such a success?
In His own time He makes all things beautiful. I didn’t know it was going to get this big, but I know at least by moving slowly and steadily, it will pick up. And the contributions and support of my people are so overwhelming. We have learnt from those ahead the secret of wisdom and faith. Anytime God gives you an assignment, He has a time frame attached to it.
What was the initial reaction of people when you ventured into the ministry?
I was quite young when I actually ventured into the ministry. That was 23 years ago. Many people didn’t believe that I was called into the ministry. When God ordains you, they demand for evidence. Results terminate insults. I have the support of youth.
Will you say your message or carriage endeared the upwardly mobile young people to your ministry?
One, I was youthful and music attracted them. I always ministered with my guitar. I started at Minna, Niger State in 1989. I saw a building abandoned and dilapidated with an inscription God’s own house. I was convinced that was the place to begin my ministry. I informed my friend, the Mayas and they were skeptical based on the antecedents of the place. The building was owned by one Justice Shagari who ran mad after he handled a case and was attacked. And each person that lived there after him ran mad also. Thus, the place was abandoned. We went in search of the man in charge of the place, late Justice Awoniyi in Niger State. He was dumbfounded and queried if I was ready to die young. And he gave me for free. Students helped me to clear the place and on August 25, 1989, we commenced. I slept there without louvers, doors or toilet. I bath once a day outside. That’s’ why I shrink at the sight of garri because I was so much into drinking garri. I started with a handful of youths but within a month the attendance had risen to over 60. It was initially known as God First Ministries International.
When and why do you begin this cathedral?
We began the project shortly before my consecration as a bishop in 2011. My mentor, Papa Ayo Oritsejafor came and prayed for me to accelerate the construction of the edifice. He laid the foundation late last year. We began to buy things gradually because wisdom is profitable. I started with what I had which was N200,000 and when people saw that I meant it, they gave massive support. This ministry sits on 12 plots here in Ajah. I bought each plot for N20 million. It cost big money to sand-fill it because it’s swampy. We erected tents and it became a threat during rainy season. This prompted the speedy work of this project.
How much have you spent and what’s the budget for the whole project?
I can only say we have spent faith because it’s capital intensive and the first of its kind in Ajah axis. Although, it’s a 3,500-seater capacity but the gallery and expansion will accommodate more people. We have enjoyed huge support of people in Lekki/Ajah axis. Even the Oba has made me the mayor of this place. The key is that we treat everybody as somebody and don’t discriminate.
What were the challenges and how did you overcome them?
Challenges make you and don’t mar you when you have the right attitude. The challenges are always there.
A school of thought is of the opinion that amidst the many religious leaders we have in Nigeria, sin still abound, why?
It is a sign of the last days. The Bible says of such a time like this, perilous time shall abound and knowledge will increase. The more we have improved knowledge gadgets like computers, phones, etc, sin will abound. It has led to improvement of sin.
The title of a bishop is now in vogue…
(Cuts in) We should have a regulatory body especially under the umbrella of CAN and PFN. So, anybody without an antecedent should be checkmated.
What’s your leadership style as the bishop of this great assembly?
I provide a covering for them. And I ensure they discover their God-given talent. I have a cordial relationship with them.
Was there ever a time you felt like quitting?
Several times I felt like quitting. I travel a lot and I see how they celebrate me but here in Nigeria, things are not the way they ought to be.
As a clergy, how should we seek God?
With all our heart, sincerity and rugged faith.
So many clergy are enmeshed in controversies, how do you handle it?
If they are constructively done, it’s good for you. When people criticize you, sit down, ponder and ask questions. What are the lessons in the situation? But once the controversy is false, I don’t bother to ponder over it.
You recently celebrated your wedding anniversary, what has been the sustaining factor?
Love can marry for you, but love alone can’t sustain a marriage. Knowledge also helps. Communication also is vital. My wife has been so supportive and has never questioned my steps of faith.
Tell us about your musical career.
I have released two albums. The first was released in 1998. The popular song, Don’t give up, it’s not rosy was released in Hamburg, Germany. The second album was five years ago. And the third album is in the offing.
How do you juggle the ministry and music?
They are inter-related. It only becomes tasking, when it’s a borrowed gift or calling.
Finally, when will you dedicate the cathedral?
My father in the Lord, Pa Ayo Oritsejafor comes here once in a year, December. Thus, the temple will be dedicated in December 2012.
– FEMI OYEWALE
This story was first published in Encomium Weekly edition of Tuesday, July 31, 2012