DAYS back, the Founder and General Overseer of Word and Spirit Assembly Church, Pastor Dr. Chris Ekeh clocked 40. A feat he celebrated with fan-fare and some quiet humanitarian/charitable services.
From Kirikiri Maximum Prisons to the Hearts of Gold Children’s Hospice, Surulere, Lagos, Pastor Chris Ekeh ministered to the needy, the physically challenged, while comforting the heart-broken.
He rounded off the elaborate 40th birthday activities with a thanksgiving service at his church headquarters at Ijegun, Waterside, Satellite Town Lagos, with fellow ministers of the gospel, entertainers and celebrities in attendance.
Dr. Chris Ekeh used the occasion to share his inspiring grass-to-grace story and the growth of his ministry with Encomium Weekly Associate Editor, UCHE OLEHI.
Why are you celebrating your 40th birthday in a special way?
Because God has been good to me and my family. And it is His goodness we are celebrating.
Why have you been visiting prisons and charity homes with your members and celebrities?
I wanted to use my birthday as an extension of my ministry. What we particularly saw here (Heart of Gold Children Hospice) is quite revealing. It has added to my experience. For one to have a sound health is a testimony some of us take for granted. Look at those special children. They were equally created by God for a purpose.
What is the greatest gift God has given you at 40?
The greatest gift of God is life. I am a product of God’s grace. God’s grace is speaking in my life. Like Moses, our life is divided in 40s. The first stage was the first 40 years of nobody, then second 40 years of being somebody and the last 40 years where somebody can be nobody.
What’s your relationship with the celebrities who accompanied you to the charity home?
I’m a celebrity too. So, they came to celebrate with me. They came on their own volition with no material or cash benefit. We all have the same humanitarian spirit. Also involved are my team called the Great Ambassadors. Their mission is to support the vision of the ministry.
Any regret at 40?
I just want to do my best. No regret. I believe in divine providence. I’m a product of God’s grace.
How did you start your ministry?
I started like any other minister. Life is a question and a song, you answer and sing your own tune. I’m where God wants me to be. I started with nothing, today we are somewhere. God helped us with men. God has blessed us with men who support the mission.
Please tell us more about your ministry?
I’m the Founder and General Overseer of World and Spirit Assembly Church. I hail from Ngor-Okpala, in Imo State. I was born in Lagos but grew up in Enugu. My father was a cook. He used to cook for white men, while we were living in Lagos. We later moved to Enugu where I had my early education.
How did you encounter Christ?
While in Enugu, I joined the Scripture Union as well as the Evangelical Fellowship arm of the Anglican Communion. To God be the glory, Enugu was a good place for me to discover myself as a child. Honestly, I was not born into a rich home. While in Enugu, my father became a cook at the Enugu State University of Science and Technology.
The road to success has really been tough for you?
Yes, being uneducated, my father did not place much value on education. My siblings and I were left to face the challenges of life. As a child, I found myself struggling to acquire basic education. Due to my love for education, I was able to see myself through my primary education. I had to push wheel-barrow in Enugu main market popularly known as Ogbaete in order to pay my school fees. I was also a scavenger!
While I was in school, I was very close to God. At 16, I gave my life to Christ under the Scripture Union. The then Principal of the school, Uguwuaji Secondary School, saw me the first time and was fascinated at my composure. He told my mother who accompanied me to the school that, “This is the kind of child I would want to admit into my school.” I later became the founder of the Christian Fellowship in that school. That was where my ministry started. I was ministering to my fellow students as well as my teachers.
Interestingly, while I was doing the work of God in school, my fellow students were compassionate enough to save their ‘lunch money’ in order to pay my school fees.
You sure believe in personal development?
I believe in personal development. While I was pushing wheel barrow, I was determined to make it in life. I would sit at a corner, imaging myself interacting with the high and the mighty in society. I didn’t know I would reach where I am today. As a result, I’m never ashamed to talk about the road I have travelled in life. There are some people who believe that Rome was built in a day. At a very tender age, I loved the things of the Lord. At 8, I had started following my mother to the House of God. Then, I didn’t know what it really meant to work for God. But in 1991, when I gave my life to Christ, I discovered that the call of God was upon my life. I was deriving joy in doing the work of God; preaching, praying and winning souls for Christ.
Were there early signs that followed you?
Confirming that the call of God was upon my life, while I was staying with my uncle in Ilorin, Kwara State, a crippled man saw me along the road, and told me that the call of God was upon my life. Equally, a mad man saw me few days later and shouted, “I see God in you, don’t come close to me…” That was when it was clear to me that something was missing in my life. Following this development, I returned to Enugu after spending two years in Ilorin. While in Enugu, I was preaching one day when God used a strange woman who was touched by my preaching to open the way for me to attend the Victory International Bible School, in Enugu. After my graduation in 1997, I relocated to Lagos in 1999, in search of fulfillment of God’s purpose for my life.
Yeah, while in Lagos, I was stranded because I was coming to stay with my uncle. Unfortunately, I was given a wrong address. So, when I arrived Mazamaza area of Lagos, I heard some people speaking my local dialect, and I approached them. Later, they took me to the Victory Christian Church. I stayed at the church for some time before I returned to Enugu. Fortunately, I prayed for somebody in Enugu, who later decided to bring me to Lagos again. I stayed around Apapa area before God gave me the vision to set up this ministry.
In my church, we believe in the transformation of life. When you step into Word and Spirit Ministry, you can’t remain the same again.
What were the initial challenges of setting up your ministry?
I was confronted with the challenges of not being able to express what I feel inside of me, the revelation I was having then. I faced the challenges of expressing it. I also faced the challenge of people not being able to understand me. I had a desire to measure with people but I couldn’t for certain reasons. Life itself gave me some serious training. For you to succeed in life, you must be humble and teachable. I learnt a lot from people around me. I don’t criticise people, I try to encourage them. I read a lot because knowledge is power.
So, what has life taught you?
Life has taught me that hard work coupled with commitment and being faithful to God would always help you to realise your dreams in life. Commitment, sincerity and humility are the key to success in life. In my ministry, people have this perception that it is a reality church. I will tell you nothing but the truth. We neither worship money nor personality. When you are doing the work of God, there are people who will be out to encourage you as well as those who would want to discourage you. But the decision to stand out in life is totally yours.
You are married?
Yes, I’m married to Chioma. We have been blessed with three children.