God Took Me From Zero Level To Make Me What I Am Today, By Aiyedogbon
… As Church Marks 25 Years Of God’s Faithfulness
CHRISTENED Abraham Samuel at birth by his father, a lay reader in the Anglican Church, he grew up as a young man carried away by the things of the world.
Then, he thought the Christian faith was just a make-belief put, together by people who don’t want others to enjoy life to the fullest. To some people, he is a fiery preacher of righteousness, holiness and purity.
To others, he is an activist and social crusader. Abraham Aiyedogbon, who spoke to The Guardian in his Okota, Lagos office, ahead of the church’s (Realm of Glory International Church) 25th anniversary said: “I met Christ in an unspectacular way and I think it helps me to identify with people that start their journey of faith in a very simple way.
As a young man, I was deceived to believe that the Christian faith is just make-belief, put together by people who don’t want you to live a good life.”
However, something happened that permanently changed his life and perception. A friend of his and an advocate of the ‘Christian faith is make-belief philosophy’ suddenly died. “He was a mentor in sin.
He would tell us not to bother about religion, that when we are old and before we die, we could just give it a thought,” he recalled. “But, unfortunately, he died suddenly, without being sick or involved in an accident.
That got the rest of us thinking, and, for the first time, we realised we could die anytime. So, we decided to give a thought to the gospel we’ve been hearing, but kept bad-mouthing.
We suddenly became fed up with the rough life we had been living. Growing up, I thought sleeping on the mat was a normal thing, and only fathers and mothers should sleep on bed. None of us ever had a bed to lie on.
It was when I got to school that I realised it was not normal. My background was nothing, but God took me from zero level to make me what I am today, and I am forever grateful to Him for His faithfulness in my life,” he stated.
According to him, he had no sense of direction, purpose or clarity; he was just drifting. And if Jesus Christ had not stepped into his life, the best would have been that he ended up in jail or dead now. “I am satisfied and contented with what He has blessed me with.
I’m fulfilled and honoured by Him, even if I can just be known as a faithful servant in His vineyard and preacher of His righteousness; no title or big appellation.
It is not to indict people, but this is deeply rooted in my conviction and the journey of my life so far,” he said. According to the celebrated columnist, a lawyer friend of his asked him one day, what he was before being called to be a pastor. “I told him I needed to find how to describe my life before God called me.
The description that came to me is in the book of 1Corinthians 1; I, said to him, I was nothing before God called me to be a pastor. I was not saying this to either be politically correct or sound self-righteous.
That is just the reality; I was practically nothing before God called me into the ministry. Every time I have to go down memory lane to recall how my call into ministry started. I gave my life to Christ in a very ordinary way.
I have heard the gospel preached. I grew up in an Anglican Church, where there was not much of the gospel in the rural area. My father was a lay reader in the church, and I say with all modesty and by every standard, he did not portray the life and character of a Christ’s disciple. I thought it was normal then.
As a lay reader or leader, sometimes he preached in the church, but he was a drunkard and polygamist with official wives and some unofficial ones. So, there was nothing that depicted the life of a Christian. I grew in that church not knowing anything about the gospel, but now, there is a move of God and revival going on in the Anglican Church and all of the mainstream churches.
I am not saying this to degrade the church, but that was the reality then. “Some of us in the then Kwara State were selected to go for a Federal course in the Ministry of Communication at Ibadan, and one of us, Adewunmi was a born again.
He was fervent and very spiritual, he often preached to us. I also had Muslim friends, as well as unreligious ones. Usually, the first thing we picked up in the morning was a stick of cigarette. We mocked and argued with Adewunmi just to frustrate him, but the irony is that when he wasn’t with us, we told ourselves he was better than us, because our lives were wrong and we were drunkards.
We were never balanced, but he was well organised and neater than us. “One day he said to me, ‘I understand these other people that are not born into a Christian family.
But you, your name is Samuel, why are you so difficult?’ I ordered him to keep quiet. When he heard I got born again, he celebrated. Then, I was working in an office in the now Kogi State, and a senior colleague in the same office was born again.
He was of Baptist background, very neat, decent, lovely, young and married. He tried to preach to me, but I had another childhood friend, who we drank together and chased girls.
One day, he came to preach to us and we told him we weren’t in the mood for argument that day because a classmate and member of our bad boys’ gang, Ayeni had died.
He was our mentor in sin. “Whenever we were smoking, Ayeni would blow cigarette smoke on our faces, and tell us to go ahead and enjoy life, but suddenly, we heard he had died just like that.
For the first time, my friend and I who were actively in sin became sober; it dawned on us that we could actually die. So, it was an illusion to believe there is nothing like death.
We told ourselves there was need to make amends, as we didn’t know the time or who would be next. I prayed weakly, asking God to change my life and that I was tired of the way I was living then. I think my friend also said his own prayer.
The next day, we decided that the only way to show that we were serious was to fast till noon. For us, that was a herculean task. But by the time we broke that fast, the desire to return to our rough life was not so strong. “While in the Apostolic Church, we engaged in evangelism, fasting, prayers and Bible study.
As a young believer, I soon became a leader of a small group. One day, while I was leading the Bible study, I heard a sharp, clear voice within me telling me that that was precisely what God planned for me to do and that any other thing was a waste of time. As I couldn’t get that off my mind, I decided to dedicate my life to the work God wanted me to do.
I eventually resigned my job with the communication ministry and moved to Kaduna and while there, I struggled to know the direction God wanted me to go,” he said. In fulfilling his calling, he was bombarded by voices of discouragement that kept telling him things such as ‘you are too young to become a pastor.’ ‘You can still make it big in life’.
In the midst of the confusion and having resigned his job, he decided to fast and pray, while putting up at his friend, Henry Ojisun’s place. Interestingly, Ojisun is presently an Assistant General Overseer at Realm of Glory International Church. “The fasting was a dry one and I only took water by six o clock and continued.
I did it for seven days. On the fifth or sixth day, Jesus appeared to me. This was in 1981. He was so friendly, caring and loving. He looked like any impression I had of Jesus. He was just like an acquaintance that cares about you, asking about your welfare.
We were walking together and when we got to a T-junction, He asked me where I was going. I told Him I wanted to cross the main road to go to my place. He told me He was going straight, and would not follow me to my room.
He looked straight into my eyes and said, ‘as you are going, start teaching my people the way of righteousness’. Then He disappeared and I woke up. It was then it dawned on me that it was Jesus.
I was so perplexed as to why I couldn’t figure it out all along. I started weeping and blaming myself. I said to myself, ‘if I knew it was Jesus all along, I would have touched or asked Him to touch me.”
He noted that then, the only Bible school they could think of was the International Bible Training Centre (IBTC), where holiness and righteousness are taught, and this was the mandate God had given him. “After the Bible School, my wife and I returned to the north to stay with our mentor, who was based in Katsina.
He later left for the Federal Capital, Abuja, but we remained there for about eight years. In January 1987, while praying and fasting, I had another encounter that brought us to Lagos.
In that encounter, someone walked into the room, where I was and placed a hand on my head saying, ‘I am depositing my anointing on you’. It was like the touch of fire.
We came to Lagos in 1987, but we began the ministry in 1990. I’m trying to write a book on that.” Asked what the theme of the celebration is, he said, “Realm of Glory International Church is 25 years, but my wife and I are 35 years in the vineyard and ministry of the gospel.
We have been in ministry with some other churches in Kaduna and Katsina before the Lord asked us to come to Lagos and begin what is today known as Realm of Glory International Church. “In celebrating the 25 years anniversary, there is no better theme that captures the whole essence than the Lamentation of Jeremiah in chapter 3 from 22 to 27.
What the ministry could take from the book of Lamentation is God’s faithfulness. We realised that what has kept us is not our righteousness, but God’s faithfulness. It is not because we have always done things right, but we discovered that every step of the way, his faithfulness has been with us. So, what we are celebrating is God’s faithfulness.
Although the beginning was difficult, but looking back at what God has done and the places He has taken the church, it is amazing. There is nothing to say other than that God has been faithful to us.
I think one of the phenomenal things is that I am a part of it from the beginning. If not for that, I would probably have said the ministry is a phenomenon. When we celebrated our first anniversary, the membership was already 100 and the theme of the celebration was: A Taste of His Glory. It was awesome.
We invited Bishop David Oyedepo, because we related closely back in the north. He was amazed by the membership strength recorded within one year. In spite of all, we remained committed to the mandate. “Within three years, we were occupying a leased warehouse behind Cooperative Bank along Mushin Road.
And though we began running two services, yet we continued to witness population explosion. From that warehouse, we moved to the permanent site, where the cathedral is now located.
When returning to Lagos in 1990 to start the ministry, we had less than N10, 000, which was an anonymous donation from somebody we don’t know till date. The implication of the donation was that God was committed to the mandate He gave us.
That special grant was further reduced to N7, 000, as we used part of it to transport ourselves to Lagos.” Speaking on what lies ahead, Pastor Aiyedogbon said he believes the ministry’s future will be greater than its beginning. He said in the next 25 years, he envisions that the church would have invested deeply into creating a transformed society.