Ministers of God can still keep secular skills — Unen
President/Senior Pastor of Grace Impacts Ministries, Bariga, Lagos, Rev. Dr. John Eseme Unen, and his wife, Pastor Mrs. Esther, recently gathered friends and well wishers together to rejoice with them, as the church celebrated its yearly thanksgiving, which coincided with the harvest and dedication of the sanctuary. Chris Irekamba was there.
What happens to your first love as a journalist?
I don’t believe in what is called full time ministry. All through the scriptures, I have seen ministers that made impacts, who combined their career, their profession with the calling. This is made possible, when you are financially independent. Part of the reason the body of Christ is suffering is because ministers are hungry. So, because of hunger, you see a lot of what I call ‘praying manipulation or manifestations.’ Many ministers have made merchandise of their calling because of hunger and so, I will still be doing what I know is good to do while ministering. Apostle Paul was still a tent maker.
When you go through the scriptures, David was a very successful minister of God, as well as a prophet and he was a man of international merchandise. So, I don’t know where we got this. When Jesus was leading His disciples and He needed to pay tax, He sent Peter to go fishing. You and I know Peter was a fisherman, who never threw his net away, when he got the call. So, I don’t know where we got the impression that any time somebody has a call, he must resign from his vocation or career, I don’t believe in it.
You were trained in Assemblies of God. Are you still hooked on Assemblies’ doctrines, now that you have your own church?
There is no other doctrine aside from that of our Lord Christ. The gospel is sacrosanct. So, whatever Assemblies of God practices, and which are in the scripture, that we will maintain. But whatever they practise that is not of God, I will not embrace because the gospel is our standard. But permit us to also accept the fact that there are administrative policies, which are carried out according to the respective administrative challenges of the organisation. So, as a church, we will also have our own policies. We will make rules that will lead and guide us at this stage, but as we advance, there will be policy formation. However, there is nothing I have seen in Assemblies of God that is wrong.
What have you got to say about the internal crisis in Assemblies of God presently?
I have been a member of the Assemblies of God for 25 years before I was called into ministry. Assemblies is one, they are indivisible. The Corporate Affairs Commission registered the body. I don’t know of two Assemblies of God. I only know of one, to which I subscribe. So, personally, if there is any problem, it’s only a matter of time before it will be resolved. So, I see it as God unifying the church again. What you see in Assemblies is happening in the body of Christ worldwide. There is conflict of belief, there is conflict of doctrine, there is conflict of so many things and don’t forget, this is the end time. The Lord is in His holy Temple, and will sort out the problem. He said, ‘I will build my church and the gate of hell shall not defeat it.’ I support the body of Christ and I can tell you that when I was there, some of those people may have been Bible students. So, I don’t subscribe to personalities, I only subscribe to institutions.
Where will Grace Impacts Ministries be in the next five?
Grace Impacts is a vision that God is leading. So, we won’t sit down to begin to dream, rather, we will allow the Holy Spirit to lead us. The next phase of the church is increase and expansion, and we are trusting that the Lord will take us to places. He will open branches for this church, and take us beyond the boundaries of Nigeria. Just over a year ago, we were in a rented apartment at a shopping complex. Who would have ever imagined that in about eight months, we could build this? So, I know God is not done with us; this is just the beginning.
Do you think the church is doing enough to help the society?
I am eight years old in ministry, so, I cannot pass a judgment on the church because, and I don’t know the callings of the individual ministers. I can talk about my calling. Like you read here, you see my mandate, but I don’t know what other people are mandated to do. It is left to an individual to judge whether he is doing what is right or not. Personally, I am focused on Grace Impacts and I can only assess how far we have gone, based on the mandate that the Lord has given to us.
You said you had your primary assignment before you had the calling. Does this mean anybody that has a calling should open a church?
To be frank with you, the person you met today is one person who hated being called a pastor. The reality is that I heard it clearly that I should go into church planting. We have ministers who run non-denominational ministries. We have ministers like Dr. Akin John, who does not have a church. He is my mentor. We didn’t come into church planting, as a matter of what my people in the village would call ‘lack of having nothing to do.’ We came into ministry and church planting by divine instruction.
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