Why this year’s convention is unique — Otaru
ASO Dominion Church (ADC), Agodo Egbe, Ikotun, Lagos will, tomorrow, begin its yearly convention, themed: “Dramatic Change” at the church premises. The five-day event, which promises to be unique, according to Sunny Otaru, the church’s Senior Pastor, will feature guest speakers, including Head Evangelist, Calvary Bible Church, Evang. Princewill Akuma; Dr. Basil O. Ibe of the Living Saints Global Ministry and Pastor David D. Oladipupo of ASO Dominion Church, Isheri Centre, including the host, Pastor Sunny Otaru. In this interview with CHRIS IREKAMBA, Pastor Otaru chronicles events that led to the birth of the church, his encounter with God and what informed the theme of the convention, among others.
How will you recall the birth of this ministry?
ASO Dominion Church started in October 2010 in my one-room apartment. It started with a mid-week service, followed by a vigil on Friday, but we didn’t have Sunday service until first Sunday in December. We had Sunday service in that one room and in 2011, during the second Sunday; we got this place of worship. Now, God’s call wasn’t an option to make money, or to make myself feel good. I was a pastor in one of the churches superintended by Pastor Amos. He was the person that God used to encourage me and to be where I am today. I was with him for 13 years: first in Ekiti State; then in Ketu and Ejigbo, Lagos State. He had a ministry here in Egbe before he finally relocated to Ikorodu. It was after staying with him for 13 years that the Lord gave me a mandate through him to start this ministry. He told me one day that God wanted me to first fast for 21 days and 40 days later, but I said for what? He said God wanted to speak to me personally. So, I started fasting, but after 40 days, I didn’t hear anything and I became confused. That prompted me to see Bishop Odeleke in Ago Palace to explain things to her. She counseled me to observe another fasting, but I said no. She said I should go back to my pastor and tell him what God said, so that ‘you stop suffering.’ After explaining my predicament to my pastor, he said, “Look, it’s like God wants you to do something new for Him.” I didn’t have any intention of leaving him, because we were very close. He had over 10 pastors, and I was his assistant pastor, the youngest and closest. So, leaving him was like separating a husband from his wife. I struggled with what he told me for a while, until he said to me one day, “You know He is God and if you don’t take a decision now, I don’t know what will happen.” But something tragic happened. His church members suddenly reduced from 1,000 to less than 100. Every Sunday, I would be scared until one day he called me and said he was leaving the church, and he left. Other things led to my also leaving the church and for six months, I was at home.
In fact, I started thinking of going to Switzerland in the process of trying to see what else I could do. While in that situation, God told me, “you are starting something for Me, and I’m going to prove it to you.” There is this woman, who is part of our ministry and in our children class now. One day, she came to my house and said, “God said you should take a walk on the seventh of this month in the morning and you will meet somebody.” So, from my house, I strolled to the T-junction she described and that was how I met my old friend, Stephen, who hails from Benin. We had been friends for a very long time. As soon as Stephen saw me, he said, “Pastor Sunny, I learnt that your pastor has released you. I will replace it.” And that was how he brought me to this place. It was a storey building and he told me that he was in charge and that I could use the place as my church. I said a church! As he was talking to me, it was as if my ears were open and God said, “I kept this place for you for over 50 years and now this is your place.” That was how the whole story started and I became convinced. l had no money anywhere, but Stephen persuaded me to see the landlord, one of the chiefs of Ilewe, which we did and the rest is now history.
Was there any encounter with God that really changed your life?
There was this experience I had together with my younger sister, whose name is Juliet. She is married now. We lived together with Pastor Amos for 13 years. One day, Pastor Amos called me and said, “Look, l really want you to be sure and convinced that you are called. I wouldn’t want anybody to just tell you something else, which might give you headache in future. The thing is that you must always have something to fall back on, so you need to know and hear for yourself.” So, he advised me to fast for three or four days, which l was scared of. But my younger sister said, “You mean you don’t trust God again?” My pastor asked us to sleep in the church and not go home or come out of the church during that period. He concluded by saying that was God’s commandment.
My sister wasn’t comfortable with those words and she said, “l don’t trust this pastor. See the way his face is shining. I hope he will not come and kidnap you here in the name of praying to God.” But because I didn’t utter a word, she continued, “He said you should stay; l will stay with you,” So, we were together that night. That experience was one of the events that really changed my life.
That was my first night in the church. The gate was locked with a padlock, and there were banana around the church premises. But between 1.30a.m. and 2a.m., a man with Pastor Amos’ face came in, while we were lying down at the altar. This was not a dream; it was physical. Only my sister and I were in that church and she held me. My sister said, “See what l told you. We will shout but let’s see what will happen.” As this man was coming towards us, we could not see his legs or head. We saw something like stars in his eyes.”
He knew we were afraid and about to shout, so he just moved in a certain way and went to the banana top and sat there. He called my name ‘’Jossy,” and nobody calls me that except my dad. To allay our fears, the man said, “l am not Pastor Amos.
You are scared of dying, but l came to protect you.” It was at this point that my sister let go of me. “Why are you here,” I asked. He said, “Take your pen, your notebook and write.”
He said I would not understand everything I wrote, but I should write everything he said anyway. That was when he said something about ‘Dramatic Change;’ that on my 10th anniversary, he would give me a programme and the theme will be ‘Dramatic Change.’ Last year was my 10th anniversary, and so much happened to me. So, l told myself that l would do the anniversary this year, and that was how the theme: ‘dramatic change’ came about. From the beginning of this ministry, we haven’t celebrated any anniversary or convention. Last year was the first time and l missed it. If a man didn’t give attention to the things of God and you allow people’s voice to rule you, you will always make mistakes. My team wanted us to celebrate our 10th anniversary in a big way. So, we killed a cow and wore aso ebi, but as soon as the programme ended, l felt empty. And since then, l have been feeling like l lost it. I have been trying to see how l could make up for that.
On August 12 this year, l was in the office, when suddenly one of my team leaders came and said, “Pastor, l have been troubled.” l said what is it? He said, “God said l should give you N1m, that you should hold a programme for Him.” As he said it, l just heaved a sigh of relief and started planning. The next thing l did was to say, ‘Oh Father, thank you for giving me another chance.’ It was then that I promised God l was going to use the 11th year to correct what l did when we were 10. That was how this programme started, and this year’s convention is going to be unique in every sense. I took a decision that God helping us, we’re going to give Him 1,000 souls and we are working hard to get it done.
What blessings await participants at the event?
One thing you cannot take away from God is that His Word is always certain; it doesn’t fall to the ground. His Word must surely come to pass, if He says ‘dramatic change.’ l didn’t frame it. What I’m telling members and non-members as they come to this programme is to expect a dramatic change in their lives. They will just notice that something special has happened and that is why we are taking our time to ensure we really get people to attend this programme. We are the ones to encourage people to come and as they come, they should ensure they are just going to stride consciously into the presence of God, Who has power to change people. And the expectations of people at the end will be tremendous. We’re looking forward to testimonies and I believe God when He says dramatic change, which means that something we didn’t plan will really happen.