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‘If We Embrace Easter Message, This World Will Be A Better Place’

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Omobude

Omobude

Rev. (Dr.) Felix Omobude is the National President of Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), as well as the General Superintendent of the Gospel Light International Ministries a.k.a New Covenant Gospel Church (NCGC) with its headquarters in Benin, Edo State. Recently, he marked his 69th birthday and 43 years anniversary of his call into the ministry. He Spoke with AYOYINKA JEGEDE in Benin City on the significance of Easter, his experiences at 69, PFN Bi-annual Conference and the ongoing electioneering process in Nigeria, among others.

What is the significance of Easter and the lessons to draw from it?

THE word Easter may not really be found in the Bible as such, but significantly, the Easter celebration re-enacts the suffering, death, burial and resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. This is very important to Christianity. The Bible says if Christ was not resurrected then all those that have died are perished. Without resurrection, our gospel is in vain. We celebrate Easter, because it is important for the church to continue to rehash the story.

The message we should learn from Easter is the message of sacrifice. God’s only begotten Son came to this world, sacrificed His life that we might be redeemed. Since He laid down His life for us, we ought to make sacrifices for others also and that is the message. There are so many things to learn from Easter. For example, while on the Cross Jesus prayed to the Father and said: “forgive them for they know not what they are doing.” For a man that was in so much pain, to Whom people had done such excruciating things and Who endured such misery in the hands of people He came to help and was still able to forgive. To me, that is something wonderful.

We must learn forgiveness from Easter. Offences will come, people will hurt one another, but at Easter we must learn to forgive ourselves. Easter gives us room to reflect and stretch forth olive branch and forgive one another. We should not do it physically and then forget about the spiritual significance.

Is it possible for humans to sacrifice the way Jesus Christ did?

The Bible says greater love than this has no man shown at anytime; for a man to lay down his life for his friends. It is the zenith and if well considered, it calls on us to be magnanimous. It calls on us to live and let live. It calls on us to see beyond our borders and if we embrace this gospel, the world will be a better place.

Is the inability of leaders to make sacrifice the bane of Nigeria’s progress?

If for example, a husband and wife love each other, there will be need at one point or the other for one to sacrifice something so that the manure of sacrifice can nurture the tree of unity, which is what brings the blossoming. If we desire to live in harmony and peace, and become prosperous as a nation, then we must learn to sacrifice. Everybody may not see things from your point of view, or embrace your religion, or belong to your political party, but the ability to open our hands is what makes for greatness.

How can one forgive, for example, in a situation where the innocent is punished in the place of the guilty?

That exactly was what happened to Jesus Christ, when the innocent became the guilty and the guilty was declared innocent. It is a difficult thing, but the ideal is what we aim at. Keep forgiving and give God the chance to be the Judge. He knows every one of us and is the ultimate Ruler. Many times, people take undue advantage of others and think they can get away with it, but the ultimate Ruler knows what to do.

Forgiveness is one of the things we need in this country. There are other things we must do after forgiving one another. We must know that this nation belongs to all of us and contribute to its development. We must ensure that the rights of others are also respected. Every Nigerian must take part in the nation building, as we must not destroy our nation. Even if you do not seem to be in the mainstream politically today, you might be so tomorrow. We must put our nation first before individual aspirations.

How does this apply to PFN members?

If you go through the history of the church, there has always been one form of disagreement or the other. The church started as one, but disagreements led to the establishment of the different denominations we have today. But we must agree even in our disagreement.

Naturally, people differ. They like different colours and tastes. So, their interpretations of the scriptures are likely to also be diverse. But there are some core beliefs we all agree on. One of these is that salvation is through Jesus Christ alone. This is not arguable. Essentially in PFN, we are focusing on our majors and playing down the minors. For instance, whether the believer ought to cover her head or wear make-ups are some of the minors.

But we have core values that cannot be compromised. These include the fact that salvation comes only through Jesus Christ, the sanctity of marriage, which should only be between a man and a woman. We believe also that there is only one true God, eternally existing in three persons: the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. We believe in PFN that all men born into this world are sinners and have fallen short of God’s glory, hence the necessity for repentance and faith in the finished work of Christ. We believe in the eternal future. Our focus is on the essentials.

What is your view on the just concluded presidential election?

We congratulate all Nigerians for their conduct during the elections, thereby proving those who had envisaged violence in our land wrong. The PFN congratulates the President-elect, General Muhammadu Buhari and the vice-president-elect, Professor Yemi Osinbajo on their success and receiving a national mandate to pilot the affairs of the country. Our prayer for them is that God imparts to them the wisdom and requisite skills to successfully lead the nation to greatness and further entrench unity and togetherness in Nigeria. We believe both men have the sterling credentials and proven track record to usher in greater prosperity for Nigeria.

We commend President Goodluck Jonathan for his statesmanship conduct in conceding defeat even before the official declaration, helping in no small measure to douse the tension in the land. We enjoin all Nigerians to maintain the peace and continue to support the administration in the discharge of its responsibilities for an orderly transition that will prove to the world that Nigeria has truly come of age.

Lack of credibility is one of the causes of electoral violence in Nigeria. In such situation what is your advice?

We must know that whether in America or wherever, there is no error-proof election. We must all support INEC to do what is right. Nigerians should have faith in the electoral body. INEC should also strive to be fair to all. Nigerians should conduct themselves peacefully and know that we will still be Nigerians, even after the election. We should not spill bad blood.

I believe that the remaining election will be peaceful; I believe also that Nigeria will overcome whatever challenges it is facing. Nigeria will still remain one after this election. There might be some misgivings but we’ll overcome it and come together again. I call on those beating drums of war and hate to rethink, and give peace a chance.

Nigerians should reflect deeply and vote wisely. They shouldn’t vote for anyone just because he/she carries the Bible. If God wants Nigeria to be exclusively Christian or Muslim, He has what it takes to make it so. There is no need to bring religion into politics. But He did not do this. He wants us together and so, we must not allow politics to divide us. It was desperate politicians that introduce religious politics recently. Both Christians and Muslims voted for Alhaji Shehu Shagari, a Muslim many years ago. We also voted for MKO Abiola, another Muslim, who even had a Muslim running mate. We equally voted the late president Yar’Adua, nobody cared about his religion.

Some of the questions we need to ask before voting are: what are the values of the man or woman we are voting for? What are his/her antecedents? What are his/her track records? Can we trust him/her? Does he/she stand for the nation’s unity?

How do you feel on your 69th birthday and 43rd anniversary in the ministry?

I have every reason to be thankful to God for giving me the grace to know Him and be an instrument of honour in His hands. At 69, I want to thank God for good health and sound mind. I give God thanks for sparing my life and for all He has done.

What have been the challenges so far?

Everyday in a man’s life brings new challenges, but the good thing is that God has always made a way to overcome the challenges. The challenge of a growing work, the challenge of being who God wants you to be and the challenges of leading the people He has placed under you are always there. These are challenges that leadership face.

Any regrets?

I wouldn’t say I don’t have regrets, because there are certain things I did before that if I had to do them again, I would probably do them differently. That’s all.

Interesting moments?

I’m excited with Jesus Christ everyday. Each time I know I do what pleases Him is exciting to me, and every moment with Jesus Christ is very refreshing.

How would you describe what is happening in the world today?

Life is dynamic and things keep changing; some for good and some for bad. The Bible remains our measuring yardstick and template. Everyday, we must align ourselves with the truth of the word of God. There are things that revelation has brought into ministry today, which we probably never saw the same way then. But the truth still remains the same. The soul that sinneth shall die. That’s the truth, and God expects a standard from His children. Whether now or then, God’s standard never changes.

What have been your life achievements?

I leave those that know me to judge that. I’m just pleased to serve God and His people. My achievements are there for people to see. I am grateful to God that I’m serving Him the best way I can.
What should others learn from you at 69?

It is not really my position to tell others to learn something from me, though I have lived my life in the open. If they adjudge some of the things I have done as positive and right, I would like them to emulate and build on them. Life is a process of learning and of course, people close to me or watching me from afar must have learnt some things from me. Apostle Paul said “Those things you have learnt of me among many witnesses the same commit thou to faithful men.” A leader does not live his life in the secret; it is open for everybody to see.

What’s your advice to Christians?

Jesus Christ remains the central figure of our life; His gospel remains the only hope for mankind. We should preach it without adulteration and spread the good news of the love of Jesus Christ to a dying world, which is our responsibility. I would encourage both the young and old to do this with the very last of our breath.

Why are you passionate about education and the down trodden?

I’m passionate about education because of the difficulties I had at the early stage of my life. We have a Bible College, as well as Christian schools. We also have a tertiary institution, the Light House Polytechnic, fully approved by the Federal Ministry of Education and the Nigerian Board for Technical Education. I’m also passionate about humanitarian services. The Life Lifter is the arm of our Ministry we use in reaching out to people. Through it, we have been able to touch lives of many people that are desperately in need, as well as people facing disasters and other problems of life. We have worked in places like the Lepers settlement, where we have been doing some work, as well as many other places. By God’s grace, we have sheltered the homeless and helped the helpless.

Also, we are encouraging our leaders in PFN to go in this direction. Gone are days when the church could be accused of paying undue attention to material things. The Pentecostals are growing above that, as we are going into education, medicals and are touching the world and the future generation.

We are spreading the gospel in a practical sense. Many of the Pentecostal churches now have universities, where both children from the church and outside of it benefit. The number of students admitted into government universities is not up to half of those applying through JAMB. So, it is these institutions that absorb the remaining to keep them away from the streets and social vices. The Pentecostal churches are affecting the nation in a very positive sense. We are evolving. There is a new face of development within the Pentecostal fold and we are happy about it.


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1 Comment
  • vincent reddi

    A real Christian to admit without fear of favor that Christ is the answer to all the problems we face.