Our new mandate for Lagos Diocese is enhanced spirituality, education and health
On Monday, July 30, 2018, the Lagos Diocese witnessed a major change of leadership that saw the enthronement of Rt. Rev. Dr. Humphrey Bamisebi Olumakaiye as the new Bishop. The former Bishop of Osun Northeast Diocese took over from Most Rev. Dr. Ephraim Adebola Ademowo, who retired from active service after he attained the mandatory age of 70 years, as Bishop of Lagos and Dean Emeritus, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion). In this interview, the new Bishop told CHRIS IREKAMBA and ADEDAMOLA SAKA how he became the eighth Bishop of Lagos Diocese, his vision for the oldest diocese in Anglican Communion, his relationship with Papa Ademowo, the fatal accident that nearly claimed his life, how men of God should overcome temptation, as well as, his advice to President Muhammadu Buhari and 2019 general elections.
How was your growing?
I’m Rt. Rev. Dr. Humphrey Bamisebi Olumakaiye and by divine permission the Lord Bishop of Lagos Diocese, which happens to be the premier diocese in the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion.
I was born on January 28, 1969 to the family of Venerable Theophilus Akinbobola Olumakaiye and Mrs. Iyabo Abigail Olumakaiye from Idanre in Ondo State.
My father was a former provost of the Cathedral Church of Saint Barnabas, Sabo Oke in Ilorin and he worked in many parishes for about 47 years.
He died in 2011 at the age of 90 years, but my mother is still alive to the glory of God.
After my primary and secondary school, I got admission into the University of Ilorin to read Political Science, but my dad, having seen the traits of God’s calling in my life, said I should go for theological training.
That was how my desire to read Political Science at University of Ilorin changed.
And so, in September 1988, I was admitted at Emmanuel College of Theology, Ibadan, where I bagged a diploma in Religious Studies in 1991.
Thereafter, I went to University of Ibadan for my degree programme, B.A. (Hon.), where I also studied Religious Studies.
I completed that in 1993 and was ordained at IIesa Diocese by Rt. Rev. E.A. Ademowo, now Most Rev. Dr. E.A. Ademowo (retired). He ordained me, as well as, priested me.
After that, I returned for my Master’s Degree at the University of Ibadan and also did my Doctorate Degree in Philosophy at the same University. I majored in Church History and Church Matters from University of Ibadan.
That makes you Papa Ademowo’s godson?
Definitely, there is no controversy about that. I’m his godson, which is also very biblical.
Of course, you know Titus’ relationship to Paul and so on.
What circumstances brought you to Lagos, as the eighth Bishop of Lagos Diocese?
I would say it is by divine permission and grace, as well as divine favour from the Lord. You know Anglican is a well-structured church.
I was elected the first Bishop of Osun Northeast Diocese on May 22, 2009 and was consecrated the first Bishop of Osun Northeast Diocese on July 12, 2009.
I was also enthroned the first Bishop of Osun Northeast Diocese on July 16, 2009. So, I have been a Bishop for over nine years now.
And by God’s grace, this is my 10th year of consecration as Bishop.
While I was there, God used us tremendously to build an Anglican village in Osun Northeast Diocese.
We built many structures there through our ministry.
For example, we have Anglican prayer city in Osun Northeast Diocese, a Prayer Mountain and a hospital.
We also established three schools in Osun Northeast Diocese, apart from developing the people spiritually and physically.
The society was totally transformed through our ministry in Osun Northeast Diocese.
Today, you will feel Anglican Church’s presence in the area.
We planted about 25 churches and the 11 priests that I inherited from the residual diocese were increased to 60.
We also employed over 100 workers, paid by the Diocese, aside the clergy.
Our ministry was actually beyond the gospel, and providentially, God, Who has seen all these things in Osun Northeast Diocese, wanted us to come and do more in Lagos State.
When the House of Bishops met and was looking for someone that would replace Papa Ademowo, an election was held and to the glory of God, we were elected for translation to Lagos Diocese. And we are here today after an enthronement.
What new things are you bringing on board, as Bishop of Lagos Diocese?
First of all, I would like to thank my predecessor, who happens to be my mentor and our spiritual parents.
I want to thank God for the marvellous works He has done by making the diocese a well-structured place.
The diocese, no doubt, has really been blessed by the ministry of Baba and Mama Ademowo, and for that reason, the diocese will continue to appreciate the good works they did in the past 18 years of their leadership. The landmark is indelible forever.
As a young Bishop, who’s coming on board, I have a mandate, which by the special grace of God is a five-fold ministry, namely: priestly ministry, pastoral ministry, prophetic ministry, prayer ministry and praise ministry, and everything that we will be doing will revolve around this five-fold ministry.
The pastoral ministry is about caring for the people.
We’ll plough whatever the people give back into the community.
That care will be based on the SHE Ministry, which is about Spirituality, Health and Education. We’ll ensure that the people’s spiritual life is developed more than ever before, as well as their health.
To ensure that their health is well taken care of, we will have mobile clinic, as well as, build hospitals and have more schools.
We will also build more vocational centres to take care of the teeming youths that are roaming the streets without jobs.
So, they will be trained in one skill or the other.
Mama Ademowo established one at Faith Plaza, which is booming seriously, but we want to take it to another level by having it, if possible, in every Archdeaconry in the diocese and by the time we have our Convention Centre, it will be the base of entrepreneurial activities.
So that when they come to pray, they will also have the opportunity to learn one trade or the other, to enable them have something to depend on. We believe God that this five-fold ministry will be tackled headlong.
We also want to bring back all the youths that have left, and ensure that our ministry is a little bit fluid.
The narrow door will be open, so that the youths can practise their God-given talents and the church believes so much in the Bible.
We want them to come and use their charismatic gifts in the church, and one Sunday in a month will be dedicated to the youths, so that they can preach and minister.
We will also reach them through Internet, ICT and by the special grace of God; I have commissioned some people to build our own mobile application for the diocese.
My target is to reach 10, 000 youths every Sunday morning through my messages.
And the Bible study will be done through our mobile application, so that before members come to church, they would have read the topic for the day.
We just come to church and discuss for about 15 minutes and everybody will go away.
What actually made the youths to leave the church in the first place?
The youths left because they felt the service was not all that interesting. You know our God is progressive and tradition is good.
Liturgy is good and is also dynamic, but unfortunately, some of our pastors/priests got it wrong that liturgy is not dynamic.
When you have the liturgy, elements of life should be put into it, which is also very biblical, and we are going to do this without losing the Anglican identity.
We are going to maintain our identity, but at the same time, we will allow the Spirit of God to flow through and we’ve started that.
Just last Sunday, the maiden edition of our charismatic service held in the Cathedral here and it was filled with youths both inside and outside.
They really enjoyed the charismatic service.
We are not copying any denomination. This is our heritage, but we lost it and we are now bringing it back.
As a church historian, I know the Anglican heritage and we are not copying anybody.
Rather, they borrowed it from us and improved on it, but we want to take it back from these new generation churches.
There was a time you said the power of God left the church, has it been restored?
It has been fully restored; because there was a time you dare not shout halleluiah in this church.
There was a time we believed that ‘you people are amen people,’ but amen is in the Bible. That was how the power left the church and so they got it wrong.
I’m not condemning the early fathers, they really tried their best at that time, but it was limited to their own knowledge of the Bible and at the same time, some people abused the opportunity.
What we are saying in essence is that we want to return to our heritage.
We want to go back to our roots because we believe in what happened in the Acts of Apostles.
We believe in what happened on the Day of Pentecost.
We believe in the early fathers’ activities, so we are going back to what we believed in.
We are not doing anything different and we are not copying anybody.
I mentioned it on the day of my enthronement that Bishop Ajayi Crowther did deliverance ministry and dismantled some occultic people in the church then.
If he could do that at that time, we can do better now because this is the age of the Spirit.
As a father to all in the diocese, how do you intend to unite the church?
Actually, the church is one and I wouldn’t say that they are aggrieved.
What I would rather say is that the fear of tomorrow can make you not to see things in the proper perspective.
But today, as I’m talking to you now, we are one body in Christ because the diocese is very strong.
We are together, and I believe that we will get there.
The point I’m making is that the body is united, as Jesus Christ is one.
They are also part of the body of Christ, but if you are not sure of what will happen tomorrow, you can misunderstand some other things, and that does not mean they are against the body of Christ or against me.
They have been enjoying the gospel together with us and with the activities that have been taking place in the past two and half weeks now, they’ve been part of God’s blessings.
You can see that the Lagos Diocese is very peaceful to the glory of God.
Any moment of regret?
I don’t have any regret at all than to continue thanking God for my life.
You know God created us for a purpose and there is nothing that happens to a man without God’s hand in it.
To you, it may be a painful and sad moment, but God allowed it for a purpose.
After all, the Bible says that ‘for those who love God, everything works together for good.’
So, when you love God there is no moment of regret. Rather, it is a time for you to give thanks to God.
For instance, I had an accident when I was on a pastoral mission to Ibadan in 1996. Our vehicle summersaulted, and four people died on the spot.
As the policemen were about taking me to the mortuary, they suddenly noticed that I raised my finger. They said ‘oh, this man is still alive.’
For three days, I was unconscious or dead. I didn’t know where I was, but they just dumped me in one hospital.
But to the glory of God, here I am today. That accident strengthened me the more and brought life into my spirit.
That accident gave me more courage in the ministry.
Should I call that regret? No. Every single day, I thank God, even for that accident, as it empowered me the more.
It’s just like God taking me through fire, so that I can do more miracles for Him and today, when I lay hands on the sick, they receive healing and when I pray for a dying soul, the person is restored back to life.
If I pray for the downtrodden, they are lifted up. It has actually empowered me.
So, God took me through that process to enable me become a mighty instrument for His church.
What is the duration of your office?
It has no duration until the College of Bishops says otherwise. But once you are a bishop, you are a bishop for your own diocese.
When you are enthroned, as a bishop in a diocese, you serve as a spiritual king.
You only enthrone a king and when a bishop is enthroned in Anglican Church, you are enthroned as a king.
So, I have been enthroned as a king of Lagos Diocese.
A king is always there, but in our own case, except the College of Bishops says otherwise.
Without that, it has no duration until the retirement age of 70 years.
How should men of God relate to politicians?
In actual fact, the most important thing is for you to preach the undiluted gospel of Christ, tell them the truth and chastise them.
Corruption is bad. It is a cancer in our society and let the people know that they can’t bribe God with their money.
No matter how big the money is, God can never be bribed.
Having said that, I believe that once you know that that politician is corrupt, there is no need romancing him/her, as a minister of God.
It will demean your office and calling. We should be careful in whatever we are doing, however, you can’t stop anybody because you are not an investigator or EFCC that should know who is corrupt and who is not.
Thousands of them come here on Sunday and atimes we focus our attention on politicians, but what about the vulcaniser, who is cheating you?
He is also corrupt. What of your corrupt workers, who are also bringing their tithe?
Most of the time, we talk of big money, but we have forgotten that it is the same yardstick that God will use to judge someone that stole one billion Naira, and the person that stole two naira.
It’s only in Nigeria that it is the other way round. If that be the case, then it is not only the Senator that is corrupt.
A worker in the church, who steals from the church purse and pays his or her tithe from that, is also corrupt. And you don’t know about it.
So, let us leave the judgment to God, because He has the final word.
He is the Chief Judge and at the end of the day, He will separate the goat from the sheep.
But having said that, once you know that an individual is known as being corrupt, you should not romance such people.
The most important thing is for us to preach the gospel and let them see the light.
Once that is done, it will help them to live a holy and godly life.
Our nation’s problem is that we are not speaking the truth. When they are in the church, we don’t preach undiluted gospel, but I give kudos to the Anglican Communion.
I thank God for what we are doing in making sure that we keep politicians and government officials on their toes through our sermons.
How should today’s parents train their children?
It’s very unfortunate that in today’s society, parents have neglected that aspect of training their children to be good and responsible, and we need to return to the ancient path of true obedience to God’s word and ensuring that we raise these children in the knowledge of God.
The vices and all sorts of terrible things happening in the society are as a result of parents not doing what they are supposed to do.
The family has collapsed, as people are now looking for money at the expense of their children’s upbringing.
In today’s society, how many parents and families still have family altars everyday?
In our days, when we were growing up, as early as six in the morning, you would hear the bell ringing to remind us that we should gather for prayer.
We had a family altar and we would study the Bible before anybody was allowed to go out or even bathe or brush teeth.
Then, at night, we must congregate for evening prayer.
But today, some parents will not even see their children for four to five days, and they are living in the same house.
Some children will go to club and come back around 4am, and their parents don’t care. We are now living in a careless society.
We have to return to God to save this nation and should stop blaming government.
The church has to look into that, as well as, religious leaders.
It is then that we can have a sane society that is free from wayward children.
If you have the opportunity of meeting President Muhammadu Buhari one-on-one, what will be your advice to him?
I will tell him he started very well and that Nigerians expect so much from him.
Therefore, he should do more to convince them, as well as sustain that hope, which they have in him.
But he has to do more between now and the general elections.
I believe he can still convince Nigerians that he’s still there for them. How can he do this?
One, he has to ensure that Nigerians have food on their tables.
Two, he should make sure he resolves the security problem facing the country.
Also, he should make sure his cabinet members are working, as they should.
There is no doubt the man has good intention for this country.
Again, Nigerians also need to be patient with government of the day and should pray very well for God to give us good and upright leaders, both at the state and national levels.
While that is ongoing, let us wait and see what the present government will give us at the end of their four years in office before condemning them.
Every one of us has a role to play, especially in the area of security.
We should be conscious of our environment and should not hide thieves or miscreants in the neighbourhood, because some of these people committing heinous crimes are members of our families. They did not drop from heaven.
For instance, the herdsmen killing people are members of some families, but we don’t love one another.
Those sponsoring them know them, and until we see security matters as everybody’s business, the solution won’t come.
But if we see it as only Buhari’s business, then it will continue.