‘I didn’t understand what born again experience meant until my encounter with Jesus’
Samuel Oludare Oladiti is the presiding Bishop of Victory International Faith Mission, Baruwa, Ipaja, Lagos. According to him, some people believe that once they are baptised by immersion, they are automatically born again. In an interview with some journalists, the cleric spoke about his salvation experience, the strange beam of light that shone on him while he was leaving the Oyo State Arts and Culture Centre, Mokola, Ibadan; his ministry, among other issues. CHRIS IREKAMBA was there
What was your salvation experience like?
I had an encounter with the Lord in 1987 after years of going to church without knowing Jesus Christ. I was born into the church but was just a number and not a member. The fact that I was born into the church didn’t mean I was born again. I did not really understand what being born again meant until 1987 when I had this divine encounter, which eventually led to what I am doing today. I never planned to be a pastor, but to concentrate on my craft (film production). I was a former secretary in a department of the Association of National Theatre Practitioners (ANTP) in Oyo State. I still see some of my seniors and colleagues, now big names in the film industry, on screen and in movies.
What was your lifestyle like before accepting Christ?
My lifestyle before I accepted Jesus Christ was the normal youthful lifestyle. My mother, now late, was a member of the Women Choir of Christ Apostolic Church (C.A.C). She often told me ‘you must meet me in the church.’ I never liked going to church. I liked staying at home to watch movies. Whenever I managed to go to church, I did not stay till close of service. I only went to church to satisfy my mother; I stayed to know the pastor that would give the message, the topic of his message and leave. Whenever my mother said, “Dare, I did not see you in church today”, I would say that I was in the church and mention the pastor that preached and the topic of his message. That was the kind of life I lived. I love God, but never planned to do the work of God.
Was there any specific incident that led you to surrender your life to Christ?
My salvation encounter was similar to that of Paul, the Apostle. On that fateful day, September 19, 1987, I was at the cultural centre, Mokola, Ibadan, to direct the play of a particular troupe when I felt the touch of God on me. I was vast in prayer and fasting. I prayed for cultural troupes against spiritual attacks knowing that the craft is very demonic. My initial ambition was to be a lawyer, politician and human rights activist and to emulate Prof. Wole Soyinka. While at the cultural centre, I felt the presence of God around me. I was fasting on that day, which made me tell my colleagues that I was leaving. By the time I left the hall, I was not myself again. When I got to the tarmac, a beam of light shone on me and I could not see anything again. I groped my way to a particular street and began to shout, “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.” When my brother, who was an apprentice to a tailor nearby, saw me, he was utterly surprised and came towards me. I told him not to touch me. “Don’t stop the work of God! Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” He quickly ran to his master and they bundled me to a fellowship centre.
What happened to you later at the fellowship centre?
When I opened my eyes at the centre, I saw my parents. I recalled I told my colleagues that I was going to the church when I left the cultural centre. From that fellowship centre, I was driven to our church, The Blood of Jesus Apostolic Church (Oke Aanu), Ibadan, and a medical doctor was invited to treat me. But Baba Durojaiye, the church founder, said they should not treat me that I was not sick; that it was God’s hand that was upon me because of my stubbornness to serve Him. I learnt that before my birth my mother made a vow to the Lord about me. My mother made the same vow that Hannah in the Bible made to the Lord, but in her own case, she had a female child before she conceived me.
She bore that female child while our family was in abject poverty, and as a result of that she said she would never have another child in that condition. Unfortunately, she conceived me and wanted to terminate the pregnancy because the family condition had not improved. In the process of doing that, she went before God to ask for forgiveness. She then made another vow that, if this one will be a male child she will give him to God and he shall be called Samuel. Behold, she delivered safely and that child is me, the Samuel now talking with you.
What efforts did your mother make to fulfill her vow to God?
In my childhood days my mother discovered some traits in me. She observed that I loved sitting beside her and I was not stubborn. I was always neatly dressed to school to the extent that my teachers believed that I came from a rich home. I was also brilliant and a school prefect. Some of my schoolmates and even teachers longed to know my supposed rich parents, but I never showed them my parents because they would look down on them as poverty-stricken people. My mother had a specific way of putting me back on track whenever I went astray.
For instance, at 18, while I was developing my craft as a filmmaker, during our rehearsals she often cautioned me, saying, “Ranti, omo majemu maa ni e (remember, you are a covenant child).” I was part of the Arelu and Agbeleku films production crew in the 1980s. Anytime she cautioned me, I did get provoked and would say to her, “Do you know if God would through my craft liberate the family from its poverty stricken condition?” Since all efforts to become a lawyer and a politician have failed, I focused on my craft. If not for that divine encounter of September 19, 1987, it would not have been possible for anyone to take me away from my craft — filmmaking.
Initially, your case was seen as a mental issue. At what point did you come into the ministry?
In fact, it was my utterances and prophecies that made people think that I was mad. They chained my hands and legs and took me to a branch of the church, where I stayed for almost three months. Unfortunately and unknown to them, I was clearly hearing from God and communicating the message to them; they never believed me, but rather said that I was talking too much. Even in the fetters (chains), I kept hearing from God and communicating to them by my utterances and prophecies. I am proud to say that ‘I am a prisoner in Christ.’ I want to do a film documentary of my salvation encounter with my picture handcuffed on the cover of the film pack. Six years after, I was fully into ministry and God confirmed it.