Monday, 29th May 2023

‘Salvation experience put my stubbornness to good use for the Lord’

By Chris Irekamba
26 February 2023   |   3:11 am
The Senior Pastor of Appealing Grace Assembly International, Ayobo, Lagos, Akinola Akinwale, has said that his encounter with Christ during the mandatory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme in Kastina State marked a turning point in his Christian journey.

The Senior Pastor of Appealing Grace Assembly International, Ayobo, Lagos, Akinola Akinwale, has said that his encounter with Christ during the mandatory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme in Kastina State marked a turning point in his Christian journey.

In an interview with journalists in Lagos, the cleric who has worked under five national presidents of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) including the late Archbishop Benson Idahosa, Bishop Mike Okonkwo, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, Rev. Felix Omobude and the incumbent president, Bishop Francis Wale Oke — as administrative secretary, disclosed that it was during the year-long service that he gave his life fully to Christ.

He noted that although, his mother had before then been working to make him a good Christian, the NYSC Christian Youth Fellowship experience helped him to put his stubbornness to good use for the Lord and the gospel.

Elated that he did not do the compulsory youth service in Lagos State, the senior pastor, whose ambition was to be a banker after graduation from the then Ondo State University (now Ekiti State University), said that if he had, he would have missed his rebirth experience.

Narrating how it all happened, he said: “During my service year, I met some ladies at the Kastina State NYSC Orientation Camp. I was lady’s freak back then. I was doing all I could to woo a particular lady, but she was not giving me any attention. She said if I wanted to be around her, I must attend the Nigerian Christian Corpers’ Fellowship (NCCF), which I never wanted to attend. However, in August 1991, I followed her to the NCCF. How I met Jesus Christ at the NCCF ground on that day was a miracle. After the fellowship, I could not remember whether I followed a lady to the place, or I went there on my own. I could not just remember anything again. That was how I gave my life to Christ.”

Recounting his lifestyle before the experience, the senior pastor said: “Before I accepted Christ, I was stubborn. In school, I was nicknamed, ‘Mentallo.’ Although, I was young, I was too troublesome and very rascally. Despite my humble background, I felt I should not be modest in the boarding house at Ekiti Parapo College. Boarding house in those days was quite tedious. There were seniors that would lord over you as a junior. I came from a home where we had some level of liberality, so, I felt my liberality was being challenged. Nobody ever lord things over me at home.

“You would fetch water and some so-called seniors would end up using it. This was quite unpalatable with me, so, I became resistant to their orders and always poised to fight them. This really affected my academics. In those days, seniors were very powerful; they could fetch you out from the class and give you some portions of the field to clear the grasses there. That was my kind of lifestyle before I accepted Jesus Christ. Having accepted Christ, I converted my stubbornness to good use for the Lord.”

Describing his walk with the Lord over the years, Akinwale disclosed that there were times of challenges, weakness and temptations, but his belief in fatherhood and mentorship helped him to overcome all the challenges.

According to him, each time he fell into temptation, he would walk to his fathers in the Lord and would be encouraged to continue, saying the confession of sins exposes Satan.

“Confession of sin is the best way to defeat Satan from roaring. This has really helped me. It is what has kept me till date,” he disclosed.

Recalling some of his experiences as administrative secretary of the PFN since 1996, Akinwale said: “They are completely divine. I wanted to be a banker, but divinely I found myself as a pastor. After the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme, job searching for me was like a curse. I attended many job interviews, performed very well, but I was never given any employment letter. But one day, I was driving when I saw my pastor’s car parked by the roadside; it had a fault. I stopped and picked him to his destination.”

It was while driving my pastor to his destination that he discovered that I had no job and asked if I would love to work at the PFN secretariat. Of course, I said yes.

Akinwale later wrote and submitted his application to the PFN Secretariat in July 1995. After waiting for six months, he decided to go back to the Ekiti State University (EKSU) for his master’s degree in January 1996.

He said: “It was the very day that I was going to EKSU, Ado Ekiti, for my transcripts that PFN invited me for the job interview. I missed the interview, but eventually got the job; it was by miracle. So, I started work at the PFN secretariats on February 6, 1996, under the late Archbishop Benson Idahosa as the national president of the body. The late archbishop really boosted my faith in God.

“There was a day he was drinking fruit juice and he tossed some to me. Another day, I was going to his house on motorcycle and he saw me from his car and asked me to alight from the motorcycle. The car was filled that day, but the archbishop carried me on his laps. When we got to the secretariat, he told the PFN manager to give me a car. That was how I got my first car,” he noted.