‘The greatest human connection is marriage’
Who is Godman Akinlabi?
I AM primarily the Lead Pastor of the Elevation Church in Lagos. I am also a counsellor and life coach. I am a firm believer in the fact that, when God said it’s not good for man to be alone, He actually meant it, and for man to experience the ultimate goodness, man has to crave for connection. The greatest human connection is marriage.
As a man of God and life coach, how do you combine both?
Well, I am able to do it well, because I pastor and a huge part of pastoring is resolving relationship issues. These may be same gender conflict or resolving marriage and relationship issues. It is about managing people generally, in terms of human relationships within and outside the church. Doing all of these don’t take me out of my main cause, which is pastoring, though I do many other things outside of pastoring.
I am a consultant. I do business and I am also an author. But as I said, my main call, which is pastoring, has a lot to do with helping people and their relationships, so it really doesn’t take me away from my responsibilities.
Recently, you and a couple of others launched a relationship application called Believers Connect, a forum for Christian singles. What brought about this initiative?
Believers Connect came out of a dream. I started to think about how we can resolve the issue of people generally, and not just Christians finding it difficult to find life partners and sustaining a good relationship that will lead to marriage and eventually sustain the marriage itself. It’s a long value chain from preparing yourself to be a likeable or desirable person, to being able to figure out whom you desire and making the right choice and then connecting properly to have a good marriage, raise a family and have a very stable home. All of these happen to be a huge area of interest for me and so, from time to time, I think about how all of these can be done better. I think about how wonderful it would be, if singles can get connected with similarly likeable people and get spoilt for choice, rather than struggling to have somebody to marry.
We then thought about how wonderful it would be, if we had a mobile phone application for building relationships that is mainly for Christians. We know that some people that are not Christians will definitely download and try to use the app, but it would be largely a platform for Christians. While all of these thoughts were on my mind, it happened that I met other friends, who also shared the same views. That was how we came together to launch Believers Connect.
Are there other initiatives you have going to support relationships and marriages?
Yes, on social media, we have a campaign called Mrs. and Mrs. Better Half. It features on Twitter and Facebook for now and sometimes on Instagram. We have this every Friday at 5pm and the following is quite huge. We have had that going for two years now. We are also going into the production of a TV show for a campaign that would be centered on helping people navigate their relationships.
What has been the level of acceptance for Believers Connect?
It has been delightful. I have spoken to a lot of other Christian leaders and they have all shown interest in supporting the programme, by introducing it to their congregation. The numbers are growing, because in the last four weeks, we have had over 10, 000 downloads. We believe that as people start giving testimonies of how it has helped them, many more people will accept it.
Why is Believers Connect app only for Christians?
The truth is that there are so many other relationship applications that are open to everybody without any regulations and supervision, especially the ones originating from the West. For us here, the idea is for believers in Christ Jesus to marry other believers. In which case, if they have a more narrowed down platform, it helps them to navigate easily, as well as let them be the judge, if someone who has indicated interest is good enough for them or not. We don’t want the situation, where you have to start worrying whether this person is a Christian or not.
You may ask why should I marry a Christian? It’s because you want to be with someone who has the same spiritual belief or ideology with you. The way Christ brought the Christian faith; it is like a culture, a way of life. And once you marry someone who has the same way of life with you, using this platform to help make that happen easily, that reduces the risk of marrying someone with a questionable character, because the assumption is that once you get on the app, you are a believer in Christ Jesus, although we still encourage everyone to do their due diligence before making a final decision.
So, we believe that Christians should marry partners of the same faith and if that is the scriptural injunction, we felt why not create a platform that can aid that?
And the fact that people are keying into the programme gives us a good feeling, because it tells me that people are embracing what we have created and perhaps to a very large extent, there’s a real need for this intervention. It’s the same way you feel, when you are able to help others in need. Although the numbers are good, but we are still far from success, because there are millions of people who need this platform to connect with their soul mates.
By December, we hope to have had well over 100, 000 downloads with 85 per cent of that number actively engaging on the app and making the right connections that would lead to Godly marriages.