Recently, the Archbishop-designate of God First Ministries (Illumination Assembly), Isaac Idahosa, marked 31 years on the pulpit. He shared with some journalists his experiences and how he has been able to pull through the storms. Chinyere Abiaziem presents the excerpts:
How do you feel clocking 31 years on the pulpit?
I feel the same way I felt when it all started in 1989. It is grace paddled. It is all empowered by grace. Once you are still in grace and you are enjoying grace, the same God who started it is still granting all that is required in keeping us to moving on.
What is the exact mandate of your ministry and what gifts were you endowed with to accomplish this mandate?
The mandate is to expound and bring people to the knowledge of seeking God first and His righteousness. Matthew 6 verse 33 is the bedrock of this ministry. That informed the name, God First Ministries. The mission is to raise people of integrity, character and excellence. The goal is to transport light and transform lives. I am an Apostle. An apostle is an embodiment of the five-fold ministry depending on the one that is required to serve at a particular or specific time.
When you started the ministry 31 years ago, who were the people you looked up to, and still looking up to as your mentors or role models in ministry?
One of the biggest influences over my life is Archbishop Benson Idahosa of blessed memory. We have all drank from him. Of course a lot of people have asked if I’m his son. He was our father of faith. We hailed from the same state and so much grace flowed from that legendary Nigerian global preacher of the gospel. I have also been influenced by those who I have only seen through their books and tapes, like Kenneth Hagins, Oral Robert and T.L Osborn in the area of evangelism. I am submitted to Papa Ayo Oritsejafor. He is my mentor. I also have Bishop David Oyedepo, T.D Jakes and a lot of other influences over my life. I am a crude oil. You can get from crude oil- kerosene and engine oil among other products. There are so many impacts and inputs into my life through books and tapes among others.
Did you envisage the ministry would attain the high level of glory it has attained today?
I couldn’t have envisaged this. It is a faith venture. God will tell you where you are going, but he would not tell you what you have to go through before you get there. When you take a step of faith in obedience, God will unveil the next phase. He will keep unveiling as your faith keeps depending and trusting in him.
Can you share some of your challenges in the ministry these 31 years, and how you survived those challenges to keep the ministry moving till now?
Several times I had moments that I got discouraged, pained, rejected and felt like quitting. But that same still small voice keeps pushing us on. You can’t be convinced and be confused. When you receive God’s calling, it’s a divine mandate by the conviction of the Holy Spirit that has given you the task. Sometimes you feel like God, where are you; more so when you want to work in your own time, not knowing that God wants to turn you from an eaglet to an eagle. To become an eagle you have to pass through a lot of training. Sometimes, God can allow certain things. I liken it to the experience of Gideon where he sat under an oak tree discouraged and an angel came and said to him, ‘thou mighty man of valour the Lord is with you’. Gideon was like asking the angel that in this kind of condition what is mighty about me? If the Lord is with me, why I’m I in this condition? Why couldn’t I pay my bills? Why this rejection? Why all these storms. And the Lord said to him go; in this might of yours. It is not what happened around, but what happens inside you. The strength of a man is not determined by his surroundings. It is determined by what is inside him.
What factors have kept you going amidst the storms in the ministry?
They are persuasion, passion and courage. The things God told me when He called me into full time ministry are the things I still look forward to. When people misunderstand you, don’t misunderstand yourself. Whoever God calls He equips. If it is God’s project it will attract his budget. When pains come, understand that God is not a reactionary God. He is a proactive and provisional God. He has provided in advance for the things you would go through. So, it is just for you to stretch your faith and tap into God’s resources and add patience with long suffering. Many a times we have taught faith without its corresponding sister – patience. The Bible says we must follow after those who through faith and patience inherited the promise.
Tell us other factors you added to faith to sustain your ministry these 31 years…
Faith is not just about receiving from the Lord. Faith is when you can say even if I am not receiving from the Lord, I will still trust Him. Shedrack, Meshach and Abednego said the Lord we serve will deliver us. That is faith. They went on and said even if God does not deliver us. That is trust. Those who trust, don’t rust. When you are going to the other side in the middle of the journey the wind might be contrary, but Jesus is right there with you. The Bible said He put His head on the pillow sleeping; He was communizing the situation. He said let us go over to the other side. He didn’t say you will be stranded or stopped in the middle of the journey. So, always look unto Jesus. Disappointment is inevitable but discouragement is a choice. He whom Jesus called to come He would save. Peter said if it be you, bid me come; and yet He was sinking. This was a man who received a calling. He was sinking. How much more who hasn’t got the call. Jesus said come, and you are sinking. How about if He didn’t invite you at all? If He has invited you and you are sinking He will help you out.
What was your journey with Christ before God First Ministries was founded in 1989?
God First Ministries started in 1989, but I had served in ministry for seven years before then. I interpreted for Bishop Omo Oba Jesu when he held a crusade in the north in 1982. I started ministry at a tender age. God took over me and I discovered his purpose for my life early. So, it should be about 40 years that I have been in the ministry.
Many people see you as a bridge between the old and the new generation Nigerian pastors. How did you achieve this?
Wisdom is profitable to direct. I clocked 55 years old, February 2020. So, one should be able to stand as the gap between the elderly and the younger ones. Again, if you wash your hands clean you will eat with the elderly. You must learn before the elders. Jesus said learn of me and you will find rest for your soul. To make more is to do more. There is no shortage in humility. You gain more from being humble. When the fathers find out that you are always hungry they will feed you. For the younger ones you must always impact them in order for you to have a future of continuity of the grace you carry. The Bible says, ‘you hear a voice saying behind you this is the way’. I learn from both the elders and the younger ones. I learn from everything. Elisha was able to gain from Elijah. Joshua was able to gain from Moses. You cannot be without the younger ones else you are going to cut down all the exploits if you don’t have the younger ones around you. Success without a successor is failure. Your greatest assets are human beings. You can’t be a leader without having a followership. And when they are endeared to you, you must be able to have time for them. Be accessible to them. The younger ones need the leaders that they can reach to share their problems, challenges and prospects with them.
What has life and ministry taught you within these 31 years of God First Ministries?
The 31 years ministry in God First Ministries has taught me that God is over all. Secondly, my ministry is powered by two things; hearing and doing. We hear what He says and carry out what He says. Life and ministry have taught me to always depend on God. Life and ministry have taught me I would not always have everything I want. Life and ministry have taught me to keep what God is saying until the right time. Life and ministry have taught me to mind my business. Life and ministry have taught me to keep my lane and keep the speed. Life and Ministry have taught me not to compete, but to complement. Life and ministry have taught me not to depend on the arm of the flesh. Life and Ministry have taught me so many things. Ministry has taught me that life is a school without a graduation. You will keep learning and learning if you want to learn. Bishop Oyedepo said if you don’t learn by examples you will become an example. I like teaching all the time. I like to forgive and to study the more in order to feed my mind, free my mind and focus my mind.