INTERVIEW! Transformation of peoples’ lives for Christ is the first assignment of the church- Pastor Ojo

Pastor Anu Ojo

Without any blabbing, Pastor Anu Ojo is synonymous with biblical Apostle Paul in terms of the zeal for preaching the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and church planting. He is a preacher, Mentor of Mentors, Book Writer and Editor. This quintessential clergy who is an epitome of God’s chosen and anointed servant has being in the ministry over three decades. He is the Superintendent of Christ Apostolic Church, Vineyard of Mercy, Districts Coordinating Council (DCC), Sabo-Yaba Lagos.

In this interview with the Publisher of CAC NEWS, Mr. ‘Gbenga Bankole, Pastor Ojo speaks on his God given vision to plants 1000 churches, his relationship with Dr. D.K Olukoya, the primary assignment of the church and tithing among others. EXCERPT !

Kindly tell us about how God called you into the ministry?

By God’s grace I started the work of the ministry in 1981 following the footstep of my first mentor, Late Prophet Timothy Obadare. He was an Assistant General Evangelist in Christ Apostolic Church Worldwide then. With the commission and mandate of God upon his life, he had a personal ministry in the body of Christ named World Soul Winning Evangelistic Ministry (WOSEM). He was a member of the General Executive Council of CAC Worldwide. CAC 83, Lagos Street, which my family attended then wanted to celebrate the anniversary of the church and they decided to invite Baba Obadare for an indoor revival. 

Those days his ministry was around Ibadan, Akure, Ilesa and so on. So when we wanted to invite him, he told us that it would be better for us to have an open air crusade instead of having a local assembly programme. He said his ministry was beyond coming to one church and ministering for a whole week. For that reason we had to call other CAC assemblies in Lagos together to organize a crusade. The crusade was held at Tafawa Balewa Square. So it was the anniversary of CAC Ebute Metta, Oke Irorun that brought Baba Obadare to lime light in Lagos. Although, he had been coming to Lagos to preach before the crusade, but he was well known through the crusade. It was through the crusade that I got connected to him and I began to observe and follow him. He mentored me. Since that time I have been in the work of the ministry. My second mentor was also the disciple of Baba Obadare, by name, Rev. Holly Elijah Olaniyan.

Is it CAC Theological Seminary you attended?

I didn’t attend CAC Theological Seminary towards my year of ordination in 1987. But I went to a Bible School in Ilorin Kwara state which is United Theological Missionary College. The authority of CAC Worldwide recognizes the school alongside Baptist Theological Seminary, Igbara, ECWA Seminary and LIFE seminary, Ikorodu, among many others. 

When were you inducted as a Pastor?

I was inducted as Pastor in 1988 after serving as an Evangelist for 7years, but in between my evangelistic service, I went for the Bible training from 1984 to 1987. Then, 1988 the CAC Authority did a retraining and short term course for us at Akure. Some of our Lecturers were The General Superintendent Emeritus who came during our anniversary, Pastor P.O Bandele, Late Pastor I. O. Lawal, Late Pastor M.B Oyeyemi, Late Pastor Adegoroye, Late Pastor Akintola and many of them like that. It was a good training programme. We were ordained on the 25th of September 1988. 

Tell us briefly about CAC Vineyard of Mercy DCC

Let me start with CAC Vineyard of Mercy itself which the Lord asked me to plant in 1996. I started pastoring one of the biggest churches in Lagos, CAC Mount of Ease, 83, Lagos Street, Ebute-Meta after my ordination. And that was where we started the first English Pentecostal service in CAC Worldwide. It actually started on February 12th 1989. After that, many CAC Assemblies started their English service. I pastored the church until the time CAC had a crisis when they wanted all the Church Planters to come under one roof (the control of the CAC General Evangelist).

It was a prophetic message. The incident led to law suits and the exodus of people like Baba Obadare, suspension of top CAC ministers of God, movement of some people out of CAC, like Bishop Odeleke, my friend Dr. Olukoya and some other people. They wanted to carry out their vision with restrictions.

I was at the centre of the crisis because some Elders of my own assembly, CAC Ebute-Meta started the interim administration with some other factions like the Supreme Council and other Independent Ministries. They wanted to use the church as a base which I didn’t want. I told them that the church belonged to the CAC mainstream.

Not too long in 1995 around May/June the CAC authority promoted me to become the Youth Officer of the church. The CAC Youth Department is the fusion of the Light of World Society, CAC Students' Association and United Association of CAC Choirs. All of those leaders had problem with the CAC authority when the crisis started. The Youth camp at Ibadan headed by the Late Pastor Ogunranti, CAC Students' Association (CACSA) led by Late Pastor Arijesudade, The Light of the world society led by late Pastor Fagbo and United Association of CAC Choirs was led by Late Pastor Yinka Oyesanya were merged together. To bring all of them together and bring me in as their leader was a challenge because I knew them personally. Late Pastor Yinka Oyesanya was my choir director where I was pastoring in EbuteMetta, I knew Late Pastors Ogunranti, Ogunmefun and Arijesudade very well and Late Pastor Fagbo was also a leader to me. I had good rapport with all of them, but they had a sharp disagreement with the CAC Authority. 

Then, some Elders of my own family church didn’t like it because the CAC Authority said I should use Ebute Metta as my base and I could launch out from there to organize programmes for the CAC Youth Fellowship. They didn’t want the office of the Youth Officer to be there and I didn’t want them to use the church as base for the interim administration. Eventually they said I had to leave the church for them and I said I am not losing anything; if I leave it would never be a problem for me I left there on December 31st 1995.

 I went to report to the then CAC President, Pastor J. D. Obafemi. He told me that there was no office where I could report to in Ibadan. So I went to pray to God. I was on seven days fasting and prayers and on the 5th day of the fasting and prayer I heard the Lord telling me, “Son plant a church for me.”  

On February 5th  1996, at Anthony village in Oyedele Oguniyi Street , a 21-day revival service took off and CAC Vineyard of Mercy was birthed. I gave the church the name as the Lord revealed it to me and all the activities and things began to flourish. We were affiliated to CAC Yaba then under the late Baba M. Olu Aoko, through the leadership of Baba Opaise, who was the Publicity Secretary of CAC Worldwide. He said that the closest person to me then was Baba Aoko and that was how we got affiliated with CAC Yaba.

 Within a few years the Lord blessed us, we began to flourish and plant more churches. Today by God’s grace we have planted 26 churches and we are still going to plant 1000 churches that the Lord told me was a mandate.

After about 12years that we started Vineyard of Mercy we were elevated to the status of district. I didn’t want it but the CAC authority said they wanted it because within 7 years we had planted 12 churches. They said we should become a District. Even being elevated to the status of a Districts Coordinating Council (DCC) was not a thing I wanted or applied for. I am not the type of person who pursues power or position. We have been with CAC Yaba for years until they had a problem with their DCC Superintendent whom they kicked out unceremoniously. That was when the Authority now asked which church under Yaba DCC is the next in capacity and capability to CAC Yaba, that all those districts that don’t want to stay with CAC Yaba again can be and my name was mentioned. They said that all those districts must be organized and well coordinated and and when they looked that the performance of CAC Vineyard of Mercy all these years, without any reservation, they promoted us to the status of a DCC. That was why they choose CAC Vineyard of Mercy to be their DCC Headquarters.

Going by my research, I discovered that there is another CAC Vineyard of Mercy in London. Is it one of your branches?

Yes. It is the one we planted in East London being Pastored by Pastor John Omaka. 

I discovered that you have a personally relationship with MFM General Overseer, Dr. D.K Olukoya. Kindly tell us more about it

Dr. Olukoya’s root is CAC. His father and mother were CAC members until their passage to glory. He is a bonafide member of the church and he is still much rooted and connected to his CAC  foundation, without any reservation. He was also running powerful programmes and there were people in the church who didn’t like his prayer style when he was in Makoko. Because of our relationship, I will go there to support him as a Pastor. I love him and his ministry from the depth of my heart.

Cuts-in: Was Dr. Olukoya a Pastor then?

He was not a pastor then, but he was an Evangelist in CAC. Then I used to visit CAC Makoko give him support and also let those who criticized him know that this is what we need in CAC. When it was getting too tough for him he moved out to start CAC Model Assembly at old Yaba road, Ebute-Metta. He first started in his apartment in Medical Research Institute around Yaba, before moving to old Yaba road. He was doing very well when he started and I was always there to show solidarity and to also support him. He was in CAC until when the CAC crisis came up and he felt that this thing could strangulate the work of the ministry. This is because there were so many bottlenecks and rules. The authority of the church wanted to reorganize things because of the crisis so they were asking church planters and pioneers to sign letters, take oaths and submit their properties. Some people felt uncomfortable and that was why they left. 

I and Dr. Olukoya have been together even before the crisis, during the crisis and even till now because we are from the same root. We are connected, we have the same mind to see souls saved, lives transformed and see yokes broken. By God’s grace we are still together like blood brothers. 

As the DCC Superintendent of Vineyard of Mercy, what is your vision?

Firstly, to stabilize all the districts that are with CAC Vineyard of Mercy, to make sure that all of them have a focus, I.e. soul-wining and development of the lives of people along the physical development of the church.

Secondly, I will make sure that all the workers and leaders are well trained for assignments. That was why I organized “A Day With Dr. Olukoya” programme for leaders, church workers and ministers. I don’t want people doing things as if it is not real or not a serious business. It is an assignment that you do to fight the devil and deliver people from the captivity of the enemy and prepare them for the kingdom of God. So you just don’t handle the work of the ministry anyhow. After training the leaders, workers and ministers, we need to remind them that Jesus Christ is coming back and that we can’t get complacent even with big ministries or assignment. 

The devil is always looking for a time when he can fire his arrow, but someone needs to raise his shield to against the arrow. I have to keep reminding the people that Christ is coming very soon and that their lives have to be firmly rooted in Him. 

We have major projects to make the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ reach out to people. Outreaches/physical projects like schools/crèche where people can come into and we can use that to minister to them. From getting their children to into day care centers we will start with the values and virtues in Christendom. These projects also includes sports. Where people we would say let us go and play and through it, we will get closer to their hearts with the gospel.

And to make sure CAC Worldwide is again united. The reunification of CAC Worldwide is key to my heart because of the prophesy of the end time revival that CAC must be involved in.

While delivering a speech at your induction service, you said that your vision is to plant 1000 churches. In the same vein, some members of CAC Worldwide have been calling on the authority of the church to plant more churches in the eastern and northern part of the country. Do you have any plan regarding this?

O yes ! We are planting churches all over the world. It is just going to be strategic. For instance when the Lord gives me all the resources that I need to plant the churches, we will take a mega church to somewhere in the east. That mega church will begin to work hard in order to plant other churches in those areas. We will take another mega church to somewhere in the north, that  mega church will train the minister there, recruit  more ministers, scout for leaders who are growing within the church and push them out into the mission field. 

In one of the visions that God gave to me is a department in the church which is called Cross Cultural Mission. We cross cultures even within and outside Nigeria. I have it in mind that we will reach out to so many places. Even when I was the Director of Missions for CAC Worldwide, I stepped into some of those things to reach out to places in West Africa (Francophone) countries. I trained leaders and workers on the field so that they could reach out even beyond CAC concept of preaching to Yoruba people. So I still have that in mind. 

This day in Nigeria the church has always been blamed for almost every bad incident in the country. What is the main purpose of the church and its responsibilities to the society? 

I know that the church gets involved in so many things that are not her main assignment or responsibility. But notwithstanding, the church is to start up with her spiritual assignment which is soul winning; teach people about salvation and our eternal home. When their lives are transformed, where ever they are in the secular world they affect the people there positively through their life-style. They shine their light there. The church is to reach out to people, preach Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost will convert people. The church trains them, teaches and disciples them and then send them to minister to their world. If you are a Doctor and you are transformed there is a way you will live and perform your duties when you get to the hospital. If you are a footballer and you are transformed there is a way you relate with your teammates or colleagues on the pitch. You don’t necessarily have to be a pastor, but you can have a church where you are.  So where ever you are in the world there is a way you relate with people. That is the first assignment of the church.

The second assignment of the church is to touch lives and show them the love of Christ even when they have not accepted Christ. They can begin to feel His love. That is why we reach out; we give them food, clothing, build schools etc. If some churches have shifted and their concentration is on the second assignment, rather than the first, what they are doing is that they are taking the secondary purpose of the church and neglecting the primary purpose. It is not that this is totally bad, it's just that this is a misplaced priority. The first thing a church should do is transformation of peoples’ lives through the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Church is to let people know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Every other thing we are doing or pursuing would be left behind on the earth. Our main focus is heaven. But before getting to that heaven, you need to disciple this people to be better off in life. That is why you teach them how to do business, to be educated and to do other things according to the scripture.

Why they are blaming the church these days is because we are planting many churches, but many people's lives are not transformed. People are into so many atrocities these days and we are beginning to wonder if they go to church. But before you can blame the church you need to first think and ask that before this people get to church where did they begin their journey from? It is from their home ! What is their home like? How is the man who wants to blame the church handling his home? From the home they go to the society, school etc. They spend hours in school. Who are their teachers? Who are their Headmasters and Headmistresses? Who are the Proprietresses and the Proprietors? After they leave the school and their secular jobs they come to church for fellowship for few hours. The garbage they took from their homes and the additional refuse they took from the society, are what they bring to church and the church tries to empty their lives from all those garbage. 

May be the church is not doing enough because we have misplaced our priorities. They blame the church because they believe as you come to church before you return to the society or back to your home, your life should have changed. They must not forget that it is the same people at home, the same people in the society who come to church. We are only trying to get their trash and mess off. If we are not doing enough I can agree, but to say that the church is not doing anything, is what I disagree with.

One of the topics that is generating public interest is tithing. What is your own belief about tithing?

It is a funny thing because those who see tithing as Old Testament commandment are wrong because it was not a law in the Old Testament when Abraham gave tithe. He only did it in appreciation of God’s goodness when he overcame his plunderers and was able to secure his nephew and get back all what the enemy has taken. So he gave a tenth in appreciation to Melchizedek, the King of Salem.  Also, the grandson of Abraham, Jacob made a vow when he fled from Esau his brother and he wanted the Lord's preservation over his life. He said if the Lord will keep him and preserve him on his journey, God will be his God and the tenth of what he has will be given to Him. He made the vow without God telling Him anything. 

God turned tithing into an ordinance for His people when they moved out of Egypt. He wanted to have spiritual and civil administration, and fully operate as a nation. And to be a nation you need to be organized. Spiritually he gave them Judges, leaders and rulers. Those rulers had to do what is called spiritual services and some of them were Levites. There was a way God wanted Levites to live and concentrate on the work of the ministry. There was a way God wanted the Levite to administer their services among His people so that they can concentrate. He said they should not go out to work like other people, but people will give them tithe. You can see how God organized His people. He now instituted what is called the tithe. It went beyond money. God was asking His people for spiritual, physical and financial services. So you need to give him your first born son, holy unto the Lord because you saw how God killed the first born of man and animal in Egypt. So for you to appreciate Him you must let your 'first things' be dedicated to God in holiness. All of those things together up till the New Testament when Jesus talked about tithe and doing the work of mercy, our Lord Jesus asked them to combine the two together. He never condemned tithing.  

The problem I think some of tithe critics have is that they feel that so many ministers of God today are living on the tithes and are enriching themselves with it. They believe so many ministers of God are becoming big as a result of the tithes they are collecting and tithe should not be given to them but to the poor. They believe Ministers of God are using tithes to buy airplanes, private jets and other things. 

There problem is that they have a grudge and they want to use that to erase what the Lord has established. You have something against the minister of God of a church and you want to rubbish the bible because you want to attack what that person is doing. 

Let even assume you want to give your tithe to the poor. There are people who are not even faithful to the tithe. If people are faithful to tithe, the church will be richer than it is now. If they are faithful to tithing, the body of Christ will be wealthier than the Arab world even with all their oil, gold and other things. 

Those who are complaining that Ministers of God are buying private jets have not seen anything because people are still not faithful enough in terms of giving to God. 

If the whole tithe is not going to the church but to the poor, they will no longer be poor, they will be wealthy. Tell me who they are going to give it to again because the poor will no longer be poor. They will be buying airplane and private jet. They will also attack those ones because they will now become rich. 

The wealth of God is meant for the people of God whether you are a Pastor or a member of the church. But that which is due to the church must be given to the church and the one due to the ministers must be given to them. They will continue to attack the church of God. There was a time they were talking about fake miracles. They said the church was doing fake miracles, but itmeans there are real miracles. They said some people are preaching heresies, but that means there are true sermons. The same way they are talking about the tithe. Some people are using it wrongly the same way some people are using it rightly. 

What is your advice to President Muhammadu Buhari on the state of the nation?

President Buhari made vows that he will wipe out corruption and stabilize the economy. When you make vows you don’t deviate. It is better not to do it. You can call it a vow, an oath or a pledge. When you do it, it turns to be a blessing, when you go against it, it turns around to be a curse. There may be circumstances that are making it difficult for him but that is where your strength now arises and say this thing I must achieve it irrespective of what some other people want to do. I voted for him too because we wanted a change whether he is a Muslim or not was not on our minds. We saw a man who had some things in mind that he wanted to do to develop this nation. Maybe along the line circumstances and some people around his government are now beginning to make it tight for him to operate. My advice for him is that he should go back and review his pledges, vow or oath. 

Also, he should be true to himself and the nation. If he is true to himself and the nation, all the sycophants and people who have other agenda will not be fixed into positions because they won’t help him. 

He should also believe that in this nation we need ourselves. Once you pitch tent with people of a particular religion or race you are going to lose because others will not sit down and allow themselves to be oppressed. He has to carry everybody along. He needs the Christians to pray for him and guide him. He needs to tap into the wealth of experience of those who are ahead of him or had been before him. Above all, he needs the direction of God. If you want to lead this nation just like a mere person you won’t be able to do it.

The newly appointed Regional Superintendents of the church will be resuming on January 1st 2018. What is your advice to them?

It is a large administrative work. I think what they need really is to settle down and see what is in the mind of CAC authority for reorganizing the administrative set up of the church. They should try to know what the authority of the church has in mind. They should get their master plan and study it very well. They need to look at how the regions they cover are doing at District Coordinating Council (DCC) levels and how to bring them together. They need to think about things they can do that will affect them positively.  The need to see the appointment not just as a position, but great responsibilities or task because the work is enormous. 

As the pioneer or first Youth Officer of CAC Worldwide, what is your advice to the new Youth Officer, Pastor Sam Gbuyiro?

If you say I am the pioneer of the CAC Youth Fellowship I will say ‘No’ to it. When the CAC Authority merged Light of World Society, CAC Students' Association and United Association of CAC Choirs together to form CAC Youth Fellowship, the then General Secretary of the church, Pastor E.O. Okafor was asked to combine it with his assignment as a secretary. He was the General Secretary and also the Youth Officer, but within few months the authority of the church discovered that the work was enormous for him. Then, they handed it over to me. So somebody has been there as the first youth officer. 

I was there from 1995 to 2003. From 4000 youths we grew to about 34,000 holding programmes and seminars. 

My advice to Pastor Gbuyiro who is presently the CAC Youth Officer, is that he needs to first of all look for youth leaders who can work with him. He must not do it alone. When I was there I had over 400 coordinators that I was pumping the idea and the vision into. Some of them have become Pastors, Superintendents, Elders, Evangelists today. Some are still vibrant youth leaders till today. I was holding meetings with them at least once in a month, telling them why we must reach out, why we must change and we made it looked like everyone from 50years down was a youth.

 It was part of our system then and we said it that even when you are old, you are a youth at heart and everybody was involved. The programmes we were holding were interesting. Pastor Gbuyiro should look for people who can work with him. He should organize programmes that give youths values. Youths should be made to know what values are. Some youths want to live their lives anyhow like people in the secular world. They need to be thought values. He should not be afraid to tell the truth. Whichever way you say it there are people who will not accept the truth. He should be focused and know his agenda. He should do his best to glorify God.

What is your comments and advice to CAC NEWS?

CAC NEWS is just growing. It will cover grounds by God’s grace very soon. I want to advice that you should try organize talk shows or seminars that people and leaders will come and participate in. Anything you do must get down to churches and let people be involved. Organize activities that will get people involved. 


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