INTERVIEW: Gospel is about becoming Christlike, not coming to receive from Christ always- Zonal Superintendent, CAC France Zone

Pastor Peter Ojo Anifowose

Pastor Peter Ojo Anifowose is the Zonal Superintendent of Christ Apostolic Church, France Zone. In this exclusive interview with Editor of CAC NEWS, 'Gbenga Bankole, Pastor Anifowose speaks on his journey into the ministry, his experience being a Pastor in a French speaking country, his understanding of ministry and gospel, and other interesting issues. 

Tell us briefly about your journey into the ministry?

To the glory of God I was born into a Christian family. My father was an Elder in Christ Apostolic Church. I was very young when I lost him to the cold hands of death. Later on in the journey of my life I was living with Pastor J.A. Adegoroye of Christ Apostolic Church. I schooled and learn  printing works, there with him I saw how to pastor people of God. Later in Lagos under Pastor J.A. Ogunlade, I schooled and work before travelled out to France in 1979, where I studied Administration and Economics  up to Masters Degree level. Before leaving for France I was a member of defunct Light of the World , C.A.C. Yaba branch. In 1983, the last General Secretary of C.A.C. Light of the World, Elder R.A. Soneye with Evengelist E.O. Ajayi came to France, there, the idea of having C.A.C. in France started. I have been worshipping with a church known as American Cathedral in Paris and the Canon (Head of the Church) of the church had made me one of his officers, also the President of the African group in the church. My first assignment as a servant of God was in American Cathedral in Paris.

Cuts-in: When were you ordained as a Pastor in Christ Apostolic Church?

I was ordained a Pastor in Christ Apostolic Church in the year 1999. I was convinced by the then President of CAC Worldwide, Pastor E.H.L. Olusheye that we need a CAC assembly in France and a Pastor who would be in charge and he told me there was no other better person to head the Church than me. I thought about it for two years before I accepted it in the year 1999 and I was ordained.  I was the first minister in CAC France and the church started in my one room flat. I was not willing to be Pastor even when I was a member of  Light of the World Society.

What year did you become the Zonal Superintendent of CAC France Zone?

When I became Pastor there were up and down. In year 2004 I travelled to Nigeria to see Pastor Olusheye and other Principal Officers of CAC in Ibadan. I told them I don’t want to be Pastor of CAC France again because there was a lot of problem within and outside the church. They encouraged me and told me I should not quit that I should go back there. Then, we had two assemblies under us. They said I should ask for Special District and they made me the Chairman which was the nomenclature CAC was using then and they said all CAC in France will be operating under our assembly. I was made the Zonal Superintendent by the successor of late Pastor Olusheye, the current President of our church, Pastor Abraham Akinosun who was our Catechist when I was in CAC Yaba. He was also a member of Light of the World.

Presently, how many assemblies do you have under CAC France Zone?

Presently, we have only two viable assemblies, but we have raised many people and some of them have started their own ministries. We also have many house fellowships.

How do you cope being a Pastor of Christ Apostolic Church in French speaking country?

That is part of the challenges we are facing here. Our people prefer speaking or worshiping in English or Yoruba, but French people don’t want you to speak English to them. They prefer that you speak in your local language and have someone to translate or interpret to them. I find it difficult to make our people understand that speaking English is not ideal as far as French people are concerned.

The Zonal Superintendent of CAC Germany, Pastor Adeosun said when I interviewed him that one of the problems of CAC in oversees, particularly Europe and London is that we hold our services in Yoruba which is hindering us from attracting members from other nations, even from the host community. He even said that London is the capital of Yoruba speaking CAC in Europe. What is the situation out there in France?

It is also one of our challenges here in France. Language is one of our barriers. They prefer that you speak their language here in France. If you are a Yoruba man or woman and you want to communicate with a French man, if you can’t speak in French, you will have to speak in Yoruba and someone will interpret. Speaking English may not be problem in other countries in Europe like Germany where Pastor Adeosun is, but here in France, it is a big problem. It is not ideal to speak in English here. 90 percent of our members here are Yoruba and this is because CAC started in Yoruba land. When they come here they prefer to pray in Yoruba which is not a problem to French people, but our inability to speak their language is their problem. During service we speak French, English and Yoruba. Our children always want us to speak French.  Recently I was in America with Pastor Gbenga Famojuro of CAC First in the Americas. They have two worship centres which are Yoruba in one side, English in the other side. I cherish that intelligent effort and it is very fantastic. Majority of our people enjoy praying in Yoruba language and you can’t impose praying in English on them.

There are different perceptions some ministers have when it comes to ministry these days. There are ministers who believe ministry is an avenue for them to travel abroad. There are ministers who want the Authority of the church to post them abroad because they believe those who are there are enjoying. What is your thought on this?

Ministers who have that type of perception are on the wrong path. What is obtainable here is different from that of Nigeria. Here in France we give to our members, they don’t give to us in most cases, unlike in Nigeria where it is members that give to Pastors. Most people come to church here only when they have problem. Some of them come here because their papers are not complete and after we have helped them to secure those papers, they won’t come again. We have more than 15 of them we have helped. People we never knew from anywhere. 70 percent of Pastors coming from Nigeria to Europe are either working or doing business and that is not gospel to my standard. Meanwhile real pastoring involves watching over or shepherding the members, but when someone is fully working as a Pastor just for his salary or turned the Church to a business centre, how will the person be able to do true gospel? Though, I am not criticizing.

Some people believe that Pastors or ministers of this generation should have their own personal business in order not to be depending on the church for money at all time. What is your opinion regarding this sir?

One cannot impose opinions concerning that. Some people were called by God just because He wants to make use of them and they have their jobs. Up till today as I am talking to you I am not a paid Pastor of Christ Apostolic Church and that does not mean I should impose it on people. Those who dedicate themselves totally to the work of the ministry without any personal business would be able to concentrate on the work. They won’t be career Pastors. They are very few today, particularly in Europe. To my way of understanding, you can’t criticize any of the two.

Moving forward, what is your future plan for CAC France Zone?

I pray that Christ Apostolic Church will have property of its own here and that is very important to us. I don’t want CAC France to die with me by the time I am leaving here. The hindrance we have been having here has been coming from people who have personal agenda. They are those that call themselves church planters. They add the names of their ministries to CAC. How I wish the authority of the CAC Worldwide can start planting churches all over the world. I wish we had a property here. Though the Bible didn’t say we should be accumulating wealth like what is obtainable in Nigeria where some denominations are just interested in acquiring properties and that is not the gospel I know. The gospel is about reformation. It is about becoming Christlike, not coming to receive from Christ only. I pray God will accept it from us to have a property here whether through me or someone else. Finance which is hindering us from getting access to properties is making it difficult to plant more assemblies here in France.

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