Assistant General Overseer in charge of Personnel and Administration of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG, Pastor Johnson Funsho Odesola spoke with KSO in an exclusive online interview recently. He bared his mind on several issues including, tithes, offerings, gospel drama and his relationship with The Adeboye family.
Continued from last Week (Monday May 4, 2020)
KSO: Not many people know that you’re a Drama Minister. How did you come about that aspect of your life? How do you cope with the volume of work you have to do and how effective has drama been in your ministerial life?
ODESOLA: Thank you very much Sir. My vision for film making dated back to 1977 or 1978. I was within a group of youths and a pastor preached. He did some demonstrations that for 2-3 years all of us forgot the topic but we remembered the demonstrations and the demonstrations actually amplified the message so we can remember what he was talking about. I said to myself is there any way people can remember a message apart from word? Words have a way of flying away.
While I was meditating on this; God said drama! I said drama? I don’t know drama. It was when I was fasting and praying that God said pick your pen and I wrote a drama script; The Vote. That was around 1978. It was a competition between God and the devil on certain issues. I didn’t know much, I have not had any training. I don’t watch drama, because those were the era of Papa Oyin Adejobi etc and I don’t like their methods of chanting incantations. This is because I grew up from the background of an herbalist so I know many incantations. When I got born-again I asked God I don’t want to know any leaf or incantations again.
When I was young, the man I lived with told me somebody had offended him and he called me Ranti, he said Ranti watch that house tonight that house will come down. I said what?, he said just watch. I still remember like yesterday; he didn’t chant any incantation but he just took a new pot put some creatures inside and went to put it at the back of the house. Despite the fact that rain was not failing, there was a thunderstorm and the house came down. So I grew up with this man who intended to make me to succeed him. When I got born-again, anything that go that line I don’t want to even hear. This is because, way back when I was in primary 4, I think in 1964 or 1968. I got the 12th position and that man said the son of a blacksmith can never and must not use his hand to cut the tree. So he went and prepared a concoction will revive my brain. So I have to mix it with pap. It will work for 21 days, but I discovered all those 21 days I began getting zeros, zeros and zeros!!! At a time, the teachers began to paint my ears/eyes on the zeros. So, I asked my mum what is happening to me. My mum said did you get anything from Baba? I said of course now. Is he not my father? Actually that man was not my father but he was like the head of the family. My father, being a sawyer goes all around and is hardly ever around.
In the night, my mother woke me up and started eulogizing me. She said my son do you want me to die? I said no. She said if you tell Baba what I want to tell you now, then I am gone. She said what is your name? She repeated that thrice. It was early in the morning at the first cock crow. She said your name is Oluwafunmisho…there is no invocation you will use in life that will work for you. I said why? She said because as at the time I had you, I thought I was not going to have any child again, because I was tired of what was happening in your father’s house, when I discovered have missed my period, I said God if this is person is a boy I will give him unto you. She said nothing aside from God in my life will work. Go and burn the thing and don’t tell Baba.
So, from that time I didn’t want to have to use any concoction. When I got born-again, I said God I don’t want to know any leaf, because at as that time I know leave, I know incantations, I know all kind of things, but I prayed when I got born-again. Now I don’t even know any leaf. It is my wife who now tells me this one is this.
Therefore, I don’t like anything that has to do with charms, incantations etc. But this time, when God asked me to pick my pen, because I don’t watch drama at that time. I wrote the drama, we dramatized them and my goodness, some of the people that acted the drama are in the camp now and some of them are Senior Pastors today. There was a massive conversion of souls, people were crying ah! Thus, we were happy, but that happiness was short-lived because after some weeks, those who played harlots, those who play this role and that; it was just like as if they were acting out in their lives. I said ha! This sister, this fervent sister now she has boyfriends now! Exactly what played out in that drama was played out in the real. I said ha, I told myself I don’t want to get involved in any drama again. They ask me do you do that drama—- I said no.
As I was praying, I saw Daddy Adeboye, he rolled his shirt and he was going to an estate under construction. As he was going, I was holding the plan of a tower, and the Lord said follow him. I said no I want to build my own tower. God said who sent you to build the tower? That is your captain, follow him.
So, when I came back from Zambia and I was asking God, because God re-state that I still need to work with the youth because that is what he called me to do, I said but I do I pass across the message in a way that will not be monotonous, God said remember what I told you years ago, drama. I didn’t hear anything afterwards. So after some time, I said okay God what do you want me to do? And He said just pick your pen and you write books as I give you inspiration. That is how we started when I was in Abeokuta.
I have a platform as a leader, if I am money-minded in Redeemed today, with all humility I would have been marketing all the movies using church structure, but my own is just fulfillment. I have written more than 150 titles some of which are secular books on law, crime, sexual crime and entrepreneurship. Some of them are on how to study, how to pass your exam, while some are pure motivational and spiritual books.
As am talking now, I still have about eight un-acted scripts in drama. Sometimes, I ask myself Funsho; how do you know all these, because it is difficult for me to express myself fully the way I want many a times. But there are things in me that I can express more when I put my pen on paper, there are things I express more in my thought and in my action.
KSO: You seem satisfied being a Man Friday to Pastor E.A Adeboye the G.O of RCCG. Why has it never occurred to you to start your own Church? What will be your message to younger Pastors?
ODESOLA: Waoh (laughs) It is high time that every young know what God is asking him to do. There is a difference between ambition and vision. Ambition is what you want to do; vision is what God configured you to do in life. So there are many people who confuse ambition with vision today. In 1984, 1985 it was the era when ministries were springing forth; some of our friends have started churches because I have friends whom we were young people together in this church, who are now Archbishops, two of them are in Nigeria few of them are abroad. We were together in the choir, we slept together, and we rode machines together. So in that year, it was the era of emphasis of ministry, I thought I wanted to start my ministry. I wrote the constitution, formed the name. I decided to fast for 21 days, on the 19th day, as I was praying Oh God, oh God, oh God, The Lord told me go and break your fast. I said, I bind you the devil in name of Jesus, After I did all the biding, I slept and I saw Daddy Adeboye. I was already in church as that 1984. I was 10 years old in the church, in the RCCG. I joined the church in 1974.
As I was praying, I saw Daddy Adeboye, he rolled his shirt and he was going to an estate under construction. As he was going, I was holding the plan of a tower, and the Lord said follow him. I said no I want to build my own tower. God said who sent you to build the tower? That that is your captain, follow him. That was 1984 I said no I and woke up. The second time, I saw Daddy Adeboye. It’s like they were constructing a very massive shopping centre and a worship centre and he sat under the tree and then God said go to him and help him I said no, I was already digging foundation of a tower God said I didn’t send you.
So, on the 19th day of the fast, I went and eat, and I put that aside. So, I am very specific on what God want me to be. He told me certain things at that time in 1984 and some of it has been fulfilled, some are yet to be fulfilled. So I’m just working in the prophecy that God has said. Once everyone is able to hear God clearly, all is well. As a boy, I had so many deficiencies. I’m a shy person, I don’t really know to express myself but I thought God has to work over all those things for me, so that is the reason going to start a ministry will be going against the will of God and there is no way I could fulfill purpose and ministry.
KSO: Government is powerful no doubt. Some even submit Government power is next only to God’s. Why then do some Christian Leaders prevent their members from participating in politics?
ODESOLA: Thank you very much, one word; Ignorance. Ignorance means misinformation, inadequate information. So those three words are responsible. As a theologian I did not find it in the Bible where God said we should not be a politician. In my place, I like one of the things my mother used to say, if you abandon your clothe for a madman, he will use it and come back for new ones. The mess we are in, I may not be able to talk about other nations but in our nation Nigeria and many African countries, it is because we left the politics to the charlatans, the touts, the unprogressive and the selfish. So, ignorance is largely responsible and that is why the youths of our generation needs to change their mindset.
We need to have dominion in five major areas; in politics, entertainment, sports, business and the armed forces. Yeah, we need to have influence. I maybe not become a politician but if my junior brother or any member of my church, my associate pastor says I’m called to be a politician, I will give him all my support and not only prayers, if I have money I will support him with money. I don’t want to say a controversial statement, those who fear God, the least of those who fear God will be better than any religious person who is a hypocrite.
KSO: You are one of the earliest dwellers of the Redemption Camp and you must have watched it grow from a jungle to a City that it is today. What is the magic wand? What lessons do you think public administrators and government officials have to learn from the success story of The Redemption Camp?
ODESOLA: Well, they should learn the lesson of selflessness. I mean you studied English and Grammar so give me another word for that one. Somebody who is not very selfish, majority of people who govern us today are very selfish. Many of them are mindful of their own pockets, not even many of their family members enjoy what they carry. For us, we have a leader who often looks for the welfare of others. There is no doubt, there are good people who go into politics to serve but preponderant percentage went to politics for what they can eat. That is why you have Toronto degrees and all the likes.
My counsel to those people in government from the councilors to local government chairmen etc is to learn how to include people in their lives. They are not sure of tomorrow and they are gathering money for their tomorrow, who said they are going to be there, who said they are going to live to tomorrow? They should learn that, just like I have said it in all the fora, all our youths should be mobilized, motivated, induced, persuaded, enticed, besieged, begged to go to politics. I will be willing that wherever RCCG is located that from the councilors to the Chairman should be members of RCCG. If not a pastor, they should be members or workers.
There are people in Nigeria today, because they have money, they have name in politics no one can call them to order but that is where God-fearing and Bible is very important. There is nobody in Christendom you can’t call to order. There are Presidents in Africa today, when they want to make major decisions, they call and consult Baba G.O, and say what is God saying.
KSO: How do you get things working in The Redemption Camp?
ODESOLA: Well, I could just say that people who are there are God-fearing. Normally, we have about 13,000 population before the Corona virus now because we also try to protect the people who don’t have anything to do with the Redemption camp, who just come there and because Redeemed is accommodative, they just carry their bag and baggage, see empty houses because the owners is in Lagos and pack into it. We’ve been able to do something about that now. After this Corona issue, we will be able to find out how many people that are left.
Now, the basic truth is that we can do all these things because it doesn’t cost much to generate our own electricity. We got a turbine and we said how much does it cost to run this turbine monthly, how much does it cost to pay the salary of the people? Now, assuming we want to do maintenance, can we have another 5% from the top? Now we get the money to buy those things and charge the people according to what they could use. Water is free anyway; we don’t charge anything for water but now that we saw that some wastage here and there maybe we will ask people to pay a token of five hundred naira just for maintenance. Now, for the maintenance of the roads we just thought as an organization you can’t have a house without having to do something, so the major roads are done by the church but the road to individual houses are done by the owners.
When you go through the Redemption Camp, some roads have clay ties some have concrete tiles, some have all these tiles. The camp is in segments we have Chiefs, although we call them Liaison Officers. Every estate has leaders, they have group of people that govern them. There are rules that guide the camp generally and they all subscribe to it because they are children of God. You must maintain law and order, any one that flaunts it, it is either we ask you how much did you build your house, take your money and get out of the camp or you make amendments. One of the things that generate and make corruption to continue to progress in Nigeria is that there is no commitment to the rule of law; it is just mouth, mouth and mouth.
KSO: The Adeboyes are your in-laws. Beyond the realm of leader-follower, what sort of in-laws are they? Apart from that, you seem to have a penchant for marrying off your daughters to sons of great men. Your first daughter married an Adeboye, the second one married a Bamiloye.
ODESOLA: Thank you very much. Let me say this categorically I am indifferent about who my daughters or my son marry. All I pray for is that they should enjoy their homes. I thank God that I married well. Today my marriage is over thirty years and I keep enjoying that young lady that I married and so I am indifferent. I just want to trace everything back to the grace of God. I did nothing, I didn’t work out anything. I just prayed that Oh God, send these children to where they will enjoy their marriages and I think God has answered.
KSO: During the wedding of your first daughter to Leke Adeboye, you prevented the General Overseer from prostrating to you as demanded by tradition. Why? Because he is your boss?
ODESOLA: (Laughs) There is an adage in Yoruba that says “it cannot be so bad that the father will look unto his son for help” I cannot ask my father to prostrate before me. That is against the counsel of God and even my tradition as a Yoruba person. Let alone, he is my father, my Pastor, my General Overseer and my boss.
KSO: How do you unwind if you ever do at all due to the nature and demands of your office? What keeps you fit and strong?
ODESOLA: Yes I play table tennis. Infact, I’m a local champion. I unwind by movies and writing because my life circles around that. In the camp or everywhere I go, my regular exercise is there. It will interest you to know that I have watched all your movies except the new ones. Infact my daughter that married the Bamiloye’s when they were young she can never forget Omoge Omi.
Now, let me also shock you, if you will not term me to be a backslider. I also watch some secular films. James Bond is my brand. James Bond, because of the technological innovations and some of the things he does. You will think the man has been captured but you see him passing by, I like people who can move from obscurity and surprise people. That is why I said it could be a confession of sin for me (Laughs) From the A-Z of James Bond films there is no one I don’t have.
KSO: Well, thank you for the time you have spent with us.
ODESOLA: Thank you. God bless you. It is a priviledge to be interviewed. Keep the flag flying Sir. You have helped me in the drama ministry; you guys are seniors and big men of God (Laughs)
KSO: Ah Daddy we are your boys ooooo !!! (Laughs)
ODESOLA: Thank you Sir regards to Mummy. God bless you.
KSO: Thank you very much sir