In this interview with Tinuola Oshuntokun of Seraphnews, Pastor Fola Onafuye, Conference Supervising Pastor Cherubim & Seraphim Movement Church relayed the menace of today’s Christianity.
Can we meet you sir?
My names are Pastor Fola Onafuye. I am the Leader of Valley of Blessings branch, C&S Movement Church, Surulere District, the Chairman of Abesan Circuit.
By the Grace of almighty God, I am also the Conference Supervising Pastor of the Cherubim & Seraphim Movement Church.
What is the significance of Mount Horeb celebrated annually by the prophets of your church and the relationship between the Pastors and the Prophets?
We thank God that this last Mount Horeb was very wonderful and very, very successful. It was attended by all and sundary including high caliber personalities like the Ondo State Governor, Arakunrin Akeredolu, Mama Esther Ajayi and many more from home and abroad.
It is the Grace of the Almighty God that the programme is an annual programme that is meant to be used to pray for the whole nation and also to be used to pray for the Church.
It is also an avenue that brings the Prophets together in an environment of learning, prayers, to unwind, to learn and unlearn so that the ministry will become stronger.
The relationship between the Prophets and the Pastors is as enunciated in the scriptures; we have fivefold ministry in the scriptures namely, the Prophets, Apostles, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers.
They are five fingers of one hand. None of them can work effectively without the other if we must achieve what God set the ministry to achieve.
I was delivering a lecture somewhere and I asked them ‘if you cut your thumb will the other fingers be effective?’ Of course the remaining four fingers can pick something but not effectively.
The same way that the Pastors and the Prophets cannot work effectively except they work together. God has made the relationship a lateral relationship between the two; one has got to help the other to achieve the purpose of moving the Gospel forward.
When they come together, they edify Christ, they propagate the GoodNews. And that is why the Pastors cannot be separated from the Prophets in terms of working together as they are called to achieve a common purpose.
On this note I want to give kudos to our spiritual father, Baba Aladura Abidoye. He has insisted that the five ministries must work together because he wanted the church to move forward.
What does it take to be a Pastor in C&S Movement Church?
That is very simple: the first thing is that you must be born again. You must have a call. It is not about ‘I like to be a pastor’, ‘I like their dressing’, is not about your liking it, but it is about you having a call of God upon your life and that must be confirmed.
Cuts-in: How do you do the confirmation?
If you have a call, God will talk to you personally; certain things will begin to happen that will direct you towards that line. There would be a confirmation by men or women of God that God will send to you that this is your ministry.
Again, you will discover that (so many people are working in the church without identifying the real area God calls them into) you may have gift of prophecy or pastoral gift or evangelical gift but God is going to place you in one that is over and above all other ones that will be confirmed to you.
Either He confirms it to you through a dream, through a vision, through a messenger of God and from there it begins to develop.
After confirming your call, you will have to attend a Bible College because you cannot give what you don’t have; you cannot be an effective Pastor without training.
The training is to let you know what to do and how to do it, how to go about it and again to equip you for the job.
So, the Bible College will certify you but is that the end of it? No. You need to be ordained into that ministry because the Bible College will not ordain you, it is the ministry you are called to work in that you will be ordained into.
We know that the calling of God is a personal thing, but in a situation where we have people who just go to Bible School on their own and later refer to themselves as pastors, How do you separate them from the real pastors?
The Bible has ascertained that from the beginning, there are real pastors, evangelists and prophets of God and there are fake ones; there are hireling pastors. According to the Lord Jesus Christ in John 10:11-14, he called some pastors ‘hireling pastors’ meaning that if they are really called, they will not be hireling.
They are hired, they are not called, they are not shepherd. If you are a pastor, you have to be a shepherd; you have to know what it is meant to be a pastor. You have to have the call of God upon your life, that is why some people mess up. The Bible says by their fruits we shall know them. So, you will definitely know if they are real pastors. It is so simple to know them.
Cuts -in: How do you know them?
Now, If there is a pastor, that is pastoring a church for ten, twenty years and the church is not growing, then the pastor has not got a call of God upon his life. He is doing it by his own head knowledge; he must have called himself or probably his tummy called him,
Maybe such a pastor was looking for job but he did not get a job and he felt that ‘let me put some people together after all, God was using me under my pastor, I too can do it.’
What these sets of people do not know is that there are differences in calling. You may be called to run a church, your calling can be a ministry under a ministry. If you stay within that calling you will definitely prosper, but some people miss it.
For example, in our church here I happen to be the Chief Messenger. Here we have a pastor heading Shillo service; a pastor heading the Youth; a pastor heading the Children ministry. We have other programmes that we do; we have a pastor anchoring it and they are all doing well, but one day one of them moved out and went and started his own church. He has been running the church for a better part of nine years. There was a crusade he organised and you find out that the whole people that were there were less than 50 but when he was under our tutelage here he was doing very well. What that means is that he did not identify his calling.
Another example is our father S. F. Korode. In 1994, someone ask him to go and start a church, that he would give him land.
But he said ‘No’! that God has not told him to do that. So, he remained where he was as a Choirmaster of a church and he was prospering but at God’s own time, God made him head of the Church. That means he identified his calling. So, he was bound to succeed. Those ones who do not understand their calling, when you see them out there and see their preaching, you will know that they are not called.
Their preaching is not tied to the scriptures. It is not tied to kingdom work, their preaching is tied to finance and worldliness. Most of them are always talking about prosperity over and above salvation. When you see someone that is not preaching salvation, that person is not called. Because that is the first point of call for everybody. I am not saying people should not preach prosperity but not over and above salvation. Prosperity here is nothing except you prosper up there – the kingdom of God.
What are the criteria required to qualify one as the Conference Supervising Pastor in C&S Movement Church?
You have asked me a question that if I have my way, I will not answer you. You are asking me what are my qualifications. Alright I will answer you; the Constitution of the Church says that for you to be a Conference Supervising Pastor, you must have a pastoral calling; you must have been ordained a pastor of a Church; you must have served the church for a period of no less than 15 years; you must have served the Church in a position of District Supervising Pastor; you must be a full time pastor.
I mean you must have answered to the provision of 1st Timothy Chapter 3 verses 1-6.
You should have a Theological/Pastoral training with a minimum of diploma in a Conference recognized C&S institution; you must not be less than 45 years of age.
These are the qualifications that the conference put in place but I know that they also still look for more than that.
Of course, there might be 10 people that can answer to these qualifications but there is a way of bringing 10 of them together and bringing out the best among them.
I was not the only one considered. There was a panel of interviewers but all in all I know it is the appointment of God. It is He who the Lord has called, even if you are 4,000 better qualified than the criteria and God has not called you, you are not likely to get there.
As the newly-appointed Conference Supervising Pastor, what are your plans to take the conference to the next level?
Thank you for that question. I know you will ask that question. First and foremost, we want to take the Council to the next level. When Baba Aladura was inaugurating the Council some 16 years ago, he said he wanted to use the platform of the Pastor’s Council to ensure the spread of the gospel in terms of the Word, in terms of shepherding, growing the church for the kingdom.
So, my first agenda is to make pastors see their calling in terms of kingdom principles, working for the kingdom, for you to work for the kingdom, you too must be a citizen of the kingdom, meaning that we want to work on individuals to ensure that we are focused on the kingdom of God and focused on taking people to the kingdom of God and focused on developing people.
How do go about these? We are setting the agenda of training and retraining. Now we are working on a book to be published soon. We call it ‘Pastors Training Manual’ because that you are ordained does not make you a full fledge pastor. Because if you don’t go through training and retraining you will not be sharpened. It is when your cutlass is very sharp that you can go to the farm to cut wood and bring harvest. So, we want to train people for the job. We want to see to the welfare of pastors; if you don’t take care of them they will not give their all.
We want to look at their welfare properly whether full time or tent makers. I mean the part-time pastors who still do their own work and yet they serve in the church.
We are going to take care of their welfare. For instance, we have pastors in the North. some of them are suffering because of this Boko Haram of a thing even before Boko Haram some of them are suffering in the far, far, hinterland because their churches are not buoyant enough to take very good care of them.
We want to look at what to do to assist such pastors. For the kingdom work, we want to see what to do with them. When I talked about welfare of a pastor, it does not mean we giving them money. We want to teach them how to have other sources of income without necessarily negatively affecting their work.
For instance, am a publisher, even up till now despite the fact that am a full-time pastor, I still do that and as a result of that am able to do a few things. So, we want to see what to do in terms of empowering the pastors so that they don’t live as paupers or as a burden to anybody because if they are not empowered that will still happen. That is why they need to be empowered.
We also want to see that we create enabling environment for pastors to thrive, for them to be able to hold out on their own in the system.
It is not about giving them anything but creating an environment for training, for empowerment and seeing to their welfare. Again, we want to improve the structures. By structures I mean physical, administrative, financial.
We want ensure that these things are put in place such that it will be easy for pastors to minister unhindered.
We want to grow pastors that God will use effectively. This is our plan; this is our focus. We also want look at physical structures; when we go to convention, how comfortable are we? We want to build more houses for pastors so that when we go to our annual convention, they will be more comfortable and we want to plan about three meetings every year so that by the time we run this term, we will be able to thank God for the enablement.
This is our focus and we pray God lift us up to be able to achieve all these.
Share with us your achievements and challenges since you assume office?
Well in terms achievements, have I achieved anything? I think God is doing it. I assumed office February 1, 2021 and when I assumed office, we put in place plans to archive some of this things have just enumerated.
For instance, the screening for new pastors we have made arrangements to screen them in their zones for security reasons, logistics and financial conveniences. We have put in place a Screening Committee and it will be done simultaneously in all of the zones in one day through out the Country and we are also planning to capture our Pastors in the diaspora too. This have not happened before.
Our training manual will be published. We will take it to them in their locality. It enables us know what their challenges are. We talk to them in line with where they are; we bring them closer; we encourage them. And try to sort out their challenges.
We have a six-month target to do that. Once that is completed, we will start planning for the convention in September. We are making efforts to restructure the Pastor’s Secretariat and the CSP lodge at the Galilee Land in Orile Igbon. All of these we intend to have achieve in one year.
Cuts-in Are there no challenges?
Challenges? They are always there. Challenges will come; there are financial challenges, space for operation but I see challenges for what challenges are. When you are going somewhere and there is a mountain before you, if you want to fail, you will start to cut the mountain, until that person dies. If you want to succeed, you will walk around it and go and succeed and this is exactly what we are doing. We did not allow challenges to discourage us. Whatever it is, we are overcoming the challenges. Let me also say this that our Spiritual Father is a real father and when I say a father I mean a father in all ramifications of that word. He has really been a source of encouragement to go on. Any time we go to him, he is always there to take care of any daunting issues.
He wants to listen to you and he will find solution to your challenge and that has not made us see challenges as anything serious.
How do combine all these assignments before you?
Can I combine my assignments? No, I can’t. I think it is God. I give glory to Him. I am the Apostolic Deputy in charge of training in our District meaning that I am the head of training there; the Circuit Chairman in Abesan here, I am the Leader of this branch and apart from that we still have two other branches we planted that we are trying to bring up that is not part of this.
Yes, I am there, but can I do it, No I can’t, Who can do it? God Almighty. He has been making it possible, whatever God is not asking me to do I will not do it.
When I received the letter of appointment, I spread it on my prayer alter and I told God, ‘am not going to do a thing you did ask me to do so go before me, empower me, give me knowledge, wisdom and that has been keeping me going even for years.
In our church here everyone has a role to play. If you study leadership and apply it appropriately you will not have any problem, you will be able to carry people along.
I am not the one running this church, it is a combination of people, I am just one among equals. Whether I am here or not the work is going because we have structured the work, there has always been division of labour so to say. Once there are structures in place then you will not have problems.
How can you rate your predecessor, was there a cordial relationship between both of you?
I was his deputy
Cuts in – yes I am aware, that is the reason for my question?
During the transition period, because I was not there but he told people that were there in the presence of Baba Aladura that he did not have any problem with me that I am a loyal person. He had occasion to sleep on my bed not once not twice. If we are not cordial, will that happen? I normally go on holidays abroad and when I go to Churches there, as I am talking to them I am talking to him too. I do things on his behalf. I give him report, maybe that speaks to the cordiality.
How can you rate his tenure?
His tenure or you mean our tenure (laugh)
Cuts -in … And your tenure?
Because we were together, we were working together then. So, it may be difficult for me to rate. Coming to rate us means you are asking me to rate myself because we did the work together. But then I have spoken on the cordiality maybe that will answer the question.
As a minister of God what do have to say about the situation of our nation. Do you believe Nigeria will be great again?
I told you when you came that I have been in church since 6:00am. Why am I in church since 6:00am, I am not here alone, but with people praying for Nigeria. If will don’t believe Nigeria will be good, we will not be praying. I can personally say to you that God established this nation and God have not said I am destroying the nation.
I believe very strongly that the nation will come back on her feet, like I told you earlier, I see this as a challenge now, challenges are meant to be overcome and we will overcome it.
The CAN ( Christian Association of Nigeria) has said we should pray for the nation and that means we believe in the nation. It has happened before during Abacha’s regime. It became a serious problem but when Christians came together to pray, the nation came back. So, the nation is going to come back.
Whether anybody likes it or not, Nigeria will not be destroyed. We may have gone into sin; we may live in unrighteousness but the essence of the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ is to ensure that he brings us back to God that is why his blood was shared on Calvary.
I know millions of Christians are also praying and it is going to work out my sister whether satan likes it or not it is going to work out. He says ‘call upon me and I will answer’, and the Lord Jesus Christ said to us in the scriptures whatever you ask the father in my name, that He will give to you. So, we are asking the father in the name of the son for this nation and God will restore the nation.
I believe God is going to keep the enemies of the nation shut, during the time of Jehoshaphat, their enemies rose up against them, Jehoshaphat was afraid, he went to God and God said this battle is not yours, it is mine, Jehoshaphat went to war with trumpet, that means God was going before them, the bible ascertain that those enemies were fighting and killing each other.
They left all their goodies for Judah, and they were restored. Liking that to Boko Haram, they will go, kidnapers will go, bandits will go, it is not in our power but with the help of God we will prevail.
Give a general advise to youths, pastors, seraphs and Christians at large?
My advice is just one, let us live a Christ like life; let us live according to the will of God. Let us show ourselves as workmen who are trained, who are not ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth (2nd Timothy 2:15).
Let the pastors train well; let them stand in their faith and by extension to all Christians so that at the end of our journey here, because no one will be eternally here, when we finish our race here, like brother Paul in 1st Timothy 4 verse 7-8 that he has come, he has fought the good fight of faith and he has finish well.
I am encouraging us to try as much as possible to finish the race well, so that a crown of righteous will waiting for us in heaven.