-As he marks 46 with church members
Pastor Anene Nwachukwu is the General Overseer and Senior Pastor of the wave-making Pentecostal church, Rhema Deliverance Mission Int. Inc. with headquarters in Lagos and many branches around the world. The veritable instrument in the hand of God has been there done that in the ministry and vineyard of God and he is still not waning. Recently the unique and exemplary preacher of the word clocked 46 years and unlike his past festive birthday celebrations, he chose to mark it with his church members and close associates in the things of God. He spoke to a select group of Senior journalists on his life at 46, his thoughts about the nation, the last general elections among other things. Newsthumb Magazine’s Publisher and Editor-in-Chief, Yinka Sotayo was there. Enjoy the incisive interview.
Sir, how do you feel at 46?
I feel excited and happy I clocked 46 by the special grace of God. The Lord has been grateful and faithful all this while. Today is Sunday 24th February and I was born on 24th February 1973; and I learnt it was on a Sunday and to the glory of god it’s a special day for me.
What a coincidence, it’s actually said that life begins at 40, how would you assess your life in the past six years? It has been a life of affecting and impacting people. God has been so gracious to me that for the past six years. What I achieved when I was 40 and what I have achieved now is so different. When I was 40, I was at my former cathedral. Today that I am 46, I am in a new cathedral which God has given to us and I see myself as a man who is still trying to rise to where God is taking me. Though I am not yet there, but I believe I am no longer where I used to be, I am moving forward and I thank God.
What other plans do you have to impact on the society now that you’re 46?
Well, my duty is to show kindness to anyone that comes across me. Like in my church, I have women empowerment programs for the widows, the orphans, for the young. I empower them, I pay their school fees, house rents for many of them who are not capable of doing so. I believe one thing I’ve applied is how many people you’ve affected; greatness is not in what you have, but what you do with the greatness you have.
At 46, one would have expected you to throw a big celebration, but you decided to celebrate in church, why?
Well, I believe that I’m not a show man calling people to attend, just to do my birthday. I believe that the best way to celebrate is with my flocks. If you look at today, you’ll see I celebrated with my members and they are happy, they’re excited. I didn’t step outside because I am 46, and I’ve come a long way with my members. They’re the people that God used to shape my life and at the same time, I have thrown back to them by blessing them, by calling them together, dining with them, celebrate with them, and show them excitement.
You are surrounded today by your church members and everyone, what is that unique selling point that makes them happy and swarm over you?
One thing about church is about how many people you’ve touched their lives positively. If you’re a pastor and you’re good in collecting from people, and do not know how to give back to the society, people will run away from you. But when your life is impactful, when you live a life of standing for others, being there for others, people will always revere you. Like in my church, I show simplicity and humility, that is ministry. All my members have my telephone numbers, they call me, they reach me in times of crisis, in times of trouble. I’m accessible, I don’t have bottleneck security that when they want to see me, they’ll first be pushing up and down. They’re there; they have access to me, as long as I’m around. Once you want to see me, you’ll come, I’ll see you. I believe I’m here for them, I’m not for only rich men; I’m also for upcoming rich men. That’s why you see they look me, the poor, widows, orphans and rich people. Of course, you can see today that one of my members gave me the latest model Range Rover. It’s these people you’ve impacted that’ll cater for you.
One has noticed that your members are aspiring to be like you; what is your take on this?
Well when you’re living a life of integrity and honesty, people will be attracted to you. I said it while I was preaching that anointing can make a way for you, but it is integrity that will sustain you. Once you’re upright, people will know you’re upright, if you’re pretending, people will know you’re pretending. Once you have integrity, the sky will not be your limit, the heaven will be your limit and I believe as a Pastor, I have to live a life of integrity and my members are emulating me because if you come here, you’ll see how excited they are. There are some people who hire crowd, when they’re celebrating birthday, you’ll see that strange visitors will fill their hall. But there the same crowd you see today, you’ll see on Sunday. I didn’t invite outsiders. I believe that one thing I’ve applied is, how many people you have affected, greatness is not in what you have, but what you do with the greatness you have.
The presidential election has come and gone and the result is not out yet, but from what you saw of the election, what did you conclude?
I don’t want to believe that Nigerians will hear inconclusive result, because the way I see it, they are heading to inconclusive result and I see that there’ll be no trouble in Nigeria, but that there’ll be squabbles, let me use the word scrambled declaration over the election result. But some people will feel at ease, some people believe that manipulation is at its highest level. You all saw what happened in Rivers State. We saw it live on television yesterday and I don’t think this government wants to step down and handover to another person. I listened to Buhari yesterday, after he finished casting his vote, when they said, sir, will you congratulate the winner? And he said I’ll congratulate myself because I’m going to be the winner. So, I wonder how such person can handover to any man. And they asked Atiku, if you lose and he said, I am a democratic man, if I lose I’ll congratulate him; but Buhari said he’ll not congratulate anybody, he’ll congratulate himself. He’s not ready to step down; and if you look at somebody who has vow to ascend to power and has opportunity to manipulate his way, what are you expecting, so that’s what’s happening, I don’t see the man coming down.
What’s your advice for the electorate and Nigeria in general, concerning this election?
My advice should be that anyone who is declared the winner by INEC, Nigerians should accept the result, because we see INEC as an impartial umpire, even though we know that there are some issues with them, but let’s accept their results so that Nigeria can go forward.
Spiritually, are we heading for a change of government or is Buhari still going to continue after the whole election with an inconclusive result?
Well I’ve made my position clear that the person that is there is not ready to handover to anybody. It’s a very clear statement to anybody; it means he’s still there. That’s what we’re heading to, and that’s the way I see it.
Back to your 46th birthday, if you don’t mind, what has life taught you and what lessons have you learnt?
Well, life is full of ups and downs. While I was preaching today, you heard me say, that I didn’t have a place to lay my head, somebody gave me shelter. I believe that life has taught me to be honest in every situation I find myself in and I should always live an upright life and a life of integrity and honesty. My members know me inside out; the ones that were here with me in year 2000 are still here today; so if for 18 years, going to 19 years now, I have been deceiving the same set of people till today, I don’t think you can be deceiving them that long, because if they’ve seen anything wrong about me, they won’t be coming here and would have left long time ago. I have affected lives, the barren conceive, crawlers are walking perfectly, the businessmen around me are all doing very well, and those that don’t have much now will still have. That’s what church is all about; your tomorrow must be greater than your yesterday.
In retrospect, is there any thing you’ll like to change about people?
Well, we’re going to change a lot of things the way we are working for God, we have to double our efforts and put in more commitment, more dedication in what we are doing.
What about yourself?
Yes, myself personally, the level of work I have at hand, I’ve learnt to decentralize our duties to some of the people around me, so I can devote my private hours to other meaningful things and I believe the people I’ve raised are doing what they’re supposed to do. I’m here as a general overseer, but that notwithstanding I’m still very hardworking and very restless in the discharge of my calling as a minister of God.
Some people believe that the problem of the Nigerian society is the men of God. What’s your reaction to this?
The men of God are not the problem of the society, the problem of the society is people we’re talking and they aren’t listening to us. We tell people to abstain from evil, but has it stopped armed robbery? An armed robber goes to church and also goes to mosque. So it’s not our problem, our problem is just that some people have refused to change from what they are used to, what they’re doing, and they like what they’re doing. Your job is to tell them the truth, Jesus said “you will know the truth and the truth will make you free.” The truth you know will make you free, if you don’t know the truth, you will still be in bondage. So, we keep telling people the truth.
Does that mean the prayers of the churches are not affecting them?
The prayers of the church are affecting the people but it depends on the way it is affecting them. It’s either it affects you positively or negatively. They don’t believe in God. They believe in their pocket, so no matter what you say, they’ll like to do the one that will favour them, I always tell politicians, a good politician, things are in their generation. So when it comes to our politicians we have wicked politicians in Nigeria who don’t care about their people. Take for example constituency projects, how many have you seen in your own areas; are you going to question them? No. you can’t even enter their gate, they have armed men around so we don’t have politicians, what we have here are selfish men.
So, if you’re to meet with politicians today, what words will you have for them?
I will tell them to have a change of heart, that the evil they’re doing will expire them. Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach. So I’d tell them to change the way they’re handling people, because let’s take for example, Buhari’s son had an Okada accident, and he flew him to abroad, if Buhari wants us to believe in Nigeria, his son had ordinary Okada accident that people have every day, and he flew him to abroad, what is he telling or showing us? He’s showing us that there’s nothing in Nigeria; Buhari is sick, he travels to London, so you’re telling us there’s nothing in Nigeria. So I will tell them to have a change of heart and serve as an example, let them practice what they teach because they’re liars and we have lying ministers all over who keep lying to us.
At 46 is there something special again on your mind that you want to do very soon?
Yes, I have a project that’s about to start, a project that’ll help us to employ people. I want to start a manufacturing industry, we are also already building a five star hotel across the road, where our members just got the land for 40million last a couple of weeks ago and we are set to build up the hotel any moment from now. And I can assure you that by July this year we’ll declare the hotel open. We also have an oracle line and oracle television. You can see that we’re about doing all these and we are moving forward, God helping us.
You said earlier that all your members have access to you and are close to you and are family. And now the time says after 4:00pm and I know every day is like this. How do you cope with it?
Well, I have an understanding wife and family. We cope by being happy, sowing people’s problem. I derive joy in solving people’s problem and that is my greatest joy, like when people come around me, if they’re weeping, they go back rejoicing and it gives me joy, sitting down and attending to people. And I don’t think I’m losing strength, because seeing people happy also makes me happy. As you people are here, before you leave, you’ll also be happy.