Calvary Kingdom Church (CKC) International celebrated its 21st anniversary during its annual Zion Convention 2023 with the theme, ‘Pure Words’ held between Wednesday 4 and Sunday 8, October 2023. Joseph Ojo, the presiding Archbishop of the ministry, spoke with some journalists on the theme of the 2023 convention and the state of the nation. Excerpts by Seyi John Salau:
How would you describe the journey in the last 21 years?
When I look back, 21 years is just like maybe 21 days, honestly; because of God’s love, God’s faithfulness, God’s provision has been very satisfactory. I can’t regret any day in these 21 years – so far, so good, God has been very good to us.
The theme for this year’s convention is ‘Pure Words.’ Why is that?
We are told in Hebrews: everything we see was made by the word of God. Only pure words can create; only pure words can build; only pure words can sustain. What will sustain this generation can only be a pure word. Pure words differentiate it from other words – unwholesome words that people are dispensing all over. There are people (I don’t discriminate people) but there are people mounting the pulpits who do not have the word of God. They just preach what they want to preach, so far they have something to say. But, pure words create; pure words build, pure words bring the mind of God. From what the Lord gave us in Psalm 12:6, the words of the Lord are pure words; purified, tried in the furnace of the earth – seven times, the word of the Lord is pure. Only pure words can go through fire. For Christians in Nigeria to go through (I don’t want to say fire) the hardship that people are going through today; only those with the pure words of God can go through it. Some who have been taught things that are not wholesome, there are certain songs I don’t encourage my people to sing (songs like ‘me I no go suffer, I no go beg for bread). When you build people to be conscious of that, and suffering actually comes; they will deny faith. But, those who have heard pure words that all those that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. They will stay put in faith no matter how far the enemy is trying to discourage them – so, that’s what pure words do. Pure words can sustain you; pure words can take you even when there is nothing to eat, pure words can give you satisfaction that if God has not provided, He will provide.
That reminds me of the other spheres that say ‘I am radical for Jesus.’ What is your take on that?
It is a manifestation of youthful and exuberant life. It’s allowed for people who want to (you know when we weren’t saved; we want to be high. We would go and smoke – we want to feel high). When people are over-excited they can sing anything. It’s permitted in the Bible – it says make a joyful noise – that can be categorised to be part of the joyful noise that people make; I don’t condemn people for it.
The guest minister referred to the fact that certain problems will not go unless we as believers grow; can you throw more light on this?
What he was saying is; a farmer went to sow, he sowed good seed but the enemy came and sowed tares among the seeds. And, the servant came and said let’s pull the tares away. But, the master (the owner) said no, let them grow up together. In other words, the servant’s mentality is to let them be removed but the master’s mentality is to let them grow. So, what he was saying is that no matter what the enemy is doing within you, definitely the good seed that God has sown will definitely grow and the one He has not sown will die away. Every good work God started in people’s lives will grow – the one that the enemy will come and sow (by way of saying sowing) will withered away with time. So, he won’t border on what the enemy is saying – he will try to nurture and grow what God has said – that is the essence of what he was saying.
He also spoke about what we lost being things we refused to give as believers; I would like you to link that to the theme of the convention?
I do not want to say out of what the theme is – what he was saying there is – what you lost is what you gain. You lose a lot if you don’t give attention to the word that is being preached. I can sit with you and am distracted (he was talking about distraction). A very cogent point may have been made, because of your distraction, you didn’t hear it. Then you will come and ask me (what did he say) you have lost it because you didn’t give attention. Giving there is not only money – he was talking about giving attention. What you lost (what you didn’t hear) because you were distracted is what you will lose. By the time you are asking somebody (second hand) who may not have even heard him correctly; you know the information is distorted.
Now, let’s talk about the state of the nation. Nigeria is currently passing through a lot, especially with the economy. Do you see a way out of the current mess?
It’s just that if I tell you I have a solution, I will be deceiving you. If I tell you I have a suggestion, I will be deceiving you. It’s not that I cannot try to proffer solutions or advice but it’s because of Nigerians – they want to hear what they want to hear, no matter what you say; it doesn’t bother them. If people want to know the truth, before the election they would have been able to decide where – but, it’s too late now. To be crying now, is just to be crying over spilled milk. The milk has been thrown away, so let’s trust God for another cup of milk or another tin of milk; that’s what I can say. I am not someone who is pessimistic but I believe God can still intervene; but the political leaders have to come to the realisation that no matter what they may have accumulated, they are not taking it out of this world. Many of them will die miserably and shamefully and the wealth they are trying to amass will be used not even by their family, but by the people that never worked for it. Because some of them are hiding their money that even their families do not know about – it will be lost in the bank. Many of them, their children, when they die, can’t trace it – it’s just foolishness. Timothy tells us, we brought nothing into this world; we are not taking anything away. My hope for this country is that God will give us sincere leaders. I told you during our last interview – David said, he that ruleth over Israel must be just; ruling in the fear of God. The day we get someone as president or as governor, or as Senate president or as speaker of the House of Assembly, who is just (use the word just) and who rules in the fear of God; then this country will begin to develop. We cannot be living in darkness and one person or one family will be having billions that can solve our energy problem, and they don’t have fear of God. We pray that God will talk to those who are there now or raise other generations. I am praying that God will keep me alive to enjoy Nigeria. At 74, I am trusting God that at 100 years; that’s about 26 years from now – I will still be around.
With the new minimum wage; do you see any hope for the working masses?
Has Nigeria never had a living wage? Nigeria is a country of strugglers. Minimum wage – how much did they say they are adding (35, 000) and how much is a bag of rice. So, you are saying you are giving somebody a wage that cannot buy a bag of rice. Is that wage? Let them re-regulate the economy. Those days, 1983 when I first went to the U.S, the Naira was bigger than the Dollar – I think it was about $5 to N1. My return ticket to the U.S was N1500 (I didn’t say N1.5m). Until 1986, when the hammer came by Babangida; he called it the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) that was when this country failed. Before that ‘86, we bought a car; brand new 505 for N19,000. It can’t buy a tyre today – one good tyre today is about N60, 000. So, they have all messed up this nation both military and civilian administration.
Let’s look at the appointment of your son as the national overseer of the ministry; a few weeks back we had Jimmy Olukoya succeeding his father….
You heard what I said there; they are two different things. He has been operating as the national overseer but with a different title. He said he preferred ‘Head of Staff’. So, he has been in that office. This is our constitution; it doesn’t have provision for heads of staff. He, out of humility, said ‘Daddy, I want to be HoS.’ I was 39 when I was the national presbyter of GCM, Lagos and West – I was younger than him. At the age of 39, I supervised Lagos and the entire western region (Ogun, Oyo, Osogbo, that’s Osun State, Ondo State and Ekiti State) at the age of 39. So, our constitution recognises National Overseer, as the number two man, not number one man. Odukoya is the number one man, but he has been number two; it’s only a nomenclature – the title that he said no, I want to be HoS. For God’s sake, somebody can come tomorrow and say the office you are holding is not in our constitution. So, it’s better that I do what is constitutional.
For most churches where we have children succeeding the founder; people are wondering if the church is now a family business?
If they don’t understand the church – most of the people that say so are not actually involved in church administration. You don’t manage a company from outside except maybe, if you are a board member, you come once a while – that is my understanding. You manage from inside; if I didn’t show you just now, you can’t even know this is the position of our constitution. So, somebody who did not interview me now will say his son has succeeded him. This idea came from me before even Redeemed had a National Overseer some years back. How did it come? When Papa passed on I was here in Lagos. The elders of CGM came to meet me; led by Rev. Dr. Peter Obada, former deputy governor of Edo State (he is still alive, once a while he comes here); to come and ask because there were talks here and there that Ojo wants to break-away (I say, am not going anywhere. I worked with Mama for four years before it wasn’t conducive – you see her picture there, you see Papa picture there. Now, Obada said the elders have asked him to ask if I will agree to be the National Overseer, while Mama is the General Overseer. I said all I am interested in is to be carried along. It’s Idahosa that made me who I am. Look at this (pointing to a group photo with Idahosa) this is 1975 when Miracle Centre was dedicated. I wasn’t married here, but was married in November – this was in September. So, I have no reason to start ministry, I just wanted to work – that was when the thought of a national overseer came out. So, I told Obada I am not sure if Mama will agree – after he came back to me and said Mama said no (sebi I told you). So, when I was starting my ministry, I felt these offices should be well spelt out and I got the idea of national overseer. This constitution is over 20 years old. I had somebody that had been national overseer – the person left around 2013, that’s about 10 years ago. After some years, Best grew up – he was working in Mutual Benefit. Finished working there, then came to full-time ministry and he has served as the Youth President of this ministry. He has served as the music director, served as head of media – he has worked in most of the departments. He grew up in the music industry – he was 9 years old when he started playing drums at Faith Arena (Papa gave him a scholarship because of his gift of playing drums at the age of 9. So, what we see here is not the same thing there.
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Let me take you back a bit; you said at 39 you were coordinating the South-West. Why is the church not giving the youth the space to emerge?
I think the church is still doing that. What is there is, we don’t give responsibilities to people because of their age. We give responsibility to people because of their commitment. When you see a young man who is committed irrespective of his age and you know he has the wherewithal to perform, you appoint him – not minding the age. But, somebody who is 5 and he comes to church late, you cannot trust him with opening prayers because the service has been opened with prayers before he came. So, he might be complaining – but you can see a young guy that is vibrant that before you come, he is already there. You can say hey boy, go and say the opening prayers. You listen to him; you see the way he prays – wow, this is a material. Next time, a young man comes and teaches – wow; there is something in this boy. Next time, come and play organ – wow. For example, in 1977 I was a deacon – I was the head of the usher during our convention in November 1977. That is something I don’t forget, many of them are in my biography. Idahosa called me and said – Ojo come, take these people to the river, go and baptize them. 114 (black and white) because our convention was an international convention. I said Sir, am a deacon, am not a pastor – he said no, go and baptize them. There is something in you that I want you to impact in them. I was ordained deacon in 1976 and in 1977 I was inside the river for over three hours baptizing 114 people. And many of them are big men of God all over the world. I was young, if Idahosa didn’t see anything in him (in 77 I was 28). I was 30 years old at 79, and that’s when I came to full time ministry. So, if you are looking at age and people are not accepting responsibilities, you can’t use them. You use people irrespective of their age if you see them available, useable, humble, and ready to be used of God.