Pastor Philip Igbinijesu is the Apostolic Set-man and God’s visionary for Word Assembly, a mission-oriented ministry with international outreaches and satellite churches in South Africa, Canada, USA and Nigeria with a passion for kingdom relevance, leadership development and social impact. In this interview with SEYI JOHN SALAU on the recently concluded International Festival of Victory (IFOV), Igbinijesu spoke on Word Assembly and the importance of agriculture to national development. Excerpts:
We are here again this year for the International Festival of Victory (IFOV); what is the motive behind it?
Our festival of international victory is a deliberate coinage in the sense that Word Assembly has international spread; we are in Southern Africa, we are in the United State of America, and we have a lot of outreaches in several other nations. So, there is a broad flavour like a parade of nations that the ladies did today; it speaks to what we believe in as a church and the international outreach perspective that we bring to ministry. But, outside of that is the celebration of victory. Word Assembly’s flagship programme is the ‘International Festival of Victory’ – we come together to celebrate the victory of the cross; the victory of Jesus, the victory we have experienced, the testimonies that abound across all our service centres and others. Basically, it is a fusion – we want it festive atmosphere; it is a celebration, but in celebrating we are also testifying of the victories we have got and also prophesy about the victories to come; same way we also want people to know that it is not local but international.
This is the 11th edition of IFOV; how has the progress been like for the church?
It has been progressive, and one of the things we leant to do with God is to walk one step by step with him. Push enough faith but don’t put yourself under the pressure whereby you do things that are not necessary. So, it’s been beautiful – there has never been a better yesterday; everyday has been better, every year. So, we are grateful to God in terms of the quality, dept, maturity, and outlook; in terms of the appreciation of the people in what happens during IFOV and many other ancillary blessings – numerical additions to church in marriages because as the people come, they get involved and before you know it – we have celebrated several marriages. So, it has been a blessing.
There is this argument that many pastors nowadays are just motivational speakers and all of that; what is your position on this?
As for motivation, what people do not know is that there are fewer people than pastors because pastors and churches have come under a lot of hammer for taking advantage of people – why that maybe a far-front truth, the reality of the matter is that the job of every pastor has always been to be touched by the feelings and infirmities of the people. Pastors do a lot beyond what people know in educating people to have better husbands, wives, students, and better citizens. You can’t put a cost on that because cumulatively, the people have been taken out of jail, homes that could have been broken and the resultant effect of wayward children; how do you put a cost on that to be able to evaluate what pastors do? So, churches and pastors do more than to take people to heaven; our job is to make people better citizens and agriculture just happen to be one of the many things that we see as something that we need to do. But, more precisely Word Assembly is a church that is very big on community social responsibility initiatives. There are lots we are doing in that regard – so we just see it as a logical addition to other things. Anything that will add value to the people is a plus for us; not just as Word Assembly, but the church global. So, basically it is about enabling people, empowering people and feeding people.
Dr. Titus Masika of Kenya was a special guest at this year’s IFOV; why the focus on agriculture?
Doctor Masika is someone that came under very profound and revolutionary ideas on how to optimise the agricultural potentials of African countries. As I speak Dr. Masika is a consultant in virtually all the eastern African countries. A lot of multinational institutions and even some delegations from different bodies in the UN come all the way to his home country of Kenya to witness the revolution that was birthe
Was Dr. Masika here to speak about God and agriculture or just the business of agriculture?
Dr. Masika is a bishop of a group of churches; he is a minister of the gospel and a highly read man with PhD in different fields of human development. But, precisely part of his quest to see how he can transform community and empower them to be self-sustaining. It was in that quest that God gave him a revolutionary idea on how to optimise crop yield, how to be able to fast-track the production of basic and other kinds of crops; how to strategise and how to also create some system that can help you to water your land when it’s arid; and many other revolutionary and creative ideas without the high cost that will go with it when you ordinarily want to make experts or business people to help you overcome some of these challenges that people faced depending on where they are located and the quality of their soil. So, how to navigate your way through all of this was why Dr, Masika was invited. I met him when I went to speak at a conference in Kigali, Rwanda – I was just blown away and being a pastor leading congregations of people and knowing that you never go wrong with agriculture, I just reason that we need to bring this man at great cost because I want the people to be empowered and blessed.
What motivates the church into such a summit on agriculture?
Well, like you know – with 200 million people and we have been projected by 2035 which is just about 15/16 years away; Nigeria would likely be the third most populous nation in the world. By then Nigeria would have overtaken the United States; United State is like 320 to 330 million people, but by 2035 going to 2050, Nigeria would have overtaken the U.S. India at number one and China at n umber two; while we will be number three. Right now, we have food crisis, the other day, the Niger State government signed a memorandum of understanding, begging the World Bank to come help the state overcome malnutrition. Malnutrition, shun all the grammar, is inability to feed your people, and that for me is ridiculous. Nigeria has no reason not to be able to feed her people. Vast arable lands, boundless youthful population and this is one land where you don’t even have to pray and fast – just put something in the ground and it will come up. But, how to now be deliberate, systematic in order to optimise crop yield. The basic business sense of agriculture; how do you ensure that you can network with like-minded people in order to increase the possibilities that can come out of agriculture.