An Interview with Pastor Paul Adewunmi

Pastor Paul Adewunmi

Providence played a leading role in the life of Assistant Provincial Pastor of The Redeemed Christian Church of God, Lagos Province 14, Pastor Paul Adewunmi. He was raised in a Muslim home before he found solace in his new faith at the age of 26. Fatherless at age two, he saw and tasted poverty.

To own a mattress was a luxury he could not afford, neither did he have an apartment of his own. For years, he would lie down to the cold embrace of the hard floor and mat in the church he took refuge in. All he had wanted to become in life was a great footballer playing for the national team, the Super Eagles of Nigeria. But fortune smiled on him; prior to his wedding day he got an apartment to live in. But his joy seemed checkmated when it took him and his wife four years after marriage to have a child. Familiar with pains and having enjoyed so many gains, Adewunmi in this interview with Funke Olaode, unveils the narratives of his past and present life. As he turned 50 recently, he shares his belief about living in opulence as a man of God

There is this air of calmness around you. Is it a reflection of your personality?

The Bible says, ‘The Lord promotes the meek and brings down the proud. As a being, one needs to be calm because you are not the owner of life and grace. Also, you have to be cool. You can be gentle like a dove but a little aggressive like a lion in the sense that the work of God must go on according to the rule of the bible. So we don’t allow anything to taint the image of God as a leader.

When and where exactly were you born?

I was born on September 25, 1965 in Abeokuta, Ogun State. My mother was trading in kolanut when I was born. She had customers as far as Kano, Zaria, and Kaduna States while my father was into animal husbandry. He had a lot of cattle. He was also a butcher. He was killing cows for people and also had a lot of customers from far and near. Unfortunately, my father died when I was about two years old. So I didn’t enjoy him so much. I remember he was very sick and I was gazing at him when he was dying gradually. That was the only picture I remember.

How did you cope as a fatherless child?

I wasn’t really conscious of the fact that I didn’t have a father because of my age. But we coped because we had an industrious mother. She was such a hard-working woman who taught us how to work hard, the moral values of life and house chores. She also taught us how to make money through her kolanut trade. So anytime we made extra money we were always happy. We would give the money to our grandmother to keep. Anytime we wanted to buy something from our proceeds we would break our kolo (piggybank). So that was the kind of childhood I had.

What was your aspiration in your youthful days?

I worked in Ogun State Broadcasting Corporation for 12 years before I embraced the pastoral work. Prior to that, I had always wanted to be a great and successful man not in terms of wealth, but impacting humanity. There was a time I thought I would be a great footballer. I was passionate about it that I joined the Super Eagles and we were camped in Agege Stadium and from there, they took us to Teslim Balogun Stadium in Surulere. But destiny changed and I found myself doing what I didn’t prepare for.

What factor shaped your life while growing up?

The people I surrounded myself with, especially my mother, had a great impact on my life. She was a disciplinarian who would not allow frivolity. In the house we didn’t talk about girlfriend, we didn’t drink or smoke. If you were caught we would be severely dealt with. She monitored us everywhere and this has influenced my life and approach towards life.

When did you nurse the ambition of becoming a pastor?

It would surprise you that it was something that crept into my life – my adult life. I didn’t nurse any ambition because I was a Muslim. I was born and raised a practising Muslim. My sister was a Christian and I used to follow her to the church but I would not enter. But in 1991 there was an encounter that changed my life. After the Morning Prayer around five, I fell into a trance and saw the moon before the heaven and earth. I thought the world was coming to an end. In that trance when I looked back I saw darkness and when I looked in my front I saw the rays of light from the moon. Then I saw a very handsome man that patted his hair in the middle coming with a retinue of angels towards me. Then there was a loud voice that said, ‘I will show you the saviour.’ Behold! That tall handsome man walked to me and said, ‘You are an instrument in my hand.’ After that encounter I fell down and began to speak in tongues.

I became born again in the Christ Apostolic Church under Pastor Sunday Iyunade, the General Overseer of Pentecostal Ministry, in Ijebu-Ode. I was working with the OGBC then when another voice came that I should quit the job and become a pastor. That was how I quit my job and became a Pastor in 1998 and I never looked back. I am currently an Assistant Provincial Pastor of The Redeemed Christian Church of God, Lagos Province 14.

What was your immediate family’s reaction to your new-found faith?

By that time my father had died. I was left to deal with my mother who was used to my five-time prayers in a day. As a matter of fact, I was the one encouraging people. In fact, I was the coordinator of a Quranic competition when I was in Ogun State. So I had gone far in Islam. It was a tug of war not only among my immediate family members but outsiders when they heard that I had converted to Christianity. My mother was very sad. She called me one day and asked me why I changed. But as time went on she was seeing the wonders of God and she just let me be. I faced a lot of challenges but here I am.

Were you not afraid of losing your liberty as a young man going into the ministry?

I wasn’t afraid because my needs were limited as a bachelor. Again, I had heard enough from God that He truly called me and my liberty cannot be compromised.

How do you handle temptations from women?

The Bible has said that ‘We should take heed lest we fall.’ And any man of God that doesn’t take heed will fall into a trap. That temptation is the area many pastors have fallen. In my case, I handle them according to the scripture by being careful. I don’t counsel sisters or women when I am alone. I always have four or five pastors around me. And if I have any prayer points that I want to give to those who are seeking counselling, my pastors are always on ground to assist. I also have a policy as a pastor, I don’t visit a lady and if you want to see me you have to come to the church. Again, I don’t allow them to come too close. I don’t have daughters or sisters in the Lord. I regard everyone as co-workers and children that need to be led to the path of God. This has helped me tremendously as a man of God in my ministry.

How would you say serving God has benefitted you?

Honestly, God has been faithful. He said He would take care of me. If you are consistent with God He has a way of paying you back because the Bible says, ‘He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.’ There was a time I wanted to embark on trading as a means of sustaining myself, it didn’t work. I ended up giving everything out as gifts. Serving God has benefitted me and I am grateful for His faithfulness in every area of my life. God’s Word is sure and I am a living testimony.

If you had to turn the clock back, were there things you would have done differently?

Not really because as a being you don’t own your life and you don’t have control over it. It is only what God dictates. And sometimes when you look at what is going on in Christendom, there is always this temptation that you just want to be on your own and do it your own way. But you have to adhere to the doctrines and submit yourself to the authority.

Have you ever felt like quitting the pulpit?

Yes; when there was a conspiracy. I was overwhelmed as a young pastor that I felt like quitting because I couldn’t face it. But I went to God in prayers. I went to a prayer retreat with seven days dry fasting asking God that ‘I wanted to leave.’ But God showed me the wonders of life in dreams. I saw a tree and instead of that tree to bear fruits, it bears different types of light that I had never seen in my life. Then there was an instruction from angels under that tree that people should go and take any of the light on the tree. People were going and when it got to my turn I went to the top of the tree and took a particular light and while coming down, the angel asked me not to leave that ‘Adewunmi, you are going to enjoy yourself in the Redeemed Christian Church of God.’ Honestly, I knew at that time that God wanted me here. I have no regrets because I have enjoyed God and still enjoy His mercies

Talking about church and leadership with prosperity preachers all over the place, in your view, do you think they’re still on the same page with their followers?

I think they are still on the same page. The prosperity they preach is not a sin or evil. These preachers don’t preach prosperity alone, they preach it with salvation. Can I tell you our God is a God of abundance? How can we be serving God and lack? The Bible says, ‘The earth is God’s and the fullness thereof.’ This is God that endowed the planet. He gave oil to Nigeria. He gave America manpower and technology. He gave Britain the idea of taxation and technology, and He gave Congo and South Africa gold and diamonds. He gave Ghana, cocoa. And other countries of the world are enjoying His awesomeness. It is not a sin if men of God enjoy the resources coming out of the ground and its blessing is not a sin. He blessed Isaac in the Bible and he said the grass shall yield to Him. He told Jacob that He would exceedingly multiply him. He also told Joseph that He would make him a great man. My sister, when you serve God to a certain level and you are committed to Him, He would bless you.

But there were prosperity preachers in the past that came with a bang and fizzed out?

They fizzed out because some of them don’t know God. They are intellectual people with oratory prowess who can speak the language of the Bible but don’t practise it. Look at the life of Bishop David Oyedepo. He said God gave him a mandate to liberate the world from poverty. We can see it in his life. And our daddy Adeboye preaches holiness, power and prosperity is following. We his children also follow his steps and we have not derailed.

It means that you subscribe to the view that men of God should live in opulence?

Let me be sincere to you, if you don’t love prosperity you cannot make heaven. Revelation 21:4 says, ‘and the heaven was made with crystal gold, the wall of heaven was made with jasper etc.’ This is talking about heaven and we all aspire to be there. You know what? We can’t go there with poverty.

Getting personal….How did you meet your wife?

When I was looking for a wife, I went into dry fasting for seven days. On the sixth day, the Lord spoke to me that He was sending my wife through some people. He gave me the description of the woman that she knows me because she had heard about me before. I had become a pastor then. I was in the office when my wife accompanied her sister and her husband that came to visit me. And God spoke to me again that my wife was around. I came out to see the person and I saw this gentle-looking young lady. I didn’t waste much time. I just approached her sister and said, ‘thus said the Lord, your younger sister is my wife.’ That was when the journey began.

What was her initial attitude to your pastoral work?

It was smooth sailing because she had the voice of the Lord in the library as an undergraduate that her husband was going to be a pastor. In fact, her nickname in her school days was ‘Mama Yard.’ My wife didn’t marry me because of money because I had nothing. When she came to me I didn’t have a house to live in. I was sleeping on the mat in the church. It was when I was preparing to get married that God opened the door for me. Somebody got me a flat, paid for it and equipped it. That was my first house in Lagos. By the grace of God the story has changed.

How do you take care of the home as a busy clergyman?

It is simple. I have a wonderful partner in my wife. She is dependable and keeps the home front in my absence. Anytime I travel I call my home regularly by making the conversation open. And because they understand my work as a man of God she doesn’t disturb me. She is also a prayer warrior who prays for me always.

When was your best and lowest moment as a clergyman?

My best moment is when I am with my wife in a secluded place. I always want that moment to continue forever. For instance, when I visited three countries with my wife during my recent vacation I enjoyed it so much that I told my wife that I love every moment that I am with her.

What lesson has life taught you in your 50 years of existence?

It has taught me a lot of lesson on how to put one’s faith in God and not man who can disappoint. It has taught me to believe more in the vision of God for one’s life and that life itself is vanity. There was a time I didn’t believe I would attain the age of 50 because I was seriously ill and I thought the end had come. I just had my first child after four years of marriage. I overcame the sickness and after that God gave me additional three children. The lesson in those turbulent periods is to cast our burden upon the Lord because He is the only one that can deliver in the time of trouble.

If there were to be another world, would you still like to be a pastor?

Yes, I would like to be a pastor over and over again. You know coming closer to God would make you to know the glory of things in Him. The more you come closer, the more you see His wonders. He is holy, pure and true to His words. As a being, you cannot understand Him for life as you always see a bit of it, which would convince you that He is all in all.

What is your philosophy of life?

What you cannot do for yourself leave it for God because your life and destiny depends on God alone.