President of the Omega Fire Ministries worldwide (OFM), Apostle Johnson Suleman, in this interview, speaks on faith and the church, controversies surrounding gay practice and high charges at schools built by churches, and more. Excerpt…
The war seems to be against the Church but with the exploits and determination of few leaders like you, there is said to be hope. So, how would you advise other leaders to join hands and save the Church and how best could this war be fought successfully?
As long as church is in existence, there will always be war against her because the church herself is a light and light always attract darkness. In other words, darkness is always looking for a way to penetrate the light, and we are the light of the world. Matthew 5:16. When we defend the course of the gospel, we are doing it because Jesus said I will build the church (we) and the gates of hell shall not prevail. We are the church, we the saved and the washed ones by the blood. This should not be the responsibility of few but all of us. This starts by preaching the right doctrines and leading the people to know what God wants them to know. Feeding our congregations properly from the scriptures will turn out to be a universal blessing for mankind as Apostle Paul said the things that you have learned from me, the same commit to the faithful men would teach others. To fight the war against church successfully, it begins with what we feed our congregation with.
You are not just a church leader, you come across as a gathering of talents; your roles include leading the creative team in dreaming, creating and executing experiences, communications, music and even dance and drama. How did you achieve all that and are they must-haves for any Church leader?
All you mentioned leading the creative team in dreaming, creating and executing experiences; communications, music, dance and drama are all part of my life training either formally or informally. As regards whether they are must-have for any Church leader or not, it is not compulsory that very church leader should have these skills but it is important that every church leader should be informed and be very good at doing things. The adage says “It is what birds eat that they fly with”. Your experience and exposure determine your flight in ministry and the type of audience you gather.
Mega churches own expensive schools where some of their members could not afford to send their children. Some say this is where the so-called failing of the Church actually started. How do you react to that?
I think there are mix ups somewhere along the line. When a church establishes school(s) from the congregation money, offerings, donations and tithes, I believe the reason for such establishment is to alleviate poverty of the members so that their children would have access to good education which should be affordable to all so that this will save the future of the community. On the other hand, when a pastor single-handedly established a school without congregation money, he has the right to increase his school fees to Harvard University or Cambridge University standard because he knows what he wants and the vision behind establishing such except he chooses to be philanthropic and subsidize the school fees. My counsel is that everything should be done in an orderly manner in order not to offend God in our dealings.
The social media; some see it from the religious perspective as doing more harm than good in promoting Christianity while some feel it is helping to spread the Gospel more than being negative. Please, share your experience in this regard.
Social media such as Whatsapp, YouTube, Facebook, twitter, etc are good but it depends on the uses and the motive of the users. Generally speaking, they enhance information dissemination and make work easy to carry out. As to whether they are doing more harm than good in promoting Christianity or feel it is helping to spread the Gospel more than being negative, it depends on the uses and the user as I earlier said. Even as good and perfect as the Holy Bible is, what some people read inside and do are against the will of God. For example they won’t see that marriage is between one man and one woman rather they will tell you that Solomon married 1000 wives and concubines, so they can do same or Abraham married three wives, so they can do same. Is that the will of God? No. The capacity and the mindsets of the social media users need to be examined, this will determine the outcome of the uses.
You were a special guest at the RCCG youth forum recently. There, you had the opportunity to teach and free souls. Also that event did confirm your deep tie with Pastor Adeboye. How would you describe the experience?
Being invited by my father in the Lord to preach alongside with him is a great honour any son can benefit from his father. During the ministry we had a very good time before the Lord, this will be an unforgettable experience in His presence. The word was preached as usual, prophetic words came to the people of God and Lord healed many. Praise God!
Despite major opposition to the trend, the issue of homosexuality and gay marriage is becoming more and more of a divisive issue for the church today. How do you navigate this issue as a church leader?
What is not worth discussing should not be discussed at all. Homosexual and gay marriages are demonic assignment from hell through the instrumentality of the ungoverned governments of nations and backslided Pastors, Bishops, Archbishops etc. Homosexual and gay are against nature. The so called promoters of gay and homosexual marriages advocating it all over are demonic and ungodly. If these evil vices are good, why were they not born or given birth to through them? Nonsense! There are people who know their end already as destruction, please don’t follow them no matter their positions, level of influence and affluence in the secular and the church. My advice to those young Christians who want to follow the Lord should follow what the Bible orders us to do and not what the evil pastors and Bishops are saying because broad is the way that leads to destruction and many people are on the path. Homosexual and Gay marriages are evil and demonic and they should be avoided at all costs because of the severe repercussions that follow them.
People are saying that the growth of the Church of God is fast-paced but that this does not conform to the way it is being run by some leaders, in terms of different teaching styles. Do you agree with this?
The growth of any Church is equal to the spirituality of the Pastor or the teaching of the leaders and the administration put in place to check various excesses as no one can give what he does not have. No church can grow more than its pastors. When a church leader operates quack teaching for the congregation, it will soon show, and that will not stand a test of time before the people would begin to say ‘to your tent O Israel’. I don’t totally agree with the submission that a church can grow while the pastor is teaching different things contrary to the instrumentality of the genuine church growth.
Aside that you preach and heal, you also author books on divine inspiration; is the Church really learning and getting better from such diligent efforts by leaders like you?
Before I proceed, let me quickly correct this, I don’t heal, no man of God has power to heal; only Jesus is the healer by His Spirit. The truth is that you cannot save the whole world no matter how spiritual, anointed and dutifully you are as a man of God. Even Judas Iscariot among the twelve disciples chose to be a devil and as anointed as Jesus was and is, he could not help the situation. Being an author books on divine inspiration is to help the church. Before I became a Pastor, I have read several books by many authors that are ahead of me, these are great blessing for me till today. We have several testimonies from those who read my books and the books of men of God all over the world. So we can confidently say that the Church is really learning and getting better from such diligent efforts by church leaders to write.
These days, it is being observed that the Church is growing less in rural towns, every pastor want to be in urban areas. What informs this idea; is it for want of prosperity as some are saying?
Well, everybody called into ministry has different reasons for doing ministry work. When God called us, he gave us different mandates and different ministry instructions on how to do ministry, when to do ministry, where to do ministry, who to minister to and what to do in ministry. In our ministry for example, we started from villages with several branches before moving to the cities at home and mission abroad. It all depends on the viewing point, some may leave villages for cities because of money but ministry should be done in line with the will of God.
What has been your greatest asset as a believer and minister of God?
The greatest asset to every believer in life is the Holy Spirit, the very Spirit of God. He connects one to divinity and this is the only priceless asset. Money can buy other assets but money cannot buy Him. He gives other assets in life to everyone in need, cars, buildings, businesses, sound health.