Genesis Pastor, Israel Oladele Ogundipe, cannot easily forget the noble role of Celestical Church in changing his fortune. It was a narration of grass to grace as a man who could only afford to eat rice every Christmas, now shares 1,000 bags of rice in appreciation of God’s blessings.
Tell us about your growing up days for the benefit of those reading about you for the first time?
I grew up a Muslim boy. My name was Wasiu, and my parents joined Christ Gospel Apostolic Church. And that’s my mum in the photo frame behind you (pointing at a framed photograph). She doesn’t use earrings up till now. She’s still a Deacon in the Christ Gospel Apostolic Church. My younger ones and I are the only Celestial Church members.
CAC and Christ Gospel Apostolic Church happened to be a very good Church. I was born without a silver spoon in my mouth and it was so tough for my parents, but all the way they taught us to do with the way of the Lord. We were taught on how to fast and pray, even when there’s nothing for us to eat they would say we should be fasting. I never knew God was using the ordeal to build us.
There was a day somebody abused my mother in our former church. Then, my mother wore one cloth for 4 years and the lady was abusing my mother in pidgin that it was my mother who served God the most; the one who came to church most, the one who cleaned the church most, and she was the poorest, but God has really changed my mother’s level now. I lost my father 2 years ago.
So, it was what I heard and I felt it was a very big insult on my mum. Then, I walked down the road; not too far from my house and I saw one celestial church. I saw a man. The man happened to be a very nice and young. His name is Prophet Femi Soyoye, and he showed us, love. I started going to his church. I started playing the drum for them because I am talented and I’m a very creative person. Every Sunday, they used to show me love that I should come to their church. I said to myself that, let me go to a church where they don’t change their clothes; where it would only be one clothe because we were always feeling bad that people have known us with one cloth we were wearing because we didn’t have the opportunity to be changing clothes then.
They’ve known us with the same cloth for years. So, the shame was so much because I happened to be the first child of the family and we were living in Oshodi before we moved to Alagbado. And that’s why I have been teaching people, not to take opportunity for granted; Identify opportunity, embrace opportunity maximize opportunity. The only money my father made then was 3 thousand naira and that was the money he used to buy a piece of land at Alagbado area, and he built the house and we moved in after.
So, when I was in that Celestial Church, that was when the gift of God started in my life. People started abusing my parents that how could you allow your son to go to Cele and you were a Deaconess, my father was a Deacon.
My father was a principled man, but he said he knew his son, he’s not going to bring disappointment to him and he said let him go if that’s where God asked him to go. And truly as he spoke about it God said, he would use me to transform the story of the family. This happened to be a family who, if we eat rice on Christmas day, it would be another Christmas before we eat another one. Two days before Christmas last year, we shared 1,000 bags of rice to people. When we were distributing the rice I was so happy.
So, when I was in that church, they showed me love and I remembered Christ about love. I never wanted to start a Church. I was even thinking of going back to school.
Right now, I still want to go back to school; I want to write GCE and I still want to go and study Law if possible. I want to go to LASU. I know I will be sitting down with my children, but I don’t mind. I want new story to be read about me. I have been to hell and back. I have been through trouble and I have been through satanic accusation and confrontation, but God has been faithful.
So, the first testimony happened from the people. They gave me their land to start a Church. I didn’t want to start a church; I didn’t know how to preach, but all of a sudden we started growing. Then, I met some people and someone assisted me too and that was how we moved here, and the church has been growing.
How as it been in the last few years especially as some Pentecostal pastors don’t believe in what you stand for?
To the Glory of God, have got many of Pentecostal Pastors who loves me so much. I would have loved to send you the photo of Pastor Ashimolowo when he was praying for me and also Pastor Mike Murdock when he was praying for me too, and also my spiritual father, Pastor Wole Oladiyun, of CLAM.
He loves me so much. He sometimes send message to me. When people attack you, I don’t want to believe they attack you because you are bad or they don’t like you. Probably there are some things they need to know about you that they didn’t know.
I have really been attacked by Celestial Church. Why? Because many of them really believe in the tradition of Celestial. Many would say no, Oshoffa didn’t say this, but trust me, success is a perfume, failure is an odour.
If you want everybody to like you, you don’t want to go to the top. Sometimes, if you want to be the best, you need to beat the rest.
There are some people who won’t like what I’m doing; like the way I give people’s money because they feel I’m trying to create popularity for myself, and God sees my heart. The only time I really received a hit was when Uncle Seye was there for me. It was a Scadal that raised my standard. It was a story that brought me to Newspapers front pages to make me a Front liner.
There are things I say to my congregation that if you are talking to me don’t kneel down. It’s a normal tradition in Celestial Church that if you talking to your Shepherd, you should kneel down. That I don’t believe in it. If somebody is old enough to be my mother, will I tell her to kneel down for me, I’m just a little over 40. But if you call me your father, fine, it’s a good thing. I was talking to my members last time, I said some of you won’t be able to kneel down for your husbands at home and you will be kneeling down for me; adorning pastors more than your husbands.
If we were to look at the time of Apostle Ayo Babalola, Moses Orimolade, SB Oshoffa, all these people really operated through holy spirit and they have helped us this far, through holy spirit and I want to bless God for a woman in my life, Reverend Mother Esther Abimbola Ajayi. She’s a transparent woman. I have known her for over 20 years. Her blessing is from God. I know about it. Through her I know if God wants to raise anybody, there’s no way to stop God.
I remember when I got my hand broken and there was no money for my mother to take me to Igbobi to treat the hand because of 150 naira. So, anytime I remember that, I will want to help many people.
When my father was alive, I called him a walking-Bible. He knew Bible from in and out, so you can’t manipulate him. There was a day he was telling me about the first fruit. He said it’s a lie. God is a not mad and he’s not that wicked that he would ask you to give all the money you make in January to a Pastor. Are you dense? He said 1 percent out of it is enough. If you make 10 million in the January and you now go and give all the 10 million to your Pastor, he said out of that 10 million, if you give him one million it is enough, even 100 thousand is enough. So, my father was my major mentor when he was alive.
I remember a time when I had to go to parties to go and pack remnants and we would now picked the meat from those remnants and that was what we would cook in our house. I have so many bitter stories that are enough to encourage some people and that’s why the church biggest miracle is salvation.