Prophet (Dr.) Victor James, the General Overseer, City of Glory Pentecostal church, Ojodu Berger, Lagos, in this interview with ADELEKE ADESANYA tasks Christians in Nigeria to embrace Pagans and Muslims. He said adequate unity among different religions in Nigeria is the only way forward to the Promised Land. The man of God also bears his mind on other national issues. Excerpts.
As a man of God what is your perception about the country and what do u think the future holds for it?
Our country has been a blessed country. I strongly believe God is with us. He has been with us from year one, when we gained independence, down through the stream of the years. In this country, the citizens have experienced a lot with different leaders that have governed us. By the grace of God some of them have done well, and some others, their efforts were not enough. The state of the country right now is not really good, we are in a recession, but I believe our leaders are working on everything they can to see us out and reverse inflation and precision so that we can have a better live.
In a situation like this, what do you think Christians need to do?
We, as Christians, will need to support our leaders with prayers so that God will enable them to take the right decisions and make good moves that will bring about good life to the country. We are blessed with resources, but a lot of things going on in the country have made it impossible for the citizens to enjoy the resources, but we know that with prayers of Christians, a better Nigeria will manifest through good polices that will be formulated by our president. We believe in God for a better Nigeria.
There is no doubt that the country is in crisis and as a man of God, what do u think is probably the way out of the current economic recession?
The primary way out of this crisis first is that Nigerians should depend on God, trust in God’s ability to revive us. Secondly, by using the knowledge God has given us to make polices to arrive at decisions that will enable us to come out of this economic crunch. Moreover, I believe we need international knowledge input to enable us to see how we can revive the country so we can move forward, because what we need now is a solid policy. Apart from this, the president must listen to international bodies and see how we can come out of it. So, hope is not lost. We believe we can come out, with right decisions, good choices. I believe our president is on the right track; he is doing everything to bring us out of this. But it is not going to be only him, the church as a whole has to support him prayerfully and be optimistic about God’s grace speaking for us in this season of crisis.
You seem to have so much belief in the ability of President Buhari to turn things around, despite the ongoing crisis. Why this?
As a man of God, if I don’t believe in my President that means I didn’t approve of his presidential opportunity. I believe in him. I just believe he needs to make the right decision and surround himself with the right kind of people. I believe in him because he has the backing of God’s grace upon him to pull us out of this in a short time.
With God’s help, Buhari will bring brighter days back to Nigeria; the sunny day is ahead of us. But I don’t think we should expect miracles from him overnight. This is because, there have been problems down through the ages in the system of the country, and that will not be solved overnight. He is trying his best but I still think he has the ability to deliver the country from this chaos we have found ourselves.
What are the efforts your church is putting into place to assist the country in getting out of this?
In our little way, we teach our members on how to pray for the leaders of the country as the Bible teaches about praying for the people in authority. We educate and equip our members with the knowledge of praying for our leaders in the country. Apart from this, we are empowering our people to become entrepreneurs. We teach them good innovations and ideas that will change the next person in their space of contact because I believe if we start changing anybody on the next space of their contact it will help the country’s revival, too; not putting all the solutions on the President because the President can only do as much as his ability would permit him. But if an individual tries to get engaged in how to solve another person’s problem, it will help Nigeria get better.
Recently the President inaugurated a campaign “Change begins with me”. As a man of God, how do you intend to support this programme with your ministry?
That is what I have just said. We are changing ourselves and then changing the next person that comes in the space of contact. The thought here is that what do I do to change any other person’s life? You start making moves that make you become selfless. You will see that it will make you to begin to think of someone else’s life, and with that, it gets us engaged to the level that criminality will not set in again in this country. The move by the President is a good move that we must all embrace. Similar thing like this was done in America before they become glorious as they are today. If you check the history of America, Thomas Eddison had to look for how he could change America by inventing something that probably changed the whole world today. If we support the President’s policies, things will be fine for us in this country. If people, communities, Muslim community, Christian community, pagan community, and every other community in the country come together with this mind set of what the President has just established, it will help us get engage thinking of how to make the country beautiful.
In your statement now you made mention of the pagan community. Do you believe in paganism as a religion?
Of course, exactly, but we wouldn’t talk down on other religion. Nigeria is more or less like the United States because we permit every other religion to be practised. We, Christians, believe Jesus Christ as the Lord, and we are preaching that to everybody to come with us. But we cannot force every other religion to come in with us, we just dispense the word of God to you and allow you to make the choice for yourself, because we believe our God is not a forcible God. Likewise, we believe in the Islamic religion and whatever they are doing. We celebrate other people but we wouldn’t compromise our faith. Being Christians doesn’t mean we don’t celebrate other religions. Whatever any other person wants to believe in, they can believe in, but we believe in Christ as a supreme God, just as pagans see paganism as a religion. So, what good or gain do we have looking down on their religion? What we do is to show them Christ as the way out of everything because the Bible says Christ is the way, the truth and life and except through him, nobody can see the father.
A couple of months ago, the Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Naisr El- Rufai, was reported to have stipulated some rules and regulations to guide the act of preaching the word of God. What is your view on this?
What is going on in Kaduna now is what I can call selfish act. I said this because it is only a selfish person that will stylishly force people to do things that he feels is good in the name of religion. It is wrong for someone to stipulate or enacts laws that will guide the practice of a religion in this country. I think he is on a wrong path because he doesn’t follow the true doctrine of Islam. If you listen to good Muslim scholars they talk about lslam being a peaceful religion. Good Muslims don’t force people to do their will.
Recently, some Christian leaders urged President Buhari to caution some Muslim fanatics in the North following violent attacks on Christians. They threatened to resort to violence. Do you support this?
Well, I believe the Christian community had to bring up ideas they had to come up with to show the President that they believe in him. If you see from the perspective of the information that they have sent to him, you will know that they believe in the President. We, Christians, believe in Buhari and that is one of the reasons we voted for him. And for this, we also trust him to be a Godfearing man, even before he became the President.
And apart from this, he is a person that does not criticize people’s decision and religion. For instance, we learned that he lives with Christians, he has some workers in his house that are Christians and he never had problem with them. He is a free person, who could accommodate other religions without any segregation and not trying to force anybody. If he can accommodate Christians, I believe he will listen to Christian’s demands and whatever the Muslims fanatics are trying to do, will be resolved with his influence.