BY EBUN BABALOLA
Mr. Ituah Ighodalo is the pastor of Trinity House a church he started after he was asked to step down at the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Christ Church Parish. He speaks to Saturday Vanguard on his life and transition from RCCG to Trinity House. Excerpts:
Moving from the Redeemed Christian Church of God to Trinity House was very tough and challenging. It was like starting all over again but we trust God for his grace.
I was asked to step down from the Redeemed Christian Church of God. And I hanged around for a year doing nothing. Then, the Lord spoke to me and we started Trinity.
I was very tired after I was asked to step down. I didn’t expect it and I didn’t know where it was coming from. I just went back to God. The offence had to do with my divorce and re-marriage, although, it was 10 years after my divorce. And I had remarried for two and half years. So, I didn’t know where it was coming from. As a human being, I was naturally tired because I’d put in all the energy I had into Christ Church.
Starting all over again was not easy. The first challenge was hearing from God and it took me eight months to clearly know what God wanted me to do. Once you hear from God, the burden is lessened. He is also providing the financial strength.
I was asked to step down as a pastor but I left Redeemed Christian Church of God on my own without taking anybody along. If people had left the church, it was their discretion. A few of my people in church came but some of them did not. Some new people have also joined the new assembly.
My wife knew everything about the punishment I was given by the Redeemed Christian Church of God but asked to step down was a surprise to both of us. She has been very supportive.
Really, I didn’t intend to be a pastor. I just wanted to be born again and serve God. But I grew up in a parish of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Freedom Hall. There, I was given responsibilities. I started as an usher and then starting pastoring a House-Fellowship, and from there, I was sent on an international mission and before I knew was happening, people started calling me pastor. At a point, I got ordained as one.
The church is a place where people are encouraged to serve God and perhaps, I might have possessed some qualities for me to be ordained a pastor.
Being in the service of God is very tough and difficult but interesting. You are the second point of call in the church. The fact that you have to make the people comfortable was a challenge. As an usher, one has to make sure the church is well arranged and ready to receive people. So, we were serving as ushers, guards and helpers as well as the face of the church. And the irony is that one is standing throughout the service. After the service, you go back and start counting the money. And in those days, when we used to be ushers in the camp, we could spend two days counting money. So, it’s quite a tedious job but very interesting.
Being in the service of God is quite challenging. Sometimes,some worshippers don’t feel obliged to obey but I don’t feel bad. We were trained not to feel bad. And we were told not to take the job personally. We were trained to encourage people. And if anyone refuses to sit in a particular place, then, we make room for him or her to sit where he or she feels comfortable. There are areas where people are comfortable. So, you begin to know these people and how to make provisions for them in the church.
There are temptations in God’s vineyard but in those days, we had scarves. So, when you saw a lady that is not well dressed, you talked to a lady usher who would approach her and give her a scarf. It was just to advise them on what was appropriate. Every Christian faces temptation but one has to prayerfully guide against it.
My first assignment as a parish pastor was also challenging. The first place of my pastoral work was in Denmark. I had to go to Denmark by myself with a guide called Reverend Titi as my assistant and music director. I was far away from home and I did a lot of prayer. Seventeen people attended the first service and on the second day, only one person attended the service. I was discouraged after the service but I went ahead and preached to the person. So, I went home and thought over it. The following day, four people came and bit by bit, it began to grow.
I had to think, because , as an accountant, there was no reason wasting my time. And I was perplexed that despite my prayers, only one person came the second day . But I thank God that person came. What if nobody had come. Even at that, I made up my mind that I will preach to an empty hall. It was a good lesson for me.
Training pastors who later went wayward is the risk you run when you grow at the rate that Redeemed Christian church is growing. But I think there is a larger percentage of those who do well. I think it is a good risk to take as long as the gospel is preached. At the same time, it is not possible to get it all right. One learns on the job as it continues. That was how Jesus looks after his disciples and that is the model that the church is also following. We hope that God will take control. Sometimes, some big mistakes are made but at the end, God glorifies himself.
Corruption in Nigeria is deep. It is almost a culture. For too long, the wrong people have been in power and for too long, the church itself had not addressed that issue. Church preachers have been heavenly bound but earthly irrelevant. So, the church must change its message. Even the church itself has corruption within the church. And lots of the church members are not well taught that corruption is terribly unholy. They make a few compromises and give their tithe to the pastor who wouldn’t ask them where the money is coming from. But we believe that things will be better.
The Church should let its relevance be felt in society and should reach out and intervene whenever there is crisis in the country . We should call the government of the day to order and get to the root of it. Church should be willing to help to solve the problems. We reach out to those who are causing the problems and preach a message of peace and reconciliation to them.