BISHOP Bolanle Odeleke, 64, founder of Power Pentecostal Mission, (Agbara Olorun Kii Bati) who lost her husband in a motor accident in 1990 is celebrating 40 years on the pulpit. In this interview with OLAYINKA LATONA, Odeleke who had three boutiques before the call of God, recalls the hurdles she encountered within 40 years of ministerial voyage including her marital challenges and others. Excerpts…
How has the ministerial voyage been?
All I can say is grace made me. I thank God for various works He has performed through me. I am celebrating the grace of God. When God started using me in 1974, November 16 precisely, it was with a miracle being the first woman in Nigeria to hold crusade that thousands of people attended. Then women were not holding crusade, all they did then was to pray for the preacher, clean the church but not allowed to sit nor minister on altars.
Christian leaders around then allowed me because of the grace of God upon me. Most people didn’t give me a chance. I was at Christ Apostolic Church, Yaba, for three years organizing crusades. God gave me husband, a military man who later rose to the rank of a General before he died and who assisted me a lot when I started the ministry. After his death, God’s grace did not depart from me.
How did you come to Lagos?
Well, when my husband was transferred to Lagos and I had to move with him, but the work of God had to go on. Somehow the Lord led me to Christ Apostolic Church in Yaba and I was preaching everyday for three years between 1980 and 1983.
You are one of the most criticized ministers of God in Nigeria. How are you able to function?
It is a mystery that I cannot explain myself but I believe it is the grace of God. The Lord has taken me through every challenge and trial. I believe that God was preparing me then for something greater.
The death of my husband did not shake me much because I know he has gone to be with The Lord but the Media started fabricating and publishing lies about me, saying what they did not see nor investigate. Once they hear my name they would come out with false stories, to the extent that I would ask my people when I did commit such offence. For almost six years they carried negative reports about me.
What were the publication all about?
My husband died; I remarried and I found out that there was an error. I divorced! I learnt by grace and experience. I fell but the grace of God kept me. Other ministers of God who did not pass through half of what I did and we did not hear about them again. My foundation is Jesus Christ. And that is what has been keeping me. There are areas that I could have done better though. I was telling somebody that if I knew what I know now in those days, my ministry would have come out better. But I still thank God for where He is taking me and what He has done through me. The soft sells have asked for forgiveness and I forgive them. We are now friends.
How do you relate with the opposite sex after the death of your husband?
As a mother, I see all men as my sons notwithstanding their age and there is no way I can mess with them. That discipline is guiding me. For years I was the only female among other men of God. People like Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, Pastor Felix Omobude, and Pastor Ezekiel amongst others I flocked among them. The number one lesson I learnt after my husband died, is that a woman is not a sex object. No matter what you are doing, a woman is not a sex object. Women should develop self confidence and believe in themselves. God has made me as a gift to both male and female. The men have been cooperative and submissive to the grace of God in my life. Majority of ministers in our church are highly educated but God gave me the wisdom to relate with them. They respect the grace of God upon my life.
The church international convention
It is an annual convention where people gather to pray, praise and appreciate God for the year and prepare for the coming year. The convention features ministers’ conference, women and youth meetings amongst others. We have guest speakers that are invited.
After 40 years on the pulpit, what next?
God gave me two new projects which totally different from what I have been doing. The first one is talk show on radio and television which will focus on the wholeness of man—the spirit, soul and body: How to be a successful entrepreneur, educate people on how they can be free givers, taking care of the less privileged without showing off.
Taking care ofless privileged
I will be on the show with professionals from various fields who will educate the listeners and at the end of each programme, I will pray for the people.
The second project is the establishment of; “Empowering Girl Child Organisation.” The objectives of this organization are to deliver our girls from child labour, educating them on how they can defend themselves against rapists and other predators.
Is there any relationship between Power Pentecostal Church and Christ Apostolic Church?
I had my calling at the Christ Apostolic Church, CAC, in 1983. CAC started a revolution that brought out 10 laws which banned women from preaching, if you are not a CAC pastor, you will not be allowed to preach in the church, cannot travel abroad without prior notice to the church authority etc. The one that affected me most was the one that says an evangelist or prophet should not to live in houses but in the bushes or mountain tops.
I couldn’t accept that because all the callings I received came to me inside my room. I have never been to any mountain top because I was not instructed to do that. I had been in ministry for 18 years and God used me to establish churches for CAC here in Nigeria and abroad. I sought the face of God and He instructed me to leave the church. I went to the church leaders to explain how the laws affected me and they replied that they knew God is using me but if they allowed me it means they would allow other women and that I can leave.
I wrote a letter that I was leaving CAC and they replied saying may the grace of God go with me. Among four of us including late Baba Obadare, Baba Abiara, one Babalola from Osogbo that left the church then, I was the only one that the CAC leaders replied. In 1993, God gave me the name of the church as Power Pentecostal Church but I purchased the church site in Cele in 1983 with the name Christ Apostolic Church, Agbala Olorun Kii Bati but when I left CAC in 1993 I changed the church name to Power Pentecostal Church (Agbala Olorun Kii Bati).