By Yinka Ajayi
Archbishop John Osa-Oni of Vineyard Christian Ministries speaks on the Dapchi girl held by Boko Haram for refusing to denounce Christianity, reliving his own battle with family members when he accepted Christ in 1974. Osa-Oni spoke ahead of the 30th anniversary of his ministries which, according to him, will see anointed men of God like Pastor E.A. Adeboye, Bishop Wale Oke and Dr. Wilson Badejo, among others ministering.
How has Vineyard Ministries fared since its humble beginning 30 years ago?
We are grateful to God for bringing his church this far without the support of any man or organization, be it local or international. So it is the faithfulness of God and not what I did as an individual. When you go through a faith walk with God, He takes you from one level to another.
How do you describe the good times and the challenges you may have encountered in this faith walk?
I believe the good times surpass the challenges. In Vineyard, every challenge is a stepping stone to do something better. One thing is, if God orders your step according to the scriptures, you keep going without stumbling. The reason many preachers get into trouble is because they tend to judge others with their own standard. My only standard is Jesus Christ. Whereas many ministries look at what they can do part time, we move with the leading of the Master.
We heard your coming into ministry was a bit dramatic. Could you share your experience?
In 1969, I was very sick such that I fainted seven times. My people thought I was dead on the sixth occasion and, in my home town, it was a taboo to bury a teenager around the home. So they went to the forest to dig a place where I will be laid to rest. While they were waiting to take me to the grave they had prepared in the forest, I suddenly woke up and jumped out through the window. I landed outside the house and tried to pluck a coco-yam leaf which had something like a sprinkle of blood on it. I saw a black snake running and I ran after the snake shouting, ‘I have seen it’, and people were asking me what did I see? Remember I had been down for six months and could not go anywhere or do anything but that was the end of the sickness.
I returned to the cocoyam leaf and tried to pluck it but a man dressed in a white garment and holding a rod stopped me, saying, ‘Go and serve Him. When I related the encounter to my parents, they thought it was one of their ancestors who drove me back to serve their idol. But there was this Mr. Wenbo, a member of the Cherubim and Seraphim Church who told my parents that he understood that Jesus wanted me to serve Him. But I didn’t serve God until February 1972 after I attended a service in the Church of God Mission. They asked first timers to stand up. I did but when they demanded that those that wanted to confess Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior should rise, I didn’t stand up. I just took the small Bible they gave me home and I went on my knees and instantly there was a change.
You once served as a voluntary worker in the Ministries of Archbishop Benson Idahosa of blessed memory. How was the experience like?
Where I am today I owe it to God and then to Archbishop Benson Idahosa. The Archbishop was my spiritual father, whether dead or alive. He actually pushed me to my destiny. I have his pictures in my wallet, my office and even in my Bible. He told me there was no mountain big enough to be able to stop me. He asked me to keep pressing forward. I actually served as a member of the Church of God Mission as a soldier of Christ and a member of the choir. Archbishop Idahosa was a result-oriented man who did not believe in impossibility mentality. If he sent you out, you must come back with result. The other ministry in which I served as a staff is Christ Chapel International under the leadership of Dr. Tunde Joda. Joda and I were prayer partners on UNILAG campus and we became friends. He greatly helped me on the Word of faith and in my work with God. That is the reason I am eternally grateful to Joda for his impact and efforts to see me grow through the reading of inspirational and spirit filled books. Tunde Joda exposed me to reading and I will forever be grateful for that.
Looking back to how Pentecostal churches fared then and now that most of the churches operate different doctrines and miracles, what is your assessment?
The state of the Church today is very pathetic. In those days, if you leave your money in Church, you are sure of getting it back. It was a Church that had integrity and character but today it is something else. But I believe we will return to that era. With the great revival coming to Nigeria, we will return to the glorious era. Jesus alluded to that fact when he said “if I will be lifted up I will draw men to myself”.
What makes Vineyard the choice ministries?
The undiluted word of God. We share the word of faith, and we don’t go to the extreme. We stay in the middle. Some ministries may go to the extreme but one day they will come back and meet us at the middle. It is always good to maintain a balance on what you believe. We are a unique church because we are the Word church. We are likened to a scriptural tree planted by the river that brings fruits in its season. So we keep looking on to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.
What is your agenda for the church in the next decade?
We aim to be a better church, having more disciples that will follow true to what we preach; we aim to see the church spread across Africa and the western world with our uniqueness of building destinies through the word of God.
How do you see the Christian Dapchi girl Leah Sharibu who refused to deny Jesus Christ and for which reason she is still held captive by Boko Haram while more than 100 of her colleagues were released?
That is what Christians should emulate. That is the value I instil in my children and orientate them too to raise their own children that way. I was chased away from home in 1974 because I refused to bow to an idol. They asked me if I will serve family idol or serve the God of Idahosa. Before I said ‘the God of Idahosa’, I got a dirty slap on my face. I can boldly say that since 1974, I couldn’t have served anything better. I pray the young girl comes back safely, every one of us will surely be a blessing to her because we love her passionately and that is the way we should all raise our children.
What programme has been lined up to celebrate Vineyard on her 30th anniversary?
If you check the order of program, you will observe that those who do not compromise the standard of the Word of God are those we have invited. In other words, these people are coming to be a blessing to us, and they include Bishop Wale Oke, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, Dr. Wilson Badejo.