Bishop Chioma Grace Dauji, is the founder of Amazing Grace Pentecostal Church Worldwide and the CEO of Great Life Changer Foundation International.
She is an influential woman of God and an excellent proof of the unlimited capability and potentials of a woman. In this interview, she reveals how her ministry started in Ayilara, the den of prostitutes, drug addicts, armed robbers, others.
By Ebun Sessou
What informed your relationship with the entertainment industry?
We organise Praise Week annually. And this time, the Nollywood artistes showed their intention to join the Praise ministry and because it was a humanitarian programme, it was an avenue to further project their service to humanity. It was also an avenue to pray for those who were sick among them. We also used the medium to declare a prayer rain against the rage of death prevailing in the entertainment industry. So, it was a prayer and praise programme.
As much as these actors and actresses are gifted, they hardly excel in the course of the profession, so, it was an avenue to pray for them. Many of them were dying so we took it upon ourselves to pray for them so that God would deliver, liberate and set them free. This programme was done with the prayer group of the Nollywood.
The ministry started at Ayilara area of Lagos. I started at Ojuelegba Roundabout, I was in the company of some “Area boys” (miscreants). I also worked with some less privileged people, bus drivers, drug addicts, smokers and I later went to Ayilara to preach to the prostitutes. That was how the ministry started.
The less privileged and the area boys in the area were my target. I was ministering under the bridge. Most times while ministering to them, they would puff the smoke from their wrapped Indian hemp on me but I did not relent. Most of them converted and were relocated to Akintan where the ministry was located.
When I started, I noticed that some of them were not educated and they were from polygamous families. They had no one to encourage or help them so, I financed the education of some who later went back to school. We also engaged some in vocational training including barbing, tailoring among others. Ayilara was the best place to get them off the streets and empower them.
We also went to prison to minister to the inmates. At the prison, we discovered many ills so we built a football court, called Amazing Grace, in the Medium Prison in Kirikiri. We got the prisoners equipped by engaging them in sporting activities. We also built a barbing shop in Kirikiri Medium Prison. Those facilities are still there. We then moved to the female prison and rehabilitated them. We also built a hall for the female inmates. As time went on, we paid the school fees of some of the inmates that decided to go back to school. But, when we noticed that some of them were wandering on the streets after they were freed, we decided to engage them. One day, I met one of the ex-convicts at the airport wandering about and I approached him and told him that he would be taken back to the prison. He then explained to me that his wife had absconded with his child and that he does not know what to do next and again, stigmatization was a problem. The society was not ready to accept him. So, I decided to have a rehabilitation centre and built the Amazing Grace Football Club as part of the ministry.
Some of the footballers were ex-convicts and hawkers on the streets; different people that were in need. In the course of my ministration, I discovered that there were more widows who were impoverished. So, we organised a programme for widows and we have been empowering them since then.
Some of these widows have health challenges including stroke, arthritis among others. The stories of these widows were pathetic. Some of the children of these widows couldn’t go to school. There are over 2000 widows in the rehabilitation centre. We meet last Friday of every month. And we also organise quarterly health programme for them with doctors and nurses in attendance. The football club is also an interesting programme for the youths. Some of the youths are into drugs, armed robbery etc., so we use the football club to discourage them from those vices to become good citizens in the society.
Some of these youths are into different vocational trainings while others who decided to go back to school were sponsored by the ministry. Some of them just graduated from Delta State University, Abraka. We have some children in secondary who were found on the streets. There was a particular boy who was found in a tricycle (marwa) and was brought to the rehabilitation centre. There were others who also had issues, today they have been rehabilitated.
You have highlighted all sorts of issues in the society, what actually is the problem?
It is the leadership and we have been suffering for years but this time, it is getting out of hand. We thought things would get better but reverse is the case. The leadership must be proactive when it comes to education. Most leaders do not think of the less privileged. Once their families are fine, they are less concerned about others, it is unfortunate. Yet, people are voting for these same corrupt people in every election.
I do not know what the issue is. It used to be the government of the people but this time, it is the government of the family. Any leader with the fear of God ought to help those in need. They only show themselves on the television pretending to be helping the people. I believe those gestures are stage-managed. No matter how bad the economy is, the leaders ought to empower the downtrodden. There is no plan for the masses. Youths graduate every year without assurance of employment. There must be a structure in place if not, the country will only be in its retrospective condition.
Ayilara in those days
Ojuelegba in those days was the den of robbers, drug dealers, Indian hemp smokers among others. It was the abode for prostitutes. Most of the houses were rented by prostitutes and there were cheap motels. Whenever we decided to minister to them, they would request for bowls of rice, biscuits and soft drinks just to attract them. Some of them were genuinely converted after the ministration while others were not. One of the converted prostitutes is a chorister in our church today. If every citizen take one of these people, this country will be sanitised.
Prisons in Nigeria are congested. There are lots of falsely accused people awaiting trial, what is your take on this?
Prisons are supposed to be corrective centres and not condemnation centres. People go there to be rehabilitated and become better citizens. Today, those who are false offenders have been joined with the criminals thereby making it impossible for correction to become a reality in their lives. The criminal would corrupt those who were on trial. The government should organise the prison system such that it would serve as a corrective centre. Those arrested for sanitation offence are joined with armed robbers so, the place is congested. Another area is the legal department. The legal department must be prompt in its judgment because there are a lot of people awaiting trials dumped in the prisons and that is the major problem.
Decision to come into the ministry?
I was 17 years when I heard the call. I was still in secondary school and also a member of the Scripture Union. My grandma was sick. Everybody had gone to see her except me. My mother insisted I should visit her and I did. It was in the middle of the ministration that I started prophesying, but I did not know. It was there the minister of God said I was going to be a great woman of God. I did not take it seriously and that was how I shunned the prophecy. Years after, I got married and my daughter was ill; she passed out in the hospital. I was shocked, my husband did not know what to do.
Then, I heard a voice that said, “I asked you to build a church for me, you refused.” And I started crying and the voice said: “You are crying because of one soul, what about the several souls that have been dying?” And I started praying and I entered into a covenant with the Lord that if He could restore my child, I would serve Him. It was in the process of the prayer that my daughter woke up. Then, my husband said I should go to a Bible school and do whatever God asked me to do and that was how I started. Since then, God has been taking me from one level of ministry to the other. Today, that girl is one of the choristers in the church.
There are complex cases but God is always in charge. Sometimes, the people we have rehabilitated would want to pay us back with curses. It has been a challenging time working with the people but God is our strength.
Being a Female Bishop?
There are lots of challenges I had faced in the past. As African, it is a taboo for a female to be a Bishop but I was not discouraged. I stay focused. As a Christian, I have a convincing call from God. If you know what God has called you for, it is important to work towards it without any challenge. Unfortunately, people believe that, women should be silenced but by the grace of God I have passed that level.
Coping with drug addicts, widows, ex-convicts, others?
God has been helping me. There was a case of a violent boy who was brought to the rehabilitation centre, he confronted me but with prayers, God took control.
Response from your husband?
In the beginning, he did not understand. As a man, he was jealous that I was too engrossed with the ministry. It started affecting my marriage but I adjusted myself. With prayer and communication, things started making up. Today, he prays and encourages me.
Home-front cum the ministry?
I do all cooking and my husband enjoys my meals. By the grace of God, it is all about organization and placing the priority and organizing yourself, I plan my home, I take care of my husband, I also work as a Bishop. God has been faithful to me. I make sure I play my role as a wife and a mother at home and not as a General Overseer.
Do you think, Nigeria can produce female president?
Women know how to handle things better than men when it comes to dealing with people, we carry babies in our wombs, we have the feelings, in terms of ministry, when women minister, they are always careful unlike men, so I believe in the nearest future, God will give us one. Although, our tradition does not allow female to occupy position that is assumed meant for men.