By Banji Ojewale
THE international journalist, Baffour Ankomah of Ghana, is reported to have recorded the lengthiest interview session with Pastor William Folorunso Kumuyi, General Superintendent of Deeper Christian Life Ministry, DCLM. As editor of the London-based New African monthly magazine, Ankomah ran voluminous portions of his encounter with the revered Nigerian churchman in October 2006, revealing more than a treasure trove of the life and times of Kumuyi.
The Ghanaian newsman said what he served the public, old and new takes on Kumuyi, was bereft of the trappings you witness between the intrusive reporter and his evasive newsmaker, between a predator and his potential prey, or between a dispassionate journalist and an equally disinterested figure. The reporter was intentional in his bid to secure an uncommon interview with an uncommon man. He got it, but at a price: he travelled with Kumuyi across West Africa, following and studying the man of God as he preached to hundreds of thousands of the poor and enthusiastic folk who wanted to benefit from his prayers and messages of salvation, hope, restoration, healing and deliverance.
I believe Ankomah desired an archival (historic) product (interview) to emerge from his peregrinations with Kumuyi, which he grabbed, because to date, there are few journalistic publications, if there are at all, that have captured a near-bubbly picture of the clergyman and his evangelistic work. The work is more than a reflection of the activities of Deeper Life Bible Church and its founder, leaders and members. Naturally, you can’t labour on an enterprise like this without profusely addressing the person of Kumuyi, his background, his associates and his followers.
But of what use are your literary travails over a great public figure if they don’t, ultimately, push for an agenda to transform lives and change society, if they don’t teach that those who read of the greatness of the subject should be inspired to be like him or her? Why do we go to extreme ends to write (auto)biographies, if the goal isn’t to build a better society through the emulation of the eminent lives of these citizens?
Writings aren’t for the pleasure of their creators; they are for society to gobble and gain from. They’re out of the writer’s control once they escape from his fingers. The consumer takes over for good or bad. His takeaway decides the impact of the book or publication (or broadcast).
In the case of the Ghanaian editor, his takeout came at the close of his long introduction to the interview with Kumuyi. He wrote: ‘’Pastor Kumuyi…has positioned himself, and run his life in such a dignified manner…As such he wins respect everywhere he goes. Church leaders are rarely held in such high esteem. The irony is that he is such a humble man you would never think he is the one so regarded…by national leaders. His humility, in fact, is quite disarming!
His selflessness, too, means that he draws no salary for the work he does, even though some of his junior pastors who are full-time (ministers) are paid for their service… Pastor Kumuyi does not touch money…The church takes care of his upkeep…In a way, Pastor Kumuyi reminds me of Ghana’s first president, Kwame Nkrumah. Like Nkrumah, Kumuyi has no property to his name, even though he is the leader of a mammoth organisation…What a challenge!”
There are apposite lessons. First, when we examine Kumuyi, we must be less awed by the superstructure of the Church God used him to found. We must focus more on the integrity, incorruptibility and inflexibility that have been his driving precepts as a servant of God and leader of men. Otherwise, we shall unwittingly pigeonhole the man with those who also have created mega Christian assemblies without the critical attendant moral undercurrents.
Secondly, Kumuyi’s pact with God dictates his relationship with man and everything associated with this world. In that case, he disavows the material in order to bow to the spiritual. Number 3: Kumuyi has developed a backbone that stands him from the crowd; once he has taken a decision he believes is Biblical and not dissonant with the prescribed righteousness of Heaven. His sing-song is, Others may I cannot.
All those who have met the man never fail to observe these traits. Those who haven’t met him but do write on him from secondary sources or by watching (or listening to) him preach can’t also escape a whiff of these attributes. But, as I said earlier of great personalities, our reflections on them are not to be caged in books; they must project into our lives.
That’s when our heroes and heroines would be fulfilled that when they pass on, their outstanding deeds wouldn’t pass on as well. We would have taken the baton from them for the race to continue towards a goal for the improvement of mankind.
At a time Nigeria is witnessing a new crop of persons at the helm and with promises of a new beginning, I invite our public office holders and the political class into the world of Pastor Kumuyi. Overseeing that world is a God Who loathes leaders who are not servants of the led. He desires leaders who wouldn’t be leeches. This God wants Spartan helmsmen whose practical discipline would infect the entire citizenry.
Many today are overwhelmed by the gigantic strides of Deeper Christian Life Ministry which started 50 years ago in August 1973 with only 15 persons. The resplendent spectacle they behold refers them to Kumuyi, the man at the root of the whole story.
But he in turn reroutes his stunned admirers to the Great Originator of what is petrifying them. Kumuyi tells them that they must rather adore the God Who gave him the gifts he has deployed over the decades to get the Church to this blazing height.
What we gather from Pastor Kumuyi, then, as we mark his 82nd birthday on June 6, 2023, is simply that the God Who gave him First Class in Mathematics at the University of Ibadan, Who made him learn at the feet of an unyielding atheist without becoming an atheist, Who is still giving His servant in his advanced age grand evangelism strategies such as the current revolutionary brand, Global Crusade with Kumuyi, GCK, will heartily offer our policy makers exceedingly more endowments to govern selflessly if they also embrace His laws and fear Him as Kumuyi has done.
Happy Birthday, Beloved Shepherd!
Ojewale is a writer in Ota, Ogun State