The founder and General Overseer of God First Ministries (aka Illumination Assembly), Bishop Isaac Idahosa, says he’s neither APC nor PDP. However, that he knows for a fact that only God can stop General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) from becoming Nigeria’s next president! In an exclusive and explosive interview with YES INTERNATIONAL! Magazine Publisher/Editor-in-Chief, AZUH ARINZE, at his Lekki, Lagos church on Wednesday, January 21, 2015, the handsome preacher who will be 50 this February gave his reasons for that. He also dissected his journey so far as well as the next level for his ministry, which he started with just 50 kobo in Minna, Niger State and under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Enjoy…
You are going to be 50 in February, even though you don’t look it. How does it feel to attain the golden age?
Well, exciting and…I lack words to express this. I will just say that I’m a product of His grace and mercy. I just thank God that we are enjoying covenant benefits of long life or longevity.
Now, 50 is a landmark; it’s also a milestone. How do you plan to celebrate your 50th birthday? What are you going to do that day?
We have an event from the 6th of February, which is a Friday. What are we going to do that day? We have Jubilee Night of Praise, where we have different gospel artistes coming to give praise to God on my behalf; that God has been able to see me through to 50. Then, on Saturday, 4pm, we have Ministers’ Impartation Service with Bishop Francis Wale Oke. Dr. Abel Damina will be taking the Friday Vigil and then, Saturday, by 12 noon, celebration proper. It’s not just about coming to eat, but creating a platform to set up my foundation – Isaac Idahosa Foundation – to be able to reach out to much more people, reach out to the less privileged, the widows and orphans and give scholarships to those who really deserve it.
What would say has been the greatest lesson you have learnt in your 50 years of existence?
The greatest lessons I have learnt are always products of when you didn’t fully comply by what God asked you to do. When you derail, there’s a way God chastises you. So, if you are in the palm of His hands and He really wants you to make it, from time to time, He tells you no, no, no, no; this is not the way. So, you learn. If you don’t learn by example, you become an example. But what you learn by experience is ignorance; what you learn by instruction is wisdom. So, a whole lot to talk about that, but each of the times God wants to prove His love to you, He pulls you back to Himself – through whichever means He wants to do it. Sometimes they are not palatable.
Now, what would you describe as your greatest achievement in the last 50 years?
In the last 50 years? (Yeah!) From the day I was born?
Yes! From the day you were born?
It’s that I discovered my calling, I discovered my assignment. The greatest discovery on earth is the discovery of what you were born to do and the greatest achievement is the fulfillment of that said discovered purpose of yours.
What would you describe as the greatest mistake you’ve made in the last 50 years?
Mistake? Em…You see, you can make mistakes, but not the same mistakes. It’s only great people that make mistakes. If you don’t make mistakes, you may hardly be able to make any other thing. Day to day, we make mistakes, time to time; but as the spirit of excellence grows in us, the mistakes are narrowed. Yes! It’s not just that you made mistakes, but what are you able to do not to repeat the same mistakes.
Now that you are 50, what is going to change about you?
What is going to change? Em…Not change really, but improve, because you see, it’s only God…changes are normal; it’s only God that doesn’t improve because of His make. When changes come, these changes improve us. God doesn’t have any part of Him that requires to be improved. He said I am the Lord, I change not. I want to improve on loving God, I want to improve on affecting humanity, I want to improve on allowing God have His way any day, any time, I want to improve on service to humanity.
What would you say has been the greatest thing that you asked God to do for you in the last 50 years that He did?
To grant me wisdom! Grant me the gifts of men and each of the time these gifts of men come, they help stabilize the vision and I’ve asked God to give me grace to be able to transform people’s lives and destinies and we’ve been seeing these things happening over the years.
What have you asked God to do for you in the last 50 years that He hasn’t done?
Absolutely nothing! Nothing! Because most of the time, I spend my time worshipping Him; He just does what He wants to do. Most of the time I just spend my time thanking Him. You see, you thank God for three things – you thank Him for what He has done, you thank Him for what He’s doing, you thank Him for what He’s about to do. So, you see, the prayer of thanksgiving is the prayer of pure faith. Absolute dependence and trust in Him; that God is able to do what He has said He will do. So, if you are asking within the confines of the promises of God, if it is not done yet, still thank Him that He’s not done it yet, then believe God that it’s gonna happen.
In the last 50 years, who would you say has affected your life the most?
The truth is that the most – The Holy Spirit. That’s the truth. Of course, God uses human vessels to affect us. I have had to read different books, I’ve had to have mentors that have contributed into my life and today I submit to the mentorship of my spiritual father, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor. I do have a lot of people who have made inputs here and there, but I look up to him, I submit to his leadership, I submit to his fatherhood and if you have fathers, you go further. Fathers give you feathers to move on further and I thank God that he has been able to live a life worthy of emulation and I’m proud to say this any day, any time.
What fond memories of your childhood can you tell us about?
I was too kind; too kind to a fault. I was a child that believed in everybody should be okay at my detriment. I was a child who was very merciful. At a time, they called me Mercy. I was a child who loved to eat. No matter what you did against me, just give me food and that will be the end of it. And they really insulted me with that. You; it’s food, food, food, food…And I said yes, it’s not food that offended me, it’s you who offended and I have to eat…Even if I’m angry, and then you give me food, I will eat and I will keep it there. They will say so why would you want to eat? I will say it’s not food that offended me. Till date, I separate issues. Even if I have any little fracas anywhere; not with food, because I need some strength to move on (General laughter).
So, where were you born and where did you grow up?
I was born in the North; my parents settled in the North before the war…
Where exactly in the North?
In the North, Kotangora. I was born there, then we grew up between Kotangora and Minna. So, that’s it.
Was that also why you started your ministry in Minna?
That was by persuasion. I was going to go to Jos, because of the weather and because of the almost zero tolerance to religious upheavals. But then, God said to me where they contributed to your growth, to your everything, return back there and contribute to them spiritually. It was what informed my going to Minna, Niger State and when I got to Minna, when He asked me to go start a ministry, I had 50 kobo on me! So, I wondered how I was going to start off a ministry with 50 kobo! He said well, whom I call, I equip. and what I found, I fund. These were the two striking words that took me to Minna. Then, fortunately, we had these family friends called Idowu Maya and the wife, Vero Maya, who harboured me in their boys’ quarters. That was where, really, I was harboured for a while until I began to gather students. There, the Lord now said to me, move. Because that place became too small for us. So, we moved to the permanent site. I went there with what? I had 50 kobo on me! I got a place, I think a 4-bedroom flat then for N6000. But I didn’t let them know I didn’t have money. So, they now said I should come and pay for the rent. That was where, on our way back, hopefully to get money, I saw an abandoned building, dilapidated, abandoned. They grow rice there. A swampy place that became a farm land. But on it was an inscription – God’s Own House. Then, it caught fancy. And the Lord said to me, just like the burning bush and Moses; He said this is where I want you to start. I said ah-ah! This bush! Then, I now told Idowu Maya and his wife, Veronica Maya that the Lord is asking me to start off God’s First Ministries from this very point. They laughed, because no louvers, no doors, no toilets, no bathrooms. It had become a farmland; they grew rice there. Then, we asked who owns this property? People were really very curious to know why. I said this is what the Lord is saying to me. They said any way; it belongs to one Lawyer Sadari who ran mental. After he had held a brief. And the next person that lived there ran mental too. But I said well, God asked me to begin the ministry here. So, it was like do you have parents? I said yes, I do have parents. Then, they are about to lose you, because you are about to lose your sanity. I said well, God asked me to start this ministry here. The man in custody of it was then Justice Awoniyi; he was the Chief Judge, Niger State. So, we went in search of him. He wondered and said young man, you are too young to carry this heavy load of madness. I said but this is what God is asking me to do. He said if indeed God said…because Idahosa (his surname) means hearing from God. If God said start from there, okay, let’s see. Go and take it for free! So, you can now see how the N50 kobo was still on me. I had no reason to spend it. So, we went; I gathered the students, we went and cleared the bush, all manner of things and that was how I moved into that place – no louvers, no doors, no toilets; people’s farmland became my toilet. So, that’s how we started God First Ministries on 25th of August 1989.
Now, the name God First Ministries, how did you come about it? What prompted it?
He said rise up, raise up for me a people that will turn back to the search of God – God’s seekers, putting God first in all that we do. And you know, when I was going to go to Jos, He said put me first, don’t consider yourself; put Me first and that way, let the world know the need to return people back to the search, to become seekers of God first and His kingdom. So, the bedrock of my ministry – Matthew 6: 33 – seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness…
It’s obvious that God has been nice to you, what more do you want from God?
More meaningful, impactful life, more gracious life to be more useful to the common man and the Body of Christ.
What targets did you set for yourself before attaining the golden age?
Most of them, I really achieved. Because I wanted to get married before 30 and I got married at 27. My daughter just graduated last year from the university at the age of 22…
Which of universities?
In Cyprus. So, you can now see that before 55, I may be a grand father (Laughter). So, I have a good target. And I said I was gonna have two children – a girl and a boy and God has done it for me…
What are their names?
Christabel and Apostle. Yeah! Apostle is in his 200 level; he is 19, Christabel is 22. I said I wanted to marry a woman who is God fearing and God gave me just the best. I said I wanted to pastor a people who will be Word-driven, and overtime, God gave that to me too. I said too, when I came to this place where I am now, I said God, I just don’t wanna be in a hotel for a long time. I want my own property and God did it supernaturally. So, we are just seeing God doing things. But that doesn’t mean that it’s everything we ask…
(Interruption) – Yeah! We were coming to that. What are the things that you have asked God for that He has not done?
Sometimes you pray some prayers – God, this person troubles me in ministry, Father, for instance, judge him and you end up seeing the person blossoming. So, you wonder, ah-ah, God, with all these prayers of fire, you fall down and die, he now rises up and shines. God says that’s not how I do things (General laughter). I’m so merciful. If I was…People pray that prayer on you too sometimes. If I had heard them, then you are not gonna be alive today. So, now, we are teaching people to love and leave God to do it. People will step on your toes, but it’s not what happens to you that defines you, it’s your response. So, He has taught me that. My prayer life changed by me not praying certain kinds of prayers, but praying Worded prayers and most of the time when those prayers are not based on your emotions, then God’s principles are constant. Let God arise and let His enemies be scattered; not Idahosa’s enemies. So, if my enemy is not God’s enemy, then I’m wasting my time. But the only way God fights for you is that His enemy becomes your enemy.
What is your dream for this ministry?
It’s already started – my wife is passing through the training. We want to have institutions in place, to the university level. To train a people who will affect humanity positively by the foundation of the fear of God. No. 2 – we wanna raise…like this foundation promises to get structures in place to affect widows, widowers, less privileged in the best way we can. We’ve asked God to increase our relevance and significance and that is what I look forward to seeing – the church breaking out of its walls, affecting the world. We are the light of the world. We are not the light of the church. We are the salt of the earth, not the salt of the church. So, we must break the walls and go out from the box, letting the light shine. He said and the light was the life of men. So, until our lives become a light, we are still in obscurity.
Usually, as we move into a year, servants of God and those who say they hear from God tell us what they claim the Lord told them…
(Cuts in) –1 Samuel, Chapter 2 verse 8 was vividly spoken to me. And this is what I’ve been peddling – supernatural lifting. The lifting that is not traceable to any man. So, that is the bedrock and that is the watchword for the year. That God says He’s stepping in. Yes, when God steps in, you are bound to step up. And it is the stepping up that does not require you to begin to lobby, to begin to do what you are not supposed to do. Because when you make God your hobby, you don’t lobby anymore. So, the lifting that is coming to those who believe is going to be tied to absolute trust. So, God will step in and step you up. So that no man takes the place of God, the glory of God, because He’s involved in your making as you follow Him.
One of the greatest things happening in the country today is the battle between President Goodluck Jonathan and General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd). Incidentally, days ago, you made a comment on Facebook where you said that only God can stop Buhari. What exactly are you driving at? Are you saying that Jonathan is going to lose the race or what? What message were you exactly trying to get across?
I’ve gotten it across; I didn’t try to get it across. I got it across clearly. It depends on your school of thought and I let it out for people to reason it the way they wanna reason it. But only God, emphatically, on YES INTERNATIONAL! Magazine, only God can stop General Muhammadu Buhari! Because, you see, the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness. Jonathan is in the race, Buhari is in the race; everybody is anticipating to get it. Only God could have stopped him and only God can stop him because his intention is to win; Jonathan’s intention is to win. So, as well, only God can stop Jonathan. Let me just balance it. But you see, I’ve had people call me, oh, why will you put it, remove it from Facebook. No, no, no…I have my own mind and I know my school of thought. Only God can stop Buhari (Voice rising). No propaganda, no blackmail, no…No matter the saga, because it’s God that puts one in authority. God set the moon; the moon has been set. Once God sets you, you are set. No matter what you do to the sun, no matter what you say, you can’t stop the scourging of the sun when it gets to tropic or Capricorn. So it is. When God decides to do a thing, God does it. So, now, are you for APC? No! Are you for PDP? No! But I’m just speaking as God’s servant that if Buhari is God’s choice, nobody stops him. If Jonathan is, nobody stops Jonathan. So, only God can stop Buhari come 14th of February, 2015!
NB: First published February 2015
9,970 total views, 1 views today