Lady Apostle Helen Ukpabio calls the shots in one of the biggest and most popular Pentecostal churches in the South-South region of the country – Liberty Gospel Church.
Currently boasting of over 200 branches, spread across Nigeria and even outside our shores, the ebony-skinned mother of three (Iniobong, Mfonido and Imaobong) who founded and has continued to nurture it shared her success secrets with YES INTERNATIONAL! Magazine Publisher/Editor-in-Chief, AZUH ARINZE.
This was while on a whistle-stop visit to one of her branches in Ajao-Estate, Lagos, on Saturday, March 30, 2019.
The bold and audacious servant of the Most High, who hails from Ini, in Mbente LGA of Akwa Ibom State, but is strongly rooted in Calabar, Cross River State, where the headquarters of her ministry is sited and also looms large, equally talked about other pertinent things. Excerpts…
Mama, what has been happening to you?
Yeah! I’ve been very much around, except that the church demands so much time and we are planting churches here and there, trying to co-ordinate, then having programmes, trying to go round. It’s not been easy.
So, what has changed about Liberty Gospel Church?
Nothing really. The gospel church is the doctrine and the doctrine is still on. There had been some changes here and there, some developments, some achievements and some things of glory.
Can you tell us some of these your achievements?
(Laughs) – Actually, the Bible does not permit us to say things like that because it will look as if we are bragging. But on the aspect of the work, it’s going on well.
From the look things, there are new branches – there’s one here in Ajao Estate, there’s another in Lekki. Where else have you established new branches?
Ah! Many o! There’s one in Eleme, there’s one in Ibadan, there’s another one in Abeokuta…
So, how are you able to oversee all these branches? They should be over 100 branches now…
(Cuts in) – Over 200 branches!
How are you able to look after all of them?
Yes, I do zonal programmes, but once or twice in a year, we camp together. Like in December, they all will come, we camp for days, maybe six to seven days, and I will be the only one teaching. Maybe with guest speakers sometimes. But I do go to zones before the year runs out.
What new things should we expect from Liberty Gospel Church?
I’m releasing my song. I’m releasing my nineth album, and also I have some new books coming out…
Can you tell us about these new books?
Actually, I want to do a book presentation alongside the new song that is coming out. But I am thinking of between May and June.
What’s the title of the book, what’s the title of the album?
Towards that time, I will let you know (laughing). The title of the album is Freedom. But the books will be two. Two books! They are strictly spiritual.
Where are the events taking place – in Calabar or Lagos?
You are one of the few ministers still standing very strong. What is the secret?
Sincerity, faithfulness, commitment, devotion to the work and if it is true, if what you are doing is real, then you have to keep it real. So, that reality keeps you going, which is like a propeller. It carries you along.
What is the greatest mistake that most ministers make? Why do they lose focus at some point?
Trying to look for another power, trying to assist God (laughing). God is already powerful, but because Nigerians are always looking for something to happen immediately, a lot of them therefore derail by seeking for those ones. Then, most of them are from backgrounds where there were strong idol-worshipping families and they’ve not dealt with those foundations and suddenly they say they have a call. So, when those demons come to intercept, they don’t know when they err. So, they will think they are still on the right path, but they usually find out that they now take instructions from those ones. Sometimes when they say God told me, it’s actually those their ancient altars…
What is the secret of Liberty Gospel Church’s success?
What has been the toughest battle or challenge that you’ve faced since you started working for God?
When the atheists came into my own country, Nigeria and blackmailed me that I kill children!
How did you overcome that?
You know, it’s something I have to live with. I have not overcome it because it’s all over the internet and they even published books on that. But each time I try to take them to court, they will disappear. I tried to, so that they can prove it better. But they ran and left everything and at the end people discovered that there were no such children. People were hired, they were giving people money to come and do all that. They wanted to start atheist schools, so they were looking for somebody they can use to generate the news and then tell people how bad God is.
What is the nicest thing that God has done for you since you started working for Him?
Too many (laughing).
Just tell us one, the one that you love much!
No, I love all. Too many. I can’t count. Too many. Everyday, too many. Ah, for me to have grandchildren, for my son to marry. Ah, no! All those things…
How does it feel to be in the midst of men and be doing so well? Some men who pastor churches can’t match you in any way…
Actually, I don’t really look at the gender, I look at the calling, then I look at the job description, so I try to pursue it. Then, a lot of men have come to join us and they are doing well. A lot of them. When they see me, they tell me and they also give open testimonies. They don’t hide it.
What is your take on Nigeria, how do you see what is currently going on in the country?
Well, I don’t really like to talk about Nigeria because there are too many things I don’t like about leadership in Nigeria and I don’t also want to be going around politicians to get money. I concentrate on my work. I do what God is asking me to do, but I pray for my country. The thing I don’t really like about Nigeria is leadership – especially this issue of herdsmen killing people and yet the government is trying to make provision for them as if it’s government’s business, whereas those are individual businesses. Nobody cares about other businesses. People sell corn on the road, nobody cares. But trying to make an issue out of these herdsmen, trying to give them colonies and using it now as an object of campaign, to take people’s land and give to them, when we are being killed in their own land, it’s something of much pain. It pains me to my knees.
As a minister of the gospel, will Nigeria ever be better than it currently is?
We need change. But as long as we are circulating the same old people; the Bible says that old serpent. So, as long as we are circulating the same old serpent, we will still have problems. Since I was born, Nigeria has been circulating in the same hands. The Bible says in the last days, I will pour my spirit upon all men, the young men shall see visions. The old men shall dream dreams. So, the old men will be bemoaning the past. Whereas it’s the young men that can look at the future and say oh, we are churning out too many graduates without jobs, let’s build industries, let’s do this, because they go out and they see things they are doing in other places. So, it will take a young mind, not an old man of 70-something, 80-something to come and think for us. Of course, that is the age of retirement. You don’t think well at retirement age; no matter what, no matter who you put around you. So, as long as Nigerians are still pushing elderly, old people, the same people that had been in power, either you were deputy or you deputized for this or you did this or you came back or you were this and you came back, all those kind of things, this problem will still continue for years.