Interview with Pastor Eyitayo Oniwide The Parish Coordinator, the RCCG Israel Assembly, Alausa.
Q: Good day Sir, can you tell us your full names, and your position in the Church?
- Pastor Eyitayo Olusegun Oniwide. I am the Parish Coordinator of the RCCG Israel Assembly.
Q: Please tell us a little about your childhood, your education/profession, and your family.
A: I am the first child by divine mission. I am a civil Engineer by profession. I have worked in various organizations including a 4-year stint with National Bank. I am currently, the Managing Director of Nehemiah Construction Company Limited.
Q: How and when did you get involved in active Christian ministry? Which is your own divinely revealed ministry?
A: I became born again in 1983 at the RCCG Dominion Sanctuary, Acme Road, Ikeja. I was baptized by water immersion in December 1995 and joined the church as a worker in 1996.
Q: Sir, we are very much interested in this great and covenant church, the RCCG Israel Assembly. How and when did it all start?
A: The RCCG Israel Assembly was initially called the â€śDivine Champion Parishâ€ť in 1989. Its services were held at The Beehive School, Agidingbi, Ikeja, Lagos. It was later moved to the premises of the NARDC, also in Ikeja in 1999 and finally in a hall at the MKO Abiola Gardens Shopping Complex where it was re-christened â€śIsrael Assemblyâ€ť by divine revelation.
Q: Can you tell us the names of the pioneers and their roles in bringing about this divine vision
A: The pioneer members include Pastor Bayo Samagbeyi and his wife, Pastor (Mrs.) Bose Samagbeyi, Mrs. Omotosho, Dn. Kehinde Onasugba, Sis. Funke Aladu, Pastor Tayo Oniwide, Dn. Femi Fatola, Dn. Adebayo Adeleke, Dn. Femi Onasanwo and his wife, Sis. Lara Onasanwo, and Sis. Motunrayo Ayorinde.
Q: How many was the congregation at its inauguration and probably up to its first anniversary?
A: At the inauguration, the congregation may have been up to a hundred people but had increased to an estimated 200 by the first anniversary of the Parish.
Q: Sir, what were the revelations and miracles that showed that the hand of God was upon this ministry?
A: We received many revelations from God during the early life of the Parish, the chief of which was that God promised to take us to a new place and it came to pass.
Q: What were the challenges and trials you faced from the inauguration to the first anniversary? How did you overcome them?
A: The major challenge was finance but we overcame by levying members of the church. Many denied themselves of luxury and comfort in order to contribute to the development of the church.
Q: Do we still have the cast of the first missionaries in Israel Assembly? If no, where are they now?
A: Mrs. Omotosho is now in the US; Dn. Femi Fatola is a Pastor of a Parish (Goodness & Mercy Assembly) within the Israel Assembly Area; Dn. Kehinde Onasugba is a minister with the RCCG Goodness & Mercy Assembly; Pastor Samagbeyi is now a Zonal Pastor; while the rest have remained at Israel Assembly which is now an Area Headquarters with five additional Parishes, namely, Goodness & Mercy Assembly; Breakthrough Sanctuary; Shekinahâ€™s Place; Agape Assembly; and Beautiful Gate.
Q: What were your desires and passions that propelled you all as you struggled to build the church?
A: We had prayer meetings; held vigils; and received divine vision.
Q: How did you cope with your families and careers during this period?
A: It was only the grace of God because at that time, I had no car. I had to come, all the way from the Redemption Camp (about 46 km) to the church at MKO Abiola Gardens and would get home, sometimes, at midnight. I was encouraged by the love and understanding of my family.
Q: Can you give us a detail of the Pastors of the church under whom you have served, their tenor, and your experience with each of them?
A: I have served under the following Pastors â€“ Pastor Coker (1997); Pastor Titus Amaco (1997-8), now an Area Pastor; Pastor Tokunbo; Pastor Wale Adeoluwa; Pastor Bayo Samagbeyi; and currently, Pastor Dapo Awosika. I have had good and exceptional relationship with all these men of God.
Q: Please tell us the different departments and groups that we have in the church
A: The various departments include the Ushering Department; the Junior Church; the Teens Church; the Believersâ€™ Class; the Search-the-Scriptures; the Prayer Ministry; the Choir Ministry; the Welcome Department; the Welfare Department; and the Natural Groups.
Q: Apart from what we know as regular church activities, namely, preaching, exhortation, teaching, music, communion, evangelism and visitation, etc, what other activities are organized by the church and for what purpose?
A: There is the Community Celebration Service where we are encouraged to identify with our different ethnic communities, and to pray for their peace and progress.
There is also the Family Fun Fair where constituted family groups meet in an atmosphere of unity and fun.
Q: It is taken for granted, and most of the time expected, by the congregation and others outside of the church, that the church is especially passionate about the Help Ministry. How is this organized and accomplished in Israel Assembly?
A: The church has a well established and empowered Welfare Department. They readily give out loans, food, clothing, etc, to members of the congregation who are in need of them. A major Unit of the Welfare Department is the Economic Empowerment Bureau. They provide capacity building and advisory services to members of the congregation.
Q: Sir, we have this magnificent building? Can you tell us about it? How and when it was conceived, built and dedicated?
A: The building of the current Israel Assembly was conceived in the year 2000. The building was completed and dedicated, to the glory of God, in July 2006 by Pastor (Mrs.) Folu Adeboye.
Q: What are the incidents, events, and other experiences that are most memorable to you in the course of the conception, construction, and dedication of this Sanctuary?
A: I will never forget the events and experiences that helped to raise the funding for the church building. Apart from fund-raising events, some members sold their properties (lands, houses, cars, etc) and others gave up their salaries for months. Testimonies abound how God has rewarded them for these sacrifices.
Q: Have you had any regrets though since you took the decision to join the Christian ministry in an active capacity?
A: No regrets at all. Instead I am fulfilled and joyful.
Q: How do you feel about the future of the church and your place in the Christian ministry?
A: I feel that the church will continue to grow. I believe that with the church, I will continue to move from one level to a higher level in Christ, by the grace of God.
Q: The Area Pastor, A/P Dapo Awosika, is a very fascinating man of God. How would you describe his leadership since his transfer to Israel Assembly and what would you wish for him as he leads this exceptional congregation?
A: Pastor Awosika has good leadership abilities because the wisdom of God is with him, for it is God that gives wisdom. I pray for him, that God will increase him in wisdom, stature, in favour with God and man. I pray also, that God will give him the grace to lead his ministers and congregation and to finish his Christian race well in Jesusâ€™ name. Amen.
(Pastor Tayo Oniwide spoke with our Media Group correspondent, Sis. Susan Ezeh)