Renowned cleric and outgoing General Evangelist of the Christ Apostolic Church (C.A.C,), Prophet Samuel Kayode Abiara, speaks with SEYI SOKOYA on how life has been after the passing on of his wife, and his plans after retirement. Excerpts:
It is one year now that your wife died. How has it been?
I thank God for everything and the life my wife, Christianah, lived before God called her to heaven last year, precisely on September 3, 2016. I miss her a lot. In fact, she has left a great vacuum that no one can fill. I have come to realise that she has gone for real and that she is now resting in the bosom of Christ. I can’t blame God for what has happened. It is a journey that all people will pass through, but the Bible states: “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” This is why the entire family celebrated the first anniversary of her memory last Sunday. The event also made me remember her love for Christ and people. I have missed her generous spirit, forgiving heart and submissiveness. It is sad that I no longer have someone to wait at the door till I arrive home. I will continue to celebrate her, because of her great virtues.
You were recently honoured in the Unites States. How do you feel about it?
It was a great experience for me. The government of the United States of America deemed it fit to honour me with an award, because of my impact in portraying the good image of my country, evangelism and my service to humanity. The recognition is an addition to other awards I have received from the governments of Canada, Britain, and so many other countries. I am grateful for the honour and I want to seize this opportunity to appreciate the American government, precisely the Senate, for this great honour bestowed on me. I will also use this opportunity to appeal to Nigerians abroad to be worthy ambassadors of the country.
Last week, news of your retirement as the general evangelist of the CAC filtered into public domain. Were you already aware of this?
The news did not come as a shock, because I was aware about the development. It was time for me to retire from the office, according to the Constitution of the church. I clocked 75 in August, and I am expected to quit the office, as it is clearly stated in the constitution. So, as a good leader, I am delighted to vacate the office for another person to take over. I am very happy stepping down; it is not a personal office. I am moving into another chapter of evangelism. I am now General Evangelist for all churches, irrespective of denomination, across the world. My doors are open to any church, organisation, whether large or small, and I would oblige, without any form of hesitation, to join the people of God to further propagate the gospel of Christ.
Prophet Hezekiah Oluboye Oladeji, was announced as your successor. What were the modalities used in the selection process or did you appoint him based on your relationship with him?
His appointment was not sentimental, nor was it based on favouritism. I did not singlehandedly pick him and nobody in the church authority did such. Aside the fact that he is one of the young clerics that has the spirit of God in him, and a son in the Lord to me, the authority of the church put it into prayers and God chose him. Then, we called him for an interview, screened him and his deputy. Having been certified by the church authority, he was officially declared to occupy the office as the new CAC General Evangelist, alongside his deputy, Prophet Emmanuel Olatoro Odejobi.
Why did the church authority create an office of the deputy general evangelist, which you did not have during your tenure?
It is a new development in the constitution of the church. The authority saw the need to create the office as a way to spread the tentacles of the office. It was passed and approved into law that the office must have a deputy. The deputy is also a mature cleric. He is very sound and well educated.
You peacefully retired from this office. What is your message to churches that find themselves engulfed in crisis when it comes to clerics stepping down from leadership positions?
This is a simple example for all those in positions of power to take a cue from. They must act in accordance to their constitutions and not in any way try to cause commotion. Staying put in power is not in any way appropriate. I resigned at the right time and I am happy with my decision and I am sure that people are happy with the development. It is biblical to obey the voice of God and that of authority. It is ideal to comply with stated laws and obligations. In fact, I was the first person to formally inform the church authority about my retirement, even before I clocked 75. I wrote a letter in April that I would retire in August, because I didn’t want them to be the ones to notify me. It was not as if I was in a hurry to resign, I just wanted to let them know that I was abiding by the rules and regulations of the church and they were very surprised at my decision. I was to vacate the office in August, but they wanted me to leave officially in December.
What would you say is your greatest achievements in your 10 years in office?
My greatest achievement is that the mission experienced great change through the combined efforts of every individual that was interested in the progress of the church, especially the authorities. We reason together always and we are committed to taking the church to greater heights. I am proud to be part of the great change the church experienced in recent times. I am sure that the authorities and the church as a whole won’t forget me for my contributions and my legacy.
What is your advice to the incoming general evangelist and his deputy?
I will urge them to dwell and abide by the word of God and obey the voice of the Lord. They should respect the elders of the church. They should not rule the church with division; rather abide by the rules and regulations of the church. We won’t leave them at any point, because we love them. They are the future of the church. We will always advise and put them on the right track.
What is your plan after retirement?
As I said earlier, I am moving into another chapter of evangelism. I only retired as the CAC General Evangelist, not from the work of God. My doors are now open to different denominations. I am ready to reactivate all the activities I suspended for 10 years, because of the office I occupy. Some of the activities I am reactivating include the popular radio and television programmes. By the grace of God, a new dimension of evangelism all over the world will unfold in January 2018.
Plans are in the pipeline to mark your birthday and celebrate your retirement. How do you intend to go about it?
Yes, it is a way to gather people to celebrate God in my life and I am looking forward to an event full of heavenly praises. Plans are in the pipeline to invite notable men of God, and dignitaries from all walks of life to celebrate God’s goodness in my life. It will be a week-long event, which by God’s grace, will commence from November 27 and the grand finale will be on December 3. It is a special event designed to celebrate God for His grace upon my life. The event will also feature the launch of my biography.
What is your advice for Christians and Nigerians in general?
I want to advise all Christians to stay glued to their Bible; not read alone, but to bring what they read to practice. There is need for all and sundry to live by the word of God, as well as to stay away from sin. I also want to advise the president to put his mind at rest. He and the vice president should not be distracted, God is behind them. They should continue to pray, and all clerics and Nigerians generally should not relent in their prayers to God on their behalf. The government should also ensure they keep their promises to the masses. President Muhammadu Buhari should also consciously look after his health and take to doctors’ advice. He must focus on God, knowing full well that it is God that put him there.
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