Resident pastor of the Alapere, Ketu, Lagos branch of The Redeemed Evangelical Mission (TREM) turned 60 recently and had a lot of testimonies to share, including the presentation of his latest book.
In this interview with CAMI EZENWA & MARY OMOKHGBOR, he speaks on authorship, the work of ministry, and growing up.
Sir, you recently turned 6o; some people would say it is milestone, others would say , no, it is just a number; for you, what does it mean?
First, I want to appreciate you for the opportunity to speak into your camera. Thank you for coming, and I pray that your coming here will not be in vain. God will take His glory.
My name is Rev Fubara Sam Obomanu.
And of course, I turned 60 on the 29th of June. For me, it is an announcement that I have just gotten to the 6th floor. And that there are many things that I need to be aware of. Now I think differently, I see things differently. My perception about life, is completely different from what it used to be. Sixty has made me to realise that I now belong to the elders’ club, and that much is expected of me. I am trusting God that whatever He has laid down for me for this age, that I will fulfil them
-God helped me –
I say this because I know that God does not waste resources. If He gives you an opportunity, obliviously there is a reason. And I pray that He gives me insight and direction, and divinely connect me to the persons that will help me to fulfil those purposes.
We know that there are specific things that when you remember them, you are more than grateful
I know that I have friends that we grew up together, but some of them died half way, but I am here. During my birthday, I also celebrated 20 years as a pastor in TREM; I got there when I was 40 of age, I became a member five years before then.
During the celebratons, I launched a book which I called “Letter to a young minister”
A man at 60 has nothing to fear but to confront those things that he has always feared.. Not everyone gets to 60, so, if God allowed me, I should be able to make impact, I should be able to speak freely to the younger ones. When I say younger ones, I don’t mean in terms of age, but people that are coming behind, that God has called to this assignment. I just want to use this book to encourage them, on how to avoid the potholes in ministry
If you were to summarise Love letter to a young pastor.how would you proceed; in other words, what is the thrust of the book?
-God helpmed me –
The original name I gave the book, was A pageant of history. In giving that name, I was looking at an autobiography. Two, three individuals who edited the manuscript, however had a different opinion. The current title was their suggestion. Recently, a popular bookshop got about 60 copies of that book and they said the title actually projects the content of the book rightly.
It was borne out of my experiences, out of my love and passion for young pastors, so that they do not fall into the same mistakes that others have fallen.
-God helped me –
What I know today , if per adventure, I knew it ten, twenty years ago, believe me, I would not be where I am currently .
Somebody had asked me, what would be your greatest achievement in life, and I said, it would be the books that I would leave behind because while in the grave, I would still be speaking to young pastors.
If I remember correctly, Letter To a Young Pastor is not your first book? It shows you carrying a dual assignment
I don’t know whether I would call myself an accidental writer, but when I was in Form Three in secondary school, 1973 to be specific, I remember we were given a list of books to buy, and my father happens to be somebody who loved books, so he made sure he bought every book in the list. There was this book, there written by one Aboth, and another one on Chemistry, and they were this big.
With my little mind, I said, “am I going to put all these things in my head?”.
Thereafter, I resolved within me, to write books that others would read before I die.
In 1982, I started putting down something for a book, which somehow, got messed up, and I forgot it.
At some point in TREM headquarters while pastoring in the Intercessory Prayer Ministry, I formed a duty roster for members. On a day it was my turn to exhort, my topic had to do with marriage. After much exhortation, the man that came that day, called me aside, and said, ‘I think you will do well in marriage, why don’t you develop this into a book on marriage?”.
Of course, I laughed it off.
Much later, I was discussing with a friend-pastor, and he said he knew my strength in the ministry; he said marriage. At that point, the scripture that “out of the mouth of two witnesses….”, struck me.
-God helped me –
Almost immediately, I began to type down some things. How I did that first book in three months, I do not know. I had burden that came on me, and I was just writing and writing. Of course, there were mistakes, and I never had the resources to back up my thoughts. The book is The Marriage Content, that is, certain things that a marriage should contain.
What is peculiar about my writing is that I use my personal life experiences to exhort others.
It was in the place of prayer that the idea for my second book, Depression, came. A young lady couldn’t comprehend the fact that she failed one of her courses in school, and instead, vowed that she would not retake the course.
We went into counselling and after prayers, I advised her parents to allow her go for psychiatric test. And the father said, why not? The key thing that brought about that book, Depression, was the father’s response to the doctor’s question.
The man told the doctor: From her childhood, she has always been among the best in her academics, she has never taken a third position in her life. The doctor responded, that is the problem.
I was wondering, how that could be the problem?
For the firs time in my lfie, I saw the benefit in failing. When you fail, two things: either it cramps you and makes you feel inferior, or it motivates you to try more; to do things different, for a better result and to achieve your purpose.
So, if you read that book, you will also see me on the pages, even my marital experiences.
Then of course, this one: When I was turning sixty, I was considering what to do, and that was how I decided on it.
I have about three books already completed, waiting for editing to commence on them.
You are saying in essence that there are more books in pipeline
God helping me, yes
You mentioned change in your perspectives to life and to things, would you want to elaborate on what those perspectives were?
Let me put it this way: I was born into a wealthy family; my father was well-to-do. I do not remember anything I asked of my father that he did not give to me. If I went out and saw my friends riding a bicycle and came home and said, papa I needed a bicycle; before the end of that day, the company driver would bring the bicycle home; he never denied me anything. The only thing that was denied me was when I asked him to buy me a car, and he asked me if I thought it was a toy.
-God helped me –
So, I was born with a silver spoon, and the spoon almost scooped me out of life. It was God that helped me because many people had written me off, and I know that for everything that happens, God has a reason and a purpose. And I used my self to preach, that if God helped me, He would help others.
Is there a specific challenging time you could use to advise the young ones?
How We were the first set that did jamb in 1977. I did not pass that time. That is why, when you succeed it does not matter if you failed earlier.
It is also a way of telling somebody that if you fail jamb, it is not the end of the world, you tell yourself that you would succeed, and keep pushing. Just be optimistic about life.
And after that, I stayed three years at home playing with myself.
One day, I just asked about my friends, they said, this one is at Unilag (University of Lagos), this one is at Unical (University of Calabar); I said, to myself, I was not the most backward in secondary school, so I should be able to reclaim my lost grounds. One day, I just gathered all my books and put them on the table and started reading again. Before three months I wa reading fifteen hours every day. It became like, this time, it must enter the head. So, I have had my own fair share of ups and downs.
Have you always been a pastor in TREM; may be, you could recall for us how the pastoral journey began?
I was five years a member of the church first. I joined the Intercessory Prayer Ministry almost immediately I joined TREM and I was there for about ten years. I was made the National Coordinator of the Ministry. In fact, I am writing a book on that – Decades On My Knees. That is one of the books I said earlier, is ready. I wanted to launch both of them but changed the plan on account of the financial implication.
-God helped me-
Have you always been a Christian, or something else but converted at some point in time ?
Let me put it this way: I would go to church 31st night; during harvest, funeral service, Christmas, or any other special occasion; that was it. My Biblical name was Joshua, but I can’t remember being committed.
If I were to take a catalogue of how many times I have confessed Jesus, I would seven times; give my life, take it back..and God was really patient I am truly grateful, because I am a bundle of testimony, a bundle of joy.May be, one day, God will allow me to tell my story.
It is instructive that you have been in TREM this long; some people would say, I stayed that lone because God told me to; in your case, is it also acting out the instruction of God to you?
I was a committed member of the Intercessory Prayer Ministry, but the first time I went to the Young Men’s camp, my elder sister came to look for me, and I sneaked out to see her. She said, it is like you like this church-thing so much; why don’t you go to Bible school? I waved her off. But somehow, when I came back to Lagos she still brought up the issue but I told her they had finished entrance, she insisted I should go and find out.
Out of respect for her, I went. When I got to the ministry , it was a Friday like this and they told me they had the late entrance the next day, so I joined and I was admitted. I don’t know what their criteria was , but I was admitted.
I told God, that if He really wanted me to be in the ministry, that among other things, there was this friend, I had, who is now my wife; I said, God go ahead of me to tell her, because If I go to tell her and she objects, I will not answer this call.
In other words, you were putting conditionality before God?
Yes. I also told God that I did not want to be a pastor with torn collars, and all those over-size wears, that are neither coats or suits. I am not making jest; just trying to define myself.
I told her, I said and I also want a Bible. I also went to that my friend, who was later to become my wife; I said: If you don’t want me to go, I will not go. She said, please count me out
Well, my sister bought me clothes at that time, worth about N21, 000. she added: ‘you are going to be a pastor, let me get you a Bible. And she did, the same day. I still have that Bible till date, one of the best; analytical Bible, very old bible. When I am down, and I see that Bible, I am revived.
So, all your conditions before God were met?
All my conditions were met, and I was not wise, I could have increased it
Looking back, what peculiar challenges would you recall you have faced in the course of this walk
I attended one seminar with a very senior pastor from whose wealth of knowledge I drink, and they asked him, “sir, have you ever thought of resigning as a pastor?”
And the man answered .”Aah, many times”. I told myself, in that case, I am not alone. There are times that I had wished that things changed in certain aspects of my life, and it did not happen. I don’t want to begin to recount. That day, I was going to church and something happened; and I was so sad. I just told myself I had had enough. Must I go through pains before things happen for me? I said I had had enough. So, I made up my mind that I was going to quit. I began to think, what I would do after then?
-God helped me –
When I got back home, I called my wife and said : you know, it is me that God called; He did not call you. And you took a vow that wherever I go, you would go. With due respect, I am resigning.
She said, what happened. I said I don’t want to talk about it, but just know that I am resigning. She added, have you prayed about it. I said, haven’t I prayed enough about this issue? She said, lets pray. She requested that we knelt down, so we knelt. And she said, pray. I said,if you tell me that again, I would stand up, I don’t want to pray, I have had enough on my head.
She held my hands, and began to pray. She began to thank the Lord. She began to recount things that God had done for us. In fact, she took about 10-15 minutes and at some point, I burst into tears…
I was not myself again. And I said, God, you will help me in this
And that was the first time God taught me what it means to have a wife as a pastor. No matter what you do, nobody else would understand.
Sometimes, I am giving counsel, and as I step out, I am facing the same situation; what do I say.
A woman came in here one day, and she talked for about 45 minutes, and what she was narrating was what I was going through word for word. But I held her hands and we prayed together. When people come to you, you forget your own problem. No matter how much you are hurting. And immediately I sat down after she left, the lord said, to me, those things you told her, tell them to yourself.
+Is there any aspect of your life thus far, that you would wish torn away like a page of a book?.
The Bible says that all things worked out together to them who are the called according to His purpose… If you take out any aspect of my life, I would no longer be the same; It would be a borrowed personality
I am a package of my wrongs, my rights, my struggles, my tears; if everything I had done had worked straight for me, I would have been put to shame, but I just have to appreciate God.
You have been in TREM for quite some time now; what is your perception of the ministry?
When I came into TREM, I was actually considering two other ministries outside Nigerian. One of my colleagues just came and said a church in Lekki just opened and needed a pastor. And when I sat down and reflected, I said, why are you telling me? You should have gone for it, why are you asking me to go?
He said God called him to be in TREM. I asked, God also told you where I should be?
Having given that analogy, the point is, every ministry has its own challenges and TREM is not an exception., but if God has allowed you to be in a particular ministry , He will give you the strength and grace; all you need, is to be patient.
God has helped me as a pastor. I know people have approached me to leave TREM; to come and head their intercessory ministries. But I said I have not heard from God. Some even ask, how much are they paying you?
My reason for being in ministry is not money.
The few things that God has helped me to do, if I package them together, I know it would sell, but God has not told me ..
I had an experience last week; I went somewhere and sat down to do what I had been invited there for. And as I sat down , God asked me, what are you doing here? What are you doing here?
I ran out of that place without even telling them. My wife is aware, she is the only person I told; I have not even discussed with my daughter.
I had never been frightened, and the devil now started tormenting me. I had to ask Holy Spirit, to help me before the enemy would start attacking me. Yesterday, the Lord confirmed it, and I became free.
Some people are of the opinion, that the church of Jesus Christ is no longer as strong as it used to be, especially using the challenges of the time?
As far as a I am concerned, the scripture is being fulfilled and it is for only those that take out time to reflect that can see the finger of God in all those things. The Bible had already admonished us that In the latter days, that the love of many would wax cold, people would be lover of themselves. All these things are fulfillment of scripture.
Covid-19 for example brought out people in a different light. I had my book on Depression on a flash drive; I was wondering and asking God, what would I be doing in this lockdown, everything is monotonous. I heard God say to me, why don’t you convert this hard copy to soft copy?
It just depends on individuals.-God Helped Me-
-God Helped Me