After the meeting in Nairobi, Kenya we had a desire to travel to Uganda and Tanzania, but on our way we had a very serious motor accident…
Former General Overseer, Foursquare Gospel Church and founder of the Refreshing Ministries International, Dr Gabriel Olusoji Farombi recently turned 80. Even at 80, Dr. Farombi is still very strong and has continued to preach the gospel of God all around the world. After his long-term service as the General Overseer of the Foursquare Gospel Church in Nigeria, Farombi went on to establish the Refreshing Ministries International (RMI), an interdenominational prayer-based ministry, which offers members opportunity for fellowship and prayer. RMI also serves as a training platform for ministers looking to hone their pastoral skills and expertise. In this interview, he spoke about the church, society and life generally.
How do you feel at 80?
I want to thank God for giving me the grace to clock 80 and that is 960 months, 4,328 weeks and I feel very excited. I am thanking God that I am very healthy, sound, I am in my right senses, I walk on my own, I don’t need to be held, I don’t use cane and this is the blessing of God.
Are you fulfilled in life?
By the grace of God I can say the Lord has enabled me to feel fulfilled and the reason for this is because the Lord saved my soul, made me a Christian when I was still very young, as young as 20 years old, so for the past 60 years through the grace of God I have been serving the Lord and I have served the Lord in various capacities in the church. I have travelled far and wide to make Christ known to the people, so I feel very much fulfilled and I know that should Christ call me to come into glory I have the assurance that I will go and reign with Him since He has given me the grace to serve Him in the land of the living.
Any regrets whatsoever?
I have no regret because there are people who live long like I do through the grace of God but they never knew God when they could still run up and down, so they knew God when it was almost too late for them, but one thing I thank God for is that when I was about 20 exactly, the Lord apprehended me, took hold of me and used me for the past 60 years. No cause to regret.
What are some of the life challenges you have faced?
There is no one who would not face some trials and troubles, but in the midst of all these trials, God is with me. The Bible says many are the afflictions, many are the trials of the righteous, not of the wicked, because when you desire to do something good not everybody would want it. Those who would agree with you may be very few, but the Bible says in the midst of these trials, God will deliver the righteous from all the trials, so I can say that through the various trials from friends, neighbours, people you expect and people you never expected that they would be jealous of you, the Lord has delivered me from them all. And then I want to say in the course of working for God, we have our own price to pay. In 1992, we travelled to Kenya just for the gospel, and after the meeting in Nairobi, Kenya we had a desire to travel to Uganda and Tanzania, but on our way we had a very serious motor accident that, if not for God, I would have died because the car somersaulted over three times and at the end of it all it went into a ditch and we had to be pulled out, and blood was gushing out of my body. One of the trials is that the people who saw the car somersaulted, who knew that we had an accident, we thought that would come to help us, instead they came and stole our money and even our passports, everything. It is to show that man is man but God is God.And so at last the brother who was taking us to his home country in Tanzania took us to a hospital. At the hospital for almost one hour they could not even offer us an ordinary first aid that the bed sheet was drenched with my blood and they said it was because they had nothing like cotton wool, but thank God that in the midst of all these, we came back, we appealed to the people. They took the money but they only returned our passports, then with our passports we were able to come back and as soon as I came back the people felt so much concerned and took me to Eko Hospital and the hospital carried out an intensive medical check and not one bone was broken. The Lord we serve is good. So these are experiences in life but all these make us to love God the more. So we have to thank God for the opportunity.
What would you like to be remembered for?
Before I say it, people know that they will remember me for prayer because it’s very essential. In Christian ministries, prayer is very essential. We sing the Chorus “Prayer is the key…”, so prayer is very essential because what man cannot do prayer does. It is through prayer that lives are changed. It is through prayer that lives are transformed. It is through prayer that people experience miracle, signs and wonders. People know me for that but I know they will also remember me for prayer. For instance by the grace of God we have a ministry in the United States of America called Refreshing Ministries International and one of the major things that we do is pray. As a result of our prayer, you see changes from time to time. I’m based in Chicago. We pray early in the morning and the reason why we choose to pray early in the morning is because Jesus says “they who seek me early will find me”. So when it is still very cold, where there is no noise, we pray. We need to see God early and you find that Christ himself is an example of praying very early in the morning. So we pray between 5.30 and 6 in the morning, that is central time. In the Eastern time, it is their own 6.30 to 7 and in the pacific that is the West, it is from 3.30 to 4 a.m. and yet people join. People join from Canada, Britain, USA. It is online. And as a result of this prayer from time to time before we know people started working with us and they started sending their prayer requests and when we pray God answers that prayer. In a magazine that we distributed on my 80th birthday celebration, there are testimonies of people, divorce cases that a marriage was about to be dissolved but as result of prayer the problem was solved. I also remember a Nigerian who was very smart, he is a mathematics teacher. He went to Napal, far East, to work and he is a Christian. Nepal is a communist country and as a matter of fact, they could behead him, they could kill him because once you go against their own man made law, they could do anything, but we prayed and the Lord got him released completely so he came to join his mother after five years of separation. So prayer is very important.
With the level of crime and immorality in the society, people say that the Church has failed. How would you react to this?
What we see today – immorality, fraud, crime and corruption – are not only outside the church but also inside the church. It is happening because Christ has prophesied it. The book of 1 Timothy Chapter 4, says “On the last day, perilous times shall come”. And when we are talking of perilous times, it is a dangerous time, dangerous situation, dangerous circumstances and that is being fulfilled and the reason for that is because, though we have many Christians or church goers today, because there is a great difference between a church goer and a Christian. It is not an exaggeration to say that not everybody who goes to church, who goes through the routine in church – baptised and confirmed, are Christians. One can go through all these without being a spiritualist.
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What would you want to tell religious leaders in the country?
I will suggest that our leaders, if they are truly called by God, they should first of all genuinely follow Christ who has called them and make up their minds to obey Him and pursue Christ, to be faithful to God and to take their stand. There are many people who don’t want to be given any name, so they are afraid to take their stand. And until you take your stand you cannot please God.
You must have heard of Shedrach, Meshack, Daniel, and Abednego, they were not the only Jews in Babylon, as a matter of fact, there were over 10,000 Israelites who were taken to Babylon as slaves and they were ready to compromise. They were ready to do what others were doing, but these four took their stand. So I will suggest to our religious leaders to take their stand, they should not be ashamed to be called Christians. They should know that they want to please God. They would do what God will be pleased with.
In our days, there was nothing like corruption in the church, but today because of the love of money, love for position, pleasure, people would leave the church and begin to do their own thing and they would still go back to the church, give the money to the church. It is not money you give to the church that matter, it is our lifestyle, character and our honesty that God want. People should be honest.
What were the pranks you played as a child?
When we were still young, before I was converted at 20 we used some tactics to deceive, tell lies, and to commit some crimes, and tosayIamnottheonethatdoit,and it is part of human being. We don’t teach our children to steal before they begin to. There is no college of lies where we send our children to before they know how to tell lies. It is part and parcel of human being. That is why Solomon in his book says there is no man who does not commit sin, not that we have done something, many things that are wrong, which are part of us because we are not perfect, but when we come to God what the Lord does is that He gives us the grace to live above our weaknesses, and our short comings. That is why when I became a Christian I don’t do what I used to do before. I don’t tell lies as no man’s business as before, so there is a check. The Holy Ghost gives us a check. If we do something wrong, he will convict us. If you are still with the Lord, then you go and confess and get things right. God will create a new heart in us to begin to do the right thing.
Is there any advice your parents gave to you that has helped to shape your life? I still remember when I was very young and was still living with my dad, because I lost my mum when I was very young, so the lifestyle that I saw in them and the counsel that they gave was to love God and we saw them doing that even though they say they were not perfect. We would go to church as early as 6am, and in the evening we would be there. At least, twice a day. My father was a lay reader in an Anglican Church. So all the lifestyle and the counsel they gave helped to shape my life to make a difference between me and the other people.
If you were not a man of God, what would you have been?
Before I was apprehended by God, I desired to be a rich man, to have money to enjoy myself and I was really working towards that one. I wanted to be a businessman whether crooked or anyhow, but all I wanted was to get money and enjoy my life, but thank God, the Lord knows that, that would not end well with me. The Lord knows that that would send me to hell, so in His mercy He apprehended me, because at that time almost every weekend there would be a party even in the church. Every weekend, if not for naming ceremony we go for burial. That was my lifestyle, but thank God the Lord apprehended me.
How did God Arrest you?
Like I said, when I was young I used to go to church at least twice a day. The desire to get rich and to be very wealthy and to continue to enjoy life was very much around. Like in the church that I was going, that’s in Anglican Church, I cannot remember a weekend that I did not go for a party; naming ceremonies, and all that. But by the time I was thinking about that, a cousin of mine who is very much alive invited me to a gospel preaching church where I am now. That was in 1958. When I came I must confess that I heard the gospel for the very first time. When they did alter call for those that received Christ, I did not go because we have been told that in gospel churches they don’t marry, they don’t have children, they don’t do anything. But by the time the word of God entered my heart, it made me responsive and it came to save my soul.