Pastor Wale Adefarasin is the General Overseer of Guiding Light Assembly, Parkview Estate, Ikoyi, Lagos. He is also the General Secretary of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, the governing Apostle of the Nigeria Coalition of Apostles, an affiliate of the International Coalition of Apostles. In this interview with Saturday Sun, he spoke about the re-opening of churches in Lagos, lifestyle and other interesting issues.
Churches are to re-open on Sunday in Lagos State, are you ready for the reopening?
I’m quite ready. Lagos State government did not say we should reopen, they said we might reopen. So it’s up to us whether we re-open or not. Let me put it this way, the churches were asked to close because of this novel corona virus, which is very infectious and places where lots of people gathered together could become point of infection. That’s why the churches were closed. They were not closed because government doesn’t like churches; that’s not the reason they closed churches. They closed to prevent the infection. We have to manage the way we re-open the church so that we minimise the risk of infection. So, what we are going to do is that we are not going to open this Sunday. We are going to begin preparing and we are going to open gradually and gradually increasing the numbers of people that come, as we are able to manage them. That’s our plan. We won’t be reopening this Sunday.
Are you speaking for your church or the body of Christ as a PFN executive?
I’m speaking for my church. I know a lot of churches would open, I think the safety and well being of our members is more important than the physical gathering. I say to people the church never actually closed but the building was closed and the church has been continuing the way that it can with modern technology.
Some people say they like online church service and might continue to worship from home
There will be some people that would prefer to just go online. That is true. Same time, I have heard many people say they are fed up with online, they want to come to church. There is something about being gathered together. That gives a sense of God’s presence when you worship together. We have some people that are eager to come back to church, we have some people that are used to online, we have some people that would want to come back to church because they miss seeing people and worshipping together with other people.
Many are of the opinion that some pastors are clamouring for opening of churches because of offerings/money, what is your take on that?
I don’t think there’s anyone that does not take a hit during this corona virus problem. What would I say to the hairdresser who has not been able to open the hair salon for almost four months? That is their source of income. Everybody has to make some level of sacrifice to be able to defeat this pandemic. That’s just what the situation is. Now, I don’t believe there are many pastors who are only clamouring for the opening of churches so that they can begin to get an income back. As a matter of fact, the people that go to churches have also suffered financially or economically. They may not be able to give as much as they used to give in the past. So it’s a whole complex set of issues we have to take into consideration about this.
What were you doing before your call into the ministry?
I was a businessman. I ran a business in the oil industry but when you are called into the ministry, you are called.
You’ll probably make more money in business, and then the challenges in the ministry, could you tell us some difficulties faced as a pastor?
It’s not all about money or how much money you make. I think it’s more satisfaction to lead someone to Christ and the person begins to work for God. There are challenges in ministry. There are many. In the last four months, we have had a lot of our members whose income stopped and therefore unable to feed their families. At the beginning of the lockdown, the bank was closed. Finance was the problem but we were able to put money together and try and keep many families to feed their households as possible. Again, many people have lost jobs, again, we have staffers, between 30 and 50, and we deem it necessary to be able to pay them salaries. All these are challenges but God has helped us. We have been able to stay afloat. As I said earlier, our primary concern is the wellbeing of our members. That was what we give priority to and so we only do what is safe for us to do and minimise the risk of infection as possible as we can.
What lessons have you learnt about life?
Haa, you are asking somebody who is nearly 70 years what lessons I have learnt about life? That’s a talk for another hour. But, let me say first of all, the COVID-19 is just one thing. Man proposes but God disposes. I think everybody has plans at the beginning of this year but suddenly in February they were interrupted and the effects of COVID-19 will go beyond the disease, the economic effects, will go beyond the disease. Sooner or later, the disease will be conquered but the economy will still be recovering. The main lesson, as Solomon put it in the book of Ecclesiastes, vanity upon vanity is vanity. Some people live very ostentatious lives and at the end of the day, see what is going to count. The bible says, seek those things which have a lasting value, things on earth can be corrupted, choose those things, which have eternal value. I think that is important.
Going 70, you don’t look it
Can I say this? There are things I do when I was still in my 50s, I can’t do in my 60s. I’m still two years short of 70 years but I’m 68 going to 70.
So, what do you do to look this good?
All I can say is the grace of God.
Do you do exercise, or pick your kind of foods?
I try. You need to watch your diet, it’s very important. You need to exercise your body but I don’t say I’m an expert but I try to do the best I could do.
With your good looks, are there temptations as a Minister of God?
You are the one that is saying I have good looks, I don’t see it myself (laughs) I think that as we go through life we should focus on God, the bible says walk in the light. When we are in the light, we will not fulfill the lust of the flesh. Everyone is in the flesh, yes. But as long as you keep your focus on him, he will keep you from those things.
Growing up as the son of former President of National Council for Women Society, Mrs. Hilda Adefarasin, could you tell us some of your growing up memories?
My parents sent me to a secondary school where the teachers used cane on us. And whenever parents came to school the teachers didn’t hide cane from the parents. So, they disciplined us, they punished us when we are wrong. I wouldn’t dare go back home to tell them they caned me in school because I would be asked what I did wrong. So, we had parents that taught us values. Everyday my mother would say honesty is the best policy. I can’t remember how many times she would say education is the only legacy she could pass unto you. So, we were taught values and serving. We are not seeing modern day parents teaching their children anymore. Our parents kept on telling us that we are not better than anybody else God created, we understood that if we had privileges they didn’t make us any better than anybody else. So that helps.
Were you pampered growing up because in today’s parlance, you are the type we call golden spoon kids?
If I was spoilt, I wouldn’t be who I am today. I think I must say thanks to my father and mother. I will give you one instance. There was a time that I was getting ready for WAEC exams. My dad called me aside and said, “if I ever heard that you cheated in any exam, I will disown you”. I took it very seriously because he doesn’t seem to be joking. But today’s parents go secure special centres for their children to get advantages they don’t deserve. Certainly, I was not spoilt. And parents of those days knew when their children do things they shouldn’t have done. They spend more time with their children.
Like your brother, Pastor Paul Adefarasin would say that he was into drugs growing up, were you into such too?
No. I wasn’t. The fear of my father was the beginning of wisdom for me. I am the eldest of the children. We tended to get a lot more discipline and our parents probably became less strict as they got older. I was not involved in drugs because my father said so much about it and was afraid to even try it. I remembered the name they called the people that do drugs in those days I just didn’t want to get involved.
So, you didn’t keep bad friends growing up?
Some people would have looked at my friends and say, these are bad people. I still have friends that I have in those days, they are good people. Many of them have done very well in our society; they occupied very senior positions in government, in politics, in the industry. Generally, people were lot more disciplined. They imbibed value they got from their parents. That is something that has gone wrong in our society now. We have to rectify it. Even in church, how can we make sure our children are properly raised with the right values?
Where is your favourite holiday destination?
Anywhere they have a bed that I can sleep, that I can be comfortable, that I can read is a favourite holiday place. To me, a holiday is not go do shopping and all of that. To me, holiday is being able to rest. If I have the opportunity to go on holiday, I would like to go to the place that my mother’s family came from. My mother was born in Nigeria but her parents are from Jamaica and Artigas. I would like to go see there. To me, it’s part of my family history.
What is your favourite food?
Do you know obe epa? (Groundnut soup) So my favourite food is pounded yam and groundnut soup
You appear fashionable, what’s your style?
I don’t agree with you that I’m a fashionable person. I like to wear simple and well-tailored clothes. I wear buba and sokoto a lot. When necessary I wear a suit. I don’t like ties too much. But if I have to wear a suit and tie I would do so.