“I played Fela music secretly. That is what influenced me in standing up for societies, speaking for people. Fela influenced me on that a lot.”
Pastor Tobi Adegboyega is the founder of Salvation Proclaimers Anointed Church (SPAC Nations) in the United Kingdom. The passion to assist young Africans going astray moved him to start a fellowship, where aside prayers, he invested in them spiritually and financially. His fast-growing church dominated by young men and women from Nigeria, Ghana, Congo and other African countries is making waves in UK. Talking to Effects in London, he shared his journey into ministry, his vision, lifestyle and more.
Tell us more about your journey to who you are now
I grew up in Nigeria. I left Nigeria when I was 25 years old, having studied Law. I came to London in 2005, thinking that I was going to America to further my studies and return to Nigeria. Getting to London, I realized that a lot of people from Africa, not just Nigeria struggle with raising their children. Also, the children misbehave due to hopelessness. I believe I am sent to the new generation to help raise entrepreneurs, give hope to that generation and give direction. That is what I have been doing for the past ten years. We have raised millions of pounds and started 40 businesses for young people, including people who are just coming out of prisons, we started businesses for them.
Yes, I’m a pastor but with a little bit of twist to it, which is giving young people hope and investing in them spiritually and financially for them to get a better life.
You read Law in Nigeria, how did you end up being a preacher in the UK?
My parents are pastors and I have always been in church and I’ve always done church things all my life. However, when I got into the university, I decided to leave that path. I wasn’t going to church any more for so many years. I was into many other things because I felt like I was forced into it. So I wanted to find my own way in life. I was like that till I came to UK in 2005. I automatically was going to my uncle’s church but then I discovered that I have a calling over my life. I wanted to help people. I couldn’t find a way of helping people; I was new to the country. So I couldn’t start an NGO because all I have known is church way. When I gathered these people, we started to pray and that was how it started to metamorphose into a church. I wanted to leave and go for my original plan but then things were growing in the fellowship. From 2005 to 2008, it was just a fellowship. I would just help the young people and at that time, the country was so terrible, people were dying, I think we have never seen it like that since then. It is only this year, that things have escalated again that much. I wanted to leave but I consider the young people that I was helping. I wasn’t even pastoring them, they come, we go out together, and I mentor them. That was how my journey started but all I have known was church, so I had to pray with them, teach them from the Bible and encouraging them to live a better life.
What has life taught you as a person?
I have always known about helping people. I understand people want to be famous, they want to be rich and all that, but life has taught me so many things. I came here in 2005. At a point, I took up job as a kitchen porter. I worked in the kitchen, washed plate from 8am till about 8pm on my feet. For the whole month, my salary would be 400 pounds. Out of 400 pounds, I would support the church I attended at that time with 200 pounds, and support people with 70 pounds. So most days, I would have to trek to work and stuffs like that. At a time, it looks as if what I was doing did not make sense. I had friends who were younger and they were getting into jobs but I said I wouldn’t have taken up a job but this one allows me time to still go to these guys and help them. Fast forward to about ten years after, I have started over 40 businesses for people. The care home where I was washing plates, I have bought it, I have people that work there. I have employed my manager that was managing me at that time. There are many keys to success but for me personally, I found out that everything I may want to call success came out of helping people. People that I didn’t think could come back to even help me, people that didn’t look as if they had anything to offer. The first time I would do a property business, (I started with property business to make money out of that), it was someone that we have helped before, I didn’t think one penny can come from him, and he had somebody who knew somebody who needed help in that area and then I got involved and made the first 100,000 pounds about seven years ago. Then we put back into helping people and that’s how whatever we want to call success story started. It started along the way of having genuine interest in people, not for who they are in the society but for who they can be and having the love for people. That is my most valuable lesson.
Growing up, who influenced you the more, your dad or mum?
Definitely, my dad and mum. I didn’t have a childhood with them. You know mostly in Nigeria, you are not close to your parents like that, they are just there to discipline you. If instead of reading you were playing football, they’d beat you, there is no-sit-down talk. However, I think the best influence I have ever had is an unwritten influence; to see my parents go to church. My dad was a chartered accountant who worked hard and still pastored a church till few years ago. He built a comfortable background for us. I have always told people here that I never saw crime in Nigeria. I didn’t see much of poverty in Nigeria as well. Their influence was not spoken or written, it is something that I grew up to say; ok, they always took us to church, they beat us when we didn’t go to church.” They put the fear of how to treat people, and not to steal from anyone, how to be focused in life without actually telling us. They put those things there. Then as a child, I started to read a lot. I read the Bible over and over and I needed more. So I started to hear about people like Martin Luther King Jr. I loved Fela a lot and I still love Fela up till date, I may not be a fan of his lifestyle of smoking and all that but his principles of justice, human rights. You could imagine in a pastor’s home, out of all of the youths I started to love Fela. I played Fela music secretly. So, that is what influenced me in standing up for societies, speaking for people, Fela really influenced me on that a lot. I tried to sell the idea to my parents but they wouldn’t accept. Pastor Tunde Bakare also influenced me a lot. Again, in the line of standing up for people, speaking truth to power, and still being practical, Tunde Bakare influenced many of that into my thought. I just met him recently but I have been following him all my life. He heard of the work we do. Those are the people who influenced my life. It really helped me in doing well in London today.
READ ALSO: Macron’s validation of Fela’s legacy
Why did you set up the widow’s foundation in Nigeria?
Some years ago in my dad’s church, they bring widows together every year, give them food and then pay some of their children’s school fees. At a point, it became difficult for them to keep doing that by themselves without any financial support. They didn’t ask me for the financial support, they were just giving me reports and stuffs like that so I said let’s reach out to a thousand of them and we started to do that about five years ago. Every year, they bring the widows together, give them a lot of food, make sure their Christmas is well covered and then look for their kids and sponsor them from whatever stage they are, they could be in primary, secondary school and put them through to university. I think one of them was the overall best student at the University of Ibadan in 2017 and now works with my dad. So, what we have been doing is, making sure we give them enough finance in Lagos and Ibadan, to run through school. Now, we are going to pave way for them to come for international exposure, have six months or one year internship with Microsoft. Microsoft has already agreed to do that and Amazon and some of the top companies. For the graduates, they would come, they would learn and they may go back to Nigeria and impact that society. What I believe strongly is a strategy of entering Nigeria because I think I’m going to do politics in Nigeria one day. I believe that what we must do first is to raise the new generation leaders. If you see most of my pastors, they are either from Nigeria, Ghana, or Congo and they are 22 years of age. I have 35 pastors under the age of 24 and they all have their businesses or they are going to Cambridge or Harvard. They are the new generation Nigerians. Our plan is to raise new generation Nigerians and Africans. Bring them here to get the exposure. We just bought a small football club. That was made possible by young people. We bought a stadium, and the football club. We are going to turn it to a leadership training centre where Africans could come from all over Africa and those who are in Diaspora, to learn and be exposed to entrepreneurship and African leadership.
That’s what we are going to turn that place to. We just bought it and it’s about six acres stadium in London. It’s going to have at least two African museums in it, where the history of Nigeria and Ghana would be posted. Young people would come there and see the museums and learn. Those who want to get into football could go there and also, we would have studios where we would have the news channel running. We didn’t borrow money from the bank, the funds came from among ourselves raised here in London. I think one of the missing things is that people would want to come from local leagues in Nigeria and get exposure here. The top footballers will also meet them. If we do that, we are raising new generation Nigerians, Ghanaians, or Congolese. So, that’s my vision, that’s my help for Nigeria and things like that.
What is your kind of style?
I have always loved fashion from childhood. I love my shoes and it has to be Christian Louboutin 100% and I have about 70 pairs of that and still counting. My wristwatches are AP and ROLEX. My clothes could be anything but above all that, clothes can be Givenchy and more. I have people in church who are designers, so many of the things I wear are locally made from them. These are companies that I have invested in. I wear a lot of their designs. Once these entrepreneurs rise in their business, they in return employ more young people in the church.