Remigius Christian Echeweodo hails from Obiaka Ihite in Ezinihite Mbaise Local Government Area of Imo State and runs an interdenominational religious body known as God’s Firmament Covenant Ministry (GFCM), based in FESTAC Town, Lagos. In this interview with GILBERT EKEZIE, has described his journey into the ministry was a battle as he initially refused to answer God’s call to free those in captivity and cater for the less privileged. Having founded GFCM 10 years ago, his members who are scattered across the country and beyond have respect for him for what he is doing in the ministry and are always testifying the goodness of God.
Could you tell us more about yourself?
I was born and brought up in the Catholic Church, I was baptized, confirmed, received Holy Communion and wed in Catholic Church. In fact, I was a strong member of Catholic Charismatic Renewal Movement. At that time, the Charismatic was very hot and stronger. But unfortunately, today it has been diluted. Anybody that knows me will observe that I am Charismatic minister because that was my foundation. Even when, I left my village to Abuja for business, I still joined the Pro Cathedral Catholic Church Charismatic Movement at Garki. Eventually, I left Abuja and returned to Lagos to start GFCM.
How did you start?
I have been into this ministry for over twelve years. The Lord through a divine incident called me in January 2004, but my ministry, God’s Firmament Covenant Ministry (GFCM) based in FESTAC, Lagos started in 2006, two years after my encounter with God in 2004. While I was in Abuja, where I lived for about nine years and learned a trade. On completion of my apprenticeship in 2006, I started trading on Computer accessories. But soon after, things became so tough with me and my business folded up. In order to find my feet back, I started moving from one prayer house to another, and they usually told me that God wanted me to serve him. Being a strong member of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal Movement, I found it difficult to accept such prophesies. But, it got to a stage that everything around me was crumbling.
So, I had to run from Abuja to my village, where I stayed for about one year. While in the village, I had a severe problem on my left hand side of my lower abdomen. I was in a dream and a woman that looked like a Japanese shot me, and there was pains in my stomach. I left for Lagos and went to Lord’s Chosen and the pains stopped and when I went back to the village, the pains resurfaced which made me to opt for surgery. As a result, I went to Eziefuna Hospital at Egbeada Ubomiri, Mbaitoli, Imo State. Before the surgery, I was injected to sleep, but I could not sleep and a stronger injection was applied on me, before I eventually and became unconscious. While I was in that mood, I saw a large number of angels surrounding me, while the doctor and nurses were busy conducting the surgery on me. Then, my spirit disappeared from my body and I found myself in a green field with a mighty angel holding a sword who introduced himself as my guardian angel. Thereafter, I saw myself moved to a place that looked like the land of the dead, where I saw so many of my dead relations, including a late sister and a particular mad man in my village, whom I became very close with just before he died.
There, I moved like a wave through that particular place and then got to another realm, with the cloud covering me, which I noticed was like heaven. At first, I could not understand where I was because I still remembered I went into the theatre for a surgery. But I saw a light, which was golden, dazzling and shone like a sun. It was not harmful, but could not be beheld with ordinary eyes. Inside the light, was a being that called my name repeatedly in an echoing voice in a way my mother called me. The being introduced himself as an ancient of days who had called me from birth to serve him and set his people free from captivity. He said I was an angel who existed in heaven before he sent me on earth. He also said that instead of carrying out the errand he sent me, I came to earth to mingle with men like an ordinary man. He threatened to take my life like the way he took the life of my father when I was seven years old, if I insisted. I was on the situation for almost 10 hours, till he finally released me and I woke.
What happened thereafter?
When I woke, the nurses and doctors at the hospital made mockery of me and repeated what I said throughout that encounter, and after the surgery, I felt I was fit to continue my business. But because there was no money to continue, I came to Lagos to meet my relations who had promised to give me some money. As a result, I ended up staying in Lagos for about three months, waiting for my brothers to give me money. I was shuttling from Mafoluku to Bariga then, trying to get money to feed because there was hardship then. However, there was a church I used to attend and there I was given a nine-day fasting and prayer, but I was reluctant to do it because I have already done six months non stop fasting and prayer, yet my problem continued. Thereafter, a spirit came to me while I was asleep and encouraged me to do the fasting, which I started the next day. After the fifth day of the fasting, I went to another church with my brother and other relations.
While prayers were going on in the church, miraculously, I saw myself speaking another language I never understood. Having observed that, I tried to change to the normal language, but it was not possible, as something was forcing my tongue to speak the strange language. When I told my brother what I was passing through, he told me not to bother, and that I was speaking in tongue and I became surprised. So, that was the first time I spoke in tongue.
What happened thereafter?
As I said, I have not spoken in tongue before and I did not know what it was. So, as I was trying to suppress the power that was controlling me, it threw me up and I fell down. Then, it was like I was battling with a force that was stronger than me. That was how God arrested me on August 1, 2004. And since then, I have been to about 300 villages across Nigeria to carry out family liberation and set families free from captivity.
How old were you during the encounter?
I was above 30 then, I was born in April 1973.
What lessons did the encounter teach you?
In fact, it made me to understand that if God wants you to serve him, there will not be any hiding place. He will surely fish you out and if you insist, you will pay the price. So, for me, the encounter was enough to convince me that I was called by God to serve him and humanity.
What is your mission in GFCM?
The ministry is to set the captive free from and bring smiles on the faces of people. I have joy giving out, even what I do not have. I learned that the best way of life is to do charity. I tell my members that they will not get reward when they feed and train only their children, but when they go further to feed and train those who are not their children. It is sacrifice made in happiness and joy that makes heaven to reward someone.
What have been your challenges since the foundation of this ministry 10 years ago?
At the initial stage, I was battling with what my friends will say when they see that I am now a man of God carrying a big bible around. And each time I told them my encounter, they did not believe me, rather they concluded that it was because my business has crumbled. Even when I told one of my uncles about my encounter and the need to answer God’s call, he asked me when last I took malaria drug. So, I was so jittery at first, but at the back of my mind, I always had a reflection of my, even though, it made me look as if I was going mental. Luckily, I was able to overcome all the challenges by the strength I got from the serious encounter. I am happy the level God puts me.
What miracles has God used you to do so far?
At GFCM, 18 years of bondage has been broken, a woman was delivered from death during childbirth. There are favour, healing from paralysis, fibroid, hole in the heart and stroke. Also, yokes of poverty and barrenness were broken, a missing young man was found after 20 years, a dead man came back to life and many have received so many blessings in the ministry.
What was your initial challenge?
When I started, a lot of people were thinking how we would succeed, but we continued and with the help of God, we are where we are. And I witnessed 1, 500 in a night a seven days night. The Lord really encouraged me.
Why did you leave Catholic Church to start a Ministry of your own since you were born again there?
Frankly, I love Catholic Church with passion and wanted to be a Priest. I had wanted to do what I am doing today in the Catholic Church, but the Bishops would not accept that. They would want to query my action subject me to scrutiny. The mentality I had was that nothing would make me to leave Catholic Church, but the experience made me to change my mind.
What was your impression about Pastors before establishing GFCM?
Honestly, I hated pastors due to their selfish interests of enriching themselves at the detriment of their followers. Even as I have my own ministry, I still find it difficult to relate with many of them who are still into that act. They will tell you that they love you, but their interest is what they will gain from you, instead of focusing attention on what God called them for. But, my experience as a Minister has shown me that there are good Pastors who God is using to win more souls and cater for the needy.
Some of those who run a ministry do not conduct Sunday services, how is yours?
At GFCM, we run an interdenominational ministry and therefore, do not run Sunday service. This is to allow our members worship in there various churches. I decided not to call it a ministry because those who worship here are members of various churches. We started with a seven days midnight programme, later we started Thursdays business meeting and counseling, which is a weekly programme. I worship in other churches on Sundays. So, here, we simply pray and bless people and I am not against any church, be it catholic or Pentecostal, but I advise my members to look before they leap.
Do you have the plan to run a full –fledged church in future?
I do not have such plan because God did not tell me to do so. What I was called to do is have an interdenominational ministry.
What do you have to say about the present day Christianity?
Today, many men of God are busy criticizing others in order to have more members. For me, Christianity is not about criticizing other churches in order to win more members. It shows we are not operating in unity. It is also obvious that discrimination, back biting, gossip, blackmail and mockery are rampant among Christians. If we believe that we are working to win more souls for the same person (God), and that Christ is love, then why are we discriminating against one another? Church is like a mechanic workshop. It is not for righteous people, but for sinners. It cannot change someone. But in many of today’s church, they refer some people as sinners. Apostle Paul a sinner and was arrested and converted. Therefore, no one should be condemned for being a sinner because God can still have mercy for such a person.
What do you have to say on corruption among Christians?
Corrupt acts are based on individuals. The main thing that is misleading a lot of people today is greed. It is therefore unfortunate that in today’s Christianity, a lot of church leaders are focusing attention on money and not Christ. They are after what comes into the church, and that is why you see politics in the churches today. When you see a man of God register the church with the names of his family members, so that when he dies, they will take over, it has become a business empire and no longer for Christ. That is greed and one of the major reasons there is corruption among Christians.
Do you think the church has a role to play in a recession period?
Apart from the recession, I am aware that the Church has been there to give people hope in time of trouble and the recession period is not an exception. The Church of God will continue to pray for Nigeria and Nigerians for things to improve. We will continue to do the right time and also pray for our leaders to see the reason to leader well.
Do you think a good Christian should play partisan politics?
I do not think so. I see those who are in partisan politics as not good Christians because there are lots of things involved in politics partisan politics that a good Christian would not want to partake in. We should be out there praying for them for thing to improve.
How do you relax?
I relax mainly in my house. The happiest moment of my life is relaxing in my house. I am an indoor person. The best place I stay is not in the company of friends but being on my own. Probably if not reading my bible, I will be meditating. I do not know why it is like that but that is the way I found myself.
How then does your wife cope with your lifestyle?
In fact, my wife is not finding my lifestyle easy because she is a social type. She likes partying and other social activities, while I do not and we are not finding it easy in that regard, but with God on our side, we look for a way to resolve our social life differences.