interviewBy Chinyere Amaechi
During the week Rev. Iloh of Soul Winning Chapel Ministry turned 82. He tells chinyere amaechi that his family is secret of his aging well and lots more about Nigeria and the church. Savour!
I am Rev. (Dr.) Moses Iloh. I am from Udo in Ezinihitte Mbaise in Imo State. I am the founder and pastor of Soul Winning Chapel Ministry. To the glory of God I clocked 82 years on February 13, 2012.
The journey of life so far
It has been a fantastic journey full of testimonies, experiences as each day proves to me that there is a living God and it is only a fool who would say there is no God. Everyday I have added cause to testify that there is a God. I feel real good. I have no record of any frightening ailment. I am very healthy and above all I am much contented. Contentment is a rare gift which God gave me to His glory. I do not crave for what is not mine because anything I do not have is not mine.
Genesis of Soul Winning Chapel Ministry?
Though I was born into an Anglican family, I became born again at the tender age of 10. I was mentored by an American surgeon and two other Spanish missionaries. They mentored men in soul winning. We went from home to home, market to market, winning souls for Christ.
By the time they left and I returned fully to my Anglican faith, I was not seeing in the church what these foreigners taught me. So, I grew up a normal child doing whatever other children did. In all however, one thing stuck in me and that is forgiveness. I forgive easily and hardly bear grudges.
I was involved in sports as a student. After my education I went into business. When the Biafran/Nigerian conflict came on, I got involved on the platform of the Red Cross. I risked my life saving lives and providing succour to wounded people particularly the soldiers.
After the war, I returned to Lagos and having taking one or two appointments I ventured into business. It was providence that while in Biafra, and taking care of the bodily needs of people I was not killed. During that war, I was able to prove beyond reasonable doubt that God exists and Jesus Christ is alive. We went through the valley of the shadow of death and God's angels were there to bear us and save us from bombs dropped here and there sometimes at very close ranges to where we were. People around us got killed every now and then, but our lives, my life was spared. We did not know but again if God be for us, who can be against us? Of course nobody can withstand the power of God.
After the war and while I ran my business in Lagos of course I read extensively including the daily newspapers and listened to radio and television broadcasts. If I read that any prominent Nigerian mainly the politicians are involved in one crime or corrupt activity or the other, I will buy a tape and record my ministration based on what I have read about the person, package it and send to him. A time came when I was doing almost 40 tapes to different bourgeoisies in a week. I call that era and my method of preaching the gospel as Soul Winner Cassette Ministry. It was a person-to-person ministration recorded on cassette. My business was doing well so I had no problem. It is usually a brief preaching of about 15 minutes. Some of my recipients ignored me, some sent it back to me, some lambasted me and others invite me for discussion.
I recall one gentleman at Ikoyi, Lagos then, he is late now, he called me after listening to my preaching to him on tape and when I went he told me that even a pastor was not good enough to touch the knob of his door but he will tolerate me for what I have done. I had a heated argument over the issue on which I preached to him about. At the end of the day we became friends until his death.
Through this means, I was able to lead some dignitaries to God. During President Shehu Shagari's era, corruption started and that marked the peak of my cassettes ministration. Sometimes I accompany the tape with a Bible. I soon discovered that my clients so to say, hardly kept the Bibles on their tables in the office. When I ask they will simply answer that their driver or clerk took it. I could read the reason so when I travelled to the United States of America (USA) I bought leather luxurious Bibles and of course they displayed these ones in their various offices.
A time came when recipients of my cassettes grew and many of them began to enjoy my ministrations and since I sponsored the whole exercise, I used cheaper cassettes so they advised me to be using Maxell cassette tapes which are better and friendlier to the machines they used in playing them. Again I had to do that not minding its cost. As I was doing this, God was blessing my business so I had no cause to complain.
One Christmas season I bought my double player stereo with which I improved on my recording. I still have that player till date and I am keeping it as a relic.
Once every year then, I travelled to Switzerland for a seminar at World Council Centre. I was once in Geneva and on my return I decided to be holding counseling sessions every Thursdays. I do no work but counseled my faithful which was increasing by leaps and bounds. After counseling them, I advice them to attend any Bible believing churches.
One fateful Friday, I was away on my business and on my return I found 15 pieces of plastic chairs deposited by my apartment. On inquiry, I discovered that they were dropped by some of my counselees all of them Catholic faithful. The following day being Saturday they came back to tell me that they do not want to go to any other church so I should start one with them. Though they insisted, but on my part I refused. However we struck an agreement. After attending our various churches on Sundays we will gather and I ministered to them.
With time, it dawned on me that God wants me to win souls for him. As my sitting room became small for members we moved to Cool Cat Nite Club. Every Sunday morning my family and I go to the club to clean it of the stench of vomits, cigarette and liquor of the previous night in readiness for the day's service.
During my next trip to Swiss for my annual seminar after we began our service I asked God for a name for the ministry and what came to me was Soul Winning Chapel Ministry.
That is how the church began in 1981 and has been growing from strength to strength ever since. I did not at anytime plan to begin a church but everything happened according to the desire of God and my founding members were Catholics.
The journey has been a tough one because many come but when they could not stand my preaching they run away. I have come to realize that most churches preach what their congregation wants to hear. I cannot do that if that is not what Christ wants me to say.
I recall a time when some dignitaries decided to attend my church. I did not know that they were all polygamists and one Sunday I preached against polygamy. I also discovered that they come to church with their second wives so I asked why they fail to also bring along the first because she too needs salvation. I was not really bothered about their polygamous status because my belief is that when they get to know the truth they will re-align but unfortunately they said I was too harsh and so left. Some months later, some of them called on me to just inform me that they have become workers in another church and I wished them well.
Church proliferation/increase in adversities
One must be very careful here because you have to understand the import of a church before you can talk on this. The church is the body of Christ with Jesus as head and has no schism (crack) and controlled by the Holy Spirit of God.
We have Christian organizations who call themselves church which is a misnomer. If you look at what we have today you are compelled to inquire of how many of them are indeed churches. What we have now is a situation where the GOs (General Overseers), the Bishops, the Pope e.t.c are heads of their various churches and not Jesus Christ. I keep asking where the church is. I am struggling to build one. I call my members disciples because mine is to bring them to the knowledge of Christ and the Holy Spirit.
What we call church today is so dismembered. Denominations are supposed to be for administrative convenience but what we have as denominations are private enterprises for leaders of Christians- I mean smart organizers, public relations personnel, fund raiser specialists, brilliant con persons, the eloquent, highly educated, a well camouflaged hypocrite but not ambassadors of Jesus Christ. He runs his church as his investment for self aggrandizement and as if competing with business men other than the Church of Christ.
On the other hand a Christian leader is that Christian who has been called to lead God's people. He understands he is accountable to Jesus Christ charged to win souls for the kingdom. He does not encourage or fan the embers of divisions in the body of Christ.
My understanding of Boko Haram is the present powerful and well armed criminal. Boko Haram was put together to call to order the Moslem elites who put in place Sharia law using former President Olusegun Obasanjo. The president's weakness allowed 13 states in the nation to employ Sharia law by amputating the Almajiris who saw the law as meant only for the poor. They therefore felt that the elites were above Sharia law because they went to western schools which prompted their disgust for education and so waged a war against Islamic elites.
The present Boko Haram is quite different from the former. It is a sophiscated and murderous group powered by political bigots. Late President Umaru YarAdua became President because the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) zoned the presidency to the north and so was entitled to a two-year term administration of eight years. Providentially he died and I think it is only proper for his kinsman from the north to take up and complete the term. But rather than listen to common sense, the usual corrupt and scientific rigging and all that is dishonest Nigerian politician traits brought President Goodluck Jonathan, a man from the South-South to succeed him.
My analysis is that the northern hierarchy in PDP will not forgive PDP for robbing it off its birth right slot and so decided to make things difficult for the regime as the man who stole their right. This sophisticated Boko Haram is well financed and has become such a monster in the PDP so that if the party decides to fight it would tantamount to suicide hence it has continued to toy with it. Truth is that the average Moslem hardly forgives an offence and that is what we are suffering today in the name of Boko Haram. Even if Jonathan decides to place them in all the offices but as long as he remains President the nation must drink from their gall.
Unfortunately, the naïve Ndigbo accepted that President Jonathan is an Igbo man to share in his fate. Moreso, you have some Moslems among the Yorubas and so should Boko Haram attack Yoruba settlement they may be killing some fellow Moslems, so it were better to destroy Igbo caste who, they are sure are basically Christians and that is the mayhem we got from Kaduna and Kano. The naïve Ndigbo also believes that President Jonathan will in 2015 hand over power to them - that is the most kindergarten hope any people could have.
Igbo as Boko Haram's target
This takes us back to the question where is the Church. Boko Haram gave Christians three days to leave the north because their main objective has been to extinguish Christianity in the country so as to Islamize the nation. The nation has narrowed it down to a war against the Igbos when in actual fact it is targeted at Christianity as a faith. They see the tribal side ignoring its faith base. People should know that a tribalistic faith is not a church of Christ. The Christians in this country have been challenged but they are pretending hence alleging that Boko Haram is against Ndigbo.
Men of God and politics
Politics is indeed meant for Christians to run. Every Christian is obliged to be in politics. The Christians I mean are regenerated Christians because a true child of God receives the gift of righteousness not because of his good works but the grace and gift from God. It is written that, when the righteous is on the throne, the children of God rejoice. We need the children of God to go into politics. Politics by the way is the proper management of men preferably by the righteous. In John 10 vs 10 it is written that the thief cometh to steal and to destroy and this has been the experience of Nigerians from their politicians since the year 2000.The other part of the same verse says that, I (Jesus) have come that they may have life in abundance and this is Godly politics to bring the abundant life God has promised his people.
But there are many Christians in Nigerian leadership?
Yes, there are Christians in the literary sense of it but the regenerated or real born again Christians are not there. This is so because leaders of Christians tell them that politics is a worldly issue and this is totally wrong. The regenerated Christian is light of the world and must shine to give the people illumination. We are the salt of the world and should be there to tasten our meals. The best challenge for a child of God in this country is to go into politics and play it as a child of God by seeing the money without stealing it, seeing our beautiful women without coveting them and leading the people aright.
Christians have been erroneously brain-washed to believe that getting involved in politics may make them loose their salvation and I ask, how much did they pay for salvation? Christianity is not a religion but a way of life.
Unfortunately, in this country if you are not a Moslem and you are an occultist, a witch, a cultist e.t.c. you are a Christian.
Appraisal of President Jonathan
President Goodluck Jonathan is mischievous. Outside Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, he is the next most educated President this country has boasted of. He began playing politics from the cradle not by-passing any political sequence. Starting as Deputy Governor to Governor and the Vice President before becoming the President yet he has not understood the priority for Nigeria. He has no agenda for this nation. You cannot have all the exposure, education and gone through the ladder of leadership yet he is not able to discern or choose a good team to tackle the Nigerian question. I see him further ruining this country by causing its disintegration or he may be impeached before his term expires.
Ikemba Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu was one of the most educated and civilized Igbo man that ever lived. Some are highly educated but not civilized. He understood and epitomized the quality of patriotism and true nationalism. He virtually laid his life down for Ndigbo. Of course I must add here that no human being is perfect and that is to say that he was not devoid of human idiosyncrasies but truth remains that his good side out weighs his bad side. With his demise, I have two problems and they are: Can any other Ojukwu be found in Igbo land and the second worry is to pray that his memory be preserved in a visible and practicable manner for generations unborn to see and honor him.
I say so because of the way the memories of some other Igbo heroes have been allowed to die with them. I mean the likes of Zik of Africa, Mike Okpala, Sir Akanu Ibiam and many other great sons of Igbo land. The Igbos pretends as if they never lived and this is not fair.
Aging and Fitness
The secret of my aging gracefully and fitfully lies in my family. I have a wonderful family that has nursed and protected me in every way. If there is a challenge confronting the family no one lets me know of it until when it is over. Let me tell one recent experience. Just few days ago before my birthday shortly after the family had retired for the night, the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) disrupted the light. While on my bed I saw my wife tip toe into my room so as not to disturb my sleep. Wide awake, I asked what she wanted and her response was I brought a rag to place by the refrigerator to soak the water that will eventually trickle out of it since there was no light so that I may not accidentally step on it, slip and fall. When I heard this I knelt down to thank God for such a caring family. Can you imagine my wife disrupting her own sleep to avoid an accident in my room.
I have three daughters and two sons. Out of my three daughters, the first is my twin sister; she behaves and reasons like me so we share a lot in common. My second daughter is my mother and she treats and relates to me like my mother indeed and the last is my daughter. Among my sons one is my friend and the other my son. God in His infinite mercy has put together a family you cannot penetrate for me and why should I age abnormally. For 40 years I ate once. Now I take breakfast because my doctor insisted that I do so. In the past I eat around late afternoon and that is my meal for the whole day. Food has never been a problem to me.
In addition to this I have the gift of bearing no acrimony against anyone. I am a very contented person by nature. What ever I do not have, I do not consider as mine. Furthermore, I love human beings. I can go the extra mile for my fellow human being and these make up my secret of being firm even at 82.