interviewBy Ben Atonko
Pastor Michael Akpami was recently ordained bishop under the auspices of the Cathedral of Life Church based in Ohio in the United States of America. Akpami who has taken various forms of leadership in the body of Christ was general secretary of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, an arm of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), for eight years. In this interview, he explains what being elevated means. Excerpts:
How did this journey of becoming bishop start?
The journey started from the moment I gave my life to Jesus way back as 1975. All through my days in the secondary school, I was always in leadership position. In my days in the university, I was in leadership position in the Christian circles.
Incidentally, I didn't canvass for the position of bishop. My overseer recommended me to be coffered the title of bishop. He didn't see it as a title; he saw it as greater grace and opportunity for greater grace upon me and of course, upon the ministry. That's how the journey began. I thank God. I thank my daddy, Bishop Ben Oruma who carried out the consecration. I want to thank my general overseer.
Now that you have been elevated, what difference does it make of you vis-à-vis your relationship with the church?
My understanding of this office is service. It's not about lording it over the people of God--being the master over the people of God. I see it as a greater opportunity for service.
Second, I see it as an opportunity for greater influence for the sake of God. I also see it as opportunity for greater authority because it wasn't just taking a title. It was oil coming upon me--the anointing of God coming upon me. So it's more authority; it's more influence; it's service to the people of God--not just the people of God, to humanity at large.
While coming to this church, I saw a policeman at the gate. It looks odd. Why must there be a security man at the post for the people of God to go praise God. What does this mean to you as a shepherd of the flock?
It's an issue that gives all of us a major concern. It gives me a major concern. One wonders whether we will ever come out of this vicious circle of violence. But there are words of consolation that I take personally. One of them is a prophecy that was given by a prophetess of God in Guatemala, I think in the year 2002--Cindy Jacobs. In that prophecy, she said Nigeria will become one of the greatest nations on earth.
It was way back as 2002 when this insecurity challenge had not been of this proportion. She said that Nigeria is going to be one of the most peaceful countries on earth where violence will not be heard.
There is also a scripture God assuring us...that He will take away violence from our land. I want to believe God that the God of peace will soon crush the serpent under our feet. There is a scripture for that. Proverbs 16:20, the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.
That will be determined by God. I wish it happens immediately. It's for us to be seeking his face for it to be sooner than later before the whole humanity, the whole Nigeria is wiped out in violence for him to intervene.
But you see, it behooves us the clergy to teach and pray for change. For us to teach the body of Christ the need for us to imbibe the principles that we were taught by Jesus, the Prince of Peace--Jesus was a man of peace. He wasn't a violent man. The Bible tells us that everywhere he went, he preached peace. When God anointed Jesus with the Holy Ghost and power he went about doing good and healing all the oppressed. Peace is what we are all looking for on this earth. Peace!
We must all embrace the Prince of Peace and the principles he teaches. For instance, He teaches me to forgive those who persecute me; those that despise me--I should pray for them and should forgive them. These are principles he taught us.
Apart from insecurity, what challenges do men of God face in the course of making Christians live as God directs?
We preach everyday, yet we come back to the same issues preached about.
For me, one major challenge I see is self-centeredness. All we care about is ourselves. We don't care about others. If I kill you, as long as I get what I want, I don't give a damn. I don't care about the widow, the orphans I will leave behind. I don't care about what happen to you as long as I'm comfortable.
Self-centeredness is a major issue. The root of self-centeredness is sin. Because of this, we still find ourselves coming back to the same point.