Posted by By Beifoh Osewele on
Rev (Dr) Robertson Akwaze, president, True Desire Ministry International, exudes confidence. And when he speaks, he does so in a voice that arrests attention. He is the quintessential preacher. Bold and unequivocal.
Rev (Dr) Robertson Akwaze, president, True Desire Ministry International, exudes confidence. And when he speaks, he does so in a voice that arrests attention. He is the quintessential preacher. Bold and unequivocal. Akwaze, who describes himself as an apostle, runs an international ministry. Presently, he is undergoing studies at Rhema Bible Training Centre, South Africa. In his late 40s, Akwaze received his calling about 20 years ago in a rather dramatic manner.
My call, if I really want to go into the details of it, dates back to many years ago. I lost my father when I was a little boy. I needed to go to school but there was nobody to help me out. So one day, I picked up a rope, climbed a tree to commit suicide. At the point of taking my life, I heard a voice saying ‘my son, my son, don’t do that to yourself’. I thought it was my late father speaking to me, so I answered, why should you disturb me? You did not give us a good education, you just died and left us alone. Whatever I was doing was out of frustration. I was bitter that I didn’t have a father or anybody to train me, and here was this voice saying to me, come down I will be a father to you, I will be a mother to you. Then, I wasn’t even going to church. So that was strange. But I obeyed somehow and came down from the tree.
When I slept that night, I dreamt and saw myself with speakers (megaphone) crossing a river. By the time I was coming back, I found a multitude of people struggling to pass a tiny bridge. When I was coming, there was no bridge, I just found myself on the other side, but when I was now returning it now dawned on me that there was a tiny bridge and a lot of people were struggling to pass through it. Because they were fighting and struggling to pass all at once, some were falling over. Then it was like I was crying because the people were falling off. I heard a voice again telling me to help them, instead of standing and crying".
He says he woke up astounded. He was at sea as to what the whole dream was all about. But the import of it, he says, became real when he unburdened his mind to a number of persons who told him that God wanted to use him. But at first he just dismissed the idea of being a pastor with a wave of the hand.
"My dream was to be a pilot, so there was no way I could have said I wanted to be a pastor." But finally he had to give in to God. Having heeded the call, he enrolled at the Assemblies of God, Bible College, Abuja. He proceeded from there to All Nations for Christ Bible Institute where he studied the word under the guidance of the late Rev. Benson Idahosa.
"After my training, I worked with him for almost 15 years before I finally had the call to stand on my own."
For him working with Idahosa was a rare privilege. "He was an outstanding man of God. I was privileged because I happened to live with him. I lived with him as a student, so I can chest-out and say yes, I knew him. He was a man of integrity, honesty, he was a man mighty yet so simple that anybody could reach out to him. He was a man of genuine love and above all, the father of Pentecostal movement". Akwaze believes that but for Idahosa, the Pentecostal revival that we have in Nigeria, or even in Africa today, would not have been possible. Even as he believes Idahosa did well to light the fire of the Pentecostal movement he regrets that so much confusion has enveloped the fold. According to him, were Idahosa alive, he would have disciplined the system.
"My own spiritual father was a man that everybody looked up to. He was a very bold man, forthright, direct, he didn’t look at faces. He said it the way it was. He confronted presidents, not to talk of those who were looking up to him as sons and daughters. I mean, he would have called them (Pentecostal pastors) to order. It is unfortunate that the man is dead, but I think he has been taken to high glory. To be very honest, we have fantastic men of God today like Pastor Adeboye, Ayo Oritsejafor, Bishop Mike Okonkwo, David Oyedepo but none of them can sincerely say he has stepped into the shoes of Idahosa because we are talking about someone who commanded respect, irrespective of denomination. He broke the barriers. Idahosa didn’t care whether you were a Deeper Life, Assembly of God member. I remember even when I was still in Benin that Olumba Olumba sent some of his members to attend one of the crusades. They came in truckloads and he never sent them away. Who else can do that? He received them and preached the gospel to them. That is what we are talking about. A man that had an open heart and could reach down to the little person in the Christendom. You cannot compare the spiritual advancement in Nigeria to what happens outside Nigeria, especially in South Africa. We must agree that in South Africa, yes, things are happening in the Pentecostal fold but their own level of understanding is far below what we have in Nigeria".
Inasmuch as he would not begrudge those involved in the wholesale advertisement of miracles, Akwaze also calls for caution. According to him, miracles are a means to an end rather than end in themselves.
"The question we need to ask is, is there healing in the body of Christ? There’s healing. Do we genuinely experience healing? Yes, I can even say that."
But he adds: "The Bible says that when we follow Christ, signs shall follow us. We are not supposed to follow signs. There are things that have happened in my life, I have preached the gospel undiluted for years, even in South Africa, I have seen miracles and healings. These are the same miracles, the same healings that somebody would have blown up on television here. Miracle is a normal way of life as a child of God. If we read the bible and understand, it says healing is part of our lives. Signs are for the unbelievers to know that God is alive. For instance, I am sick, I believe that God will give me divine health, I believe that God will heal me. If somebody is sick and as a preacher you pray for the person and he gets well, it is not supposed to make you feel like a super star. It is just a pointer, not for you as a person, but to the fact that God is truly alive."
He advises that rather than men of God advertising for people to come out and receive miracles, they should borrow a leaf from the renowned German preacher, Reinhard Bonnke.
"When Bonnke comes to town, you don’t see him advertising miracles. He invites people to come and receive salvation, ‘come and see Jesus, come and receive Him.’ That is the type of thing I am talking about. The emphasis should not be on miracles, but on the person, Jesus Christ, because if you remove Jesus Christ, miracle becomes a caricature, a manipulation, it becomes witchcraft. It becomes like you are trading, a market. It becomes a gimmick.
"Yes, Jesus did a lot of miracles and healings. But we should not begin to overblow these things to the extent that it will look as if without miracles there can be no Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the author of miracles. When you serve him, miracles will follow you as a matter of fact. I am disappointed that today preachers hardly talk about righteousness, they talk about miracles and prosperity. I am not against prosperity. I am a preacher of prosperity, but I do not put prosperity before righteousness, neither do I put prosperity before the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Prosperity is part of the benefit of being a child of God, but it is not a do-or-die affair. No! That I don’t have a car, so what? That I don’t have a house, so what? Serve God with integrity and as you are serving Him He will promote you".
A native of Obudu in Cross Rivers State, Akwaze is based in South Africa. Why South Africa? Has he won all the souls that are there to win back at home? Or is it the lure of foreign currencies (Rands and dollars) that has influenced his decision to sojourn abroad? The man smiles, and answers no to both questions in a steady voice.
"All the souls in this world would not be won before Jesus Christ comes. The Bible says that this gospel of the kingdom will be preached to all nations, all ears will hear it, but the Bible never says that all would believe. I just said to myself, I have been working in Nigeria these long, why not try elsewhere. The truth is that I have an international ministry. I know that God has sent me not only to Nigeria, He has sent me to all over. So my being in South Africa is just temporary. I am there for two things. For refocusing and for redirection."
Akwaze goes further to say that he would make more money here than abroad.
"Afterall, in South Africa, nobody has given me dollars but once I came to Nigeria, somebody sowed a seed of dollars in my ministry. So if I were looking for dollars I would have got dollars in Nigeria. I have always said to people that with the type of gift and anointing God has given me, if I were after money I would have been riding around in a fleet of Jeeps. But no, the anointing is not for commercial gains. It is for service."
He confesses that there are times, he wished he could be outside the ministry and to use his words "go be like every other person." Why? He tells you that it is not an easy thing to be a minister of God. "Here you are, you have people you can sacrifice for, people you can lay down your life for, people you can go the extra mile for, but at the end of the day, these people may not even appreciate you, may not even come back to say ‘thank you.’ When that happens you feel frustrated. You feel, God, why are these things happening to me?
"For a man of God, definitely, the temptations of women are there because you occupy a position where you have people that come to you and they do because you are supposed to show compassion. That is why you need to be disciplined, and to carry your wife along. You need to be honest, sincere, let your wife understand who you are. You have to make sure you are not doing backyard business. You must understand that she has a right to listen to your conversation on the cell phone, she has a right to be there when you’re talking with people. She doesn’t have to stay off because you’re discussing with people.
"And then, of course, money. A lot of ministers of the gospel have been brought down by money. They go the extra mile to tell lies and do all sorts of thing because they want you to give them money. But I just believe that if you’re working for God, God will take care of you."
These terms and conditions contain rules about posting comments. By submitting a comment, you are declaring that you agree with these rules:
Failure to comply with these rules may result in being banned from further commenting.
These terms and conditions are subject to change at any time and without notice.