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My first choristers were mosquitoes, frogs and snakes – Pastor Idahosa Odiri

Posted by By Chiagoziem Otuechere on 2005/01/28 | Views: 2857 |

My first choristers were mosquitoes, frogs and snakes – Pastor Idahosa Odiri


Dr. Idahosa Odiri is a dream personality. Youthful, engaging, cerebral and annointed. Watching him from a distance as he dishes out riveting sermons, you are tempted to conclude that the man must have been born with a silver spoon.

Dr. Idahosa Odiri is a dream personality. Youthful, engaging, cerebral and annointed. Watching him from a distance as he dishes out riveting sermons, you are tempted to conclude that the man must have been born with a silver spoon. But the unassuming General Overseer of Illumination Assembly (God First Ministries Int Inc) is not one to cloak his roots in mystery. In a refreshingly frank manner, he tells you that he passed through some very tough times in the early days of his ministry. He says, "My first choristers were frogs and snakes in the early days of my ministry. I even recall a time I was bristling with excitement over the prospect of flying to Cotonou to minister." But how time flies. Odiri is today an international preacher of repute with his church being touted as "one of the fastest expanding ministries of the new generation." Odiri’s triumph over disappointments reinforces the maxim that tenacity and implicit faith in God are winning strategies for all seasons.

The beginning
I am Idahosa Odiri from Edo State but grew up in Niger State. I attended the Kaduna Polytechnic where I bagged a degree in Mechanical Engineering. I gave my life to Christ at a very tender age. Quite early in life God started positioning me for his work, and this saw me serving with the evangelical missions in Katongora while at the same time updating myself at a Bible College. I was also privileged to undergo some courses in the United States of America. In 1989, I clearly heard the voice of God calling me to the ministry in the city of Minna. But at that time I wondered how realistic that was because my possession consisted of 50kobo and a box guitar. I was staying with a family who let out their boys quarters to me. Trying to obey God, I moved out looking for a suitable accommodation for my ministerial calling. I was especially eyeing a 3-bedroom flat in that neighborhood. In the end I met with the landlord who said the house went for N6000. Dejected I went back but on my way home, I saw an abandoned, dilapidated house. The house with the inscription "God’s own house’ (our ministry bears God first ministry) was located in a swampy area with frogs and snakes as the main tenants. The owner, a lawyer, was believed to have run mad leaving the building to the elements. I just knew that I had found an abode. I made enquiry and found out that the caretaker was one Justice Awoniyi. But people were discouraging me saying that people who lived there always run mad. When I eventually met the grand old man he asked whether I had parents. I nodded assent. He re-affirmed that people who resided there always came out with mental problems. I told him that my God would take care of me. That was how I started clearing the place to at least make it conducive for living.

Mockery
There were no facilities in the house at all. But I was not deterred. I soon printed my first handbills for a programme captioned "As you go". People laughed at me because they never expected something good to come out of there. The environment was really nothing to write home about. Whenever it rains, it was as if I had no shelter at all. My first choristers were the frogs, snakes and all manners of mosquitoes, things were so rough. I was feeding mainly on eba and okro soup. The only suit I possessed was the one I used in the university but it was so weather beaten that even a chimney fared better. My only pair of shoe was so much out of alignment that I walked with a swagger characteristic of people with "k-leg". God must have seen my commitment because within one month, the congregation increased to about 60 and today barely four months to our 15th anniversary; we are one of the thriving churches in Nigeria. We have a noticeable presence in Niger State. This was the same ministry that I was incorporating as international and people were laughing. They felt that since I was yet to win my environment, what chance did I have on the international scene. Despite these criticisms, God told me "when people misunderstand you, don’t misunderstand yourself. When they laugh at you, don’t laugh at yourself, and never be confused about yourself even when others are confused about you.

Embarrassing moment
The first international invitation I received was to Cotonou. I thought I was going by air so I made ample preparations. I starched my agbada with such rigour that even the military boys will be green with envy. It was only when I got to Lagos that I realized that Cotonou was just a stone’s throw away. No need to say that sweat dealt with me in my starched agbada. I was so disappointed that I didn’t even tell people about my experience when I came back. But like the mustard seed that started small, God has been faithful to us. I now move from nation to nation preaching the gospel. As I speak with you, I am the African representative of the Global Impact Ministries.

Illumination Assembly
I don’t always talk about the size of the church. The impact a ministry is creating is a better indicator of success. Illumination Assembly is committed to raising people of integrity, character and excellence. We believe that everyday is a plus for us. That is the reason why we do not spare any opportunity to organize meaningful programmes in the church. We have just had our winning seasons programme with anointed men of God like Apostle Anslem Madubuko and Reverend Yinka Yusuf ministering. The crux of their messages is that there is no season that has come to stay for long. The most dangerous man on earth is the man whose season has come, because he is set for a supersonic explosion. The winning season is a period of exchange: failure for success; weakness for strength; and poverty for riches. Soon, we are packaging a highly explosive power and praise programme with such artistes as Paul Dairo, Rock Sam, Sam Song and others ministering. We cater to all classes of people. No discrimination. We organize a buffet service once in a while to enable us attract eminent personalities in the society, by providing them a convivial environment to worship their maker. But in all these, we don’t compromise the word of God and the Lord has been doing great things in our midst.

Vision for the church
We all know that the enemy has the mandate to kill steal and destroy but that does not deter us from fulfilling our divine destiny. In the next five years we wish to raise a people who will live by what they dream, realizing their God-given gift as they become world-practitioners—replicating and duplicating their kind as they prepare for the master.

Advice to Nigerians
If the leadership is bad, then the church should also share in the blame. The onus falls on Christians to pray for our leaders. There is no leadership that God is not aware of. Even if the leadership is bad, God allows it for a purpose. It is unfortunate that some leaders have very good intentions but immediately they get to the office, they become something else. People should not be distracted by ephemeral things because there will be a day of reckoning for every action. Experience has taught me that unnecessary complaints don’t solve much. The man with the expectant spirit will surely be positioned in his winning season

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.