Bishop Isaac Idahosa amazingly draws scriptural references to virtually everything. This cleric who tells people that â€œevery day is a plusâ€ recently celebrated 26 years of marriage to the lady with the voice of a nightingale, Rev. Mrs. Christie Idahosa. Benneth Oghifo talks withÂ Bishop Idahosa about the milestone, his ministry, and other contemporary issues. Excerpts
April 25 marked your 26th wedding anniversary. How has the journey been?
So far so good; and not without challenges though. But then, when challenges come, what matters is the attitude displayed towards them; the right attitude. In all, God has been faithful.
What are some of the challenges?
I travel quite often and at the initial stage, it was a bit difficult to balance ministry and family as I wasnâ€™t giving family much time, and you know when there is no communication, youâ€™re hurting the relationship. We learnt from these challenges as they came and as that improved we had a better family life.
Leading Godâ€™s people is unlike any other profession. What does it really entail to assume this office, a spiritual calling training?
Both.Â If you are called and not trained, you will crash and if you are trained and not called, you will also crash. You are better equipped when you undergo training after being called. That doesnâ€™t mean challenges will not come though. When Jesus was walking on the water, Peter said, â€™If it is you, bid me comeâ€™ and Jesus called him to come, but then Peter got to a point where he began to sink.
However, the guarantee is that, when He calls you He will lift you up anytime challenges show up. So Peter got a helping hand when he beckoned Jesus. Therefore, ministry is a calling and not an ambition, of which training is a vital part of. Whatsoever someone wants to embark upon in life apart from ministry, training is important because it processes your potential and brings out the best in you.
What was the attraction to your wife and what has been the stabilising factor in your marriage?
I first met my wife in Yola in 1991 when I went to preach in a programme organised by her spiritual father, Bishop Fred Ado of Praise Chapel, Yola. When I returned to my station, then in Minna, after the programme, I invited a singing group called Anointed Singers to a programme I held and as God would have it, she was among them. The first thing that attracted me was the way she sang. If she sings you will not want any angel to sing again; sheâ€™s such a bunch of gift. That caught my fancy and afterwards, I asked her if she could train my choir and luckily she obliged. Thatâ€™s how it all began; from Yola to Minna and from Minna to God First Ministry, Illumination Assembly, in the name of training a choir. Then I cast my net and we got into a relationship and shortly afterwards into wedlock.
For the stabilising factors; God, patience, communication, giving a listening ear, the ability to say â€˜Iâ€™m sorry, when wrong, being interested in what interests each other.
Women are potent weapons the devil employs to bring down men of God and truncate the destinies of many.Â Have there been instances you were seduced or tempted by women?
Everybody gets tempted. Even Jesus himself was tempted. Temptation itself is not sin but the yielding unto it is sin. You cannot say there are no grounds for temptation, but it is your determination to respect God and respect your body and also the belief in God to overcome them that keeps you above board. And each time you overcome sin, you are so happy you did.
The flesh is that powerful and is required to be dead daily. Brother Paul said he died daily. The Bible says it is appointed unto man once to die; but to the flesh, it is daily death, in subjecting your body. So temptations come, but vision helps you to discipline yourself. No vision can materialise unless it has the in-built capacity to discipline you without a third party. Only such a vision has a sense of direction. When you expect someone to always discipline you when you are wrong, then you may not last because someone will not be with you all the time. You get to that point where you know that you are called for a purpose, and you are accountable to God, yourself and generations to come. Above all, the grace of God is what we lean upon to move on.
What is your wifeâ€™s reaction when you engage female members of the Church in conversations? Does she react negatively?
Fortunately thatâ€™s not the kind of wife I have because she was brought up in the ministry. Initially yes, when we just got married, but over time trust has been built. Obviously, I am a handsome man, (laughs) so that makes the temptation even much more. So yes, she could have misunderstood certain situations.
I used to be a full-blown sanguine and could hardly say no to people, and would readily make promises to people, at the end of which I may not fully fulfill, and not that I never wanted to. So, I had issues with that but over time, God has been able to help me balance issues. Accepting your weakness will enable you overcome them. If you donâ€™t accept them, you canâ€™t confront them and if you canâ€™t confront them, you canâ€™t conquer them. And what you tolerate, you cannot change. Now, I know how to say no and my no is even very anointed (laughs).
I accept my weaknesses and make it open even in the church so that the people will know I am a product of grace and mercy working towards perfection; someone in many ways like them whom God picked out of grace, and not behave like some tin god. That way they can give room when you make mistakes. One can make mistakes; great people often do, but not the same kind of mistakes.
Tithing has become a contentious issue in the body of Christ today. As Godâ€™s mouthpiece, is it scriptural to tithe or not?
Yes, very scriptural. You see, it is the path God reveals to you that he reveals to your work. God is like an elephant and we all are looking at Him from different viewpoints, so it depends on which angle you are looking at him from. I donâ€™t want to mix issues with issues but I tithe and encourage my members to tithe. I donâ€™t force them, but encourage them and leave them to their spirit man to convince them.
You are hosting The Great Outpouring Conference 2018 next month. What informed this programme?
Joel Chapter 2. â€˜In the last days, I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh and your sons and daughters shall prophecy, your young men shall see visions and your old men shall dream dreamsâ€™. It is the release of the intense outpouring of God, activating the spirit within us; the gift in us, causing the light to shine brighter. We have done that from place to place; from city to city and from nation to nation. It is a platform where people come and get refreshed in the Holy Spirit, empowered to carry on with the mandate of soul winning.
Bishops Alex Mwami from South Africa and Noel Jones from the US are billed to minister at the event. Did you have to bring in ministers from outside the country, and what are your expectations?
Great expectations. You see, the Holy Spirit is one. Some of the things they will be saying will be fresh while some may confirm what we have been saying. Iron sharpeneth iron; thatâ€™s the essence. Apart from them, we also have ministers within the country that will be ministering as well.
The programme has a business and leadership conference segment. What is that intended to achieve?
Doing business Godâ€™s way because it is not just enough to succeed but it has to be in Godâ€™s way. God has to be involved for there to be good success.
How do you balance your ministry with your equally important role of husband and father?
Initially, it was difficult, as I said earlier, because I travel a whole lot. God also gave me a very understanding wife and we started on time. Our children are all graduates so there are no babies here. Our last child just went to orientation camp this week; so you see my wife and I are like we just started. I knew where I was going so I started planning on time.
How do you keep the embers of your love aflame as the years roll by?
From time to time we travel out of the country and spend quality time together.Â Thereâ€™s nothing like respecting and spending time with your wife, giving her a listening ear and saying sorry when necessary.Â It is important to let a woman know her value, her worth. I sincerely cannot remember when I and my wife had a quarrel. Not that I sometimes donâ€™t offend her but when I do and realise it I quickly apologise to her. We have grown such that things that seemed to matter earlier on donâ€™t matter anymore.
What is her role in your ministry?
She is a very good teacher of the word of God, so she teaches sometimes when I am not there. She also counsels. People respect her for that and always want to relate with her. She has their ears and many times I would be home and she in church counseling. She is the kind of woman who loves to see people helped and she does so in her own way. So she stands in the gap and of course she preaches too.
What is your opinion about the wanton killing of innocent people in Benue and other states by supposed herdsmen?
It is satanic, barbaric and unacceptable. It is from the pit of hell. I want action to be seen done; to trace the perpetrators of these acts and deal with them according to the law. It has become rampant in Benue, Taraba, Plateau and Zamfara states. If one of the priorities of government was security when they were coming in, then they should sit down and use their tongues to count their teeth because government should secure lives and property.