Down-to-earth, thoughtful and inspirational, the Pastor of Prevailing Life Ministries (Prevailers’ Arena) Peter Yakubu, is one of Nigeria’s clergymen with a vision for a new Nigeria and the desire to uplift souls languishing spiritually and materially. When he turned 50 recently, Yakubu, in this interview with Olaseni Durojaiye talks about his journey, joy, and Jesus. Excerpts:
You just celebrated your birthday. What are your reflections on life?
Everyone would wish they have another chance of reliving their lives so they can make some adjustments, correct the wrongs and live their lives better. I’m rather filled with gratitude to God in spite of the wrongs, errors, failures, and shortcomings. Because, looking back, I see many ditches I would have fallen into that He kept me from. Many sins He should have killed me for. But He had mercy on me. It’s 50 years and that’s not a joke. A lot has happened. I’m grateful I’m still here.
How has your upbringing helped you to live a fulfilled life so far?
Upbringing! I was born a nominal Christian but not raised a Christian like we try to do our children today. My dad was a disciplinarian whose key agenda for his children was to give them the best of education but died earlier than he saw that fulfilled. I was already in the School Of Basic Studies, ABU Zaria when he died. So, I couldn’t continue with ABU after graduating from SBS. Later, I sought admission into Obafemi Awolowo University OAU, Ile-Ife. Being in OAU was altogether a different experience for which I am eternally grateful to God. That was where I found legs for my destiny. It was there I found meaning to life. That’s when I learned to trust God for the next moment. My growing up life was not really too eventful until I found Christ. It was in Christ I began to find fulfilment. Life became meaningful and purposeful from that time on.
Tell us, have you always wanted to be a clergyman?
Sometimes, we speak as children not knowing we are declaring our tomorrow either by creating it prophetically or speaking what has been ordained. Though, not strictly a Christian adherent, as a child, I went to the Christ The King Catholic Church in Sabon Gari, Zaria. I attended the catechism and wanted to be a mass servant. I would declare, then, to whoever cared to listen that I was going to be an archbishop (certainly, a Catholic Archbishop). But, I desired to be a pilot. The school of aviation being in Zaria and friends of the family managing the school, it appeared I won’t have a problem going in to be pilot.
But, my mom discouraged me on the ground that pilots don’t have homes. They are mostly up in the sky and away from home. She suggested I go for medicine, which then became my dream. I would go to the General Hospital Zaria and befriend some of the doctors and ask if I could go in with them into the theatre and for the ward rounds. My secondary school was a walking distance from the hospital. So, I go there after school. But, as I said, I found legs for my purpose in the university where it became clearer that my place is in the pulpit not in the hospital. So, those childhood confessions of being an archbishop found fulfilment rather than the academic pursuits.
How will you describe your spiritual journey to date?
Positive. It’s been interesting as I grow daily in the knowledge of Christ. His mercy is indescribable. Even when I try to experiment with fire, He comes true for me in His mercy. My spiritual journey has been exciting and more colourful is the fact that we can never exhaust the knowledge of Him as we keep pressing to know more. Knowing Christ is the best and greatest thing that has happened to me.
Now He comes more real than ever before as we see the practicalities of what we read in scriptures manifesting for us in our day to day lives. He is coming more real to me now. Like a friend of said, ‘Even if it is proven now that there was never a Jesus Christ or that He is not real, it is too late for me.’
Your church seems to be thriving. What is the history behind the growth?
That, I really don’t have a direct answer to because, one, growth is relative. Two, I don’t know of any precise history that is responsible for church growth except that God gives the increase. So, my experience or lack of experience cannot be attributed to church growth. We owe it all to the grace of Almighty God.
Who are your spiritual mentors?
Apostle Paul said you can have a thousand mentors but one father. As a church, we are directly affiliated with The Fountain of Life Church and have the elegant Pastor Taiwo Odukoya as our father. But I report to a very few other fathers in the faith for instructions, corrections, and others who keep me in check. They are Rev. Isaac Omolehin, Apostle Anselm Madubuko, and Rev. Mosy Madugba. Men of proven integrity and true to the call. Fathers, indeed they are.
When you’re not working as a clergyman, what do you do?
Well, basically, the job of a clergyman is a full-time job, especially as a pastor, it is more or less a 24 hours a day, seven days a week’s job. However, I use my free time for recreation: when I am not with my family I go for sports. I play football; I swim and occasionally play lawn tennis. Not so much of events. Other times I relax by watching the television.
Being 50 is often seen as a golden age. Of what significance is your golden jubilee?
I have never been 50 before. This is my first time. So I really don’t know what to make out of it other than that I am excited. Nonetheless, it means a lot to me. My father died before he was 40, and I had had some internal pressure as if trying to remind me of something. But, thanks to God who has given us the victory and all that pressure was eroded. It is of immense significance to me because I made it to 50 – which is a landmark breakthrough for me. I made it in sound health which is a great testimony. Above all, at 50, I am in Christ and still saved. That is the most outstanding of them all. The person that convinced me to go for the fellowship where I gave my heart to Christ 31 years ago just escorted me there and went back. He didn’t go in to be saved. The person who received me and led me to Christ, a young man, was reported dead many years ago in the United States of America. You see, I have every reason to be grateful.
For some, celebrating this milestone includes thinking of the downtrodden, the poor and the hungry. Are any activities for your birthday?
For me, it’s not just because it’s a milestone; it has always been a major part of all my birthday celebrations and at other times even when I am not celebrating. These thoughts are supposed to be a permanent part of our lifestyle and we classify them as works or good work.
The life expectancy in Nigeria is, unfortunately, the lowest in all of West Africa. The average life expectancy is around 54.5 years with men living an average of 53.7 years and women living an average of 55.4 years. Do you think a time will come humans will be celebrating eternity?
That time if I understand you well is the time when only children will occupy this planet. I still believe strongly that Nigeria will rise again and the conditions of living will greatly improve. We are only waiting for that time God promised us when sane and right-thinking persons will start to steer the rudder of the leadership of this country in the right direction. Believe me, that time will come. At that time, it will not be an eternity we will celebrate but life here: a good life on earth.
Can you tell more about your church?
Prevailing Life Ministries was founded in October 2005. The Church is called Prevailers’ Arena. We have seen God, again and again, prove Himself to be true for us. We started the church on a property we leased from where we built – and still building anyway –, our own structure where we are right now on Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway. We moved in there last year.
We are an evangelistic church that believes in the Apostles Creed. We preach the full gospel and we are strongly into deliverance. God has blessed us with outstanding testimonies of notable miracles and healings and we are a praying church. You cannot take fasting away from us. We believe in the lordship of Jesus Christ over every sphere of life. We are a family church and sincerely love ourselves. Anyone joining us for the first time will immediately feel at home and there is no room for regrets with us.
Is the church being run along with your wife?
Yes, my wife works side by side with me in the ministry work though she has a secular job. She is a strong backbone and a great coach. Of course, she’s a great gift from God for me and God has blessed us with many children.
Do you mind if your children chose your spiritual path?
I certainly will not mind if that is what God has called them to do. I, however, will not force it on them. Everyone has his calling and purpose from God and no parent should impose their wishes or desires on their children.
What have been your challenges and blessings leading a thriving church like this?
One of the major challenges is having to run alone, I guess. Being called into the pastoral office is a lonely call. You are easily misunderstood and despised when you do not want to run like every other person because you are not called to run like them. We are different individuals with different callings. Our goals are different and as such our destinations and results are not the same, but, many times you are expected to yield same results as others and that you do things the same way as others. No. That’s not correct. This is difficult to make many understand. But we keep a straight face if we hope to please Him who has called us. Success is doing things the way He asked you to and achieving His desired results not the expectations of people.
The blessings come from those who believe in you and join their hands together with you to see that Gods will is done. And the greatest of it all is complete obedience to His will and call, even when nobody believes or understands you. You see Him come true for you. That is really pleasing.