God truly honors His word and that of Hie elects; this is the case of Rev. Emmanuel O. Ihuoma who upon surjourning on his ministerial missioin convenanted with God to be outstanding among his peer, today his outstanding storybis what has distinguished him even as he prepares for retirement as the District Suprintendent of the Assemblies of God Nigeria, Abuja East District. In this interviwe with Mr. Abel Lazarus publisher,Abuja Leader Community Newspaper he xrays his days of little beginning and how grace has brought him hither.
Can we meet you Sir?
My name is Rev. Emmanuel O. Ihuoma the District Superintendent, Abuja East District of Assemblies of God Nigeria.
How would you describe your journey so far in ministry?
I would like to describe my journey so far in the ministry as a success,by God’s grace. I termed it a success because having started my ministry at the age of twenty six years as an unmarried youth from a little beginning when it was called West Central Missionary Area of the Asemblies of God Nigeria, the unit then covered the Kwara State inclusive of Ajaokuta which is now in Kogi State, Niger state and the FCT, Abuja; these were the three zones we covered under the West Central as of 1981.
To date, I have served in Assemblies of God Nigeria for forty one years in various capacities that includes local church pastor with my very first church being Agaei Church, September 1982 before been transfered to Zungeru i January 1983 both in Niger State and these churches are still there till date. InMay same year (1983) I was posted to Karmo in the FCT Abuja uptil December 1983 from where I was moved to FFM Camp in Ajaokuta in January 1984 to December 1985 before coming back to Wuse, Zone 5 to be precise and it will interest to know that Abuja today was not as it is today. in 1986 I was moved to Garki when all the churches in Abuja were worshipping at the now old parade ground due to no allocation of lands to the churches, I became a pastor there till December 1987. From thence I was transfered as a sectional leader to Bida church in Niger state where I was overseeing about seven to eight churches under my section. I remained a sectional leader for a period of thirty two years from that sectional headquarter to other sectional headquarters all in Niger state. March 1994 saw my return to the Fderal Capital Territory to Nyanya Church all the way from Niger state, then it was a hackling task moving from ones local church to a new station, sometimes days are involved in the relocation.
Because we were seen as missionaries hence the need to move from one local church to a new station was imminient also one end to another end for the fact that the number of churches then were more than the number of pastors.
From Nyanya in 1996 I made a return to Garki in what I like to term as my second missionary journeies having been there earlier in 1987 as I mentioned. At my second coming to Garki we have gotten the where the church is built unlike then when all the denominations were worshipping at that old parade ground including Presbyterians, the Methodist etc, though the Methodist was the first to get their land. December 1996 I made another return to Nyanya from Where I moved to Lugbe Airport Road where I served for nine years and six months having served for eleven years in Nyanya, by these times the church had grown both in additional Churches and equally with a good number of pastors.
January 15 1994, I became the District Secretary of Abuja District, at that time Kwara State had been removed, a position I occupied for twenty five years before been elected as the District Superintendent.
In your forty one years of ministry, how would assess the church of Christ today from when you started?
Haha! I have a story to tell he exclaimed! As per the journey both in ministry service and that of the Nigerian society service to the church, I would say that morality is nose diving, enthusiasm or zeal for the things of God is also dropping, commitment is no longer as it use to be, faithfulness is no longer paramount both among the clergy and their led. These also you must corroborate with the teachings of the Bible of the last days, that’s the effect on all these. The onus still remain on us, I mean those of us that started the ministry and repented earlier we can weigh from where we startedfrm where we (the church) are todayand and call for revival.
Though the change is universal ascan beseen even in the circular world; using the educational system which has fallen beyond measures, for instance I could remeber writing receipts and agreement for properties as a pupil in Standard two but today its not achieveable even most graduates will struggle at doing that.
What we see today makes some of us to marvel and weep for the church as things are no longer as it used to be and its a cause for concern for the ministry during our time necessity was laid on us to study the word of God and hear God speak to us even as He is still speaking to us even today, we prepared messages that bring people to repentance with a confirmation of the message from God; as you wil hear; thus says the Lord. Altar calls were a regular occurrence with sinners moved to tears by messages however today’s altar calls are for donations and prayers for blessings, that era of seeing a sinner crying after hearing the word of God is far gone. Apostle Paul said it that there will be fables, stories and tales, that’s what we are seeing today.
What would like to change in the body of Christ especially with the AG family?
Personally by God’s grace am praying for revival that will bring about a positive change of all these things that I mentioned earlier, things that we enjoyed in the past in our fellowships that are no longer presence will return so that people will have that zeal for God.
The end time requires revival in the church, because the rapture is for the church and if the church is not revived who are those going to be raptured.
Recently AG was emersed in various leadership crisis what would you say attributed to it?
Crisis has always been part of human existence and this has replicated in all human spheres not sparing the church, for the Assemblies of God; there is a great difference with all other Churches, its only in AG you find a leader been disciplined and it marvels other churches because AG is devoid of that style of President and founder as seen in most churches today, our leadership positions are duly elected hence once there is a contrast from the tenates of the election (s) and we would not want the organization to derail from its path we call the elected leaders to order and where there is refusal to retrace steps, we discipline them, the Bible stated it that people should be disciplined when they err but in the cases of president and founder, no one questions or thinks of disciplining a president or a founder. In leadership positions a lot is at play that is beyond human uderstanding as one may be moved to ask how did this or that person got elected in such position they should also not forget to ask how was Judas Iscariot selected to the exalted position of an apostle by our Lord Jesus Christ and never made a mistake appointing him the first Treasurer of His ministry; these are bound to happen sometimes by virtue of humans and secondly for the fulfilling of a purpose.
The number of graduand pastors seem to be on the increase within the Abuja East District, what would be your proffered solution of not having more of redundant ministers?
We can’t stop anyone from answering the call of God, it is worthy to note the the call of God is subjective and objective, it becomes objective when you see a man doing the things of God and subjective when he tells you that he is going to Bible School; you can’t stop him, however his input and investment in his ministry will determine if he is called or not; hence you can’t stop anybody; in Abuja East District, we acknowledge that the vineyard is large so we have told them that anywhere they are led to open a church, they should go ahead and open one and run it under Aassemlies of God Nigeria. That is our measures to accommodate them however i will not fail to tell you that this call of a thing is only known and determined by God, yet i can confirm to you that some people are genuinely called of God while others have interest in the work of God, these you can’t say if they beebed God to call them or they called themselves.
What would you like to be remembered for as the former DS Abuja East?
God has given me the grace and I have touched the lives of many, I have produced many pastors here in Abuja who are leaders currently, am a father not just a father a Grandfather to several people and more also, some of the churches I pastored I made serious impact in term of infrastructures, administration and most importantly ministerially to people and I can tell you any of these churches I visit, they highly celebrate me. Am not sounding my trumpet but the people, go to Garki, Nyanya, Lugbe and others and ask who is Rev. Ihuoma,a legacy was left.
Your retirement obviously does not mean you are tired, what would be your next commission?
Obviously i can tell you that am still verystrong and sound and can still function in various capacities; however upon my retirement, I will serve as a father in relation to advisory, gaurdian and counselling and praying. Mind you am a serious marriage counsellor and have written three books on marriage and in total eleven books, the most recent is on leadership. I also have two Masters, one in Theology and another in Church administration. So I will be teaching people on leadership and church administration.
Were there targets you set at the inception of your ministry that you are not able to achieve?
I made one statement to God “that if i had wanted to be a sinner that i would have been a chief sinner or second and not being a common sinner as I love to be the best in whatever I embark on. Then i said Lord as am going into this ministry i want to be outstanding”. I started at the lowest ebb as my academic level then was too low yet I made that statement that I want to be outstanding and that statement came to be; right from the Bile school I was made the speaker of my class, I came out and in six years I became a sectional leader when you are expected to spend at least ten years or more and after my ordination I became the District Secretary, I must confess I had a fast rising profile and that prayer came to manifest as I have been very outstanding.
Leadership is unique however are there attributes or methodology you would love your successor to have or adopt?
Am leaving a certain size of shoe and by the grace of God am not leaving with any iota of regret as I am satisfied hence; am praying that whoever emerges my successor should begin from the spot I left and take it further to a higher level, I don’t expect anyone to operate below my level; its never my prayer as I expect it higher.
Our roles as Christians in nation building can never be over emphasized, would you say Christians are meeting up with the responsibilities?
Christians are not meeting up and my reasons are that our brothers so to say, when they get to the elective positions they don’t make our anticipated impact, they often fail to use their God given talents hence we don’t feel their presence there.
Sorry to say that the church has been disappointed so man times when compared with our sister religion, when they get there they represent their religion at all spheres but Christians seem to drop their faith for other things. The church is not feeling their impact I must say this.
Still talking about nation building, Nigeria will be going into another general elections next year, what would be your advice to believers?
Irrespective of their shortcomings, voting remains our civic rights therefore we must continue to vote and support our people who are vying for those positions or those already there despite not meeting our expectations we have to support them at least for having a little fear of God, though Nigeria has really not had a nominal Christian in position however we will continue to vote them in those positions till a time a true Christian leader emerges.
What would be your expectations of Abuja East District in the nearest future?
If Christ tarries in the next five years, I want to look back and see a greater Abuja East District with credible leaders (men and women) in cadres of leadership; its my dream and as well my prayers.
What will be your parting messages to Abuja East district and AG Nigeria?
My words to them is not to allow worldliness that is already in the church to becloud our vision and not to forget our root, we have where we are coming from, Assemblies of God we should live our tenates of faith and doctrine, we should equally remember our ultimate goal which is going to heaven hence should not allow the mundane things be cloud our actions to forgetting that the trumpet shall sound one day and since its our ultimate goal our focus should be geared towards it and finally they should endeavor to win more souls because that is why we are called.
What would be assertions on the on going Russia invasion of Ukraine?
I do not support what Russia is doing irrespective of their reasons because innocent blood are shared especially that of Christians. We know the history of Christians in then Soviet Union, and just like other countries that have condemned it, I equally join my voice to condemn it, even as we continue to pray for God to halt the crisis and stop these unwanting killing of innocent ones.