General Superintendent, Bishop Charles Ighele,

The Holy Spirit Mission (a.k.a The Happy Family) clocked 50 in March 2024. The General Superintendent, Bishop Charles Ighele, captured his journey, success and challenges in the ministry in his address with some selected journalists. He delved into the state of the nation and the way out. Our Correspondent, Olusegun Obisanya, was there.

What is the origin of the name “Holy Spirit Mission”?

The man God used to start Holy Spirit Mission, Bishop Michael Marioghae, was deeply rooted in the Anglican Church. He was a preacher. The Anglican Church used him to give birth to some secondary schools, including the famous James Welsh in Delta state in 1957 and Anglican Boys Grammar School also in Delta state in 1965. He was also a onetime principal in one of the best Anglican Girls schools in the country. You can therefore see that his Anglican background was deep. His father was a catechist in the Anglican Church. At a stage, he got baptized in the Holy Ghost and this marked the beginning of his problems with the Anglican Church.

People who wanted Holy Ghost baptism came to meet him in his house and many got filled with the Holy Spirit. The Anglican Church at that time could not tolerate this.  The disagreement was a front-page national issue. It was in the course of all these that the headquarters of Benin and Delta diocese of the Anglican Church in Benin city summoned him and he was told to renounce the person of the Holy Spirit on a Sunday service, he was told that the Holy Spirit only operated in the time of the Apostles – the likes of Apostle Peter, Paul and the rest. He refused and he was booed. He and his wife were then excommunicated from the Anglican Church. It was at this stage that the Lord told him to start a ministry.

So, when he asked the Lord what should be the name of the ministry, God asked him, Bishop Marioghae, “what is the nickname that is being used to mock and abuse you?” And he answered, “Holy Spirit people”. He was then told to add the word “mission”. That is the origin of the name Holy Spirit Mission. It will also be important for me to inform you that before he went home to be with the Lord, I personally accompanied him to where he ministered in an Anglican Church.

He was happy to see that the Anglican Church started welcoming the person of the Holy Spirit. He was happy to see that his efforts and those of others that sowed this seed in the Anglican Church never ended in vain. When he eventually died, Anglican Bishops came to personally pay their respects. Moreover, about four or so years ago, a service was held where the excommunication was lifted even after his death.

Were there objections to your elevation as the next General Superintendent of Holy Spirit Mission?

Well, it will interest you to know that nobody openly objected to my being made the General Superintendent of the Ministry because a few millions of people were impacted by the marriage and family and miracle aspects of our ministry.

Some years after, the Ministry relocated to Lagos from Benin City, where your church had made some significant impact. What informed this decision to relocate to Lagos?

My movement to Lagos was divine because it did not make physical sense to move from Benin City where our ministry was doing well and we were almost becoming a household name. In fact, people told me that Arch Bishop Benson Idahosa made it in Benin and that I should remain there. My answer to the last part of your question is that if I had remained in Benin City, I would have made more impact provincially (in some states in that part of the country). However, my stay in Lagos opened me up to circumstances and some people I would not have met if I were still in Benin City.

So, my being in Lagos positioned the ministry for a more global impact. I’m not saying that only those in Lagos have more global impact. Far from it. In life and ministry, divine location plays a critical role. In the case of Benson Idahosa, Benin City was his divine location and he made global impact from there. But in the case of Charles Ighele, Lagos is his divine location and after years and years of taking root downwards, we have started to grow upwards in different parts of the world.

For example, apart from the branch churches handed over to me by Bishop Marioghae, more have been planted in Benin City and South-South. We are firmly in Lagos and Ogun state in South-West. We have churches in northern states such as Kogi, Taraba, Adamawa, Gombe and some other places in the north. The Maiduguri branch in Borno state will soon take off.

We’ll soon be on ground in some African countries including Malawi, and the 95 percent population of Muslims in Gambia. Our work is already in United States. The church there is about 30 adults but the surprising thing is that about half of them are white Americans. By the grace of God, I have become one of the speakers during some ministers’ conferences in the US. My wife, Carol, hosts an annual women conference in the US and she is unable to meet up with the demand from city to city.

Our Sharon University of Agriculture and Rural Development will soon take off. We have acquired a few hundreds of acres for the university and other projects in Ogun state near Lagos. You can see that my moving to Lagos has not drawn us back. The food processing arm has already taken off and our products are in some of the big supermarkets in the country, though most people do not know that it is from us. By the grace of God, I’m an entrepreneurial leader and a developmental leader. And the bustling city of Lagos with over 20 million people energizes me to fulfil God’s kingly call upon my life (apart from the priestly call), to fulfil my priestly and kingly ministry as an entrepreneurial and developmental leader.

From Lagos, our ministry has been positioned to raise and retrain our youths, no matter their tribe, to use their education for development especially in the skills acquisition and Agric areas.

Much success has been recorded in the 50 years of the Ministry. What can churches learn from this?

The answer to your question is that apart from the anointing of God that is upon my life, what I cherish most in my life is integrity and honesty. It was the integrity I saw in Bishop Michael Marioghae that made me join the Holy Spirit Mission in the 80s. I have seen that honest leaders are few. I was personally quite happy when Reinhard Bonke sent for me years before he died and told me that he had heard of my high level of integrity and that I should keep it up. We have about 160 pastors in Holy Spirit Mission as at now and they say that my honesty with them is what makes them follow me. I learnt this from Bishop Marioghae and also from others and some ministries can learn this from us.

Misappropriation of church funds is a major source of rift, division among church leaders today leading to breakaway. As a growing ministry, how do you handle this monster among your Pastors, leaders and what can others learn from you in this regard?

There is no growing ministry that does not have problems. We had problems but these were early during my tenure as the GS of Holy Spirit Mission. Some of the problems were caused by some people who had their own agenda while some were also caused by my own inexperience and youthful exuberance. For the past many years, I have a team of pastors whom I seriously believe in. My work is to use my office to build up my pastors and not to be angry with them or humiliate them when anyone sins or does not behave too well.

What are you looking forward to achieve in the years ahead as a ministry?

We are a ministry with a sanctified ambition to make impact. So, in the next few years, we should be in at least 50 other nations of the world. By the grace of God, we should go beyond that.

What is the secret for most of your Pastors believing in you?

When I started out in ministry, I looked out for pastors with a high level of anointing to push the work forward but after about 6 years or so, I changed my style. I stopped looking for the anointed and started looking for the faithful. The anointed may give you an immediate impact but with bad character. But the faithful may not give you immediate result but will certainly bear fruits that will endure.

Personally, I lay more importance on the fruit of the Spirit than on the power and gifts of the Spirit because it’s the fruit that will take you to Heaven and not the gifts. That was why Jesus said “by their fruits you shall know them” and not “by their anointing or large congregation”. So, for me, the character of a man and how the man of God uses the anointing with good character is more important than the anointing that brings scandals and makes one to be in the news for the wrong reasons. I have peace and I like peaceful people and I like to be with peaceful people.

In all these years in ministry as GS, even though you are married, how have you been able to escape sex and financial scandals?

Before I got married and before I joined Holy Spirit Mission, I stood on the altar of a church and made a vow that no lie will ever come out of my mouth. I also made a vow that I will never commit fornication and adultery. I told God that I prefer to die if that’s the only way of preventing me. I asked for His grace to see me through because by my own power I could not because females used to like me a lot. In fact, I was handsome. Like in Chinue Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart”, like a bird I had to learn to fly without perching when men learnt to shoot their catapults without missing. Moreover, I have always had this principle of not allowing married or unmarried females who have no sense of shame to be in my inner circle or very close to me. Once I discover, I will distance such a female from me. About money, I have a conscience that is very, very sensitive so also is my wife. Church money is church money and my money is my money.

Those who know you say that the love between you and your wife is very strong even after nearly 38 years of marriage. What is the secret?

Carol and I believe that every living thing should grow and that love is a living thing. So, we deliberately fire our love for each other. We create time to play. We kiss each other a lot and we enjoy each other so much.  I take her out to eat about once or twice a week. We chill out from time to time. We look for new ways of showing our love to each other because love that is not expressed is dead like faith without works is dead. We have worked on ourselves to be a highly romantic couple.

We trust each other and our love keeps growing. 1 Corinthians 13 tells us that love never fails; that is, love never packs up. I will advise ministers whose love life has remained stagnant to join the group Carol and I set up (the group is registered with Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Abuja); it is known as Marriage Promise Keepers (MPK).

What can you say on the state of the country, in relation to inflation and fuel subsidy removal?

Things are hard and bad in the economy. People like me foresaw this coming not by reason of prophetic gift but by reason of subsidy removal as captured in the 2023 Appropriation bill. I told a newspaper journalist when President Tinubu won the 2023 Presidential election that a problem is looming because by the provision of 2023 budget, subsidy is to end by June and former President Buhari was to hand over in May 29, 2023. That way, a land mine is in there for whoever is coming in as president.

In his speech after the swearing in, he said outside his prepared speech that fuel subsidy is gone. That sent jitters down the spines of Nigerians. Inflation started from that speech, not necessarily from the subsidy been removed. After his speech, price of commodity began to skyrocket. After subsidy was finally removed, the reality on ground dawned on everybody. The pain is much. It is a pity that Nigerians can pass through this phase in their history at such a time as this.

As preachers, we feel it because people rush down to church for one help or another. The last administration did not manage our economy very well, no matter the propaganda. It is my prayer that we don’t get into that kind of situation again. If it is about development, why is our nation where we are? Things were bad in the nation before President Tinubu came to power but his statement and the removal of subsidy worsened the situation. This is my take on the state of the nation.

What’s your take on the demand by some Civil Society Organisations that participated in the recent NLC protest that government should return fuel subsidy in order to crash the price inflation in the country?

Food inflation did not start from fuel subsidy removal. About a decade ago, a bag of garri was hovering between two and three thousand naira. Now, price of items is skyrocketing over the years. People like us have been talking that hunger is coming. The price of a bag of rice has gone up before subsidy removal was introduced. What I’m saying is, price of food stuffs had risen beyond the reach of the common man before subsidy came in. Subsidy is not the immediate cause of inflation.

Even if subsidy was restored by the government, the price of goods and services will not return to what they were pre-subsidy removal.

Now that we have inflation in place, what policy or programme should government put in place to improve the living conditions of Nigerians?

Palliative cannot be a solution to what we have in the economy; I have always been against it. Nigeria is not supposed to be an oil producing country. Nigeria is supposed to be an agriculture-based nation – that’s what we should be known for and not oil. The continent of Africa has between 65 and 68 percent of the world’s arable land. Africa is supposed to be an agriculture continent. Africa had been positioned by God to feed the world, ditto for Nigeria too.

When you fail to do what you are supposed to do, then problems come. Agriculture is the way out. Adams Smith, the father of modern-day capitalism, made it very clear in his books, “The wealth of nation” and “Morality behind capitalism”. According to him, what makes a nation to be richer than others are factors of production such land, labour, capital and entrepreneurship. If you look at these factors, you’ll discover that most Nigerians don’t have access to land. A country that excludes 95 percent of its population from being productive, that country can never develop.

In the area of access to capital, it is another mountain Nigerians can’t climb. Only the big companies and the influential ones have access to capital. A system whereby 95 percent of its population are excluded from having access to capital to finance projects, that country can never develop because a whole chunk of productive force has been excluded from accessing capital.

Quality of education determines the productivity level of a nation because the schools produce the labour force. In our days at the university, in final year, companies used to visit us to employ. We don’t look for job, they come to OAU campus to interview us. That’s how we used to get jobs in those days because of the quality of labour force which is far better than now. I believe that education should be skewed towards development and not education for the sake of education. Education should develop the talent a person has. Agriculture is our mainstay but the system does not develop agriculture. Agriculture is left for peasant farmers and the youths are not encouraged in that aspect of our national life.

In entrepreneurship, the business environment is harsh even though Nigerians are entrepreneurially endowed. We are not there yet. Our economic foundation is weak and needs to be revisited through the factors of production to the extent that I don’t have to send my grandchild to a private school before he can enjoy quality education.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *