Pastor Oladele Balogun is the newly appointed Special Assistant to the General Overseer (SATGO) of the Redeemed Christian Church of God. Before he became a full-time pastor with RCCG, he headed some departments at the Olabisi Onabanjo University as a professor of Philosophy. In this exclusive interview with The Beautiful Day Testimonial, he shares testimony of how he was converted from Islam to Christianity. He also eulogizes the leadership of RCCG General Overseer, Pastor E. A. Adeboye, among other things. Excerpts.
Sir, we want to congratulate you on your appointment as the SATGO Administration in RCCG and we want to thank you for the audience you have given to us.
What actually inspired you to quit the academic circle for full time ministry?
As you rightly said, I was an Academician. I will still say I am an Academician because I still do some academic works. I worked with Olabisi Onabanjo University as a professor of Philosophy. When I was there, I was one time the Head of Department of Philosophy and at another time, I was the Dean, Faculty of Arts; at another time, I was the Director of Studies, and so on. While still an Academician, there was a day I went to Dubai in the United Arab Emirate (UAE), and I decided to take a stroll. But because the weather was very cold, I chose to do it inside Dubai mall even though I did not have the intention of buying anything. I was just moving back and forth, and it was there that God spoke to me that it is time to leave academic work to move into full time ministry.
I wasn’t happy when God told me that because I actually loved my lecturing job. I rose very quickly in the profession, and even then, my people in the university had been pleading with me to come and become Deputy Vice Chancellor before I heard the voice of God. Initially I thought it was the voice of the devil, but after sometime, the voice became clearer that I had to quit the job for God’s work and God gave me a sign: at that time there was a rule in RCCG that if you are above APICP and you have not become a full timer, you cannot join full time work again. At that time, I had already become a Pastor in Charge of Region, not even a Pastor in Charge of Province, so I said no problem, I will write a letter to the mission. I was thinking that I will hide under that to tell God that it’s not me, but when I wrote my letter, I got the type of response that says God has been waiting for me, that was how I dropped my job under the table and became a full timer with RCCG.
Sir, can we know you more than that? I mean, can we have your ministerial experience?
I started my ministry in a town called Ijebu Igbo in Ogun state and that happens to be my hometown. I gave my life to Christ precisely on August 6, 1983. That was the time I followed one of my friends to the Redeemed Christian Church of God and I never went back to the mosque; in fact, my friend and I had reached an agreement that he would follow me to the mosque and I would also follow him to the church. So, he followed me to the mosque, then when I followed him to the church, I never returned back to the mosque, that is how it all started. I became a worker in that church; very interestingly, I became a worker the day I joined the church. It was when I got to the church that I discovered that workers were been separated from the members. My friend who took me there, right from secondary school was not a prefect when I was a prefect, so when we got to his church, I felt why should my friend be on one side and I will not be there. So, I just followed him, and maybe the pastor was able to see what I could not see to allow me to become a worker the day I joined the church. That was how the journey started, and in the year 1991, I was ordained as Assistant Pastor and that same year, I became Pastor in charge of RCCG Anointing Parish, Ijebu Igbo. My Area pastor then, is now the current National Overseer, Pastor Sunday Akande. In 1994, I became an Area pastor and an ordained full pastor in 1995.
Another interesting thing is that by the time I became a full pastor, I was still a bachelor. In 2000, I became a state pastor and I was posted to Otta, that was Ogun Province 3. I was in Otta for seven years and by 2007, I was transferred to Osun 1 in Osogbo. I was there for another three years and by 2010, I was moved to Oyo 1 as a Province Pastor. By 2014, I became a Pastor in Charge of Region, the position I occupied until last year September 1, 2022, when I was promoted as SATGO in charge of Administration.
What were your family members’ reaction when they discovered that you have given your life to Jesus?
They reacted negatively. They rejected me, they fought me, they did all sort of things, but at the end of the day, they still had to take me back. Initially, they didn’t like it. When I was a Muslim, I did participate fully as a Muslim, but when they saw that I have left that direction to face the direction of Jesus, they were sad. But today, all of them are happy that I took that decision.
Sir, as SATGO, how do you intend to improve the information dissemination system of the church?
Well, there is no doubt about it, those who occupied the position before us have done a lot of things about it and what we intend doing is to improve on what they have done. We are taking it to a higher level with the support of God. In disseminating information, there are various ways that can be done. For example, in the admin, we have various portals through which we can disseminate information to all our regions, all our provinces, all our pastors; we will do that. But beyond that, I still believe in one on one, we will try to get in touch with our people through phone calls, SMSes, through emails and ensure that in whatever we are doing, we carry them along so that we can operate on the same page.
RCCG parishes are all over the place in the country, but we all know that the mission’s vision statement says that in developing nations, parishes should be planted at least five minutes driving distance and if we are to observe that, this is not taken to. What do you intend to do to address this, I mean it has been a challenge.
There are two issues you are raising. We have some of our parishes that are close to each other, that are not up to five minutes driving distance apart. No problem, we allow them to grow but we have merged some of the parishes together in the past. We still have some of them that are close to each other and we will address it. We can merge them together, after all, we are children of the same mother. That is why we are still driving the evangelism vision to ensure that during Easter and Christmas Let’s Go-A-Fishing, we keep on planting churches so that we will be able to achieve the goal, and we are not going to stop until that goal is achieved.
On healthcare, we get feedback from people that some of the services rendered at our Health Centre are not up to their expectation and we find many of our staff who are on HMO preferring to go outside for medical treatment. Is there anything you can do to address whatever may be the Centre’s challenge?
Let me correct an impression. You see the population of camp dwellers is increasing and because of that, even if we have 10 hospitals in the camp, we will not be able to serve the camp dwellers and its environs. Don’t forget that those who come to this hospital are not just members of the Redeemed Christian Church of God; people come from all over the world, all over Nigeria, because of our services; that’s one.
Second, people are also free to attend any hospital they like; unless you want to play politics with what’s happening in our Health Centre. I’m not saying that there are no challenges, but the Health Centre is doing well, people are coming from all over. There are some facilities in the Health Centre that even some teaching hospitals in Nigeria do not have. We thank God that during the time of Covid, a lot of people came and used these facilities. So, we are trying our best and we will still improve. Just like this issue of electricity, it is incomparable. Since I was transferred to this Redemption City, it seems as though I’m in paradise because we have been enjoying constant power supply. So, I’m not saying that there may not be challenges in the Health Centre, but I’m telling you that they are doing fine.
We have experienced doctors and nurses and other staff who are working there. And by the way, we are also building another hospital of international standard and I tell you when it is completed, it’s going to be like the number one in the whole Africa. So, I think our people are doing fine. Nonetheless, people have the freedom to attend any hospital they want to attend.
Believers are being encouraged to join politics. Are there any measures put in place to ensure that members going into politics do not bring the name of the church into disrepute?
Well, we encourage believers to join politics because governments have a lot of power and the government is the ruler. If believers do not join politics, they are going to be ruled by unbelievers. So, as many believers who have the calling to join politics, let them go ahead and join. There is nothing wrong with that. What we do is that we teach our children in RCCG to be upright so that when they get into any position, they will ensure that they don’t derail from what they have been taught. Even as a journalist, if you are interested in politics, go ahead, and ensure that when you get there, you don’t depart from the ancient landmark of the teachings of RCCG, because I also know that you are a member of RCCG.
Some RCCG staff have joined the trend of “JAPA” – that is relocating abroad. What does the church have to do about this? You know the situation, how the economy has affected their welfare.
Well, we know a lot of young men and young women are ‘JAPAING’, they are relocating abroad. Of course, some are going abroad because of economic hardship, because of what they are going through. There is no way you can discourage anybody. Even before the economic hardship came, some people felt like let me relocate and see what is happening there. But what we do as a church is that we are actually improving on our CSR activities, Christian Social Responsibility. If I tell you the amount the church is spending every month on CSR activities, you will be surprised. We empower people, we help people, we give them food, we give them clothing, and set up hospitals, a lot of things. We build schools so as to ensure that our people are comfortable. But even with that, those who want to leave will still leave. But I am telling you what RCCG as a church is doing to ensure that our members are very comfortable.
Another concern is the dispute resolving mechanism of the church. How reliable is this system in a situation where there is an allegation against anyone? How are conflicts or allegations resolved? Is the mechanism effective to ensure that the innocent is not punished unjustly?
The dispute resolution mechanism of RCCG is highly effective. In every organization, there is bound to be crisis; even the sociologists will tell you that in any culture, in any society, there’s bound to be crisis. But in the Redeemed Christian Church of God, we have the legal department, investigation department and complaint department, so, if you feel you are wronged or you have been offended in any way, you are expected to channel your complaint to the appropriate quarters after which an investigation panel would be set up, and then they will investigate and justice would be done. I think the philosophy of the church is to ensure that no innocent person would be punished for the offence he has not committed.
There have been this speculations or unclear understanding about who is the national Public Relations Officer of the church. I want to ask, does the church still have a Public Relations Officer?
The church has a Public Relations Department and it’s headed by Pastor Olubiyi Olaitan, so it then means that since the church has a Public Relations department, it performs the work of Public Relations; and that department has been very effective. But I should let you understand that with the way the Redeemed Christian Church of God is structured, there are different ways through which information can come out. For example, information can come out from the office of the SATGO admin; of course, whatever comes out from this office must have been approved by the General Overseer.
For clarification, what defines your office’s relationship with the members of the press?
We have a cordial relationship. You know that the press has its own advantages; if the press approaches us for an interview or for anything, we will be willing to do it to the best of our ability. Like you came in and booked an appointment and we obliged you, so I’m sure RCCG has a cordial relationship with the press.
Thank you, sir. Now, what do you have to tell members of the admin staff as a new helmsman. What assurance do you want to give to them?
All I want to tell them is that they should be diligent, they should be committed to the services they are rendering to the mission knowing fully well that they are not just rendering their services to the mission but to God. That’s what I would tell them, and I have always explained to them that it is not good to be lazy in whatever we are doing. They should ensure that they are committed and do what they are expected to do, so that through us, God can take this church to another higher level.
RCCG has parishes in Nigeria and overseas, what is the relationship, how are they coordinated? Is there any central coordination? Or do they also have their own admin there, different from the one we have in Nigeria?
Well, there is a central coordination, you know we only have one General Overseer. The General Overseer is Daddy E.A. Adeboye and he’s the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God all over the world. But RCCG as a whole has been broken into continents all over the world. We have continent 1,2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. So, all the Continental Overseers are directly accountable to the General Overseer, and since I’m the SATGO admin, whatever information they want me to pass across to them, I do. So, in terms of administration, we are coordinated. The Continental Overseers who happen to be the head of the continents derive their authority from the General Overseer and there’s a constant link, that’s one. Then the Redeemed Christian Church of God has what we call Governing Council; of course, the General Overseer is the chairman of the council. When the Governing Council makes some policies, they make it known and it is disseminated through SATGO admin and all the Continental Overseers. So, there is a standard and perfect coordination among all the continents all over the world.
Daddy G.O, the General Overseer, will be 81 this March, what lessons have you learnt from his style of leadership?
Daddy G.O is a great man of God. First, he’s dedicated and totally committed to the service of God. So that shows me as a young man, I also need to be dedicated and committed to the service of God. Second, daddy G.O is focused, he’s not distracted, he doesn’t look at anyone. He’s focused on God, and I know that if you are focused on God just like Elijah told Elisha, if you see me when I am being taken away, then you will receive a double portion of my anointing. Daddy G.O is focused. Third, Daddy G.O is very humble; you will discover that his position has not entered into his head, you may not even know that he’s the General Overseer. He goes freely and does his work quietly. Daddy G.O is also committed to soul winning, he’s an ardent soul winner and that is a lesson for those of us coming behind that we should also learn to win souls. Daddy G.O doesn’t play politics with the work of God. He’s an objective man, he loves justice, fairness and equity, he wants to give you your right, what belongs to you, he doesn’t oppress anybody, and that is why he’s living longer, that is why he has stayed long, that is why the anointing continues to multiply upon him, and I pray that God will give we his children and followers the grace to emulate some of these virtues.
Also, Daddy G.O is a generous giver, he helps people. I heard a story just 2 days ago that Daddy G.O was going somewhere, and one woman just appeared with about 3 or 4 children. She stood with her children in front of Daddy G. O’s car, but maybe because she was going somewhere, she left. After that, Daddy G.O said they should go and look for the woman. They looked for the woman for maybe about two or three weeks. When they found the woman, Daddy G.O gave her children scholarship, built a house for them and gave her money for business. That is just one of the numerous things he’s doing. He’s a generous giver, he’s indeed a man of God. These are some of the lessons we are learning from him, and he never ignores anybody.
Some people are saying he is very lenient and probably that is responsible for why some people are misbehaving; what do you have to say about that, sir?
Daddy G.O is lenient, there is no doubt about that, but he’s also a disciplinarian. If you move closer to him, you will know he doesn’t tolerate indiscipline, he doesn’t tolerate rubbish, he doesn’t tolerate nonsense, so that may not be the reason. You know Jesus had 12 disciples and not even all the 12 disciples loved him, there was a Judas. Daddy G.O is a disciplinarian, he disciplines himself, if you misbehave, he disciplines you, but all the same, he’s a father.
Finally, where do you see the administrative department of RCCG in the next four years?
In the next four years, I see the admin department of RCCG as a fully digitalized department, and we are already going towards that. We want everything to be digitalized so that if you want any information, within a twinkle of an eye, it doesn’t matter where you are in the world, we can get the information to you. We see the admin department of RCCG becoming a fully digitalized one so that everybody will satisfactorily access every information they need about the church.
Thank you, sir. It’s our pleasure to be with you, sir, and we hope that if there’s any occasion that arises again for us to see you, you will not mind to accommodate us.