By Gbenga Osinaike
At 60, Michael Adenitere, president of Zoe Pentecostal Mission based in Italy seems to have seen it all. But he told our correspondent during a recent visit to Nigeria that there is still much ground to cover.
But the journey to Italy 25 years ago wasn’t a palatable one at the beginning. “The excitement was not there when I travelled out of the country in obedience to God because I was doing well with the Redeemed Christian Church where I was serving. The leadership of the church loved me. But God’s command had to be obeyed.
“What came to me as a shock was the fact that I faced death when I got to Italy. Armed robbers came to our hotel and they pointed gun at me in the hotel room. I can’t explain how the Lord intervened. It was a miraculous escape.”
When he managed to escape from the armed robbers it dawned on him that he was in for a long walk. Soon, he got used to the people and learnt their language.
He says of the Italians “They are wonderful people. They are just like an average African. They have similar culture with Yoruba people. But the trouble is with the language “I have found out that when you understand the language of the Italian you will not have problem with them.”
“The culture of every nation is embedded in their language. When they began to study Nigerians they found out that many of us are intelligent and that those of us in Italy are not there to commit crime. They started doing businesses with us and trusting us.”
Perhaps the greatest crime in Italy that has attracted global attention is prostitution. And for Adenitere who is also the president of Pentecostal Bishops in Italy, the story of prostitution is endless one.
“By the grace of God we have been able to bring a lot of ladies who were into prostitution to the gospel. They have been saved and washed in the blood of the lamb. Some of them are now ministers of the gospel.”
But the process of change for a number of them is complex. We have to undergo several deliverance programmes and continuous intercessions to enable them breakoff from their ugly past.
He says of the business “It’s a mafia connection that gave rise to the prostitution business in Italy. If you know the group of people behind it you will be amazed. A lot of highly connected people are involved in Nigeria and Italy; even some pastors.
‘Many of the girls who take to prostitution in Italy were church people. Some of them were in the choir back home. Because there is no job, some so called pastors trade in the business because if they succeed in taking a girl to Italy, they get about 15,000 dollars. If in a year they take close to four girls to Italy they get close to 60.000 dollars and they come back home to build cathedrals.
A lady once confessed to him that the pastor of her church in Nigeria enabled the trip that brought her to Italy. “The pastor promised to help her abroad which he did. She was helped to Paris and from there somebody came to buy her and brought her to Italy. The pastor was paid for bringing her before he returned to Nigeria to bring another person.”
Adenitere explained further that the lady did not want to go into prostitution had to go into it for survival and later got addicted to it. “The pastor later brought another person and that was when she confronted him and wondered why he was into the business. “The pastor confessed to him that fellow pastors lured him to the business out of pressure to cathedral. It was through her I got to know there is a particular church in Lagos where they train prostitutes billed for Italy. They train them on how to sing and use church language so that nobody will suspect they are going for prostitution outside the country.”
Adenitere a former pastor in the Redeemed Christian Church of God and who God used to start the first Model Parish of the church in Ibadan observed that reaching out to the prostitutes is a bit tasking but it has been successful.
“God has a way of saving them. Many of them come to Christ when they are in trouble. Some have been threatened by death and some suffer from diseases. When they go through these pain and trials they come to church and we are able to help them break curses and covenants. You need to be strong and vigilant to reach out to them. There are instances we had to confront the madams that are the custodians of these girls.”
Upon confrontation one of the madams confessed to him that some of the ladies were brought to Italy by their parents and their husbands to do prostitution so they could make some quick money.
“Initially Ghananains were the ones serving as a link between the girls and their customers but later Nigerian men took over from them and some even started churches in Italy. This is unfortunate. But when the girls get into chronic problem they come to us and the Lord use us to deliver.”
He said “many of the girls are tired of the trade and want to live normal lives. But they don’t have papers that will authentic their stay. “When we pray God intervenes and they get their documents and get normal jobs they get excited. That is why they fall in love with our church. Some of them are happily married with children and are living normal lives”
With a number of branches of his church in both Italy and across Europe and Africa, the idanre, Osun born cleric attributes the modest success in ministry to his early exposure to the workings of the Holy Spirit noting that without a thorough understanding of the place of the Holy Spirit it will be difficult to make real mark in ministry.
My journey to Italy.
I never thought of going to Italy. I was serving with the RCCG and was doing my post graduate studies when God told me I had finished my tenure in Nigeria and that he was sending me abroad. I believe God sent me there because many churches in Europe especially in Italy did not have good background. God helped me. I love the denominations where I served in Nigeria. I have invited great men of God to Italy to minister in my church. Pastor Tunde Bakare had preached in my church and several other great men of God.
I gave my life to Christ at a young age of 22. I had a late secondary school sought of because I lost my father very early. I got converted and because there was no follow up I backslide. There was a young man who God used to bring me up.
God appeared to me at a point in a vision and asked me where I wanted to spend eternity and I remember telling the Lord heaven and felt qualified to get their because of my good works. But God told me if I wanted to make heaven I had to look for Him. That same night God took me in a vision and I saw Jesus on the cross. I saw the way he was suffering and the blood gushing out of his body. God told me that is the way to salvation. That led me to tears and I cried to God to save me. I felt a big relief thereafter. It was genuine.
I had not received the baptism of the Holy Spirit when I was asked to take a Sunday School class on the baptism of the Holy Spirit I had to dodge that teaching and sat under another teacher who seemed to be passionate about people being baptized. And that day I received the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
That really helped our ministry.
One would have loved to stay in Nigeria and remain in the RCCG but because of the need abroad I had to leave the mission. I was the one God used to start the model parish in Ibadan. God used us to establish a lot of parishes in Nigeria before I left for foreign mission.