Pastor Olamigoke Ikutiminu who chose to be called Goke Kuti is the pastor in charge of Region 25 of the Redeemed Christian Church of God. The headquarters of the region is based in Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State. In this interview with the duo of Gbenga Osinaike and Yemi Audu he shares his experience in the church and his concerns. Below are excerpts:
You have been in the RCCG for close to 30 years now. Did you start your spiritual journey in the church?
Not exactly. I had become born again a few years before I joined the RCCG. I got born again when I was doing my Advanced Level Programme at Sanni Luba Continue Education Centre in Ijebu Ode. Before then I was attending the Cherubim and Seraphim. A prophet in the Church had predicted that I would leave the church and said something like me being used of God in another church. But then I was not born again. But as God would have it I became born again. My conversion happened when somebody witnessed to me in Lagos when I was with my brother. Christ Chapel International Churches led by Pastor Tunde Joda was the church I attended first after my born again experience.
But I later moved to Navy Barracks, Ojo to stay with another brother of mine. A ministry called Jesus Power Crusade Ministry was founded around that time. That was the mission where the Lord began to use me. I was a praise team leader. Usually, on Saturday preceding the Sunday service God would show me all that would happen in church. The vision came naturally. I would relate the vision to the pastor then and on Sunday during service all that I saw would happen in church.
Were you always fasting and praying then?
Not that I was too much into fasting and praying. I think the gift was just by God’s grace. Normally I would seek the face of God on Saturday before going to minister in songs on Sunday. But I won’t say God was giving me those visions because of the prayers I prayed but it was more of his benevolence. I remember leading praise worship one time and the pastor of the church was literally lifted up. So I experienced the awesome power of God in my life and during ministrations whenever I had to lead the people of God.
Was that why you began to think of becoming a pastor?
I never thought of being a pastor then. I just made myself available to God and he chose to use me. I remember God once showed me a vision. It was a night vision. I saw heaven open and I had the voice of God telling me that there was no other profession that I would do that would please God other than to serve him and make myself available in his vineyard. But I never liked the idea of becoming a pastor. I was dreaming of studying accounting and taking up a career in the corporate world. Not long after that night vision I attended a programme and a minister prophesied that I had been called to the ministry. The prophecy did not move me. But the call persisted and became so strong in my spirit that I could not resist it again. Eventually I had to succumb and made my intention known to my pastor then who said God had been telling me that He wanted to use me but that he did not know how to tell me since I was still young and would want to pursue a secular career.
So when it was clear God would use you what step did you take?
By that time I had my Advanced Level Certificate. I just thought to myself that I should go to a Bible College to add to my knowledge of God and the Bible. My first choice was All Nations Bible College in Benin which was run by the Church of God Missions. But later somebody sold the idea of the RCCG Bible College to me. I used to confuse RCCG with TREM then. So I first went to TREM and I was advised to travel to the kilometer 42 Lagos-Ibadan Express Road if it was RCCG Bible College I wanted. I did not hesitate. I got to the school then, got the form and was offered admission that same day after writing the qualifying exams. That was how I became a student of the RCCG Bible College.
Before then you were not doing anything?
I was busy with in my church then. I was very active. I remember always going to the church to clean the place before Sunday Service. I did that on my own. Nobody paid me for that. My heart was already sold to working in God’s vineyard. When I came to RCCG and got the admission in 1990 I moved to the camp and spent 18 months. By 1992 I graduated and was posted to start a model parish in Oshogbo. Then a model church was the equivalent of area in the RCCG. It was called Bobagunwa Model Church named after the area. That was the first model church in Oshogbo. It was the second in the whole of Osun State. But then I still had the mind to study because I had 7 points in my A/levels and I had my school certificate.
But your studies had been interrupted?
It was interrupted. But then I was able to make up as soon as I began to pastor. While being a pastor God opened admission door for me to the University of Ibadan. I got admission to study Political Science in very unusual circumstance. We were just seven that were admitted through direct entry. I wrote the Church authority and requested for study leave with pay which was approved. I was posted to Ibadan. In Ibadan I started another model church there. We started the Parish in a local environment. We had growth problem. We later saw a high rise building and requested for the car park for the parish but they said no to us. I kept asking for space. At a point I requested for the 8th floor of the building though the lift of the building had stopped working. We moved to the eight floor eventually. There was no light and we had to struggle through the staircase to the 8th floor every time we came for service. I remember my wife was pregnant at that time. So it was a kind of challenge having to climb the staircase every time we had service.
So how was it combining church with your academics?
It was just normal for me. I did not experience much of a problem because I was determined to make a success of what I was doing. I allowed young people to express their gift in the church and supported all they were doing then. Many of those whom we started the parish together then are doing well now. Some have travelled out of the country. I did my master’s programme almost immediately. Then there were about 11 parishes under my purview. We were able to start a number of other model parishes. I was posted to Lagos and the Lord continue to use me for His glory. I remember there were cases that people just expressed surprise at the tremendous growth in some of the parishes I pastored. I was later promoted to Ass State Pastor In 2005. After that I was posted to Delta as a provincial pastor. We experienced great awakening in Delta. From there I was also posted to Nasarawa Province North 13 and then to Ilesha where I spent five years. In 2015 I was moved to Akure and then to Ado-Ekiti when Region 25 was created.
So how has it been since you got to Ekiti?
We started Divine Encounter while I got to Ekiti. A regional headquarter is quite different because there are provinces under you. You oversee the whole region. There are now seven provinces under the region. It used to be five until lately. When we started the divine encounter, a professor came to me and asked me make it compulsory for all the provinces under me to be part of the prorgamme. I told him it would be wrong for me to do that. I believ things should be allowed to happen naturally instead of forcing it to happen. As God would have it people volunteered to come and pray on their own without being cajoled. People come as early as 5 am for the programme every Wednesday. We now run two services on each day of the programme. The attendance has been growing astronomically.
Perhaps you want to compare when you joined the RCCG and now?
The gap between then and now is very wide. The church auditorium for the Holy Ghost Night was then close to the express road when I joined the church but there has been tremendous and unimaginable changes in the last couple of decades.
You started the model parish in Oshogbo. Sometimes people wonder why model and classical. Why two systems in one church?
It is about meeting specific needs of worshippers. The model church is for the educated people because some people may not flow in a church where vernacular is spoken. There used to be problem between the model and classical. It was a rivalry thing. The classical parish people used to think those in the model were not born again. I have always been part of the model parish in the church. But that demarcation has fizzled out naturally. Those in model have now fully been integrated into the system. Initially there was no dancing and drumming in the church. But that has changed with understanding. God has tremendously used the present G.O. Pastor Enoch Adeboye to bring enlightenment to the church and we all are working under this grace.
You became born again in the late 80s. Were you part of those who believed it was a sin to watch television?
I have all along been liberal. I did not believe in those stuff then. If you want to preach that God bless and God prospers people and you come with a rickety car for instance how will the people listen to you and accept your message? I have always liked looking good and neat. I believe God is a God of prosperity. It is true that he mentioned that there will be the poor in the land but he did not mention our name that we will be poor. If you are hardworking you will not be poor because God will bless the work of your hand. There is no reason why a child of God should be poor. If you are claiming faith and you are not hardworking you’re a thief. Only the diligent will prosper. You must wake up and be engaged in something. Don’t let us deceive ourselves God is a God of principles. He asked us to pay our tithe which I believe. But you have to work hard too. You can’t be a lazy pastor and reap the harvest of those who are diligent. I have about 24 books in circulation. That is part of hard work. While people are sleeping the G.O. would pray and fast and engage in productive ventures. All the people that make their mark today in the church are diligent people. Recently I picked form to do PhD in International Relations do I need PhD to cast out demons?
But don’t you think such programme would distract you from your ministry?
It would not be a distraction for me because I want to fulfil my dream of earning a PHd. I don’t want honorary degree. I already have honorary PhD in theology. I want to read hard for my PhD and that is why I want to start doing it. There is no knowledge that is lost. The devil is not relaxing. We as believers should be up and doing and get engaged in positive ventures. The 21st century church is for the educated. I am not saying God can’t call the illiterate. I am talking about meeting the needs of all the people. A pastor has to be vast and exposed to basic knowledge so he could be able to address the needs of the people he pastors.
But some believe with anointing of God on one’s life one does not need education?
Anointing is good and it is a priority but if you don’t apply wisdom and knowledge with the anointing you will miss it. There are certain things the educated will achieve that the illiterate won’t be able to achieve. But in the actual fact anointing and education should go together.
But there were those who abandoned their studies in the 70s and 80s to pursue the vision God gave them?
They did it in ignorance. When I was going back to school to earn my first degree a brother came to me and asked what I needed the degree for since Jesus could come anytime. I said to him that let Jesus come he will meet me in the classroom. We can’t rule out education. For anybody to be a pastor in the RCCG now he has to have a first degree. We must value education. The new generation are enlightened and curious so anybody that would pastor now have to be well equipped to tackle their curiosity.
But today there is a deluge of information everywhere?
What the believer needs is discernment. We have to discern if what we read from these information outlets is from God. The Christian must be relevant. Christianity is what we practice not in theory. You don’t say once saved and saved forever. I don’t belong to the school of thought that don’t believe in tithe and basic doctrines of the church. Those who preach once saved saved for ever fail to talk about the scriptures that encourages us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. I believe there is tendency for somebody to backslide if the salvation is not jealously guarded.
But the argument is that God is the one who works in us to do his will and good pleasure quoting from that same scripture on working out our salvation?
Yes but then God will only work out what is in you. Grace is more difficult to attain than the law. We can’t continue in sin so that grace may abound.
Do you believe in sinless perfection?
Sometimes we get annoyed and over react. That is why we need to understand that Jesus has made a provision for our continual cleansing. If we confess our sins he will forgive. God wants us to be holy. We have the nature of God. God wants us to be perfect. God gives the grace to live that life. It was over confidence that killed Samson. Holiness is a choice. Heb. 12v14, do you want to see God/ the basic condition is holiness. If God gives us grace we should not take the grace for granted. Grace is not a license for us to sin. We can attain holiness because it is what God wants us to be. There will be challenges temptations but we need to stay focus. The greatest example we have is Jesus. There were ladies in the time of Jesus and he did not fall. What was possible for Jesus is also possible for us.
So what has been your experience dealing with people?
There are different kinds of people in the church. People are the most difficult of God’s creations. They want you to preach what they want to hear. But a preacher must stick to God’s instruction and direction. You must not look at the wealthy people and water down the message. It is not everybody in the church that will like you. There would be people that will criticize you so you will become better. If you know what you are doing is right, you keep your focus. I like to preach the right gospel. People that don’t like you will like you later. The truth remains the truth. It is constant. It does not matter how people try to twist the word of God. If once saved is saved for life there will not be punishment for anybody.
You’re in Ekiti and we know the state has some economic issues. Salaries are not being paid. How is the church coping?
It’s purely a state for Civil Servants. When the people are being owed salaries the church will be affected. We are praying that God will change the fortune of the state. It has affected the church but we are living by faith and God is meeting our needs. The people of the state are wonderful. The state is relatively peaceful and that is a good sign that things will be okay. It’s just a matter of time.
How do you carry your family along with all these postings as a full time pastor?
I go everywhere with my family. They are all involved in the ministry. My wife is also fully with me in the ministry and all the children are doing well. God has blessed us with great and inspiring children.
What do you enjoy the most in RCCG?
Leadership style of the G.O is contagious. He is very humble, educated full of wisdom. He is a disciple man. He is hardworking person. He is a simple man despite the fact that God has blessed him so much. There are so many qualities in him that is worth studying and emulating.
What is the strength of the region?
By now we have over 2000 parishes. The vision is to have an RCCG church at every five minute-walk interval.
But right now it seems it’s a 2 minute-walk interval in some areas?
If we have 10 parishes in a street it’s part of the vision as long as the street is a long street and the parishes are far apart. I don’t think we have cases of 2 minute walk apart. What the church is looking at is a situation where nobody will complain of not seeing an RCCG church around.
Do you see yourself leaving the church if God calls you to start your own ministry?
I don’t have vision for that. I am not sure God will call me to start my own ministry. I don’t want to be like Moses who was called at 80. I believe I can become anything in this mission that God wants me to be apart from being general overseer because I don’t have vision for that. I like to be another shepherd under a good leader. The load is not an easy load. You have to hear clearly from God. Going to start a church is really not in the equation for me.