People called him pastor when he was young and he answered gleefully even when it was not certain he would be one. That name tag however did not influence his course of study. He went to school, studied Business Administration and was content with just that; hoping that one day he would break into the business world and not the Anglican Church where he ended up
His parents were zealous for Christ. His father had the reputation of introducing the Christian faith to their village. As God would have it, among the 14 children from his mother, Joseph Agomuo turned out to be the one who later embraced pastoral work.
But the real change in his life happened when he went for his youth service in the North. He was posted to serve at the Agricultural and Commerce Bank in Jalingo but there was no accommodation for him. Somebody then introduced him to a member of the Nigeria Christian Corpers Fellowship who welcomed him and showed him so much love.
“I was asked to see this brother that he would be willing to accommodate me. I waited for the brother till around 9 pm. When he came and saw me standing outside, he was so excited to welcome me. He offered me the bed while he opted to sleep on the ground. I was amazed at that show of love. But I refused to sleep in the bed. I joined him on the floor. He cared so much for me that he would wait for me until I come back to sleep at night. Then I had not become born again. But he was already a Christian and was active in the Nigeria Christian Corpers Fellowship NCCF. Shortly after he invited me to come to fellowship. I did not hesitate. That was how I gave my life to Christ in one of the meetings. Before then I was going to bar joint but by the time I surrendered to Jesus I could no longer go to those joints.”
Agomuo became so involved in evangelical work thereafter that he never desired any other thing apart from working in God’s vineyard. Though he had been an Anglican he did not hesitate to follow the brother to a Redeemed Christian Church of God for one of their services on Sunday. One particular Sunday he received the baptism of Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues. That experience catapulted him to another realm.
Along the line he went back to Anglican Church where he believed he could be more useful. True to his projection he was challenged one Sunday and he was asked to come and give sermon in the Anglican Church. That was a great opportunity for him. It was in that Anglican Church that he preached his first sermon. “That experience was glorious coupled with the fact that I began to attend conferences at the Peace House of Bro Gbile Akanni. The experience at the Peace House was so real and impactful. It was in that meeting I enmeshed myself in the task of evangelism.”
After his youth service he came back to the east and met with the bishop of his diocese and requested that he would like to be a priest. “Since I was fresh from the youth service the Bishop discouraged me. He insisted that I should go and look for a job instead of going to the seminary. I was not happy. That same time I got an interview appointment for a job and I was employed with an oil servicing company in Lekki area of Lagos.”
He joined St. Barnabas Anglican Church while working in the oil company; and was licensed a lay reader in the church. That was in 1993. He however recalled, “I worked in the oil company but was not happy. But the moment I got to church I would be happy. I was not married then. I found joy in always coming to church. At a point the vicar was always giving me assignment. One day a venerable came and brought a form from the seminary for somebody else but he was instructed by another priest to give me the form. I filled the form. That was when the diocese was having problem with the church and it was like no Igbo priest would be ordained in Lagos. I was interviewed by the then Dean of the Cathedral in the Diocese of Lagos West and was later offered admission to Crowther College in Okene.”
While running his theological studies he was also doing his Master in Business Administration at the University of Calabar. By the time he finished his theological training he was ordained in 2002 as a deacon. He spent only six months as a curate and became a vicar even as a deacon.
The first church where he served was a big challenge. But he lived up to the challenge. The church was on a plot of land that was leased. The church grew from 250 to 750. That was quite unprecedented but Agomuo claimed that the secret of the church’s growth is God’s word. “We just preached the word and things began to happen.” He stated.
While declaring that preaching the gospel is a privilege he noted “People always respond to the word of God as it is being preached.
Working in all the parishes where he had been posted so far has however not been smooth all through. There was a particular church where some members wrote petition against him because he would not allow a parishioner to be part of the Parish Council of the Church because of a petition a member had written against the parishioner.
Those who didn’t like his decision stepped up their game. They wanted to send him out of the church by all means. They gave money to some young people to barricade the church and prevent members from coming in for the Sunday service. But the plan got leaked. Agomuo rather than panic reached out to an influential parishioner who organised police to come to the church On Sunday morning.
That Sunday the youths came in the morning with placards and wanted to carry out their nefarious activities when the police rounded them off. “By 3 am the police commissioner called me and asked me to come and identify my parishioners. But then we were able to have a peaceful Sunday service to the shame of those who had planned the disruption.”
That was how he tackled the challenge. He however noted that “There are times you get to a church and some people feel they own the church. Anytime I meet such situation I just ask for God’s wisdom to guide me.”
Agomuo said he had to quit his oil company job despite the money he was earning because he was always depressed and had no joy. He said he soon discovered that money is not everything. But the joy of fulfillment. While noting that God has used his academics to help enhance his work in ministry he said, “God has not allowed me to be a failure even among difficult people. There is no church where I served that I have not made impact. I have left those places with testimonies of spiritual and physical growth. I operate mostly in the teaching ministry.”
He says of the Anglican Church, “We have a good theology. Our liturgy is totally scriptural but it depends on who is applying the theology. Some people that just came into the ministry without good foundation can dance around the theology and bastardise it and pollute it.”
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On whether he has learnt any lessons from parishioners he said, “I have learnt a lot. For instance I remember when I was in a particular Church I would not like to mention there was this professor who took special interest in me. He would listen to my sermon and would come and see me after the service. He would wait patiently for me and allow me to attend to people who came for counseling or any other issue. By the time I am through he would come and tell me how he was blessed by the sermon. But then he would bring out a sheet where he had identified areas he felt was not well delivered and would begin to correct me and explain the proper way to use certain words. He would correct all the perceived error in the church bulletin and would bring them to me. Initially I was going to take offence. But later I realised it was good for me.”
In the course of being in that parish the professor became a Parish Council member. ‘When he attends meeting we spend almost one hour correcting the minutes of the previous meeting. And he would insist that the minutes be retyped and represented before it could be adopted. He was one man that I really benefitted from though some may see it as being too overbearing. But the joy is that I learnt a lot from him”.
By Gbenga Osinaike