The Rt. Rev. Oluwaseun Adeyinka Aderogba, Bishop-elect of Jebba Diocese of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion talked with our correspondent; Adekunle Adewunmi on the news of his election as the Bishop of Jebba.
Sir, how did you receive the news of your election as Bishop of Jebba?
I’m grateful to God for the opportunity He has given me to be an instrument in His hand and to serve in the vineyard of the Lord since year 2002.
Before I became an ordained priest, I’ve been serving the church in many capacities while in Ilesha Diocese. I was involved in church planting, evangelical outreaches and was also youth leader in my Diocese by that time.
I give God all the glory for all the areas God has opened doors for me to serve Him in this Diocese of Kwara and I want to thank God for another opportunity God has given me to serve Him as a Church Leader. It is a higher calling and a greater assignment. I see more of greater assignment given to me by God.
I received the news of my election with joy because the scripture says whoever desires to be a Bishop wants a good thing. It’s a great opportunity that comes with its own challenges but it’s my joy, even to serve God the more in this higher level. I believe by the grace of God that He who has appointed me at this time to serve Him in that capacity will surely uphold me and I will not disappoint Him.
Did you see it coming?
People around me have been saying a lot of things but I honestly did not see it coming because I was just looking at myself and wondering if I was able. You know, people see you and appreciate what you can do. You may not know yourself. So, when people were saying it, my response was that “let the will of God be done”.
Now that it is a reality I feel God must have talked through them. Some people saw it in vision, some people prophesied it but I didn’t put my mind on it because I didn’t want anything that God has not given to me.
People can make things up and work your mind to the point of developing what we call abnormal vision. Since I had no abnormal ambition; I see the election as the Lord’s doing. In fact, it’s like a dream to me because I keep asking rhetorically if it’s me or not. At times, I look at myself and wondered if I was dreaming. But by the grace of God and what God has given to me, I know that we are going to be successful.
What do you think the role of a Bishop should be?
The role of a Bishop according to the scriptures is that of a servant-leader. To serve even the people, to be a model to the people. It is not to lord or to make yourself a master over the people but lead the people because we are shepherds and where the shepherd goes, the sheep follow. And I also see the Office of Bishop as a divine assignment for preaching the gospel. Like Timothy in the Bible, we can see the instruction that Brother Paul gave him to preach the word and set himself as an example to the sheep.
You have worked with the people of Kwara for a while, what can you say is your experience working in Kwara?
Working in Kwara is a training ground for me and a preparation for where I am going. I’ve served as a Curate, Assistant Priest, Diocesan youth chaplain; I also served as AYF, ASF, EFAC Chaplains. I’ve served as ECA Chaplain. I started Anglican Corpers Fellowship in this Diocese and also served as chaplain to Archbishop Olusegun Adeyemi that just retired. I was his first chaplain up till 2010.
Apart from that, I’ve served as a Manager of the Guest House. All the investments in the Diocese, by the grace of God were things that God used us to manage. That is why I said Kwara is a training ground for me. I was a vicar of church. I’ve planted so many churches in this Diocese by the grace of God and I was also a Vicar and Archdeacon for so many years in this place and it will be six years now that I’ve served as an Archdeacon. I was an Administrator. With these, I can say I am sufficiently prepared for the task ahead.
What are your plans for Jebba?
I have so many plans but we should appreciate that man proposes but God disposes. I’m now asking God what are the things He wants me to do. I want to thank God for the life of the Pioneer Bishop of the Diocese; Bishop Adewole and his wife. I want to thank God for what He has used them for in that place. We are going to build on the foundation they have laid.
We are praying for the grace to do more than what they have done. I know with the help of God, we will be able to build the church in Jebba and I know the churches that are newly planted will grow and we will nurture them very well and also plant more churches. Then, we will also open more investment in that land; that is why we are praying for mission supporters.
There should be regular mission work, outreaches in all the villages that Anglicans are not and also to be able to preach the gospel to other people because the first thing is to build men before we go out. Jesus Christ taught the disciples and sent them out, so, I’m going to use the same strategy that Jesus Christ used in training those that I meet on ground and send them out for the mission work.
We are hoping that by the grace of God we’d create projects that will enable us help the helpless either in ministry or welfare packages for the less privileged. We also plan that we have to take care of the welfare of the clergies so that they can do the work with all sincerity.
In what way do you think the church can impact effectively in the middle belt of Nigeria given the fact that Islam is also a strong force in that region?
Mission is the heartbeat of God. North Central especially Jebba town is largely not populated by indigenes of that region. Those who worship in Jebba Diocese are largely strangers. They are those who came from Yorubaland, Igbo land that settled there maybe because of job and business opportunity. So, people are there because of their daily bread. We have some people fishing there because of the river. Majority of those living there are strangers and, they are there as missionaries as well.
In Ilorin, Ilesha people who are called Osomalo were the ones that started Anglican Church in Kwara and today, we have almost 75 churches in Kwara Diocese. Osomalo are traders and I’m from that area. They trade from Ilesha to every part of the country and are very resourceful in trading. They can give you goods on credit but the agreed date for payment would not be close before they knock on your door to request for their money.
So, that’s why they say oso ni maa lo gb’owo mi loni meaning I would stay here with you until my money is paid. And, it’s always by force, you must pay. They know how to sell; persuade people to buy and also how to collect their money. What I’m saying is that every stranger in all the parts of Jebba Diocese, I see them as missionaries. That’s why we need to train the people we meet on ground. The issue of north central, that majority of them are Muslims, I believe God wants us to work on them and I know by the grace of God, we’d have many of them converted. I believe in miracle.
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What will you change?
I don’t see anything wrong in Anglican just that we should be more evangelical because the CMS that brought Christianity to Nigeria were mission conscious and evangelical.
Now as a Bishop, are there things you won’t do again?
I told you that I’m a servant-leader. People have to follow us, if I don’t go, they won’t. A good leader has to lay a good example. Even if I have chaplain, even if I have all the priests that are with me, if they see me going for evangelism, you think they will watch me and sit back? No! They will follow me definitely. The work has not changed only the uniform has changed. The Bible says he has given us the shoe of the gospel of peace and we must preach it.