Apostle Anselm Madubuko is the General Overseer of Revival Assembly. He clocked 60 last year. He had so far put in 35 years in the service of the Lord. Madubuko has also been actively involved in foreign missions in the last 18 years. He spoke with Church Times Nigeria on his call to ministry and his experience serving the Lord since 1983 when he came to know Jesus.
Did you set out to be this involved in ministry work when you gave your life to Jesus?
I never knew Jesus would need me like this. I thought he would be satisfied with me as an evangelist. I thought I would keep my business and do my ministry as an evangelist. I trained as an architect. I loved Jesus and I wanted was to be a supporter of people’s ministries rather than being the one whose ministry is supported. I did not think that my years in school was for the fun of it. So it never crossed my mind in those early days of my conversion that I would be used to this extent of getting so much involved with preaching the gospel and starting a ministry.
What gave you that impression?
I did not feel I was qualified in the first place to be a pastor. I looked at the pastors then and I saw them far ahead of me spiritually. I felt I was not qualified to be a pastor. I was trying to look at myself and I could not see myself doing what they were doing. I saw my inability.
So what were the steps you took almost immediately after your conversion?
I got saved in my office. I left school in 1982 and was doing my NYSC programme with Chief Tom Ikimi who was one time minister of External Affairs. When I got saved I joined Christ Chapel International Churches led by Dr. Tunde Joda. Before I joined Christ Chapel I had gone round a few churches. But when I got to Christ Chapel I felt at home. I was there for three and half years before I moved to Chris Okotie’s Household of God Church. I spent another three and half years at the Household of God Church before God enabled us to start our ministry.
That means you spent just about seven years in other ministries before you began Revival Assembly?
Yes. God did a quick work on me. I wanted to be a normal day to day Christian but events began to unfold and I found that God wanted me to be more involved in evangelical work.
Did you meet any strange thing in the Church when you got saved?
Before I got saved I was already tired of life. I was a DJ, I was a capon of the Pyrate Confraternity. I was a member of the Lodge. I was in Palmwine Drinkards Club. I was director of socials at 18 in my second year in the university. I was working in a radio house while on campus. I found myself on a fast lane of life. I was already living big on campus. So by the time I came to Christ I was already tired of the world.
You were experimenting with a lot of things?
Things were just happening. I was initiated into the Lodge at 21. So I had seen it all at the other side of life. By the time I was out of school I was tired. But I was looking for some succour somehow. When I got to Lagos I was looking for Eckanker. I was imagining all the astral travels and was thinking of being part of it. But God stopped me. If I had joined the Eckanker, I would probably have been lost forever.
Each time I wanted to go and register in their office around Ojuelegba something would just happen that would make me not to go. That continued until I met this young man. He came to join our office as IT student from University of Ife. He was the one who began telling me about Jesus. But I told him all this talk about Jesus is not for people like me. I told him there was no way I could stop what I was doing. I thought I was too far from Christ to be redeemed. But he did not give up on me. God has also made it impossible for me to attend any lodge meeting when I was in Lagos. But that was not the case when I was in East.
As God would have it, I found myself confessing Christ when this brother preached to me. It was on the 5th of August 1983. I found myself praying the sinner’s prayers. My eyes were shut and I was praying with a clasped hand but I felt another hand holding me. It was such a beautiful experience. Initially I thought the brother who led me to Christ was the one holding my hands but I saw that he was sitting away from me while dictating the prayers. It was clear that the hands holding me were divine hands. I was overwhelmed. I was so excited and I had this great conviction that I had found what I was looking for all the years. Peace came to my heart. It was clear that I had become a new man. No argument. Everything in me realised that something had happened to be. I felt a freedom unimaginable.
That seems to be a great experience. How is it that people hardly have this kind experience these days, yet they claim to be born again?
In my case I was so hungry for God. Nobody put pressure on me to come for meetings. I would pray on my own. I would go on evangelism on my own. Nobody followed me up. Nobody begged me. Today you have to keep begging people to come for Bible studies. In those days new converts had the zeal to work for God. Nobody cajoled them or put pressure on them. Unfortunately it seems we have been swallowed. I really don’t know what is happening.
Is it the spirit of the age?
Well I just can’t explain what is happening today. All my friends from Jide Obi to Chris Okotie got saved through me. I went to Enugu Campus of the University of Nigeria immediately after my conversion and talked with the women I spent six years with. That night, 98 girls got born again plus Okotie. November of 1983 all the big girls on campus were born again through me. Today, many of them are pastors, top executives, governors’ wives, e.t.c they are doing great in God’s vineyard.
Don’t you see the paucity of genuine conversion experience as a sad commentary on our faith?
It’s sad. It seems to me we were the last phase that got something genuine. I mean the majority of those who came to know the Lord in the 80s and early 90s. From 94 to 95 things started going down. When I gave my life to Christ in 1983 I was not looking for cars or house. I never asked God for money. Many of us just loved the Lord and we were on fire for him.
You started Revival Assembly seven years after your conversion. You did not think of going to a Bible School?
Yes. I did not. I wanted to go to Bible School, God said no. January 1990 God said to me in the place of prayers that he wanted me to raise a people for him. The Lord spoke to me specifically to start a ministry. And I said to the Lord if he wants me to begin a Church He has to talk to my wife first because my wife did not marry a pastor. As God would have it, the Lord spoke to her. Many months after God had spoken to me she came to me and said God was talking to her in line with starting a ministry. We started in December 1990 by 1994 we had built up our present auditorium.
How come you were able to build a great edifice like this in a space of four years?
Grace. God gave us too much grace and speed. We had mighty encounters and visitation that made things appeared so fast.
You have been heavily involved in foreign missions. How did it start?
In the course of my ministry I met a man in Chicago. He organised a conference in Ethiopia. I was in the US and we flew to Addis Ababa for the programme. On Thursday night I ministered at the programme. After the sermon four countries opened up for me for ministry. The most impactful of the countries are those from former communist countries of the world especially Russia. One delegate from Latfia along with four of the delegates came to me and said he wanted me to come to his country. When I knew the country is in the Old Soviet Union I declined. But God spoke to me later and encouraged me to honour their invitation. They arranged my visa and I went there November of 1990. As I finished preaching a mighty outbreak of God’s power was experienced. Since then till now I have had to keep going to the country and several other countries in the old Soviet Union to hold programmes.
What is peculiar about the old Soviet Union?
The people there are hungry for God. They are experiencing what we experienced in the 80s in Nigeria. They saw God’s power and his grace upon my life and wanted me to come and be a blessing to them. It’s an incredible ministry God has used me to birth in that part of the world. I have experienced all kinds of testimonies and have seen God work in incredible ways.
It seems your ministry is stronger outside Nigeria?
When people are familiar with your anointing they despise it. There are lots of these people who come to share with me how God had moved in their lives outside the country and I keep wondering but it’s the same gospel I preach in Nigeria that I preach there. But I guess because they are hungrier for the truth of the gospel they respond well to it unlike what we have here.
People accuse many ministers of the gospel of being too money minded. How will you react to this?
There is nothing wrong with having money. But a servant of God does not have to beg for money. Personally I don’t worry about supply because God has a way of blessing his people. In the first place I was not looking for money when I left my Architecture profession to fully commit myself to the gospel. I designed the Art Galleria of Ben Bruce. By the time I gave my life to Christ there was no attraction whatsoever to ministry because those who were pastors then were not people who had any material wealth to show for it. Architecture and pastoring were way apart. I was still involved in my business three months into my conversion but God assured me that he would supply my needs. I had to stop practising and handed over the business to somebody else to fully commit myself to ministry work. Since then I have not looked back to secular engagements.
You have spent 35 years preaching the gospel. How will you capture your experience so far?
My salvation experience in the first place is incredible. I am eternally grateful for that. I have seen all kinds of people in ministry, the good the bad the ugly. I have experienced all kinds of things. I have been in the cold, I mean extreme cold regions of the world. I have been disappointed many times. I have found out that it’s not about me being happy, it’s about fulfilling your call. And in doing that you will go through a lot of doubts, pain and attacks. Through it all I am consoled by the fact that nothing works against us as children of God. I hope to still be working in His vineyard till I am 90 and then take it easy thereafter. I don’t have my own plans. I am involved in apostolic missions. I don’t see myself staying in the four walls of the church. Already my church don’t see me all the time because of my missions engagement that is why I don’t want to start churches here and there. I can’t do branches because of my peculiar calling.
The death of your former wife must have devastated you. How did you receive the news?
I was in Latfia when it happened. I left her at home hale and hearty. She was not sick at all. I was at the airport with her on Wednesday before I travelled out of the country. It was in Latfia I got a call that she had passed on. She was not sick. No trace of sickness at all.
No sickness. There were reports then that she had cancer?
She was not sick at all. I have a belief that nothing works against Christians. I have learnt to see God in all that happens to me. No matter what we go through God is there. Nothing works against me. It was a Friday night my daughter used another person’s phone to call. It was unusual. I called her back and they told me my wife had passed on; that she just slumped. She was a very well person. She was healthy until she died. But I saw that she had finished her assignment. It was tough. We started with nothing. And she was with me through thick and thin. Towards the time she passed on, she was feeling strange. She would pray and pray and weep. She was kind of getting ready. Few days before she passed on she called a number of people and spoke with them for hours.
What I found out is that God would allow us to go through some painful things. Somebody has to lose somebody. Somebody has to cry over a loved one. It’s all part of the kingdom. The ministry is not milk and honey. He deals with us in the oven not in the fridge. Paul had severe experiences but he did not despair. His head was even cut off eventually.
Remarriage would have been a challenge for you?
I did not want to remarry. But the Lord said to me that women would kill me if I don’t. That period I stayed without a wife was something else. So I quickly had to do the needful to save myself.
Some people probably misunderstood you when you remarried?
Of course people did not understand. Somebody came to me and said he had somebody for me. So many advances here and there. After I married all girls left the church. The moment they heard I was now engaged they left. It got to a point you only see men and old women in church. The marriage was war. But I thank God he took charge. It was the best thing getting somebody from outside though I did not plan it. I did not want to go by my feeling. I prayed that God should give me the person who is best for me. My present wife is a good and wonderful person. If I was left alone to marry I would have made mistake. I would have married the wrong person.
You must have gone through a lot?
I always tell young ministers to stop looking at others. Don’t compare yourself with others. Stay focus. Success in ministry is being where God wants you to be. And the rest will be history. You must not put yourself under undue pressure. Don’t do what is in vogue do what God asked you to do. I don’t have school, hospital like other churches because I was not called to do that. Thank God for those who are building schools and hospitals but I was not called for that so I don’t join the bandwagon.