Sexual molestation is real in the church- Pastor Joe Jesimiel Ogbe

sexual molestation

Sexual Molestation is real in the church

Pastor Joe Jesimiel Ogbe is the Pastor and founder of Great House Mandate Church. He is more known as a youth pastor. He was the first youth pastor of Christ Faith Tabernacle also known as Winners’ Chapel. He veered off to start Young Disciples International, a ministry that attends to the spiritual needs of young people and then a few years ago started Great House Mandate Church. In this interview with Gbenga Osinaike, Pastor Joe, as he is fondly called bares his mind on the issue of rape and sex in the church. Below are excerpts:

What has been your experience with young people on this issue of rape and sexual molestation?

Sexual molestations like rape is real in the church. It is very, very, real. I can count a number of young people that I have counseled in this regard. But the Lord has helped us as a ministry to mitigate this phenomenon by promoting what we call Covenant of Purity. We encourage all those who work in the ministry take this covenant of purity oath and also introduced it to young people during our ministrations. The idea of covenant of purity started in 1998, two years after the ministry was commissioned by Bishop David Oyedepo. I got the inspiration to introduce covenant of purity from the late evangelist Billy Graham. He had a standard set for himself.  When Graham got into ministry he discovered that so many men of God were falling into sexual temptations. And he reached an agreement with God that he will not have a ride with another woman other than his wife in his car and he would not counsel women alone. And that really helped him to stay out of crisis throughout his ministry. I got that inspiration and decided to implement same in our ministry but with some modification since we deal with young people. My experience with young people is that they are vulnerable. If they love you they love you passionately and if they hate you they hate you passionately. So it is easy to sway them depending on their disposition towards you.

So I entered into covenant of purity with the people working with me. We introduced it to all teenagers who joined us at our annual Camp Joseph convention every year. In 2007, I was invited by Bishop David Oyedepo to minister to the young people at the Covenant University and I introduced the covenant of purity to the CU students.

So what has been the fruit of this covenant of purity?

From what I have seen so far, the covenant of purity has been producing amazing results. There was the case of one of our girls who was invited by a friend. On coming back there was a particular man who offered her a lift. She entered innocently. As they were on their way, the man said he was going to stop by to pick something from his home. She was in the car while the man entered into the house to pick whatever he wanted to pick. All of a sudden he came back to meet this my daughter in the Lord who was still sitting in the car and asked her to come inside and sit down instead of staying in the car while the car engine was running. She did not suspect any foul play. She agreed to step in to wait for him. The next moment the man quickly came and locked the door and attempted to rape this young girl. It was a fight. But all of a sudden she said to the man, if you do anything with me, you will be in trouble and your generation will be in trouble because I am under a covenant. Do what you want to do. At that moment the man who was agitating for sex received some sense. He became calm. And he said, you’re a strange girl. Why did you not tell me? Immediately he discharged her.

There was another case of a popular G.O. who wanted to sleep with another of my daughter in the Lord. In this case this G.O had been of great assistance to her and at some point felt he needed to sleep with her. The young lady simply told her that she was under a covenant of purity. Rather than leave her alone, the G.O said to her that she would help her break that covenant. That is why I wrote on the COZA saga that it is very nice to allow young people to talk. The girl reported the matter to me and her parents and we called the G.O. to order. It was a big disgrace. There was another case of a girl in our ministry who went to baby-sit for her elder sister who was married to a G.O. The man would come every night to try to sleep with her until the lady reported to me and I confronted the G.O before he stopped.

I have a daughter in the Lord in the US who entered into the covenant of purity. She had similar testimony of being freed as a result of this covenant. She called me recently and asked when it would be ripe for her to introduce her daughter to the covenant of purity. I said to her that her daughter was still young, that she should wait a little. But that shows you the extent of the damaging practice of illicit sex.

But is there anybody still young these days with the disturbing level of sexual molestation?

Exactly my concern. A young girl was telling me that her cousin has been sleeping with her when she was age five till when she was 21. Each time they go on holiday, the cousin had sex with her. And that has been going on without their parents’ knowledge. It is really disturbing

When you introduced this Covenant of purity, what was the initial responses?

Not everybody accepted it. It was not compulsory anyway. It was for all those who were willing. There was this member of YDI who felt she could handle her sexuality and felt there was no need to enter into any oath. She went to the tertiary institution and met this brother who showered so much love on her and said to her that the moment he saw her, he broke the relationship he had before. So they started dating. One thing led to another. And she messed up big time. She said if she had known she would have entered into the covenant. I told them if they enter into the covenant, any man coming to their lives must know they have entered into a covenant to remain chaste until marriage and they must realise that it is for the good of the two of them.

But don’t you think it’s more like trying to put fear in young people that they are faced with dire consequences if they break the covenant?

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Pastor Joe Jesimiel Ogbe

In our own case it is not really fear. It is love. I love God so much that I want to give him my body. We don’t tell them that if they break it they are dead. What we do is done with the love motif and not the fear motif. We take it from the point of view of the good of both parties. You love God so much and you want to honour him by not defiling your body. That is the perspective. There are instances of people who make commitments to certain ideals who are not even Christians. So it is more of love and standing by an ideal for the mutual benefit of both parties.

 

But we have cases of young people who make covenants among themselves to bind themselves to a marriage oath and eventually they don’t get married. They then have challenges which they link to the oath they make. There are those who even go to the extent of making blood covenant which later boomerangs. How will you respond to this?

I have handled such cases. Usually I tell them that the blood of Jesus is stronger than the blood they mixed together in whatever oath they made or covenant they agreed to. So I help them to break such covenant. They can break such because it has no basis. But in our case we just make them to promise God that they will keep themselves until marriage. It is not about instilling fear in them that something terrible will happen to them if they break the covenant. No. But we encourage them to respond to the love of God by keep their body free from immorality.

From benefit of hindsight why do you think people especially church leaders would still have to be overcome by sexual temptations? What is it about sex for the man of God?

Sexual temptation is a beast. We all are vulnerable. In this office for instance we don’t counsel opposite sex behind closed doors. The door must be open. In the book of 1peter 5v3, the Bible talks about church leaders to be examples to the flock. Pastors are meant to be examples to the flocks. When pastors fail morally the flocks will have excuse to also misbehave. That is why the pastor must do everything within his power while also depending on the grace of God to stay away from every form of sexual temptations.

But some men of God will say sex is their weakness. Are they not permitted to have weaknesses?

If it is a weakness on the part of the pastor, then he should let people know. You don’t joke and toy with your weakness. If it is a weakness then you take steps not to fall into it. If you are delivering people deliver yourself first. If you are not an example to the flock of God don’t go near the pulpit. The pulpit is a privileged position. Don’t mind the fact that it has been commercialized. To be a clergy, people should look at you as somebody who can stand the test of integrity.

But don’t you think of cases of demonic influence in this sexual molestation issue?

Of course. There is demonic stronghold. I agree. A teenage had asked me before to sleep with her. There are sometimes young girls would call me and I will ask my wife to pick the phone. The moment they hear the voice of my wife they would not want to talk again. They just want to hear my voice. That is teenager for you. If they love you, they love you. But you should not take advantage of them. A sister once earned my respect because I turned down a lady who was loosely dressed and asked her to go and meet this sister for counseling. The lady had earlier approached me for counselling. But she was loosely dressed. I had to refer her.

There are lessons to learn in the Coza saga. What would you recommend as the way out for the parties involved?

The whole story is still shrouded. The reports of the social media is not altogether reliable because of the conflicting reports and counter reports. That is the demerit of social media. If we have documented reports it would have been great. Nobody is interviewing anybody apart from the interview with the victim of rape. Some of the other information we read are conjectures which can’t be trusted. Somebody just sits back home types something and it goes viral. But then if it is true that the man of God messed up years ago, why should we use that to nail him. I think he should be forgiven. There is something I like about the American Christianity. They are so open and they are not pretentious. We have cases of Jimmy Swaggart, Jim Baker, Ted Hagar. They all erred and they confessed publicly.

It’s only in Nigeria we look at pastors as gods. If a pastor makes a mistake people wonder why would he make a mistake in the first instance? For example in our church we raised money for a project and the money was not enough. And I had to divert the money to something else but before I did, I announced to the church. But some people did not like the idea of coming to tell the church that the money was being used for another thing that was not planned. They wanted me to keep it secret.

But I believe the COZA story will work for the good of the church. It will draw the man of God closer to God. The church will take serious caution. Pastors who have been engaging in illicit sex before will draw back.

You have been attending to teenagers for a while now. Tell us about the nature of teenagers?

We have been dealing with teenagers since 1986 but the ministry started in 1996. I was the first youth pastor in Winners Chapel. We need to understand the nature of teenagers. They are imagining so many things. All things are happening to the typical teenager at the same time. They are experimenting and trying their hands on a number of things. They want to try out sex. So it is easy for them to suffer sexual molestation. A particular girl went to have sex. Her friend had told her what sex is all about and how sweet it is. She went to have sex but did not enjoy it and was wondering what the fuss about sex. And I always tell them that sex is not a bad thing but that there is always a right time to have sex. I used to give them this illustration and ask: will they take gutter water though they are thirsty? They will say no. And I will tell them, feeling like having sex should not push you to have sex with the wrong person and the wrong time.  I tell them a great exchange takes place when they have sex. The partners involved deposit themselves into one another. I tell them too that having sex before marriage is like eating an unripe mango.

But sometimes some of the illicit sex are done out of fear of having late marriages. Some of them don’t want to be left out and some just want to have children since no brother is coming. How will you react to late marriage issue?

I wrote a book, securing your marital destiny and dedicated it to Bimbo Odukoya because both of us served young people. We ministered on the same platform many years in Ibadan. She did a great work. In chapter one of the book I talked about reason for delayed marriage. The truth of the matter is that the devil is attacking the marriage institution because it is within the corridor of marriage that we give birth to godly seeds. The enemy is the number one reason why so many singles are not married.

Some do all they could but yet are not married?

It is not possible. I believe people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. If a person does not have understanding of the situation the person can be under attack. Sickness can be another reason, we also have unattractive personality. I ministered to a lady who was not married at 35. She came to my office with rumpled cloth. It is true that the content is superior to the container but without the container nobody will be attracted to the content. We need to package and brand ourselves. There are so many reasons in the book. There are solutions too.

There was a highly demonic case I know. A lady medical doctor doing well. She was in her late 30s. She came to our programme and opened up to me that while she was about 8  she suffered sexual molestation from her father. She was later dedicated to the gods. She was not meant to be married. When she gave her life to Christ, it became a warfare. Some ministers went to her village to conduct deliverance. I told her to forgive her father. I asked her to buy a shirt for her expected husband and practice faith by believing that her husband was on the way. The shirt will be for her coming husband. She went to England and attended a function from where she met her husband. She is now married with a child. God would not have made a woman without a husband. But people make choices of celibacy. And that is personal.

 

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