For 10 days beginning October 28, the oil city of Warri, Delta State was alive as the 2016 Jubilee Word Festival, held at the International Gospel Centre, headquarters of Papa Ayo and Mama Helen Oritsejafor’s Word of Life Bible Church, featured local and international gospel preachers, including PFN National President, Rev. Felix Omobude; Bishop George Bloomer; Dr. Ini Okpon, Rev. Ayuk R. Ayuk and American televangelist, Rev. Benny Hinn. The theme of the conference was, Rock of Ages. After ministering for two days at the event, Benny Hinn who, in 2005, caused a stir after a failed crusade in Lagos where he screamed blue murder about shoddy preparations by the local organisers, spoke to Sunday Vanguard on the incident and many other issues about Nigeria. Excerpts….
How do you describe your visit to Nigeria this time around?
I have been to Nigeria now four times. The first was with Benson Idahosa back in the 80s, one other time here in Warri and I also came to do a crusade in Lagos in 2005. Lagos was tough because things were not done well at that time; but I have told my staff that I was stunned by the different atmosphere in Nigeria today.
When we were here in the 80s, Benson took me to several places like Lagos, Kaduna, Ibadan, Benin, among others, where we had meetings. It was tough. The people were not as receptive in those days; in one of the places, they actually chased us and we had to run away with the crowd running after us and we had jump over the fence running for our lives. That was back then.
But, today, what I saw in Lagos at Pastor Chris’s church, I was stunned with how powerful the anointing was and how strong the people received it. I am still kind of in shock because I have this kind of images of what we saw back then. With that and we came to see this wonderful reception, I am left with the impression that these are different people and a different nation.
I see much more elegance especially in Lagos. It’s really a different world here. I have no doubt that the Nigerian people are being used to trigger the revival worldwide and it’s quite amazing that most major churches in the world today are pastored by Nigerians. When you go to the UK, the biggest churches there are pastored by Nigerians. When you go to other parts of Europe, it’s the same thing and same thing with America.
A lot of these men who began ministries that time and other men I met through Benson Idahosa in Kaduna, particularly Bishop David Oyedepo, who was our host in Kaduna, and the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, now have big churches across the globe. Adeboye’s church in London which Pastor Andrew, who is like a friend to me, heads, is doing great things.
The spirit of excellence is quite stunning and I am discovering more and more about Nigerian churches everywhere I go. When we had the pastors conference in June this year, there were pastors from Nigeria and, to my shock, they were telling me they had opened churches in Dallas, Texas, New York, Miami and all over America.
It’s like Nigerians are taking over the world. Thank you Jesus. It’s a very remarkable thing because the biggest churches in the world today are run by Nigerian pastors. They are springing out of the Benson Idahosa Movement – Adeboye, Oyedepo, Oyakhilome and several others – in Europe and I am amazed.
They are springing up everywhere. I don’t know what it is about your people but it is very stunning really.
The first time I came it was very tough but, this time, I am blown away by the class, the excellence and the prosperity I see here. Benson Idahosa used to tell me, ‘you preach prosperity, we live it’, and I think it’s true. It’s really exciting! You are a blessed people.
You came from Lagos to Warri and you’re going to Abuja from here. What’s the prophetic word God has asked you to tell this nation as we prepare to enter 2017?
I tell you what the Lord is saying. There’s a brand new generation of people, like in Lagos, when I called the young people to come out, I was stunned. More than half the crowd were young people and, when the power of God hit them, it was like thunderbolt. They were so receptive and just like here in Warri where young people are very dynamic and hungry for the Word of God. I don’t see that very often in many places. I can say here that the Nigerian young people really want the Holy Spirit. You know that in many places, the Holy Spirit has become unknown, and in some places, sadly, unwanted but not here in Nigeria. Here, they just hit it up.
Last night meeting, I thought my skin was going to blow off. The first night, with about 6,000 pastors, when Sinach began to sing, I began to weep and when a young man called Martin began to sing about the Holy Spirit, I began to weep again. Dynamic anointing and I am thinking, where did this anointing come from? Elegant, anointed, dynamic. It’s not the Nigeria I knew of. So, what I think, prophetically, this new generation will soon shake the world. I am not saying it to impress you, I just see it because…maybe it’s happening in Ghana, Cameroun and other parts of Africa but I have not been there to see it. But I see it here.
I think the big churches all over the world are not people from other African nations, and that is a testimony. Some of the big churches in London today are led by Nigerians. When you go to Germany, it’s the same thing and they are intense in a good way. I love that and I think I want to move here.
Nigeria today has been transformed, I believe, because of the fact that you’ve had mighty crusades here over the years…Benson spearheaded, several years ago, a great move of God here and later Rheihard Bonnke spent so much of his time here and others followed up with the masses that come to their meetings. The land is really ready for the revival and with a Christian TV like the African Broadcasting Network clouds unend. You really can’t have a revival without Christian TV because Christian TV makes the ground soft for the gospel and for the seed of the Word. So we really need Christian TV because, without it, the land will not be soft. My prayer is that Nigeria should be saved from coast to coast and become a light house to Africa and the world because it’s already getting prepared to shake the world. You have a blessed government, and I am hearing so many good things about Nigeria and what’s happening here with your economy. The future is very bright for your country.
I am seeing it. When I came earlier and met with then President Olusegun Obasanjo and Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, we talked so intimately about your economy and, today, when we flew out of Lagos, I could see several new high rise buildings, new hotels. It’s really a bright tomorrow and Christian TV is a major instrument that God uses to prepare for a revival.
What’s your recollection of the 2005 crusade that you talked about earlier?
I don’t remember much of what happened back then. All I can recollect is that we spent a lot of money for the crusade but the crowd didn’t come. I don’t know why but I learnt from Rev. Bonnke that the promotion wasn’t done properly but Pastor Chris told me yesterday that that was not true. He (Chris) said the man in charge did the promotion but the churches were not as involved. It doesn’t bother me at all what happened. I have actually forgotten about it all. I don’t remember the incident.
Have you been able to reconcile with some of the religious leaders who felt offended by your outbursts then?
I won’t even know who they are. I don’t know how to find them. I don’t remember them, please forgive me. At that time, John Wilson handled all of it. I don’t remember much of that now. I remember one man…I won’t even be able to recognise him if I see him, neither do I remember his name but I am fine with it, I am peaceful with it but, if you feel there’s need for some form of reconciliation, I am open it. Honestly, I will love to meet with them. I am a happy man. And everything is fine with me