Prophet Ayodele Elijah, Primate of INRI Evangelical MissionIn outlook, he doesn’t come across as your archetypal Old Testament prophet. He neither lives nor dresses like your dreadlocked, honey-eating and fire-spitting seer of old. Rather, he is a prominent member of the club of new breed pastors and prophets who see tomorrow and provide spiritual direction for individuals and a country groping in self-inflicted darkness.
He is suave. Well groomed. Pleasingly dressed. Never postures like someone with extreme or excessive admiration for a personality, philosophy of life or any such activity. Yet, his name resonates among the few present-day preachers with strong prophetic ministries, responsively receiving from God, and accurately interpreting His mind to help the present and shape the future. His name is Prophet Ayodele Babatunde Elijah, and he is the Primate of INRI Evangelical Mission, Oke-Afa, Isolo, Lagos.
For over two decades now, the youthful looking seer has been publishing his annual book of predictions, helping his followers peer into the future, hitting the bull’s eye on several occasions. Primate Ayodele was perfectly at home, doing what he knows best, when he sat down with me for about two hours recently. It was few days after the sudden death, on July 24, 2012, of Professor John Evans Atta Mills, the third President of the Fourth Republic of Ghana, who most of his compatriots saw as the true definition of peace.
Thoroughly devastated by the news of the president’s passing, the prophet sat for minutes, dejected, down in the dumps, trying effortlessly to make sense out of the sad news. When he eventually found his voice, it was like a clap of thunder. He said he foresaw what happened, and actually wrote to President Atta Mills to “slow down” so he could finish his tenure without any untoward incident. But he said he never got any reply. “Prophets are not God,” Primate Ayodele declares, “but we speak the mind of God. God showed us everything, and I put it in black and white.
I wrote it and sent it to President Atta Mills. We told him to take some rest so that he will not fall sick towards the end of his tenure. We also publicized it in the newspapers, some magazines and the latest edition of our book(of revelations). But the man did not respond. It’s so sad.” But how was he sure the letter got to The Castle (as Ghana’s presidential palace is called)?
Suppose the letter never got to the palace, let alone to the late president? Or was there a logbook where the letter was signed for as having been received? I asked the prophet. His temple formed a furrow as he tried to subdue his anger at my suggestions. “We have newspaper publications to that effect,” he snaps, brandishing a file copy of the letter. “Two, we gave the letter personally to his personal secretary.
My people went to the presidential palace and they gave it to him. They stamped it to indicate that it was received.” He left the issue of President Mills for a season and returned home, specifically to the June 3, 2012 Dana airline tragedy in Lagos. As it was in the case of the late Ghanaian president, so it was in the case of the Dana crash as Primate Ayodele declared categorically that he saw it coming and wrote the appropriate authorities, warning them to take speedy action to forestall the tragedy.
“Before the Dana crash, we sent the book to the villa,”Ayodele continues, “and I believe, whoever is the president of the country must be interested to read. But did anybody read the book? If they did, did they follow the instructions of God? Did they act on them? We sent a copy to Dana but they did not respond? If a man of God says this is going to happen, they don’t want to listen because the man that spoke is not their own pastor.”
I drew Primate Ayodele’s attention to the soaring criticism out there that Nigerian prophets are quick to see and foretell disasters without providing commensurate suggestions as to how to stop them. That suggestion caught the prophet on the wrong side as he answers with a barrage of questions. “Don’t blame any prophet who prophesizes, and danger is still not averted,” he says. “We publish our revelations so that we can pray, individually and collectively, to avert disaster. We usually publish our findings so that everybody may be aware. If people who have the mandate to act refuse to act, should I be blamed? I spent a lot of money to get these letters to the people concerned and the relevant authorities.
“Take the Ghana issue as an example. I paid for the flight and hotel bills of the people I sent. We spent a lot of money to get our letter to the president. We also publicized it in the newspapers and put it in the latest edition of our book. But the man did not respond. Do we now go to him and say he must do it by force? You can’t force people to listen to what you want to say. It’s either they like and accept it or they don’t. But to be honest with you, many people are just ignorant of the word of God.”
If there was no official or unofficial reaction from Ghana, why did he not call the late president or any of his close relations? I further pressed the prophet. Also why did he not drive down to DANA Air to warn them since their corporate headquarters is in Lagos where he is also domiciled? For answer, he refers me to the Bible. “If you look at the Bible,” he begins, “a prophet went to King Ahab, to tell him what was going to happen. Rather than listen, he branded the man of God prophet of doom, saying the prophet saw the impending disaster because he did not like him. But, look at King Hezekiah, when he was told he was going to die, he prayed and God listened to his prayers and added 15 more years to his life. But in our own case, people would laugh at you and say you are doing it for money or publicity. “On President Mills, I don’t have his number.
If I did, I would have called him. But then, there is a way people of power respond to the word of God. Some of them are so arrogant and they don’t even want to hear what the Lord is saying.” But if President Atta Mills had listened and come to him for prayers, would he have lived? Would God have averted the death and probably prolonged his life? “I have two answers to that,” he said. “If God does not want Atta Mills to listen, he would not listen. Whatever it is, you don’t condemn any prophet. It is very rampant in Africa, especially in Nigeria. People would tell you not to go to somewhere because he is not God-sent. How do you know he is not God-sent? That is one of the things I believe must have happened. “Two, he might have consulted another prophet and that one told him he could also handle it.
Three, too much of consultation leads to human failure. Maybe he trusted too many people, I don’t know. But had he listened and trusted God completely, God would have prolonged his life. That is the situation.” Could he have cured Professor Atta Mills if he had come? I asked the prophet pointedly, knowing that cancer is incurable, at least going by orthodox medicine. “There is miracle happening in our church,” he says. “But it does not work the way most people think. For instance, consider somebody who had a massive stroke, three years ago; that has damaged his brain, and people now want you to simply go there and touch the person, declare him healed immediately. It is not magic. Unless God has ordained it to happen at that hour, it would never happen. Miracle is not magic, and magic is not miracle.
I don’t believe in that. Rather, the healing would start gradually. I am not saying I can cure any disease but God who lives in me can do all things. With prayers, I believe President Mills would have been cured or at least given more time.” The Primate also fielded other questions on his ministry and other issues. Please, enjoy the remaining part of the interview. You started this journey very early in life. Yes. How early? How old were you when you started and how old are you now? And is there anything that your parents did that led you to the path you are today? Please, don’t let us talk about age because God can manifest his power even through babies.
Suffice it to say that I didn’t want to be a prophet. Rather, I wanted to be a professional-a lawyer, an engineer or a military man. But let me recall that when I was 18, I received a call from God that He would let me go to Aviation School in Zaria, and that somebody was going to help me to sort things out. So, I went to the aviation school without writing any exam. They just used my credentials. And for the three years that I spent in the school, God used a woman to help me. This really touched me. I didn’t know her at all. Her name is Alhaja Omowunmi. I can’t remember her other names or how old she was then. But it was while I was in the school that God revealed Himself to me and told me what to do. He even gave me the name of this church.
I didn’t get the name from anybody. It is a Spiritual Evangelical Church. My family church is Christ Apostolic Church but I had to follow the wish of God. And I have no regret following Him. So, you were 18, when God first spoke to you? Yes. How did it happen? Let me start with a confession. In my life, prior to that time, I had never fasted. In fact, I hated fasting. If you tell me fast, I would be getting real hungry by 8 a.m. But on that day, I was washing my mum’s clothes and I was singing. Before then, a woman had prophesied that I was going to die that year. As I wanted to put the last clothe on the line to dry, it fell. Strangely, I, too, fell unconscious the same time.
I was unconscious for 24 hours. When I came round, I saw big pastors that came to our house in Aguda, (Surulere, Lagos), praying. I started praying too. As I was praying, God revealed everything that people are seeing today. God revealed even the number of parishes we are going to have. How old are you? Like I said, I don’t disclose my age. Many people derive their powers from different sources. How do you derive your own power? My power is from God. I pray hard. I fast a lot. I listen to Him a lot. I have not seen God face-to-face but He speaks to me clearly, sometimes in audible tones.
Anybody that tells you he has seen God face-to-face is telling a big lie. You cannot see God but God has shown me that he is my God. The day this church started in March 1994, God said He was sending me to the world. I asked how? This church started at 27, Gbadamosi Commercial, Ilasamaja (Lagos) in a two-by-two room. But the Lord told me that in 12 years time, He would be feeding many people through me. And that if I ever deviated from His path, I will suffer the consequence. But were there occasions when you deviated from God? Yes. There were occasions I felt the burden is too much for me. Like there were times God would tell me to fast and stay here for three months. No going out. Just take a cup of juice a day and don’t talk to anybody.
He may tell me to do it for about 50 days without bathing. I will not even wash my teeth. Sometimes, it may be for 40 or 90 days. I will just be drinking juice. Now, you are a very handsome man. Are there no temptations from women? You want my honest answer? Your very honest answer… I am contented with my wife. True, a lot of women come to me but I’m into God’s work 24/7. No room for any temptation. My hands are full with His work. Look at INRI satellite TV. We are planning to have INRI College of Ministry. I want to build low cost houses for my pastors, and so on. We want to have a parish in UK and another one in the US. So, where is the time to even think of women who want to seduce me? I don’t have the time. I have a vision for every member. If I fail, they, too, will fail; and I will pay for it. So, I flee from every appearance of the devil as the bible commands. The revelations for your annual book of revelations, are you the sole author, or there are contributions from others?
They are directly from God to me. But other prophets from the church keep praying for me each time I want to do something like this. It’s either I stay in the church or I go to the camp. I stay there to receive the messages. When temptations come, how do you insulate yourself? Yes, there are temptations. But temptations vary. For instance, there are temptations arising from your being popular. There are those from money and women. I don’t have problems handling them. But when it comes to money, I don’t handle church money. I don’t handle the church’s account. Yet, when they plan to do any project, I contribute the largest part. I believe that as a man of God, you have to pay your own tithes. The issue of money, I live it to God. I don’t believe in pride. The issue of women, I’ve seen women who just come to church to trap and humiliate you. That’s why I don’t go to any party. When I go to any church, I do my beat and I leave.
If I don’t give you appointment, I don’t see you. What if you give a woman an appointment and she comes to you with a different motive? How do you deal with that? I will tell the woman I’m not interested. I will tell either my PA or my admin officer or secretary to take the woman out. Anyway, I’ve never experienced such thing, a woman coming in with a different motive. Has God ever disappointed you? God has never disappointed me on anything-materially, spiritually. He has been faithful. Have you been 100 percent faithful to Him? Let Him be the judge. Again, I ask you, has God disappointed you? Never! Sometimes, I may tell God that I want something done on an issue, so that his name can be glorified, and he says, not yet time. Like I pray with somebody and God says that person is not due for what we are praying for. And I now tell the person and he becomes disappointed…
Well, I don’t call that disappointment. In what ways have men disappointed you? People have disappointed me in so many ways. For instance, people would say we want to help you, and you give them something to do, and they mess up. At the end of the day, they may change. The closer you get to people, the more you get to know people. So, I tell people, don’t criticize anybody. Don’t judge. People have disappointed me when it comes to things of life. Imagine somebody who came to you in abject poverty, and you prayed for, and made him a minister by providing the necessary connections, and the same man now created a wedge between you and his boss?
People like that wrongly think that you want money or influence. They are wrong. What I want is for them to be more responsible to God even in their positions. I’m not waiting for anyone to come and give me money. I’m contented with what I have. Have you ever felt like quitting this job? First, let me correct an impression: this is not a job, it is a calling. And if I come back again, I still want to be a man of God. It’s good to serve God. It’s a great opportunity to be chosen, among billions of people in this world, to work in God’s vineyard. Being a man of God is bigger than being a president. The impression out there is that church has become big business, big industrial complex. That people are running into Christian ministry because of the money involved, because it is one of the easiest ways to make money in this country, even as some of your colleagues have attested… Judgment day will come.
That’s all I can say about that. I can’t say anything beyond that. But I know that being a minister of God is not by my power. He called me. I never called myself like I told you. But for His calling, I would not want to be a minister of God. There are many restrictions and warnings. I’m not a free person. I cannot be doing things like others are doing it. So, nobody can say that I’m in this for money or because of joblessness. No way! How are your parents? My mum is fine. And your dad? He is dead. He died about 10 years ago. My mum is still there, by the grace of God. She is going to be 78. Is she proud of you? Very proud of me, and always grateful to God