As the World Evangelism Bible Church (WEBIC), celebrates its 25th anniversary this month, its General Overseer and renowned, Prophet Dr. Samson Ayorinde, reflects on the vision, mandate and impact of WEBIC, his escape from armed robbers’ attacks, the clampdown on his famous miracle telecast by Nigerian authorities and other issues in this interview with TAI ANYANWU.
Congratulations sir; it’s the 25th anniversary of WEBIC. How does it feel seeing WEBIC clocking 25 years?
I am excited for God’s faithfulness and his divine support and protection over my family and the entire members of World Evangelism Bible Church these 25 years.
At 25 WEBIC is a huge success globally. Could you share with us how the success story began?
It all started in Zaria, Kaduna state in 1993 while I was waiting on the Lord on 40 days fasting and prayer. God spoke to me that I should move the base of the ministry to Lagos. He gave us the name of the ministry and also showed us the picture of where to start the ministry.
In 1994 we started the field work of the ministry. In 1995 we fully began the church with the official commissioning of the church.
That will be 25 years ago this November. God has been faithful to us till now. Would you like to tell us a bit about the early challenges the church faced, and how you survived? One early challenge was when some men that started with us suddenly left us.
We also had challenges in the area of finance and how to combine the crusade work with the church work. In the course of our crusade many times we had been attacked by armed robbers. We have had several road accidents.
For instance, on our way from a crusade in Idiroko through Atan, Ado-Odo-Ota to Sango-Ota we were shot by armed robbers. Our convoy was ridden with 16 bullet holes. But God is faithful. We survived that attack. None of us was injured.
Could you let us in on your earlier services to the Lord before WEBIC was founded?
Before WEBIC started I served with Jesus Alive Evangelical Mission (JAEM) in Zaria, Kaduna state. I started some centres for the mission in Kaduna and Jos. Of course we went round holding crusades in Kaffancha and Koi among other places in Southern Kaduna where they are killing people today. I worked in those places.
They were not as violent as today. Most times I worked in the forest. When I resigned from JAEM, I worked as a freelance evangelist for two years until the Lord told me to move to Lagos. So, I left Zaria in 1993 and started WEBIC in 1995. While in JAEM, because I am an evangelist they transferred me from one place to another, and I planted many fellowship centres for JAEM. Fellowship is different from church.
The only church I pioneered was burned during the Maitatsine protest. The one in Kaduna was also burned. In those days when the Islamic fundamentalists struck and burnt churches everywhere. About three JAEM churches were burnt twice by the fundamentalists and we had to start all over again until I left the ministry.
What is God’s mandate and commission to your ministry?
The exact mandate of my commission by the Lord is world evangelization via crusade and the mass media (radio and television stations) as well as the social media. We extensively used radio and television broadcasts to achieve this mandate.
We organise our crusade in conjunction with the local chapters of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) of our host communities. We don’t use our crusades as an opportunity to start churches. As a policy we don’t plant churches in the places we organise crusades. We didn’t hold crusades in those places we planted churches.
If we plant churches in the areas we organise crusade it will affect the local churches in those areas. Therefore, we release and distribute the converts in our crusade to local churches in those areas instead of planting churches there.
What gifts would you say that God has endowed you with, and which helped you to achieve the mandate?
Basically, they are gifts of evangelism, miracles, deliverance and healing, and the gift of word of knowledge and discerning of spirit. The prophetic is part of it too.
Tell us the vision, mandate and impact of your famous Anointing Night Service
The sole purpose of that programme is soul winning; and for God to confirm his word through miracles that people can think and accept Christ. Again, it is to populate churches by circulating the souls we harvest in our crusade to the local churches of our host communities.
We then return to the base to continue the church work. When the season for the Anointing Night came, we hosted it at LTV, MITV and finally at the National Stadium, Lagos.
It was when we moved the programme to the National Stadium that the Fire Crusade started. Subsequently we started taking the Fire Crusade from place to place and state to state. And talking about the impact of the Fire Crusade, the harv e s t was ripe and the season was i n d e e d good.
It appears the Anointing Night programme has been suspended. Why?
Originally Anointing Night is not an outside programme. For the Fire Crusade this is not the season for crusade. Taking the programme back to the church there are a lot of logistic problems involved like transportation, the nature of Lagos, then the fact that the work now is more demanding on the church.
At a stage we were doing crusade connected with the church. We were using crusade to start church programmes. It has been very challenging because when you use crusade crowd to start a church, not many of the crowd come to be established in church.
When you hold a crusade to build church it’s like you throw a net in the sea and you catch some elements inside the net. Inside the net you catch fish, crabs, stones and debris. And what you really need is the fish.
The crab is edible but you do not really need it. The stones and debris are inedible but you don’t need them. That is how a crusade is. When you use those kinds of people (stones and the debris) from a crusade to start a church it has poor impact on the church.
Some years ago government clamped down on miracle broadcasts by religious organisations on television stations in the country. It was at the peak of your popular miracle broadcast on television stations. How did that clampdown affect you?
The clampdown forced us to shift our crusade outside the country. We moved the work outside the country because the government wouldn’t allow us to broadcast miracles.
We were first forced out of the National Stadium before they banned us from television. It was when the government chased us out the National Stadium that we started taking the fire crusade to different places in the country.
When the government now banned our miracle broadcasts outright we had to move the work to other countries. So, it was Nigeria’s loss and other countries’ gain.
Please share with us some of the sacrifices you made to take the work this far?
First, it takes the grace of God to be able to wait on the Lord in intensive fasting and prayer. We shed the flesh to be able to feed the spirit. That is a very strong area of the ministry. Then the sacrifice of not been able to sit down with the family to be available for the children and other things at home.
There were several times of complaints from the children; we want to see daddy and mummy more at home. I bless God for prophetess. She is very communicative. She is more of a talker than I. Communication is always a challenge both in the ministry and at home.
But God is faithful. Another sacrifice is the area of doing counselling all day and praying all night. It seriously affects my sleeping pattern. It is one area I want the youth and younger ministers of God to watch.
My intensive prayer and fasting for several days or months affect my sleeping pattern. For you to be able to work effectively in miracle ministry there must be a constant life of prayer and fasting of at least six hours per day regularly. I did that for several years. I doubt if there is anyone who operates in miracle ministry without making such a sacrifice. So, it’s quite demanding. The pressure is connected with the crusade.
Now, looking back in retrospect are you fulfilled with WEBIC at 25 years?
If we say we are fulfilled it means we are telling God to stop the work.
There will always be the hunger to want to do more. We are forgetting the past in order to reach out to more souls for Christ. What have we done yet? We still have more grounds to cover. May God endow us with more grace and strength to do more in Jesus name.
Can you recall and appreciate the contributions of some of the people that started with Word Evangelism Bible Church (WEBIC) with you 25 years ago.
We really appreciate all the people that started WEBIC with us for their support and contributions in the success story of WEBIC at 25 years. We don’t want to mention names because we may offend some people if we forget to mention their names. We are indeed grateful to everyone. God will bountifully reward them all. We appreciate them. We celebrate them.
If Christ tarries, WEBIC will be 30 years in the next five years. What are your expectations in the church within the next five years that it will clock 30?
Our expectation is that we want the church work to be more established in all the assemblies. We want the construction works at the headquarters church completed in Jesus name. We want our foreign mission work to increase.
We are trusting God to further establish our broadcast media ministry. These are some of the projections that we have in terms of establishing and starting a kind of campground for combined services that can bring the members in all our branches together.
What is the spread of World Evangelism Bible Church worldwide?
WEBIC has spread across Nigeria to some other West African countries. We have a branch in South Africa. We have a branch in the U.K. We are trying to establish the branch in Canada. In Nigeria we have branches in Lagos, Abuja, Ilorin and Port Harcourt. We have 32 branches in Lagos and three branches in Abuja.
In 25 years of WEBIC, have you at any time considered quitting the ministry?
There are always times of discouragement that one feels like quitting, and there is always also that inner voice telling one to go ahead. Right from the beginning I was very reluctant to go into ministry but that inner voice was insisting I must. Moses complained he was a stammer God still pushed him to do the work. So, there is always the grace of God that sustains us at the moments of discouragement.
Finally, let’s have a look at the upbringing of Prophet Dr. Samson Ayorinde.
I came from a very humble upbringing where we were not even sure where the next meal would come from until God graciously blessed his work in our hands. There were lots of prophecies about my birth that I was an unusual child who has a specific assignment on earth.
I was raised in a Christian home where regular prayer and fasting is a pattern of life. And that defines my person today as a man of intensive prayer and fasting lifestyle. My father was a staunch follower of Apostle Joseph Ayodele Babalola. My mother was a very committed member of ECWA.