In every generation God raises a a man with a kingly anointing to turn our lamentation into honour. In our generation, God has given us a man with a healing anointing, Africa’s foremost evangelist. Rev Dr Uma ukpai . He is the President of Uma Ukpai Evangelistic Association Inc. In this special interview session , he speaks on how his ministry began, the challenges and temptation and how he overcame them.
Sir, can you give us a brief history of your ministry?
In 1958, a pastor called Issac Okoro held a crusade and I gave my life to Christ in that programme after which I started attending Assemblies Of God church. There, I was taught that if I asked God anything in Jesus name, He would do it. Sometime after that, a mad man came to our school at County Council School in Ogoni, he sent everybody in the school running. He was a six footer who looked very soldierly, well fed and well groomed. As people were running here and there, I heard God say to me “you too can sack this mad man”, I therefore commanded him “Deco”, (the man’s name)”in the name of Jesus get out of this school and roll out”. He fell at the word “roll out” as he rolled out of the school. My Headmaster came and asked me. “At this tender age you are already involved in juju activities?” I said to him. “Sir, I gave my life to Christ and I am now born again and I was told that anything I ask in Jesus name would be done”. He was suprised at my answer and he added “Tomorrow, you will start our prayer meeting in the school” You are now our pastor, every morning you will lead morning service for the school.
In my surprise , I asked him, “will you be there? Please don’t come, I will be afraid of you”. He responded calmly, “I am now your member. Don’t be afraid of me”. I asked him another question, “What of my teachers, will they be there?” He said ‘Yes’. I told him they would frighten me and what’s more, I did not know what to preach. He simply said, “God will tell you what to preach, just come”. That was the beginning of my ministry. After that , I started holding crusades in Jagaja. Jagaja is in Rivers State. It is close to where they call Ikha waterside in Ogoni.
After four decades you are still waxing strong, how come?
Still waxing strong? I did not even know that. (General laughter)
What’s the secret?
Sometimes, secrets are not made known to men. What will I attribute it to ? When you marry a good wife, many things are possible; a woman that does not create problems for you, a woman who allows you a peaceful atmosphere; a woman who gives you good food because good food gives you strong life and strong life leads to long life. I got married in 1975 to my beloved wife Philomena and now with six children and adopted child..
When you learn how to leave your problems and burdens with God, He will take care of your problems and burdens. This will give you enough time to rest. I know of a medical doctor here in Uyo who says he hates me because I laugh and act as if I have no problems. I said to him “I like to have enemies because a man who has no enemy is an idiot”. But rest refreshes a man, rest re-positions a man, rest re-directs a man. Of all things in life, rest is the most beneficial.
Talking about rest, when do you actually rest?
I sleep for two hours every afternoon and I do one thing at a time which to me is the best form of rest.
What have been the challenges you have faced in these four decades?
You will have challenges if you do not obey the laws of fellowship. Jesus said, “if any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me”. To deny yourself is to die to the you in you that makes the you , you are; Accept the will of God, whatever it is and do not ask God questions. When I lost four people in one day, three vehicles on the same day as well as office equipment and printing machines on the same day, I was able to preach the next day because, I found out that nothing that happens to me is a surprise to God. Therefore, if God allows it to happen, I have to accept it.
I am strongly opposed to superstition. The story that says “It is your uncle, your mother, your aunty that caused that problem”, is not allowed to enter my mind.
In essence you have not been taken in by any challenge
A challenge is something that you cannot solve, something that takes away your smile, something that makes you unhappy and depressed. But those are the things God wants us to hand over to him.
What has been the most memorable moment in the ministry?
I have had many great moments in the ministry but I can spot three outstanding ones.
Full Gospel International Business Men Convention where I was the first African to speak for four days. God spoke to me and I prophesied that there were several men that were dressed but were ill and that they would spin round seven times and fall but the will be healed by the power of God. After the demonstration of the power of God, the delegates from Nigeria were so excited that they began to sing some Nigerian songs. I was even approached to relocate to the United States of America but I didn’t go.
People usually argue that if they take care of other people’s problem, who will take care of theirs?
God will take care. Life is made in such a way that what you cause to happen to other persons, will be caused by God to happen to you.
What should be the expectation with the Uyo Miracle Convention?
The expectation is that everything is possible. We are expecting the unexpected; we are expecting the impossible; we are expecting God to wipe away tears. We are expecting God to put back broken homes. We are expecting God to open wombs; we are expecting God to do the unimaginable. Many miracles happen even before the convention. One of the miracles happened yesterday when a man came to me and said I should pray because his mother-in-law could not walk. I was tired, so I asked him to go that she would walk. He called me this morning to say she now walks.
This reminds me of another miracle that took place some years ago. A man in Itu Mbang came and reported that his sister made his son a cripple. He asked that I pray for his son. I refused to pray, telling him that his sister cannot give me such orders. Rather, he should go and tell his sister that if by 8:00am the boy does not walk, she would become a cripple. The next morning the boy asked his father to take him to the restroom. But the father replied that the Rev. said he will walk that morning and if he could not walk the boy should urinate on the bed. As the boy attempted to get up, strength came to his leg and he jumped up and walked. By 8:30am the following day, he came back with a testimony that his boy was walking and all that I said has come to pass.
There is a sister some of you would know because she is a student of Uniuyo. They brought her to me with mental illness but God told me that she was not mental; rather, her grandfather buried her spirit in a coffin at the backyard. I told the girl’s father to tell his father (the girl’s grandfather) to unlock the coffin he buried at the backyard else he would be mad for seven days. As the man unlocked the coffin, the girl got well here in my house. She went back to school and came out with First Class Honors in Mathematics. She is married now and has four children.
When was this?
I think it was 30 years ago.
People will like to know how you finance these conventions.
One of the puzzles of my life is having God send me money when I least expect it. This program cost us ten millions naira last year. I was shocked that’s the speaker of the last Wednesday raised two million cash to support the event. That was a miracle because our offering never gets that amount. I had already given four million bringing it to a total of six million naira and we are looking for four million naira more and by the principle God operates, the four million will come before the crusade. How it will come, I don’t know but God will bring it. Talking about money, I might be the only preacher in Uyo who is not on salary or allowance, yet we can do the things we are doing. A man who is not paid to do what he is doing has obligated God to pay him that which is his due.
With the training you have given to us, can you finally relax and say God has used you to bring up men and women in the ministry today and that there are people to carry on the ministry?
Succession and continuity has nothing to do with me. It is Gods business. The ministry is and ocean; it filters itself and moves on. God is a greater organizer and God is a great teacher, the greatest teacher. The first time prayer was prayed was in the Old Testament. The first time evangelistic activity was ever held was in the New Testament. But 2000 years later, the work is still going on from different angles. So it is not me that will sustain the work, it is God. Jesus was not an ordinary Jew God made him one. God has the power and ability to appoint and sustain men that shall carry His work but the good news is that whoever He appoints, He will empower to fulfill the demand of His calling.
Daddy before we go let’s look at the challenge of insecurity in the country.
Well this is the best time to be born in Nigeria. All those who came before us came too early. It is a problem that increases a man’s capacity and imagination. Life has no trouble free zone. The road to success is always under construction. The man who has no problem has been forgotten by God and rejected by Satan, so this is the best time to be born in Nigeria. Yes, there is unemployment, there is insecurity and all the bad things satan can bring our way but remember the darkest hour of the night leads to the breaking of the day. Nigeria is on its way to greatness and these problems are sharpening us and grooming and pruning us for greatness through these problems. We have gone through problems bigger than this during the Civil War and if we could survive that, we can survive this. Finally, we don’t see things the way they are, we see things the way we are. Too many, it may be a sign of greatness.
Finally, a word of advice to Christians and those yet to come into the fold.
My advice is the song that says:
“Trust and obey
For there is no other way
To be happy in Jesus
Than to trust and obey”
culled from Shouts of Victory Magazine. A publication of UUEA.
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