How my near death Experience made me to accept God’s call – Bishop Abuya
Bishop Peter Abuya is renowned U.S-based Nigerian preacher. In the below interview with Peace James, the Edo state-born cleric shares the vision and mission of his ministry with Christian Benefits. Excerpts below.
Please can meet you sir?
My name is Peter Oleabhiele Abuya, Founder and Superintendent of Dunaword Ministries with branches in Africa, America and the Caribbean I’m from Edo State, Nigeria. I was born on February 4, 1972 at Uromi, Edo State. I’m the first son in a very large family. Growing up was very challenging as you would expect with any first son in a polygamous home. You become a standard to some and a target to others. But this position makes one very conscious of what is expected of one; while also watching your back knowing that many are set to drag you down. That was the world in which I was brought up.
Let us have a look at your background and upbringing.
I was brought up a Catholic. On a particular day I was going to church when I heard behind me some people talking about their dirty experiences with some members in the church. What I heard them talked about shocked me. I was a very young man who believed so much in church. Now, I heard another side of some brethren who I thought were heaven-conscious. I wanted to live a life worthy of emulation and not hypocritical. I had a girlfriend but our relationship was platonic. While thinking of what to make of this experience, my neighbour; a woman who unknown to me, had been praying for my salvation, invited me to church, but I refused. She smiled and walked away but continued praying for me. And not long after that my girlfriend came to me one early morning and asked that we break up. I asked why, but she won’t say. I cried and contemplated suicide. While I was thinking of the easiest way to commit suicide, that same woman, Mrs. Idahosa, came back with her invitation to go with her to church. This time I thought, well, there was nothing to lose as a man who only had a few days to live. It was a Deeper Life Bible Church. Pastor Olisa, the preacher at a point said everyone would disappoint you including your girlfriend. I got angry. I thought Mrs. Idahosa had told him what happened to me. But I heard a sweet voice said to me nobody knows what had happened between you and your girlfriend. As I focused on the preacher, I saw Jesus standing and preaching. Surprised, I wiped my eyes and he was still there. That was how I surrendered my life to Jesus. Right there I knew something happened to me. I went home and started preaching the gospel that same day. I didn’t know the Bible then. So, my message was the same message that converted me; everyone will disappoint you, only Jesus will never fail. My girlfriend came a few days later to apologise. I told her that her old boyfriend committed suicide and the life which I now live I owe to Christ Jesus. She pleaded that she was only testing my love for her. I thanked God she did because it led me to Christ Jesus.
How did you eventually receive the call into ministry?
I have always been zealous for God and the propagation of the gospel. But speaking English was a big challenge to me because of the environment in which I grew up. One day while I was praying God said to me, “I will use you to promote and preach the Gospel all over the world.” Surprised, I said, but I can’t speak proper English. And he said, “I will teach you English language so well that those who hear you will wonder.” Then I said, but I don’t know the Bible and he said, “You will teach the Bible to the amazement of others.” I was a member of Deeper Life Bible Church and Pastor W. F Kumuyi was my role model, a highly respected minister and a seasoned preacher. Then God added, “The time will come when Kumuyi would be surprised at your depth of scripture and teachings of my Word.”
What were other challenges that you faced before you accepted the call?
When I was called I refused because by then I had grown in the Lord. I was a leader and church planter in Deeper Life; so I didn’t want to leave the ministry. It took an experience which I had after my brother’s death to make me heed the call. He had just received Christ after I preached to him, but not too long after someone stabbed him to death. When I saw his corpse I couldn’t deal with it. I passed out and was rushed to the Police Hospital in GRA where I was pronounced dead. I saw myself walking in a strange place. Then I heard a voice said to me, so you decided to give up your life because of your brother? If you love him that much, I love the people I am sending you to more than the way you love your brother. I started crying and begged to return to answer the call. Like something blew me back to life. I opened my eyes and saw some medical stuffs fixed on my body. I pulled them off, stood up and walked out straight into the reception. My father asked, ‘is that you?’ I said yes. Then he said, but they said you were dead. A few days later my brother was buried. I left with my Bible not knowing where I was going. Less than two months later I started my ministry in a town at Shagamu, Ogun State, Nigeria.What informed your relocation from Nigeria to the US?
I was always traveling to America but was more to the Caribbean, Europe and Asia. But most times when I visited the USA I would preach. But in 2015, I had just returned from a tour of Europe and was preparing to go back when God said, don’t go to Europe; go to Maryland and that was it.
How will you describe the practice of the Christian faith in the U.S compare to what obtains in Nigeria?
Nigerians are far more spiritual than Americans. Serving God in America is very challenging. I don’t think it is a problem of the people not wanting to dedicate their lives as some would say; for me it has to do with how the society is structured. In Nigeria you live to work, but in America you work to live. This impacts the people’s lives so much that they work round the clock and it affects their relationship with God.
Share with us the perception of Nigerian preachers in the US
Nigerian Preachers are about the best in the world. When Nigerians are truly committed in what they do, they tend to stand out. Here in America, Nigerian pastors are greatly respected because most of the thriving churches which have connection with Africa are about 95% of Nigerian origin.
What are some of the challenges of Nigerian running a church in the US?
Nigerians are naturally built to survive anywhere. But it is a common knowledge that once you get into a new society, the biggest challenge is integration. But for a true man of God, if you have God and you are sent by him, he makes a way so that, even though it is challenging, you always come out with a testimony.
Share with us some of the impact of your ministry in the U.S?
By God’s grace there has been great impact made. I have trained very seasoned ministers and church leaders both here in America and outside. We have had so many testimonies of salvation, deliverance from all kinds of ailments and incurable diseases like cancer, brain tumour, numerous barren women having children, blind receiving sight, lame walking and just too many to enumerate here.
Who are those you look up as your role models or mentors in ministry?
Presently, I don’t think I have any role model. However, I still hold Pastor Kumuyi in high regard. Charles Haddon Spurgeon is my mentor. That may sound strange as he died since January 31, 1892. I pattern my ministry after him and read lot of his literatures.
What else do you do in the US apart from ministry?
I am a full-time preacher of the gospel but, I am also a seasoned writer. I have published some books. I generate money from those books and other businesses.
Can we have a look at your family; talking about your wife and children
I am married with nine beautiful children who are the love of my life. I love them so much and they coupled with the Ministry are the essence of my existence.