Archbishop John Osa-Oni is the Founder and President of Vineyard Christian Ministries (VCM) and also the Deputy National President (South West) of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN). The highly revered gospel preacher shares his views on Church leadership succession and also addresses some other salient issues in the below interview with Christian Benefits magazine. Excerpts.
Sir, in your previous interview with Christian Benefits magazine, you said you are a product of grace. Please tell us the place of grace in the life of a believer?
The Bible says by grace are ye saved. Everyone that is known today, it is by grace. That is why I always say to God; don’t let me lose the place of grace in my life.
What is the exact mandate of your commission?
The mandate is to get people out of poverty; bringing them to the standard of Christian virtue. There is no message I preach without ending in prosperity. I’m called to raise people of destiny.
Please give us the picture of the early days of Vineyard Christian Ministries?
By the grace of God, last month April 23, 2021 Vineyard Christian Ministries clocked 34 years old. I started Vineyard Christian Ministries without having one naira in an uncompleted building in Mushin. My wife then worked at John Holts. Before she returned from office, I would be the only one praying alone. Most people on Owo Street would look at me and say, “Omo yi ti ya were. Ohun nikan lo n da gbadura. Ohun nikan lo ndajo” (This boy has gone berserk. He is praying, singing and dancing all alone.) But not too long their children began to join a mad man and their lives began to change. When God gives you a calling he will back you up.
What role was your wife playing in those early days of your ministry?
She was doing her office work. She believes that she is to stand by me. And she has been fantastically doing that from the inception of the ministry still date.
Tell us how you arrived at the name Vineyard Christian Ministries?
I stumbled on the name in the book of Mathew 201:21 during my 40 days prayer and fasting before I went into the ministry.
Were there conflicts in communicating the vision of the ministry to your wife for her to believe in what God has called you to do?
My wife never had doubt about what I’m doing from day one. The only difficult time was before we got married. When I proposed marriage to her, she never dreamt of marring a pastor. I was then an associate Pastor in Christ Chapel Int’l. It took us a long while before she could say yes. Eventually when we got married she has been giving her unreserved commitment to the ministry. She has been there.
Is there any structure on the grounds that will sustain this commission (Vineyard Christian Ministries) even long after your exit from the scene?
Oh yes, there is! The structure in Vineyard Christian Ministries is very unique. I’m the Presiding Archbishop, followed by a set of bishops and pastors in hierarchy.
Is your biological son in the hierarchy of your possible successors?
My son is very committed as a pastor in the ministry. But he has to go through the ranks and file. There is a process. He must go through the process.
But today most Pentecostal church founders build their churches round their family members positioning either their wife or children as their successor.
It’s a matter of time such churches will soon be extinguished. I covet Vineyard to be like Anglican, Methodist, Baptist, Foursquare and The Assemblies of God that are still going strong several years after the exit of their founders. Pastor E.A Adeboye wouldn’t have had the chance of heading the Redeemed Christian Church of God and blossoming if the church founder, the late Rev. Josiah Akindayomi had built the church round his family members. Pastor Adeboye is not a member of the family of Pa Akindayomi, the founder of the Redeemed. It is a big error to make our wife or children our successor. Church organization is not a family business.
But your late mentor, Archbishop Benson Idahosa, the founder of the Church of God Mission was succeeded by his wife, Archbishop Margret Idahosa.
At the time the Rt. Rev. Archbishop Benson Idahosa transited there was no better choice than Mama Margaret Idahosa, his wife, as his successor. If Bishop Joseph Ojo had succeeded him, as some people suggested, it would have been seen as a tribal thing. They had some meetings in January 1998 that were very rough. In each of those meetings, the Archbishop was communicating with me. So, the level at the time was not conducive for any other person to take over than his wife. It is now what happens after Mama Idahosa leaves the scene that will determine what becomes of the Church of God Mission. And I pray that they won’t make mistake.
What is the spread of Vineyard Christian Ministries in terms of branches?
We have spread across some states in Nigeria. Besides Nigeria, we have some ministries that are affiliated with us both in America and England.
You’ve been able to sustain your commission scandal-free. What is the secret?
The secret is stay in your calling.