Pastor Sunday Godwin Ashe is one pastor in Foursquare Gospel Church who is completely sold out for soul winning. A former son of an herbalist and notorious street fighter at Oshodi, Lagos; Sunday Ashe, now the Alimosho zonal headquarters Pastor of Foursquare Gospel Church, Lagos, recently launched three books aimed at planting more Foursquare churches in the Alimosho zone. In this interview with Christian Benefits on his Rebirth Encounter, the amiable preacher from Delta state shares his transition from a notorious street brawler to a preacher of the gospel, and also explains the process of genuine salvation encounter. Excerpts.
Please, let us meet you sir
My name is Sunday Godwin Ashe, Alimosho zonal headquarters Pastor of Foursquare Gospel Church, Lagos.
Recently, you launched three books. Please, tell us what the books are about.
The three books were launched for church planting in the Alimosho zone of Foursquare Gospel Church in line with the conviction of our general overseer, Rev. Dr. Sam Aboyeji, that church planting is one of the best ways of reaching out to souls. To achieve this purpose of planting more churches for Foursquare in the Alimosho zone, I wrote, published and launched the three book titles: Needed in the City, tied down in the Village, Reversing the Irreversible & Breaking the Curse in the Blood as fund-raisers for planting of more Foursquare churches in our zone.
Briefly, tell us about this particular book title, Breaking the Curse in the Blood.
Breaking the Curse in the Blood is about the effects of family bloodline. I picked the book title from the Bible story of Abraham and the bareness in his family lineage. I discovered this started from his father, Terah. Also, I discovered that in the same family the elder ones always served the younger ones. So, this particular book is about dealing with the aberrations and curses in family blood lineages, and how Jesus through his death redeems us, particularly those who believe in him, from the curses and aberrations connected to their family lineages. The Bible says as many as receive him he gives them power. No matter the family lineage you came from, once you accept Jesus Chris your spiritual lineage will subdue your family blood lineage. Another of the book title, Reversing the Irreversible, reveals how the power of God can reverse cases that humans conclude are irreversible. The launch of these three books together was awesome. They are my best book launch so far!Can we have have a look at your background, including your salvation encounter?
I am from Delta state, and one of my father’s only two sons. My elder brother and I never attended any church until we received Christ because our father was an herbalist, and also worked as a security man at NEPA. People visited him at home to consult his idols. Everyone in my family lineage has their personal idols they worship and serve. Aside being a son of an herbalist I was a notorious street boy in Oshodi where we grew up. Most parents in the neighbourhood always warned their children not to mingle with me because I often caused troubles both at home and in the school. At age 9, I had started smoking like my father who was a chain smoker. We had ogogoro roots at the backyard of our house in Oshodi. Every morning we drank ogogoro (local gin) to worship idols. When I was in form two between 13-15 years old I had started having girlfriends.
How did you later come to accept Christ from this kind of background?
As a Deltan I intended to be a Muslim until I felt a vacuum in my life. Suddenly, I became unhappy with the kind of life I was living and needed a change. I realized something was inappropriate with me worshiping idols. At some points, I started selling meat at Bolade Oshodi where 90% the meat sellers were Muslims. So, I started going to mosque and learning Muslim prayers. My parents became confused of my life when I was terribly sick for years that I almost had hunchback. My elder brother had become a Christian at the age of 15 at a Deeper Life Church crusade in 1985. I joined a Catholic church in my school looking for peace. I carried weapons in my bag to school to confront any intimidation. Foursquare Gospel church also held evening services, which I occasionally attended just to see my girlfriends. But on one particular day, I visited a friend at this particular Foursquare and the Sunday school teacher told me I missed Sunday school in the morning, and encouraged me to attend the evening service. At the evening service, the preacher preached from John 10:1-4 about the mansions in heaven. He said those who are not born again will have their mansions in hell. After his message, that preacher made altar call for those who want to be born again. I came out and I gave my life to Jesus in that Foursquare Gospel Church on that particular evening of May 25, 1986.
How will you describe your joy of salvation on that particular day you accepted Christ?
I felt a burden lifted off me. I felt in my heart the peace and joy that I had been looking for. If I am asked to write the best day in my life it will be that day I accepted Christ. The joy that filled my heart on that day I accepted him was indescribable. When I left the church on that day I felt my life moving and my legs floating.
As someone who was deeply rooted in the world before your salvation, how did you disengage yourself from your sinful old friends and acquaintances?
Shortly after receiving Christ in my life I started preaching him (Christ) to other people. This was so real that my friends and acquitances saw the great transformation in my life that I am now a charged person. On that day I sat with some of my friends excitedly and told them that I am now born again and they laughed at me.
Were there some sinful habits you that struggled with after accepting Christ?
The only thing I struggled with was anger. I didn’t struggle with disengaging from my bad friends. I didn’t struggle with disengaging from my girlfriends. But I struggled with anger. That was the only challenge I had after my rebirth encounter until God delivered me after a particular boy in my class insulted me. I moved to beat the hell out of him, suddenly, I heard a voice deep in my heart; you are now born and I began crying.
What was your favourite Bible book or verse as a young believer?
The Book of John was my favorite in the Bible. I carried my Bible everywhere as a young believer. The Book of John particularly was my daily-reading companion.
Also, as a young believer, who were those you looked up to as your role models in the Christian faith?
I looked up to my Sunday school teacher, and also my father in the Lord, Prophet Mike Adewole, who groomed me spiritually. He taught me the act of fasting and prayer, the act of reading the Bible and the act of evangelism. He practically pushed me to ministry. These two great men of God built my foundation in Christ.
Did you suffer any form of persecution for receiving Christ in your life?
I won’t say I suffered any sort of persecution for receiving Christ but my father was averse to my brother and I always going to church everyday. Sometimes he would carry cutlass waiting for us at the door when we stayed late in the church. But by the time he saw our new lifestyle, especially me, he was confused and allowed us serve the Lord. Before my rebirth, whenever my father wanted to consult his idols, he would first consult me like a priest because I wanted to take over from him until Christ saved me.
From your personal salvation (rebirth) experience , what does it mean to be born again?
To be born again means to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and personal saviour, and repent from sinning. You can’t be born again by good works. You can only be born again by grace through faith. You can’t be born again and not do good works. So, you can’t separate the two (grace and good works). If there are no evidence of positive changes in your life after you claimed you are born again your salvation is incomplete.
How will you compare being born again today to when you got born again in 1986?
There is a wide and big difference. Back then when you say you are born again everyone will feel it. Today, I see lots of people claiming they are born again but no evidence of positive changes in their lives and characters. We have watered down both the motives and process of being born again in this generation. We have turned it to a mere confession. There are no longer deliberate and planned follow ups on people that have been led to Christ. Genuine discipleship is long dead in many churches today. The flamboyant lifestyle of lots of pastors today makes unbelievers dismiss the claims of being born again, or called to ministry. To them any claims of being born again or called to ministry is a clever ruse of making money from people for the personal well beings of the pastor and his family. Today, there are rarely genuine encounters with Christ. Any encounter that does not manifest in transformation is a ruse. No transformation, no regeneration! Today, it’s “come the way you are,” leading many to repentance without conversion. Come the way you and remain the way you are, is not born again. Born again is total conversion and complete transformation.