Dr. Laide Odusote, a University of Lagos (UNILAG) graduate of medicine, reveals how he became restless teaching grace and legalism mix until the Lord opened him up fully to the message of grace and transformed him to a balanced Christian and teacher of the gospel. In this interview with Christian Benefits on his salvation encounter, the Odogbolu, Ogun state-born Senior Pastor of Integrity Worship Centre, Shagamu, Ogun state, shares with the magazine his upbringing from a polygamous Islamic family of about 30 members to become a medical doctor and a zealous preacher of Jesus Christ right from his days in the medical school. Excerpts.
Please, can we meet you sir?
I am Dr. Olaide Odusote, the Senior Pastor of Integrity Worship Centre, Shagamu, Ogun state.
Briefly, share with us about your background, including your salvation encounter
I was raised in Ijebu Ode from a polygamous family of about 30 members. I grew up a Muslim but not devoted. I attended an Islamic primary school and Odogbolu Grammar school. I had to re-take the WAEC examinations before I got admission into the University of Lagos to study medicine in 1986. My father was interested in the progress of his children and wanted us all to be educated although some didn’t follow that path. I received Christ in 1988 in my second year in the medical school. I had always been preached to, but I never budged until I attended a particular meeting where I eventually received Jesus. I was to attend this particular meeting with some of my friends but when I got there I discovered I was the only one that came. It was an intercession meeting with Rev. Francis Wale Oke as the preacher. No altar call was made but I told the person beside me I wanted to become a Christian. That marked the beginning of the change in my life.
How will you describe your joy of salvation when you received Christ?
When I received Christ, I didn’t know that something had happened to my life until I got back home, and noticed I couldn’t do some of the things I used to do before then. I didn’t find joy in doing those things anymore. I began to read the Bible. At a point, I went back to the brother that led me to Christ to ask him what he did to me. I became so zealous that I almost lost interest in my medical career pursuit.
Tell us about your lifestyle before you received Christ, and the dramatic changes that occurred in your life after you received Him?
Before I received Christ, I lived an average lifestyle. I was deeply interested in my academics. My aspiration was to become a surgeon. I was a regular student with a girlfriend. I attended parties. Although, I was rascally when I was in the secondary school, a lot of the things I did were curtailed when I got to the university. Besides, the course I was auditing consumed a lot of time. When I received Christ, I started reading the Bible. I also used my money to get some Christian books. I started evangelizing. My course mates and family members knew that something had changed about me. I hardly went home during the break because I wanted to have time alone to read and pray. We had a jogging field then where I used to pray. I used to pray loud because that was the only way I thought I could convince people that I was spiritual. I was also active in the fellowship; serving in different departments. Serving God became the primary objective of my life. Looking back, I think I would love to do things better because I was not able to balance a lot of things as regards my medical career.
How long have you been walking with the Lord now; and how will you describe your walk with Him over the years?
I have been walking with the Lord for 35 years this year. After I received Christ, my transformation became very vivid after about three months. I spent up to 3-4 hours in Bible study; memorizing scriptures and reading Christian books. I have been zealous for the Lord since I gave my life to him in the medical school.
As a young believer, who were those you looked up to as your role models in the Christian faith?
Kenneth Hagin had so much impact on campuses then and I benefited from it. I also read books of Mike Murdock, Kenneth Copeland, Watchman Nee and AW Toza. Although we were very zealous, the knowledge wasn’t sound enough. Some Nigerian pastors like Rev. Wale Oke, Bishop Oyedepo, Pastor Adeboye, Pastor Kumuyi and Rev. Ayolowo also had impact on me but with lots of legalism. We didn’t learn so much of grace-powered Christian living and Christocentricism. At a point, I knew Christ was not the centre of the messages.
Again, as a young believer what were the Christian activities or programmes you participated in that boosted your steady growth in the Christian faith?
I have always loved God. I was sold out to Him. My personal evangelism really started in 1990 when I used to preach in buses. There were times I preached even when I had examinations and I was not bothered. When I failed one of my first examinations my brother was very mad with me, but it never stopped me. I also wrote tracts. I went for retreats and attended different programmes. I later joined a church called Holy Ghost Assembly. I was completely sold out but made a lot of mistakes.
Now, share with us how you eventually received the call to ministry?
My call to ministry began in the medical school when I sensed I wouldn’t go far in medicine. My desire to be a surgeon began to wane. I joined Holy Ghost Assembly pastored by Rev. Ayolowo. I served in various capacities. It was not long before the pastor noticed how dedicated I was to service. When I came to do my house job at Shagamu in 1993/1994, we opened another branch of Holy Ghost Assembly. Eventually, I was made the pastor. I knew I was called though I didn’t have a vivid encounter. I knew I was called to be a pastor and a teacher. In 1997, I was on a long fast and had an encounter with the Lord as to the next phase of my life. I was going to start a different work. At the initial stage, my assembly was called the Integrity Chapel. When we wanted to do the C.A.C registration, Chapel was not available. That was how it was changed to Integrity Worship Centre.
What is the mandate or the main thrust of Integrity Worship Centre?
Initially, my teachings were grace and legalism mix until 2012 when I became deeply restless. I wasn’t satisfied being an average servant of God in teaching. I wanted more, and I asked for God’s help. In January 2013, the Lord spoke to my heart. He told me to learn about grace. After I listened to Joseph Price, my world opened up and I started reading about grace in the Bible. Two months later I discovered that grace is the life and ministry of Christ. I began to preach the message of grace; the message of Christ. My message changed. My life changed. Some people thought I was teaching against the conventional doctrines. So, the main thrust of my ministry is preaching Christ.
What are the gifts God endowed you for this mandate?
God has given me the gifts of teaching, preaching and motivation.
Tell us some of your church programmes aimed at fulfilling this mandate
We have routine Sunday programme, some discipleship programmes for young people and adults and some other programmes. I am also involved in motivational teachings. We also communicate the word in written form. I also do itinerant teachings.
Please, share with us some testimonies from these programmes.
My personal testimony is the joy from transformed lives. From feed backs, the testimonies have been that I preach as one with authority that changes the lives of people. I’m also graced for effective leadership in the body of Christ.
Which are the ministries you served before this present work, and the impact of each of them in your rise and growth in the ministry?
I served in my campus fellowship; Christian Fellowship Group (CFG) in the University of Lagos. When I left, I served extensively in Holy Ghost Assembly (Divine Life Ministries) . I also did some work with Hagar Institute of Advanced Leadership. I also served with Christ Life Church.
Finally, sir, can we have a look at your lovely family; talking about your beautiful wife and adorable children?
I am married to Wunmi Odusote since 1993. We have three children; Sandra, David and Sharon. While Sandra and David are graduates, Sharon is on her way into the university. I will simply describe them as God-chasers. They have been trained to know that all they have belong to the Master. The family has not been without challenges but we have been able to resolve things and forge ahead. My wife has been a very supportive woman; very helpful and understanding. Looking back, I would have loved to have done better with her.