Bishop Bank Jefferson, Presiding Bishop of Mercy Tabernacle, Lagos, and the Pioneer of Living Faith Church (a.k.a Winners Chapel) in Lagos, shares with Christian Benefits in the below interview his conversion to Islam to escape poverty and the early years of Living Faith Church; Bishop David Oyedepo’s church in Lagos. Excerpts
Please, can we meet you sir?
I’m Bishop Bankole Jefferson, Presiding Bishop, Mercy Tabernacle, Ogba, Lagos.
Briefly share with us about your background
I came from a humble royal family background in Kogi State. I grew up as a poor farm boy. I was born into Christ Apostolic Church (C.A.C) after the now late Apostle Ayodele Babalola prophesied to my mother, having had five miscarriages. When she had the sixth pregnancy Apostle Babalola prophesied that she would deliver the child and he would become a prophet to nations. This is the reason I was christened Samuel as a child of prophecy.
How was your growing up like in a Christian home of Christ Apostolic Church?
I tasted poverty growing up. My parents couldn’t make ends meet. I attributed the poverty life to religion because most of the pastors around us were very poor. I didn’t want to get identified with such a religious life of poverty, so I deliberately converted to Islam, changed my name, visited Mecca times and practiced Islam until Jesus saved me from my journey to perdition and restored me unto Himself.
Please, share with us how Jesus saved you from your journey to perdition
I had my rebirth encounter in the course of my visiting Bishop David Oyedepo’s Living Faith Church Kaduna just to chase the ladies in their choir. At that time, Living Faith Church was 52 members. I was the 53rd member after my conversion in that church. My conversion at Living Faith Church Kaduna happened when the bishop made an altar call after his sermon and I could not resist the call. I came out, gave my live to Jesus Christ, instantly filled with the power of the Holy Ghost and I joined the ministry from that day. Within seven months the bishop made me a pastor in Living Faith Church Kaduna. He later sent me to Lagos to plant Living Faith Church. My new birth at Living Faith Church Kaduna was dramatic and dynamic.
As its pioneer, tell us about the early years of Living Faith Church Lagos
I singularly started Living Faith Church in Lagos. I came to Lagos specifically for that work. And to God be the glory, within months the work was so explosive that the bishop could not believe what he saw. I continued as the pioneer pastor of Living Faith Church Lagos until God told me to go start a new work.
How easy was it leaving Living Faith Church to start a new ministry?
I love Bishop David Oyedepo passionately. I love and served Living Faith Church selflessly. I had no reason to want to leave the church, but for God’s instruction that I should leave. There was no disturbance of any kind. I was growing in the Lord. So, why should God tell me to leave to start a new work? It was a tough moment for me! But then, some events and the calling kept unfolding. I confided in some men of God and they guided me. One of them was Pastor Tunde Bakare. He gave me his house at the Redemption camp to go wait upon the Lord for clarity. I waited upon the Lord there and received the clarity of what the Lord was leading me to do. After this, I informed the bishop what the Lord was leading me to do with a new work. He said it’s okay, that it is on the foundations of some other ministries that he also stands. And he gave his blessings.
In many cases, lots of pastors usually frown at their subordinates; particularly the productive ones leaving their ministries to go start their own. How was your own case with Bishop David Oyedepo?
My own case was miraculous! You have to be humble when leaving a ministry to start your own. You have to approach it with all knowledge and understanding. When I left Living Faith Church about six other pastors in the church took over from me. After my resignation from the church I still stayed there six months putting some people through how to run Living Faith Church New Era Road, Ipaja, Lagos the way I was running it. By the grace of God, I founded and got virtually everything at Living Faith Church New Era Road, Ipaja, Lagos, including the church land. I did 70 days fasting to be able to inform the bishop this is where the Lord is leading me. And truly he had no doubt because a lot of occurrences had been happening; pointing to one clear fact that this man has the grace of God upon him. The bishop told me that I should go but should I ever find it difficult in the ministry, I should return home. But I have burned the bridges.
How was it convenient leaving your comfort zone to start a new work?
I left my comfort zone with crude faith to start the new work. Of course there were sufferings and hardship starting the new work. My monthly salary at Living Faith Church was N285 (Two hundred and eighty-five naira). But because I was doing great exploits in Lagos and it was the first work of the church that blew up, the bishop was so happy and he increased my salary from N285 to N400. But I never collected a dime from the salary up till today because God was blessing me from other sources. Every month they informed me my salary was ready and they kept it in the church treasury since I was not collecting it. I trained myself to live by faith and my heavens opened!