Nigeria’s ace gospel drama and film evangelist, missionary and national coordinator, Concerned Christian Fellowship (CCF), Evang. Folaranmi Zacheaus Adewole says drama and film evangelism is the best way of bringing people to the kingdom of God, pointing that most people hardly forget the scenes they watched in films even 10 years after unlike the sermons they heard from the pulpit. In this interview with Christian Benefits, Folahami shares his 32 years experience in film and drama evangelism, especially at burial ceremonies and idol worshiping rural communities, starting from his home town of Otu in Itesiwaju local government area headquarters of Oyo state. Excerpts.
Please, can we meet you sir?
My name is Folaranmi Zacheaus Adewole. I am a missionary and drama evangelist. I specialized in film show evangelism.
Share with us your background, including your rebirth encounter
I was born in Otu, Itesiwaju Local Government Area headquarters of Oyo state, Nigeria. My parents are Mr. & Mrs. Fagbemi Folaranmi Moses. I gave my life to Jesus in 1986 during a Baptist Students’ Fellowship [BSF] Bible study programme at the First Baptist Church Otu which was anchored by a Youth Corps member. That was the year I finished secondary school, although it was not easy that time because of persecution from the leaders and elders of the Church which I attended then. They believed that the corps members were teaching us wrong doctrine different from the Baptist Church doctrine like Holy Spirit baptism, speaking in tongues, praying aloud e.t.c. But we thank God today all these teachings have become a part of our doctrine.
How long have you been walking with the Lord, and share with us your experience walking with Him over the years?
Since I gave my life to Jesus in 1986, walking with God has been part of my lifestyle. In 1992 Otu Concerned Christian Fellowship was established and the group joined others to propagate the gospels in Otu and its environs. Also, I have been in the film evangelical ministry- showing Christian films in mission fields, villages, schools, churches and burial programmes. Film evangelism is one best way to bring people to the kingdom of God. You don’t need to do much publicity for people to watch film. One needs to look for a place/ location where people are passing, put on your projector and you will see people gather to watch the film after which you make an invitation for people to receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour. There is the need to point out that people don’t forget the message in films unlike in sermons. The film people watched 10 years ago, if you ask them today they can still remember unlike a sermon message they listen to today they may not remember the following day. I just want to encourage our churches to include film shows in their programme of activities. My experience was and is awesome as God raised me to become who I am today. I never believed I could become anything in life. Walking with God (a) prevented me from joining wrong company that should have ruined my life and destiny. (b). It helps me to know the will of God in various areas of my life which has prevented me from making mistakes that could have truncated or destroy God’s plan for my life. (c) It connected me to great people in the Kingdom of God. This therefore enables me to associate with godly people. To God be the glory for giving me the grace to be among His servants in the Kingdom business.
Tell us about the vision of Otu Concerned Christian Fellowship?
Otu Concerned Christian Fellowship is not without visions guiding her operations. Among the visions of the fellowship are: The need to evangelise Otu and her immediate environs. Idolatry is deeply rooted in the town and in here neighbouring towns and villages at the time the vision was cast and the need to possess the lands became a burden for the concerned brethren, The youths in the land are embracing and greatly involved in it so the need to snatch theses youths from the gross darkness necessitates the vision- that Otu must be possessed for the Lord Jesus Christ. This is to be achieved through a set of mission activities ranging from intensive door to door evangelism to film show programmes with the intention to get to the heart of the so-called youths.
Evang. Folaranmi Zacheaus Adewole, National Coordinator, Concerned Christian Fellowship (CCF)
Since when has the fellowship been in existence, and what are its impacts over the years?
Otu Concerned Christian Fellowship has her history traced back to the Baptist Students Fellowship of the First Baptist Church, Otu. The BSF of the said Church has been in existence for many years. It was from the group that the revelation came that its tentacles should extend beyond the four walls of the First Baptist Church, Otu as there were some other students and youths in the town especially in other Churches in the town. The leadership of the Students put heads together and called for a meeting of some elderly brethren. The meeting came up on 30th December, 1991. There and then, the name Otu Concerned Christian Fellowship was unanimously agreed on with the intention to penetrate to every youth in other Churches. Generally speaking, the CCF came into being in the year 1991 and her activities began in 1992 with the first programme in April where all members were challenged on the need to stand firm in the Lord and also to be committed to the Lord’s Great Commission with the intention of winning other youths for Christ and the second programme between 26 and 31st December 1992 where we had the first Open – Air- crusade at Otu Motor Park. The impacts of the Fellowship since her inception include: Many souls have been brought to the fold of Christ and evidences abound in the town and in her neighbouring towns. Many youths have had their ways of lives changed positively including the unbelievers in the towns. On several occasions there have been accusations from the Muslims parents that we are the ones teaching their children to behave contrary to the trainings they have received from homes as Muslims.Some social infrastructures have come to the town as a result of the special programmes the Fellowship has carried out. Some matured ministers of God have been brought to the town and have given prophesies which have come to fulfillment in our very time.
What are the regular programmes of the fellowship?
Among the regular programs are: A yearly open- air- crusade in the town- Otu, open-air- crusade in her neighbouring towns/villages, Film show evangelism and door-to-door witnessing, medical evangelism in affiliation with medical personnel, rural village evangelism with film show programmes, camping programme for members in and outside the town, chain prayers among members in their different Locations. Vigil programmes have been carried out in some of our churches at home and have been impactful.
Over the years, the fellowship organises crusade in rural communities. What are the challenges in organising crusades in rural communities like Otu as a fellowship?
Among the challenges being faced with are: Timing Factor- Most dwellers are farmers and there is the need to consider their activities. Some prefer festival periods like Christmas as more people troop into the town for the festival. Some churches do fix special programmes around the same period and time. This is to make their members to get themselves attached to their doctrines thinking that we shall snatch them away not remembering that CCF is not a church or a church programme. Funding challenge- It is money consuming. Members do donate according to their abilities. Most times the donated money runs short the expectations so some of the leaders have to bear the burdens. Only a few members use to be available for the crusade as most members live far and must be at their duty posts during the time/ period. Sometimes about 4 or 5 members would be running the programme on behalf of others. To God always be the glory those not in attendance used to contribute positively financially or otherwise. Some do send their transport fare as part of the contributions. Hosting and feeding of the guest ,ministers- The CCF has not gotten her own apartment so the news to check in, in an hotel or in a member’s house or looking for someone who can release his apartment among elderly brothers. Publicity- We do make adequate preparations for this but the problems include pasting of the posters round the town and distributions of handbills to people. We used to commission people for this assignment which sometimes suffer set back especially pasting of the posters. We now devised a means of contracting it out and there has been a remarkable difference. This is so because virtually all members are living outside the town. Public Address Systems- The fellowship procured some gadgets but for irregular maintenance and handling problems we have not been enjoying its service. We are expending a lot on this in order to get the desired result. We go as far as the neighbouring towns to get which engulfs a lot of money coupled with transportation problem. There have been remarkable outputs. One other major problem the CCF has been encountering is the issue of follow-up. Converts have always been handed over to the churches in the town. The pastors or leaders are always assigned to follow them on. Most times these pastors cannot do much as they have their own assignments lined up for them and we are always very careful not to take their members to other Churches as they consider it snatching away of their members. Most of the converts during our programmes do go back for lack of proper monitoring. To God be the glory many of them are doing and faring well in the Lord. Invitation of guest ministers- God has been good to us in this area. We are always careful getting ministers for our crusades. We do go across denominations so that it will not be considered as a denominational programme. All our invited Guests have been delivered even beyond our expectations. All the same, we are always conscious of the different denominations we are ministering to.
The Oniro of Otun at one of the crusades organised by Concerned Christian Fellowship in OtuLady Evang Bisi Adunbarin, guest artist ministering in one of the CCF crusades
How do you work round these challenges to keep the work going over the years?
With our prayers, reliance on God and commitments on our part God has been helping us meeting all these challenges. Members have been contributing their quotas financially according to their abilities which have been encouraging. Some other members have to make extra contributions whenever the CCF runs short of funds, which is very rare. Publicity: We have been contracting the pasting of posters and it has really helped. It is extra money but the impacts have been great. Since we have been going for renting of the public address systems, there has also been good sound system and has been handled by professionals. We have time to do other things other than attending to the systems. Since we have adopted checking- in of our guest speakers into guest houses this has brought tremendous improvement as we have more time to attend to some other assignments like visiting some personalities in the town like the ministers in other to intensify attendance at the crusade time and going out for morning cry and rallies before the day’s programmes start. We have also tried to collect some converts’ phone numbers which help in reaching some of them. We need to work more on this. We have the intention of getting our headquarters at home and get the services of a pastor to take this up and other assignments like coordinating the CCF activities.
How much support does the fellowship receive from churches and individuals in evangelizing Otu among other rural communities for Christ?
To God be the glory for His faithfulness. The Churches and individuals have been supportive to the CCF in many areas apart from finance. Every Church we have ever contacted had given us maximum cooperation. Some of the areas we have enjoyed their supports include: mobilisation for attendance/publicity of the programmes in the churches, release of their auditorium for vigils, seminars and other special meetings, churches have also been making available their generating plant and public address system during church programmes free of charge, the attendance of most of the church leaders in most of our programmes, we do carry our ministers conference/ retreat during our programmes and this has been encouraging. Some are yet to identify with our visions. We have also been using the home based pastors/leaders for our programmes. Kings, chiefs and some of the leaders in the town have been supporting us with their attendance. They always wait till the benediction is said in most of our programmes. In advance they must have taken permission for their absence or lateness. The CCF has enjoyed the support of the police virtually in all of our programmes. We used to inform them of our programmes for proper security to be put in place. At least six (6) officers will be on ground. We used to show our heart of gratitude to them for encouragement. Youths who are not members have been cooperative with regards to arranging and packing of chairs before and after the programmes. Some elderly brethren have at one time or another released their personal property like chairs, benches and apartment for our use. Some have also helped in preparing food for our members that come home for the programmes. Individuals used to give gifts to our Guest Ministers having been blessed by their ministrations.
Cross session of participants at one the crusades organized Concerned Christian Fellowship (CCF)
Cross session of gospel ministers and leaders during a retreat programme in Otu
How receptive are the Otu people to the missions of the fellowship to their community
To God be the glory, there are many people that have been used to the programmes of the Fellowship. Anytime any of the members visits home on personal programmes, visits or any other assignments, such a member will be faced with the question- do you have programme for us and we are not aware? It will take some time to explain to them that there is no programme yet. Some people have known the time of Christmas as our crusade proves and would have rescheduled their personal assignments.
Please, share with us some of the testimonies the fellowship has recorded in its crusade to Otu among other rural communities.
Among the testimonies the CCF has recorded in her crusades: the crusade has won many souls for Christ and has brought lives and enlightenment to many people. Many strongholds have been dislodged and rendered powerless. Some idolatry practices have been erased or have gone into extinction as they have been preached against in most of our crusades. Many people including the youths have been liberated and now can differentiate between light and darkness. The town, Otu became the headquarters of the local government as a part of prophecy fulfillment.
Mission crusade outreach is capital intensive, particularly without a church base support. How do you raise fund the crusades of the Otu Concerned Christian Fellowship since 32 years of its existence?
Funding of the crusade by the CCf has been so fantastic; fantastic in the sense that the fellowship does not always have a regular source of income like other social or formal organisations. By this I mean that we do not always have any money at hand. What we do is that for any of our programme, a programme planning committee is usually constituted whose role is to propose to the fellowship the programme to embark upon in any of her activities, and which has to be towards fulfilling her vision and presenting it to the general body for necessary adjustments and ratification. Upon its ratification, the committee would be asked to complete their work by proposing an estimated amount to be used for the execution of the programme. They are also free to suggest ways of raising the funds. Most of the times, after a proper study of the funds recommended by the committee, the whole house used to make room for some money to be put in form of miscellaneous to cater for any emergencies that may likely arise. Having ratified the proposed amount for the programme, individuals will be making contributions according to their abilities. Those who do not have at the time may have to volunteer to go and be part of the execution team. To God be the glory we have been meeting whatever we propose for our programmes. Faithfulness on the part of every member has been a blessing to the CCF and the individual members. Voluntary donations by members have gone a long way in meeting all our programmes. We are used to it. There are some members that used to minister to the direct needs of the fellowship in kind like provision of fowls and raw food-stuff for the feeding. God has been faithful to the fellowship. Trust is our watchword. We trust our officers too. There is the need to make it known that we don’t normally collect offerings during any of our programmes. This has been our stand since its inception in 1991. On several occasions we were advised to collect but we would not go back on our stand. At the end of any programme we execute there planning committee always give an account of how the released fund is used. The committee has always been given a free hand to execute whatever they deemed necessary to be done on their behalf.
Briefly tell us about your team members doing the work with you over the years, including your lovely wife and her role in the outreach ministry.
The team members have been fantastic. I can, without mincing word, say that every team member is born again. Everyone has the mind of Christ and this has really helped to sustain the vision of the fellowship. Most of members are students; they are still schooling in their chosen areas of life endeavours. As they need money for their schooling, they are still faithful in their contributions towards sustaining the visions of the fellowship. I can, with a sincere heart, say that about 90% of the CCF members have become pastors in different denominations. Some are still in the seminaries about to graduate. Most of our female members got married to ministers of God in different denominations. This has been a credit to the fellowship. It is truly a fellowship of pastors. Every member understands the vision of the fellowship and continues to work towards sustaining it. There was a time, some years ago that some people suggested that we change it to ministry, the idea was unanimously dropped as it was re-emphasised that it remains a fellowship as conceived in 1991 by the foundation members. Every member is enjoying the faithfulness of God in their endeavours and has been recording great impacts in their different places of worship. The testimonies of the Lord have been with every member. My wife also plays significant roles in the outreach ministry of the CCF. She is a full member of the fellowship. She cooperates and contributes positively to the mission programmes. Financially she doesn’t stay behind. She occasionally attends the outreach programmes as work allows her. Sometimes she coordinates and supervises the feeding aspect of the programmes. She is also in the counseling unit of the fellowship. She uses to advise all the wives of the members and all the sisters to stand firm in the Lord. She is a real mother and always wishes and supports me fully in all my efforts in coordinating the affairs of the CCF.
Lastly please share with us your experience as an apostle in the market place
As an apostle in the market place, it has been a great challenge. It is a place where one’s faith is put to real test. One’s genuineness as a born again is established. One should smell out Christ to the people at the market place because it is a meeting point for both good and bad people- believers and non- believers. One needs to exhibit Christ characters in other to prove to the world that one is a real believer who is ready to serve as light and salt of the world. One should shun every form of worldliness. As an apostle one is an ambassador for Christ.
Thank you for your audience
Thank you very much.