WOMEN CAN WEAR TROUSERS, BUT DECENTLY â€“ PASTOR ITODO
Pastor Ifeoma is the General Overseer of Arch Evangelical International Ministry Nigeria, with a branch in Ghana. Her love and obedience to God made her to abandon her banking career and obeyed God's word to use her in a special way. Her love for God made her to abandon her career to take care of the underprivileged. It was not easy to abandon her career but she stood firm. Today, she is fulfilled that God is using to put smile on the faces of the needy. Ifeoma hails from Mbano, Imo State, and a graduate of Accountancy. In this interview, she revealed how the ministry came into existence and other issues.
How was the ministry founded?
When I got born again in my second year in the university, I didn't know God was going to call me into the ministry. I wanted to have a career in banking but suddenly, this vision about God's work started coming. When it became consistent, I prayed and it happened that the Lord was calling me into full-time ministry. So, I had to go to a Bible school in the year 2000 at Army Training Centre, Lagos. After that, I wanted to be one of the pastors in the Redeemed Evangelical Mission (TREM) because that was my root. That was where I got born again and married. The Lord knowing what He wanted me to do didn't allow me to become a pastor there. He removed the favour I had with the bishop and his wife and even the board of trustees.
I was one of the people that see to the welfare of all the pastors that comes to the church when there is a programme especially when they have kingdom Life World Conference. With that background, I didn't feel I would have a problem becoming a pastor in the church. But God wanted me to pioneer a work and asked me to go after a vision He gave me. In that vision, even the bishop asked me to sign a list of names and I objected. He persuaded me to sign it because I was going to lead the people. After the vision, I prayed and He led me to start the ministry in the year 2002. We started by caring for 10 widows at Christmas and Easter times. Later, we went into some other things.
Before you got born again, what was your life like?
It was like every other young person. I was religious because of the background I came from. My parents were much disciplined that they didn't give us the free hand to do whatever we wanted. I was doing what I felt I should do. The only thing I did then was that I had a friendship which was normal to young people.
You got born again in 1990 and in 2002, you started the ministry. What were you doing from 1990 to 2002?
I was in school. After school, I went to do my youth service. Then I started working in the bank. I worked with Pacific Merchant and Lead Merchant Bank, respectively.
Why did you resign from the bank?
That was the work. The Lord closed the door because He wanted me to do His work?
Give me a specific scenario that convinced you that you were called?
I was seeing myself pastoring a crowd, praying for children and women. Apart from that, God gave me a scripture on the day of my graduation. I just heard it that no man takes the honour upon himself except those that are called. That was the confirmation I had to prove that the Lord was calling me into full-time ministry.
How were you able to fund it?
I had some people that I shared the vision with and they were my bosses in the office. I shared the vision with about two or three of them. First of all, to confirm my calling, I had three scholarships during my training in the Bible school. The people I shared the vision with, gave me some money to assist me and I call them my covenant partners.
Church has become a family business, what is your opinion?
It is not automatic that you are called once your spouse is called. But God in His own arrangement could allow husband and wife to be in the ministry. For instance, I cannot call my husband to ministry because he is not called. It is not hundred per cent correct.
What is your message to the women you gather?
First of all, it is to win them for Christ because God said we should go into all nations and make disciples. We call them back to God and then minister to their various needs. Our focus is to prepare them for the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
What other things do you do?
We give scholarships to those that cannot pay fees for their children. Those that need food and clothing we give them too. We also support other ministries. For instance, we have one leper colony in Benin that we support. There is another ministry at Alaba that is into interior ministry. They go to where people cannot go. So, if we cannot go, we support them by giving them financial help and clothing.
How does your husband feel seeing you move about?
Actually, before taking off, I have to seek his consent. I have to tell him that this is what the Lord wants. He also knows that the ministry is a moving thing and not a sitting one. Even then, I never knew God was going to take me farther than Nigeria. All the same, he has been so supportive. When I am not there, he manages the home. He gives me both moral and financial support.
Why did you choose Ghana?
I was going from Nigeria to Accra for conference. Thereafter, I had a burden after ministering in a church there. Apart from that, ministers over there were asking me to come over there. Also through my book, the Favoured Woman, women that read it wanted to come because they wanted to see me. Some of them had marital and financial problems. Some were even single mothers and those were the kind of people the Lord wants me to affect. I came back and prayed after two years and God in His mercy, orchestrated something that I found myself going to Ghana.
How do your parents feel now?
Unfortunately, I lost my dad last year. My mother feels great. Each time she sees me minister or she hears something about me, she feels good. We were more of females than male. She had challenges and problems with having more female children than male. So, when she sees where God is taking us, she feels happy.
Why do Christians move from church?
People are not seeking God. If you are in a church where the word of God is preached, you can be saved. You can get whatever you want. But people are seeking things and not God. They want miracles because they don't have a strong foundation.
Is it right for women to put on trousers?
It is in two ways. In the early days of the Bible, people were not wearing trousers. It came through civilization. Even our Christ wore robe. But what I don't like is wearing it to the church. And if you must wear it, you must cover properly in order not to be a stumbling block to our brothers because the Bible says that we have weak people. That is why people are preaching against it because some wear it and they flaunt their bodies. Some even wear skimpy tops. My opinion is that if you must wear, you must cover properly. I know that whether you wear or not, it is not going to make you go to heaven. And one should watch out for motives behind our actions.
Some female pastors wear the best hats, shoes and dresses, while the members wear rags. What is your take on that?
I don't believe in a church that does not have a welfare package for its members. For those who don't care about their members, yet they wear expensive things and live expensive lives, it is not good. If your member has a problem and he or she sees you putting on what half of her problem could be solved with, the person may not be happy. In my opinion, it is not good. Even though the Bible says we should dress moderately, it also says that we should be our brother's keeper and we should care for one another.
Is it right for Christians to go into politics?
It is good for Christians to go into politics if we need a change. Of course, for the change to come, the right people must be in place. Politicians are like the king makers in the Bible. We have the priests and the kings seek counsel from the priests. So, we must have Christians who would correct some things that have gone wrong. I am not talking about religious people. I mean those that are spirit-filled and those who live by the Word of God.
When you left TREM, how did the bishop feel?
No father would like his daughter to leave, but because he is a man of God who hears from God, and who believes in what He can do, he had no option but to release me to go. There is no problem. If I don't have a place I am ministering on Sundays, I still go there to worship. He prayed for me before I left.
Aside ministry, what else do you do?
I am an author. I have written books. My first book was Favoured Woman and the second though yet to be in print is Abraham's Greatness. God has elevated me in the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria. I used to be the Vice Chairman of Isolo zone. Recently, I became the Assistant Welfare, Provincial level. I am also in the women wing of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN). I am the Second Vice Chairman of Lagos State.