Popular Yoruba musician and founder of Decross Gospel Mission, Ebenezer Obey-Fabiyi, has revealed the roles two prominent Christian leaders played in his call to ministry many years ago.
He said it was the late Archbishop Benson Idahosa of the Church of God Mission International and Pastor Enoch Adeboye of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RGGC) that gave him fatherly advice on the steps to take after he received the call.
Evangelists Obey, 77, spoke while featuring on “The Fathers.” a programme on Dove Television. The programme was anchored by Dele Oke.
The clergyman, who started playing music at about 20 years of age, was called to ministry in the early 90s. He was ordained in 1992 (on his 50th birthday) by Archbishop Idahosa after which he established Decross Gospel Mission with headquarters in Lagos Nigeria in 1993.
According to Obey, “When the call came Archbishop Idahosa sent for me in Benin and I went. He didn’t know anything about… But he told me that the Lord spoke to him that He would want me to end my life in the ministry.
“He first of all asked me – do you know Moses? I thought he was talking about another Moses. I said I don’t know and he said Moses in the Bible. I said I know. He said Moses is mentioned everyday throughout the world. He said his name will continue to be there because he had a part in the things that God wants him to do in the ministry….so that is how God wants you to end your life. You are now popular, you have everything. God wants you to end in ministry.
“He said but it is not a rush, go and think and pray and let the Lord minister to you. He said I was in the U.S when God spoke to me to say speak to my son, Ebenezer Obey.
“Then I told him that this is what is happening to me. But I said I have been feeling so reluctant. He said don’t worry, just go and pray. Just like he said one thing led to another I came into the ministry.”
The popular musician said after the call he didn’t know how to go about floating a ministry, adding that it was at this point he ran to Pastor Adeboye to find out what he should do.
He said, “By the time I decided to come into the ministry, I didn’t know how to go about it. What should I do? I remember I went to Pastor Adeboye. He prayed with me and he said I should pray and ask for three things – ask God how, where, when. And that was what guided me.
“And when I did that I went back to Archbishop Idahosa who said he will send me to go to America on observation course. He said I don’t want to send you to Bible School. If you go to Bible School, it may be three years. But I am going to send you to the U.S. to observe how a ministry is run. That I did. I went to about three ministries to observe and after that I came back home and started a ministry on my 50th birthday. He (Idahosa) commissioned me into the ministry as an evangelist.”
Evangelist Obey explained that his call was not accidental. He said prior to his call, he was involved in Help ministry, which he combined with his musical career.
“It didn’t just happen without history behind it,” he said. “After being a successful musician and I have taken my music to almost the four corners of the world as a celebrated musician, the Lord started calling me to the ministry.
“And when the Lord started calling me to the ministry it was something I didn’t want to do. I said no I didn’t want to do it. But the more I waved it off, the more it comes. But I have been doing the work of the ministry in addition to my music. The ministry I had then was help ministry.
“Some many missionaries from overseas, some of them were printing Bibles and selling Bibles here and their money was locked up in the Central Bank of Nigeria. For many years they couldn’t get their money.
“So being a popular person I went into their cases, went to the CBN (and said) these are my friends. I was doing things like that. Missionary people that were coming, I housed them, me and my wife. Take good care of them. I had been doing that help ministry.
“During that period, late Archbishop Benson Idahosa was having few programmes. If it is music and they want to do it in Lagos they will tell me, please I need something like international artists that came. I will arrange them Archbishop was taking care of them. He primarily brought them to Benin but you know Lagos was important.”
The clergyman, who made his breakthrough in music in 1963, also spoke on the controversy surrounding his alleged return to secular music.
“I left the music and came into the ministry. I established Ebenezer Obey Evangelistic Ministry. As I did that the church arm of the Ebenezer Obey Evangelistic Ministry is Decross Gospel Mission. So that is buttressing the point that it is not leaving music to come and sing gospel music. No.
“I have a ministry as the Lord directed me and as I was guided by the fathers to pray. I prayed. I don’t do anything without hearing from God. The mistake that people are making today is and they have done that to discourage many people that the Lord called into the ministry, judgement of the children of God without actually knowing the standing of each particular person.
“As for me I have direct relationship with God. He directs me. He is the one who has total control of everything I do. Whatever He says I should do that I do. You have more teachers who don’t know anything and they want to teach you.
“Thank God for the fathers who are there. The fathers have understanding. They know how to guide; they know how to lead because it is the Holy Spirit that it leading them. But you have many people who just want to be your teacher. So the best thing for anybody is that you must know whom you are serving. I know who I am serving. I thank the Lord that He is wonderful. So awesome. Whatever He has asked me to do that I did.
“Now I came into the ministry I have the band. The band I have ministers in churches. The way it started was that we have other outreaches to reach those who are not church people. The church people, the Christians yes. But there are some other people. That was what I did.
“After 17 years in the ministry in the ministry I have a reach-out ministry that I call special appearance. They still want the music, they still buy the records, they still want the records (because) the records are ever green. Up till today they are still buying them. That cannot be man. That is God because God knows the end from the beginning.
“So, I charge people for special appearance. They pay me to do it and I do it as a tent making. If any church calls me now I will go there, not asking anything.
“You knew about my crusades in Abeokuta. You know how successful it was. We return all the honour and glory to the Lord. So that was what happened. God allowed me to do it and I thank God I am doing it.
“A Christian lawyer is a lawyer and he is serving in court. He goes to court to do his profession. A lawyer conducts his work according to the constitution and according to the law. He will not go to the court and be quoting scriptures. He will quote the law for them. That is his profession.
“People should be careful because they have said so many things. But anything that is of God you will see it, nothing can bring it down. I thank God almighty that the Lord is still doing wonders in my ministry.”