By Olakunle Olafioye
When he was clamped into Ikoyi Prisons few years ago, Moses Alu, then a lieutenant in the Nigerian Air Force never believed he could return alive. He had battled a health condition, which defied medical solution despite having access to qualitative medical care. His imprisonment over an offence, which he never committed, was to him a conviction that his life race would end in the prison due to the poor medical facilities in the nation’s prisons. Ironically, rather than breathe his last in the prison, he received a lifeline to begin his earthly race anew with a fresh mandate.
While in the prison, Alu had a strange encounter, which has since redirected his life. Upon his release, he turned down the option of returning to the air force but teamed up with God’s army to fight Satan and his host. Since then, the Nassarawa State-born founder and Senior pastor of one of the fast growing churches in Nigeria has been waxing stronger in his ministerial assignment, a mandate he has vowed to hold on to irrespective of the circumstances around him.
In this interview, he speaks on the divine roles expected of the men of God in the corporate existence of this country.
Tell us about your military career
At the age of 13 or thereabout, I gained admission into military school in 1973. So, I can say that I grew up in the military. When I finished from the school, I joined the military fully as an Air Force cadet. There and then, I was privileged to be among the few selected officers to undergo administrative training. Through the programme, I bagged HND in Accountancy from Kaduna Polytechnic. I enjoyed a robust career in the Air Force until I later had a problem and was detained in Ikoyi Prisons for quite some time. To be precise, I was there for two years, but to God be the glory, I overcame the problem.
You are a Northerner but running a fast growing church in the South West. Interestingly too, your church is mostly populated by Ibo. How were you able to achieve this?
There is no magic about this, neither is there sentiment. Also, it is not all about personal popularity. It is just the grace of God. When God gives a definite calling, He would also equip you with the wherewithal and capacity to actualize it. In fact, He would give you the direction to follow and if you obey, you will get the right result. In other words, neither my tribe nor the geographical location of the church matters. The only thing that matters is the will and purpose of God concerning the church and His people that He wants to reach out to. God is no respecter of anybody. He does everything as it pleases Him. If He wants a northerner to run a church in the South West to affect the lives of predominantly Igbo race, He must have purposes for it. Based on His intention, He has continued to help us to grow to fulfill the purpose and that is what we have going for us.
There is a kind of stereotype about military officers. Many believe they are notorious womanizers and drunkards. Were you into all these when you were in the Air Force?
I became born again in Ikoyi Prisons. I was there for almost two years until I met with the Lord. I came from a predominantly Muslim background. But when I had an encounter with the Lord Jesus, I didn’t give a damn about the background as I immediately surrendered my life to Him. My conversion was dramatic but divine. One day, I just decided to attend a prisons fellowship because there was nothing to do in the yard. Most of the times, prisoners would just wander about. So, fellowship brethren would come to invite us to fellowship. One day, I went to see what they were actually doing and right there the Lord Jesus visited me. On that fateful day, I was sick. Even when I was in the Air Force, I was still suffering from that sickness. But when the sickness surfaced in the prisons, I knew I was in trouble, owing to poor medical facilities there. As a result, I couldn’t access qualitative medical attention. But to God be the glory; when the pastor of the fellowship noticed that I was sick, he invited me to the altar where he and other anointed ministers prayed for me. Though I didn’t understand what they were saying because they seemed to be speaking in tongues, I had faith that I would be healed and truly, I was healed barely 30 minutes after I left the fellowship.
Later, I went back to the pastor and told him that I had been healed and he told me confidently that the healing was mandatory through Jesus Christ, the ultimate healer. He also showed me the scripture where divine healing is guaranteed through the Lord Jesus. So, I began to wonder who this Jesus really is and started building and rekindling my faith in Him. No sooner I started having these ministrations than I started receiving spiritual visitations. Often times, I would feel the presence of the Lord Jesus confirming to me that Christianity is, indeed, a true and beautiful experience, that is an open sesame to salvation through Christ. So, I realized that life without Christ is meaningless and since I surrendered my life to Him, I have been walking in the newness of life.
Considering the fact that you came from military background, how have you been able to cope in your new calling, which requires a more humane orientation?
My military training and experience truly prepared me for the work of the gospel ministry. That is why I am able to understand the principles of spiritual warfare, which the bible talks about and I can function effectively as a deliverance minister to deliver people from captivity into their destinies and salvation. I blend my military experience with the ministerial calling to fight spiritual warfare and put the devil to shame when he rises with a strong fold. That is how I have been succeeding in the deliverance ministry that God gave me to fulfil by delivering His people from darkness into His marvelous light.
Apart from your divine healing what else would you say contributed to your conversion?
When I was in prison, I found out that true Christianity translates to love, kindness, genuine conversion, sharing and understanding. There was no confusion and nobody hunting the other. But when I came out of the prisons, I discovered that there are a lot of confusions in the Christendom.
Following my understanding of the positive impact of prison ministry, I decided to form a prison ministry outreach when I came out of the prison because I discovered that a lot could be achieved for God through such outfit. So, I started going round the country for prison evangelism to win souls for Christ, to set the captives free and rehabilitate them. I don’t only do this in Nigeria, I also do it in foreign countries.
The Bride Assembly is one of the fast growing churches around Lagos and attracts a huge membership. When and how did the church start?
Only four of us started the church as a prayer meeting in 1998. But when people saw that we stood by the truth of the scriptures and they also started witnessing the power of God, they joined the fellowship and before we knew it, what started like a mustard seed became a mega church. Since then, we have grown into the massive assembly that it is now. Currently, we have an average of 10,000-membership capacity in a single Sunday service. We have the most visited church website all over the world.
How would you compare life in the military and life in the ministry?
I wouldn’t say that life in the military was better than ministry life because even when I dumped the military for ministry work, things were still okay with me because my colleagues who were in top positions were still assisting me. So, I didn’t experience poverty. As a result, my wife did not feel bad at all, especially because she had always wanted me to be a very good Christian. In Christianity, life is not supposed to be all about abundance but contentment.
As a man from a Muslim family, what were your parents’ reactions when you gave your life to Christ and later left a lucrative military career for the gospel ministry?
They felt very bad when I dropped out of the military, especially because I was not fairly treated. But they are very happy now that I live a stable, safe and decent life as a pastor. Nothing gives one’s parents joy more than this. This is because a lot of top military officers have lost their lives in different dangerous circumstances. I thank God that I left peacefully and this gives my parents a lot of joy. In fact, when they heard that I had become a preacher, they were very delighted. Though I am from a Muslim family, religion is not a subject of controversy in my family. Every member of the family is free to practise any religion that pleases him or her. That is why we also have a good number of Christians in my family.
What was your wife’s reaction when you dumped a robust career in the Air Force for ministry work?
She saw the transformation, so, she had no option than to key into it. Earlier, she had a man that was womanising, drinking and wayward but suddenly, she saw a great transformation in the man who became born again, decent and loyal to her. So, for her, it was a prayer answered because she had been a very good Christian from her youth and she kept praying for me to become a good Christian. And here we are today enjoying the same Christian faith together.
If you were still in the army, what would have been your rank now?
I left the Air Force as a flight lieutenant. That is an equivalence of captain. I would have become a top ranking officer by now if I was still in the system. For instance, the current General Officer Commanding in Jos was my mate. In fact, most of my mates now are generals and major generals. Some are in the Navy, while others are in the Army. The senior officers of my set are the top military brass now. I believe that the next service chief will come from our set.
Do you have any regrets leaving the army?
I don’t have any regret at all because there is nothing better than the gospel ministry I am fulfilling now. I feel greatly fulfilled as a pastor and as a servant of the Most High God. Since I gave my life to Christ and also became a pastor, all has been well with me. I didn’t lose anything and I am not losing anything, neither I am I missing anything. I surrendered my life willingly to Christ and I am greatly happy for doing so. I can say that life in Christ is better than life outside Him.
As an overseer of a church, do you have time to relax with your family?
I find time to relax with my family. This is very important. I also encourage other ministers to do so with their families. This is because ministry begins with family. Without a good, stable and godly family, it is difficult to have a good church. That is why I make my ministers to realize that family is an integral part of ministry. I take my family out. I also travel out of the country on holiday with them. Some members of my church are in Europe. When I travel there and those that live around hear that I am around, they would come and take me round the states. I also do a lot of jogging to keep fit. No matter how spiritual you are, you must try as much as possible to maintain good health and build a wonderful family.
What are your best moments?
It is when I am on the pulpit preaching the word of God, when I am interpreting or sharing the scripture with someone or people.
And your worst?
That is when I discover that someone that has been in my ministry for a long time failed to be genuinely converted and when I notice that the person is in perpetual sins such as fornication or adultery or if the person is a fraud. These make me feel that I am a failure and all my efforts in the ministry seem to be in vain.
Coming from a tribe different from your wife’s, how have you been able to surmount challenges of ethnicity in your marriage?
We enjoy a robust relationship despite the fact that she comes from the South and I come from the North. The Lord Jesus is the cord that binds us together. We got married about 20 years but there was no child and I am the only son of my mother. So there were great expectations for me to have a child. Yet, we were able to live in love, peace and unity until we became a reference point and a good example to others in a similar situation. But as we kept faith together in Christ, the Lord visited us with a baby boy and later a baby girl. Now we have a complete family. We were able to prove that marriage can work if you make it to work. I owe her a lot of things because she is a very faithful, virtuous, caring and loving wife. She is a great supporter of my ministry. In all, I owe her anything that gives her joy.
How did you meet her?
I met her when I was a young cadet officer in the Air Force. As a young girl, she was working as a clerk in the Air Force Hospital, Ikeja. So, one day, she was walking along the corridor of her office and I was struck by her beauty and innocence. I called her and we greeted. I tried to toast her but she was not friendly. She ran to her office. As soon as I got to my office, I called her office phone. When she picked the call and asked who was on the line, I told her that it was the officer that met her a moment ago at her office corridor. So, I toasted her on phone but she didn’t give me her consent to go out with her. In fact, many other officers wanted to go out with her but she didn’t yield to any of them. Even though she didn’t give me her mind, I didn’t give up. In fact, she gave me a tough time until she went to School of Nursing at University College, Ibadan. When she graduated as a nurse, we met again and I wooed her. It was then she yielded and we became friends. We started dating and surprisingly, it was a deal and we got married a few years later.
“The Unstoppable Bride” is conspicuously inscribed on your church’s gate. What message are you trying to pass to the people?
It’s a message of victory over our detractors that came with bulldozers and demolished the church of God over land controversy despite that there was a subsisting case on the matter in court. What they did was beyond our imagination. It was later that we discovered that there was an agenda to displace us from our place of worship. We discovered that it was an orchestrated ploy to obliterate the church. It takes the grace of God to survive that kind of attack. But since our God is on the throne, we overcame the ordeal. Instead of the church to decrease, the members increased. Instead of us to get pushed out of the land, God intervened and there was a restraining order from the court, stopping any further trespass. That was how we came about the slogan: “The Unstoppable Bride.”
What is God saying about this country in the light of the current socio-political, religious and economic malaise and insecurity?
Whatever security challenges, including Boko Haram insurgency, that Nigeria is witnessing now, there is hope for survival. My understanding of this is that Nigeria is more of a toddler now and just like any growing child is bound to face certain challenges, Nigeria is undergoing challenges. But whatever the case may be, we shall overcome.
Do you think the Nigerian clergy have lived up to expectation in the battle to find a lasting solution to the recurrent crises the country is facing now?
I must say that the clergies have failed this nation because some ministers of God have left their pulpits in pursuit of wealth and prosperity instead of preaching the gospel of truth that can enhance not only the growth of Christendom but also the entire nation. A lot more have lost the path of truth by their failure to tell those in position the truth because of the favour they stand to gain from them. Reason is that when you depend on somebody for survival, it will be difficult for you to challenge him or tell him the truth if he errs. That is why some of our leaders have continued to tread the path of perdition and men of God that are close to them and have the opportunity to advise them have failed to do so just because of what they stand to gain from them. Every government leader belongs to one religion or the other. They have pastors in their various churches and sit under their instructions. These leaders respect us. At least, they listen to us. So, if we call them to order when they err, they will listen and do the right thing and this country can be better for it. If their pastors tell them the truth about their leadership pitfalls they would respect their voices. I am not saying that they should insult the leaders because God recognizes positions of governance, but He expects them to rule with His fear.
It is also sad that most church leaders have turned churches to personal businesses. Why this happens is that there are those that God has called, there are those that the devil has called and there are those that called themselves. Also, there are people whom their church has called. So, it is natural that they have to do the bidding of the person that called them. That is why all these things are happening. It is only those that are called by God that have the grace to do the will of God.