MY STORY OF SERVICE UNDER PASTOR MATTHEW ASHIMOLOWO.
I CAME INTO MINISTRY AT THE POINT WHERE EVERY BODY NOW WANTS TO BE A SENIOR PASTOR AND HAVE THEIR OWN CHURCHES.
MY POSITION IS NOT TO BE A SENIOR PASTOR. I WAS NEVER TRAINED TO BE A SENIOR PASTOR, I WAS TRAINED TO LEAD AND RUN WITH THE VISION OF THE MAN THAT GOD SPOKE TO.
PASTOR FEMI FASERU SHARES THE SECRETS OF HIS JOURNEY IN MINISTRY TITLED ‘MY ELISHA MINISTRY’
At the Kingdom Wealth Conference themed ‘THE SECRET OF OUR JOURNEY’
Day 3, Morning Session.
Praise the Lord.
I want to thank Pastor Olumide Emmanuel and Pastor Nike. Thank you so much for this privilege of having a junior pastor come to talk to pastors, thank you so much. Pastor Mildred, thank you so much for how you and your husband, Pastor Kingsley have been a blessing to all of us.
I follow you on social media and thank you for bringing that inspiration and we learn a lot from your ministry. Thank you so much and I honour the man of God in the house as well, the set man here, God bless you Sir.
Let us bow down our heads for a moment:
Father we thank You, we give You praise for this hour. We thank You for what You have been doing in this Conference; how You’ve been transforming minds, shaping destinies and ministries. Church Gist. Father this hour, have Your way. Spirit of the living God, not that which I want to say but that which You want to say. Let it be a blessing in Jesus’ name.
I want to talk to us briefly on what I have titled my Elisha Ministry. I’ve been documenting this for over 10 years and this is the very first time I’m going to be sharing it. So when Pastor Olumide said he just wanted me to come and talk about my ministry, I didn’t have to do much of paper work. Church Gist. I was just praying and saying, “Lord, lead me on what to say” and I believe God that you are going to be blessed.
My Elisha Ministry started as a young boy. By the privileges of God, I can say that I came from a relatively wealthy family. My father in his own way was wealthy so I never knew poverty, never. Sometimes when I see some preachers preaching about how poor they were, I will turn to God and say “Lord, why don’t You give me some of those things to say?” Particularly when my Pastor, Pastor Matthew was talking about how poor he was; he was saying his own poverty was not poor, it was poor.
But that wasn’t my story. My parents were well to do and so I understood what wealth was and I understood what we call blessing. Then I didn’t know that it was blessing, I saw it as riches but the blessing of the Lord maketh rich. I later on came to find out and that’s significant because when I go to Psalm 133, the Bible says, for there the Lord commanded the blessing.
So as a young boy, my father would say, “look guys; what you have, what you can call your own is not the inheritance I will leave for you, it is what you make out of your own life”. Even though he had it, but he never made us to set our eyes on the inheritance. Church Gist. So he never groomed anyone of us to run his business. He died 20 years ago. His business ran by itself and gave us money every year for 20 years.
When I finished my university degree, I went to England. I sold myself out to slavery, I didn’t have to go. Pastor Olumide said that those who went to England were those who did not have job opportunities here but majority of my friends went to England so I wanted to go to England.
I started a job with a company in Apapa but I was not settled because I wanted to be where my friends were. So I sold myself to slavery and I went to England in search of wealth.
But thank God that I found a church by the name, Kingsway International Christian Center. The Pastor looked wealthy because he was always wearing his nice clothes and he had his hair cut. So I was attracted to the Ministry, I went in there and then what he said made me to stay in the Ministry.
The content of a man’s ministry is more important than the signage of the Ministry. I heard Pastor Matthew talking about how your life should have a significance and the kind of job people were doing in England, how it has to be beyond you just earning money but you having a purposeful life.
I began to see another dimension of life and I was craving for this new dimension of life. That made me to stop doing the security work that I started with and made me to get out my certificate and look for a computer science job.
So I became an IT consultant, very successful in it by my own standard.
I was paid three pounds per hour in my security job. My first job in IT was with a bank, I was been paid 25 pounds per hour. That seems like a lot of money to me such that I bought the security guy by the door lunch every day. I said to myself, this could have been me. Church Gist. From there, I became a Quality Assurance Coordinator with a company and I was responsible for part of the work in 82 Countries, Nigeria inclusive.
A lot of people in our church knew what I was doing and how successful I was and I was paid 45 pounds per hour. I could practically choose what I wanted to do. Church Gist. After I was tired with that, I got another job with another company and I was been paid 64 pounds per hour. If I was tempted to work on Saturdays, I will be paid 96 pounds per hour. After Church, if I wanted to put some couple of hours in, I will be paid 128 pounds per hour.
A lot of people in the Church knew what I was doing out there, they wanted to do what I was doing but it was taking a lot of time on my time trying to teach them. “After work, I’m at home, somebody is calling me, I’m talking to somebody, my wife is there serving my lunch and I’m not able to eat because I’m talking to somebody about what I was doing, how they could do what I was doing”.
It was getting frustrating up to the point that I decided that this is what I was going to do; “I’m going to set up a school”. It wasn’t because of the money; it was later on that I realized that there was money in it. I set up a school and said if you want to learn, then you can come to the class but you will pay and then the calls that were disturbing me at home got reduced.
People started coming and I was making a lot of money up to the point that I was buying properties cash, no mortgage. That was what I was doing and I’m telling you for a reason because you will understand that when you want to do ministry, it has to be a sacrifice. What you are been called into is a sacrifice.
He sacrificed His own life and you cannot come and do His work without having to sacrifice something. At that time, I was serving in the Church and I was doing everything Pastor Matthew was teaching us; “you have to serve, you have to give your tithe, you have to do all of those things”. I came from out there into the Church. I started to say, “Lord, let’s see if this thing works”.
So I would sow a seed to see the kind of blessing I would get. I said, “Lord I’m increasing that seed” and God would increase it. I said Lord, I’m decreasing it. Then something happened, it was decreased.
There was a time I lost my job. Before I lost the job, I got a job in America, I didn’t apply for the job. So I said to the company I was working with, I said I was going to America. My boss was on holiday. He cuts his holiday shut and came in and said, “call me your agent.
I want to sign a new contract with you, I don’t want you to go. Ask me whatever you want”. I asked and that same day, I went home with a brand-new car because we had sold our cars. I already had a work permit in America, everything was set.
By the time I drove the car to the house, my wife saw me with a brand-new car, she was like; “what’s going on, where did you get the car from?”. I said we are not going to America again. She was like, what? I said, they just increased my money and I just bought a brand-new car and we are not going anywhere.
That was the kind of life that I had in my career and then I began to have this urge that I need to leave England, that there was more to my life than what I was doing in England and what I was getting in England and the first thing that came to my mind or the first place was going to America.
As at that time, we had nothing less than 6 properties all paid in America. So I thought; “oh, maybe it’s America” and I began to pray for more direction and the Lord said, no! That it is not America, it is Nigeria. (One place we didn’t invest in was Nigeria.
We did not have one plot of land in Nigeria, not even a car). So I said, “I don’t know what’s happening to my head”.
So I booked an appointment to see Pastor Matthew with my wife. We went to talk to him because of one scripture that led me here; “Obey your father in the Lord”. I said, “Lord, You put it in the Bible that I should obey this man, I know you are the One telling me to leave England.
If he tells me to stay, I am staying because of what You said in Your Word”. Pastor Matthew knew my testimony, how God was kind to me in my career and all of that. At that time, I was also the head of IT of the Church. I did not think that Pastor Matthew would think that I was in my right senses. So I went with my wife to be a witness so that I can tell God somebody was there when he said so.
As I was talking with Pastor Matthew, he pulled his telephone closer to himself. I paused, he said I should keep on talking and then he dialed a number. On the phone was a pastor and said to the Pastor, “one of my sons is coming to Nigeria. I will tell him to come and see you when he arrives. Make sure that you do all you can to settle him down” and then he put the phone down and l looked at my wife.
It was a joke up till now but now I think that we are Lagos bound. So Pastor said, “when are you planning to go”. I said Sir, after the Watch night service because we aren’t planning to go. I went there so that he could talk some senses into my head. To cut the long story short, 1st of January, 2003, myself, my wife and our two children that we had at that time came to Nigeria into a rented apartment in one estate in Ikeja.
It took me two months to be able to get an office space at OP plaza where I was going to set up my IT company. I did all of that and began to get clients.
I joined the local Church here, KICC in Lagos. I was part of the Church and lo and behold, Pastor came visiting and anytime he was visiting, I would put aside anything I was doing and cleared my schedule to serve the man of God.
This time, December 18, he was on his way back to England, we were at the airport and the Pastor of the Church came to the airport, he dropped his resignation letter and Pastor Matthew read his letter and he said to him, hand over all the pastoral responsibilities to Femi and then he looked at me, he said “Femi, when I get to England, I will talk to you”. It was on a Friday, I kept on looking at my phone, he didn’t call me and he didn’t call on Saturday too. Sunday morning, I had to preach.
I started to preach from 10 and it was until 1 o’clock that I realized that I kept the people for too long because I’d never preach before in my life. I had spoken in seminars talking about my career and all of that, I was just preaching everything that day and then in the evening, Pastor Matthew called me; “Femi, how did it go?
It’s like you have been dropped in a pool but I know you will swim out” and for me, I was only tending the pulpit until the real Pastor will come but I did that with all of my heart.
So my story, I called it my Elisha Ministry because in 1 Kings 19:16, God said to Elijah, anoint Elisha in your stead. The work was overwhelming for Elijah and Elijah began to complain to God and he said to God, “I’m the only one bearing this burden. This vision, I’m the only one that cares about this vision” and God said to him, anoint three people; two as kings but Elisha in your stead (1 Kings 19:19).
Elisha said to Elijah, let me kiss my parents bye-bye but Elisha did not only kissed his parents bye-bye, Bible tells us that Elisha burned the bridges that will lead him back to his past life. He was making a total commitment.
I did not make a total commitment immediately because up until that time, I believe that God called me into IT. Then you must also understand like Elisha, God never, neither in a dream or a prophecy to me that: “you will be a Pastor”. I didn’t see Jesus in a white robe saying, “my son, my son” because I’ve heard testimonies about how people were called into ministry.
I wasn’t as smart as Elisha, it took me two and half years to come to the realization of the fact that all that has happened to me all my life, is for this purpose. The school I started where I was training people, what I went to study in the University for years, is God’s idea of training me so that I can package my message in 45 minutes. There was competition between the pulpit and my IT consultancy work. I had to choose; I couldn’t carry the two.
Two and a half years down the line, I was still doing this and I didn’t earn one penny from the Church because I didn’t consider it as my career. I was helping out, waiting for London to send the right pastor but while I was waiting, I was putting in my 100 per cent. The first four years, the Church grew up to a thousand people.
The last one and a half years, I would drive past my office but I didn’t have time to spend one minute in my office, so I didn’t see my office for one and a half years because of the demand of the ministry. I forgot to tell you that I never went to any Bible school up until today.
I was in no way prepared in the way that people normally prepare for ministry apart from the fact that I was in Church, I read my Bible and I had interest in the things of God and I was watching the one pastor that I’ve heard all my life, Pastor Matthew Ashimolowo.
The Church grew, I had to make a choice between the ministry and my business and I looked at my journey and I realized that the blessing; these riches and wealth, purpose, I don’t have to run after them, they are things that will be bestowed upon me (Psalm 133).
I realized that there is a place for people who are going to intentionally have people above them.
I came into ministry at the point where every body wants to be senior pastor, have their own church and do their things but I found out that you can be who God has called you to be irrespective of your title, as long as you have found your positioning in God. My position is not to be a senior pastor. I was never trained to be a senior pastor, I was trained to lead and run with the vision of a man that God spoke to.
Not that I don’t know how to do it, but I was never called to start my own church. Elisha burned the bridges and served Elijah. After burning the bridges, hardly would you hear anything beyond the fact that Elisha served Elijah. I have to be very, very comfortable serving my man of God. Church Gist. I have to be fulfilled serving my man of God, I have to be satisfied serving my man of God.
I’ve been doing this for 18 years and I can tell you that everything that I can ever think about, God has done it for me and surpassed it, both in ministry and also in my personal life. Yes, the ministry has taken some stuff from us, I’ve had to raised my kids far away from them, it’s part of the sacrifice I have to make but thank God, when you see my kids today, you will never think that these are children not living with their parents. God has been so good that I have no regrets that I left IT to come and be a junior pastor.
God will place His vision inside a person, not persons. For clarity, he can hear it with someone else. We saw Nehemiah building the wall in 52 days, what part of the wall did Nehemiah build? Was he the one that puts the wall or gate on? He was the one that the vision was given to, it took men, vision helpers, dream makers to make the vision happened in 52 days.
I have that understanding that pastor Matthew is the Custodian of the vision of the house that I serve, so it’s important that I make myself available to understand the vision.
God will take the vision and He will put it on Moses and He will resides with Moses and Moses will have the responsibility to transfer the spirit unto others that will help him to get the job done.
It is the spirit of Moses that the others will have to catch for them to be able to fulfill the vision. I have that understanding and I’m comfortable with it.
So I know that if I’m going to be successful in ministry, I’ve got to be ready to catch the spirit of my spiritual father. I understand that both spiritually and physically, I have to be connected to him so that I can have an understanding of the vision and the vision is to be carried out.
MY STORY OF SERVICE UNDER PASTOR MATTHEW ASHIMOLOWO.