Dr. Kunle Hamilton is the founder of Shaddaiville Ministries with branches in Nigeria, USA, Germany and England. In this interview with ESTHER BAKARE [Sunday Telegraph – 21.01.2018], the journalist turned preacher bore his mind on issues affecting churches in Nigeria among sundry issues…
Tell us how your ministry started?
In 1985, I had just graduated from the Department of Philosophy, University of Lagos and attending Methodist Church, but I was feeling bored each time I went to church. I have often heard that people join the Aladura (White Garment) churches because they are born there or because of one problem or the other that they are facing. As a member of the Methodist Church, I had stopped attending the church for over a year because the church was not holding my attention. It was not as engaging as Philosophy was for me. If God had not arrested me with the drama of the Celestial Church of Christ, He would have lost me to atheism. The second striking thing about my membership of CCC was that I had older siblings who had joined the church before me but were not asking me to join. Then one day, my eldest sister asked me to come see her at CCC Halleluyah Cathedral, Iponri, and a prophetess came to me and was in a trance and told me the dream I had just two days earlier. It was as if she was the one that slept my sleep and dreamed my dream, it was so vivid. As a Philosopher I wasn’t superstitious but that was a phenomenon I could not rationalize. It was the first time I would experience such a thing and God used that drama to get me into Celestial Church.
But you run a Pentecostal church now, how did you come about that?
My ministry is a unique one, a combination of Pentecostal and Aladura. The truth is that having joined Celestial Church as a university graduate, the first thing that shocked me was the wide spread of illiteracy in the church. At some point it was too much for me to handle. My values were different from a lot of people around me in terms of every other thing the church should help refine in people’s lives; like how the church deals with the issue of marriage, education, professionalism, business and so many other things. On a number of times, I found the church deficient in so many ways with regard to this. Three times I tried to leave the Celestial Church and three times I was convinced God was telling me to stay in the church. I fell into a spiritual negotiation with God asking that there is so much inside of me that the structure of CCC would not allow me to express and that since He does not want me to leave the church then He should give me an avenue to express what He has blessed me with. He gave me two names Shaddaiville and Praise parish. I knew immediately that God was saying the outcome of that negotiation is to plant a Celestial Church for Him. It must mean that He wants me to set up a Model Parish where CCC will not feel inferior or different to other Christians, but I didn’t know what Shaddaiville stood for. He allowed me to remain in Celestial Church and blessed my ministry to stand and grow.
How are you coping combining both ministries?
Almost two years ago, God sent a prophetess to me in London who came to remind me of my covenant with God to plant a Celestial Church and on May 8, 2016, God founded the CCC PraiseVille Parish through me in Berlin, Germany. ‘ShaddaiVille’ means ‘God’s City’; it’s a non-denominational gathering. The vision is to disciple people not necessarily to make them members of a church. As a result, while our administrator for USA is a member of CCC, that of the UK is a Pentecostal and so also is our administrator for the branch in Germany. Our mandate is to train people. We are more focused on training the gospel way, we train teenagers during holidays, give them retreats in form of workshops that goes across vocational training to wake up the entrepreneur in them. This is under our Teenagers Academy, while we also have the Leadership Academy where we train Christians and non Christians. I have graduated three Muslims who came into our Christian Leadership Academy. We teach universal leadership and entrepreneurship principles through the Bible. We also have the Shaddaiville Discipleship School where we train people to be evangelists, prophets, pastors and so on.
What do you think is the role of churches in the development of this nation?
What I think churches should be doing when elections are coming up in Nigeria, they are not doing presently and I am disappointed in some church leaders in Nigeria. They seem successful because of their large congregation and very rich resources. Churches should not be endorsing candidates like some of them did in the previous elections collecting money from government. Rather, churches should educate members of their congregation about why they should join politics and play it without corruption. The church should also encourage them to go out and vote and let them know that if they have a passion to do things that will benefit people, they should join politics either at local or national levels. It is the duty of the pastor to encourage his members to register to vote to persuade either the voters or politicians in the church to refrain from public stealing. But it is sad that in Nigeria today, the biggest donors in the church are the ones who have stolen the biggest money in the nation; that is not what churches should be doing.
What word do you have for Nigerians in this 2018?
This year is very peculiar. This is the Year of Opportunity like never before. In the last few days of Year 2017, the word ‘Opportunity’ kept coming to me as a divine revelation as I meditated in search of divine direction for the New Year. Opportunity consists of 11 letters just as 2018 sums up as 11 – that is 2+0+1+8=11. So you see, God has fitted opportunity perfectly into this year as the nucleus of all testimonies. What is more? Opportunity occurs in the Holy Bible exactly 12 times (KJV) and this means that at the very minimum, believers can tap into a major breakthrough opportunity in each of the 12 months of this year. This grace applies to individuals, institutions and nations – as long as they can tap into it. Opportunity means a ‘chance’ for profit and progress. It is a ‘favourable condition or circumstance or occasion.’ Therefore, everyone should focus on not missing their many opportunities this year. You must picture it, pursue it, possess it and profit by it. Let God’s commandments and the laws of your country determine how you use every opportunity you seek, see and seize so as not to do wrong or anything criminal. Again, don’t let the sins of greed, lust, addiction, idolatry, slothfulness, covetousness take opportunity in your own life and then turn you into a reckless or wicked opportunist. For your opportunity to multiply, always do good. Your 2018 opportunities will depend also on your giving, in blessing the Church and needy folks. Also as you get opportunities, create for others too. This is in line with God’s seed to harvest principle. On this note, I say Happy New Year to all my readers and pray you all bear happy testimonies this year. Amen.
What is your advice to Church founders on succession plans, should churches be handed over to children, wives or the Assistant General overseer?
I believe the Nigerian government is about to make grave mistakes in what may soon become a clampdown on Christianity as a whole. Granted, some pastors/General Overseers are leading horrific and lavish lifestyles that give the Nigerian Church a bad image collectively. These church heads also became extremely political, especially during the Goodluck Jonathan administration. Some of them were shamelessly campaigning for Jonathan on their pulpits instead of preaching the Bible. Now government is about to take its revenge on the Nigerian Church by enacting laws that will incarcerate the Church. Unfortunately, this is most likely going to weaken Christianity against Islam and other religions. I urge all well-meaning Christians to continue to pray for the liberation of the Nigerian Church from evil minded laws as well as evil politicians, evil legislators and evil pastor-preneurs that are giving Christianity a bad name.
On the issue of succession, I urge that church founders should ensure it is whom the Lord wants that succeeds them. In the Bible, God chose successors (as kings or leaders of Israel) based on two main options – whom He wants or whom the people want; not whom the leader himself wants unless he allows God to make the choice for him and through him. To this end therefore, I urge the Nigerian government not to make laws that make the will of God determine who founds a church, who runs the church and who succeeds the head of the church. Churches are not banks that a Soludo or Sanusi should pick heads for.
In those days, the success of a man of God is measured based on the number of souls he has won into the Kingdom, but today it is based on number of cars, houses, and large congregation, where did we get it wrong as a body of Christ?
We started getting it wrong a long time ago, denomination by denomination. It wasn’t very apparent back then. But to put a timeline to it, I would say the man who started preaching that His God is not a coin God, but a God of great wealth… He started the penchant for great wealth among his protégés. They watched him build the first privately owned Christian empire in Nigeria after the Catholics and Protestants. And his protégés all desired to be like him. He fathered the Pentecostal movement in Nigeria and has fathered many of today’s mega-rich pastors. He died in his prime and so we can never tell if had he lived long enough, he would have tried to change things. Today, I pray that modesty (not poverty) will once again rule in the Nigerian church among pastors. And we can all return to preaching the sweet message of Salvation and not just prosperity.
As a spiritual father, what will be your advice to couples who are involved in domestic violence?
I am against domestic violence of any sort – physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual or diabolical. God wants all marriages to succeed until death separates husband and wife. But marriage is not a do-or-die affair. Pastors, parents, friends, secret lovers, et cetera are not meant to cause separation or divorce among married couples. I advise that at the earliest hint of irreconcilable differences, every couple should seek a marriage counselor for biblical counsel. If violence is involved, they should also seek psychological or psychiatric help in addition to that. Not all pastors possess marriage counseling skills. Some can’t even run a successful marriage themselves.
What is your take on the coming general elections in 2019 and the prophecies by some prophets that the President should not seek re-election?
Although God told me exactly how things would go at the last election and I had prophesied exact repercussions to a certain troubled minister, I am not a political or attention seeking prophet and as such my prophecies are only for those who seek the Lord’s counsel and for that reason come to me. I urge Nigerian voters to stop collecting money or favours for their votes, which they easily cast for those who turn around to oppress them. Nigerians must vote for integrity and people with proven track records of good performance. Also, I urge educated and honest Nigerians to join politics or at least get involved as voters and policy influencers from this year till the 2019 elections.