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Kumuyi at 83: Beyond the preacher’s cassock

There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe nor polite, not popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him he is right. —Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968) American churchman and civil liberties defender.

In his book, ‘An Outline of the History of the World’, Herbert Abraham Davies relates the epic story of how a cleric put himself in the path of potential backlash to deliver ancient Rome from annihilation at the hands of an all-conquering army of barbarians. The predators were already in the regions of the Roman Empire; all the soldiers needed was an order from their leader, Attila the Hun, to move in and overrun Rome. From this she was saved(so it was said), ‘’by the earnest entreaties of Leo, Bishop of Rome, who entered Attila’s camp and warned him not to risk the vengeance of heaven by plundering the city, and the Hun leader was so impressed with the bishop’s sincerity and intensity of purpose that he withdrew his troops.“

This event has gone into history as one of the rare demonstrations of the intervention of religious leaders during times of crisis in the state. Although God establishes His Church strategically to prepare His people for Heaven, He expects them to first live here on earth righteously, ethically and honorably so their intercessory prayers would receive attention before His Throne. The Church and its leaders then are to produce faithful representatives who would plead for Heaven to step in when the people face dreadful consequences for their wrongdoings. The marauder was moved by the bishop’s translucent candor, not his sacerdotal gear, to concede to him.

Heaven won’t attend to people simply on account of their hood or cassock. God looks for men and women of incontestable integrity, humility and credibility who wouldn’t deceive the world by an exhibitionist and pietistic profession of salvation. Of such was the man whose ‘’sincerity and intensity of purpose’’ God honoured to rescue Rome.

Of such also, by the reckoning of many here in Africa and beyond, is Pastor William Folorunso Kumuyi, General Superintendent of Deeper Christian Life Ministry, DCLM, and convener of the international Gospel brand, Global Crusade with Kumuyi, GCK. He has stood on the unpopular ground that one’s Christianity (salvation) would remain inchoate, incomplete and insular, until its only identity feature blazes holiness through and through. The pastor takes God’s demands on holiness at face value. You can’t try to run circles around God on this condition. You’re not to resort to a ‘white lie’ to save your life or to escape an embarrassing twist of events. You must not also aim at replaying Uzzah’s fatal heroics in the Bible by breaking God’s laws in order to ‘help’ His work.

For Kumuyi, the strength of a man and his society lies in their God-inspired integrity. Mankind needs it more than his physical food. Take it away, and all you have remaining is a hollow vessel, vain, vulnerable and valueless. He once spoke of holiness in terms of being gifted a car without its engine. He said: “If you say you love me and you give me a car, but you take away its engine, the gift is useless. So is Christianity without holiness.’’

That is the state of all men and women alienated from the laws of their Creator.

These are the principles Kumuyi has taught and practiced since he got the new birth of salvation on April 5, 1964, six decades ago this year. Like Samuel, the kingmaker centuries ago in Israel, Kumuyi isn’t troubled that he might be ambushed for some dark deeds to knock him down from his high horse. Samuel challenged his compatriots to bring forth evidence of any abuse of office or inappropriate act of his, if they had one.

Last week, a video recorded years ago surfaced in the social media suggesting that Pastor Kumuyi and his wife had ‘fled’ to the UK, after he had reportedly counseled Nigerians to pray for Nigeria and the government and to patiently bear with the authorities’ attempts to fix the polity. Those who viraled the spent clip sought to deflate the large image of the revered Deeper Life Bible Church leader and move Nigerians to conclude that Kumuyi, after all, is a man who could easily abandon his holiness pursuit and surrender to the urge of the flesh. They asked, ‘’what kind of preacher is this Church leader who would forsake his challenged flock and seek refuge in the cloying luxury of Europe?’’ But, Kumuyi’s stay in London at the time of the interview in the footage was short-lived. He has been resident in Nigeria since. There’s been no relocation. Indeed, when the story was hitting the phones the man of God was in neighbouring Cameroon for the May edition of his GCK. It held in the city of Douala for six days.

But as Pastor Kumuyi turns 83 on June 6 2024, a look at his life brings up a man whose plea is that we are free to strip him of his ecclesiastical trappings and assess him on the basis of what we find. In other words, he’s saying, ‘don’t spare me because am a pastor or denominational founder; don’t also go cultural by being awed by my age.’ If we accept the challenge, what do we get? We would be facing a man feeding on a credo that his relationship with Jesus Christ has taught him that a leader in society must be so disciplined and committed to selfless service that he must seek the comfort and welfare of the led above his own person or family. He can’t go to sleep until his subjects have first gone to bed.

He teaches us to disregard those who mask their villainy with their position in religion and politics. They believe they are above the law once they’re cloaked in authority. They remind us of a job-seeker who had his pastors as his guarantors. His prospective employers told him that they wanted assessment from those who knew him outside the Church. They wanted to know his character without religious props.

There are lessons from Kumuyi. Our land will come out ofthe woods when leaderstake to the way of integrity not derived from shallow religion (cant cassock, hollow hood) but from God, Who reciprocates with answers to their prayers for healing for the nation. In this wise, Kumuyi’s ministry has recorded spectacular marvels. Inveterate sinners have been saved; the dead have been brought back to life; a child born without genitals had these vital members created by Heaven following the prayers of Kumuyi at the just-concluded Douala GCK. There’s more: a watchful followership gets the message of their mentor and bond with their leaders to deliver a godly and prosperous society.

That’s what’s been happening in the Church Kumuyi pastors. Years ago when he visited the fledgling Deeper Life Bible Church in Ghana, Kumuyi sold his car to support the assembly. He recalls: ‘’…because of the sacrifices I made in those early days, our pastors and other workers also followed suit and made sacrifices…sometimes when a leader does something, and even without compelling others… they just do it.’’

Happy Birthday, beloved Pastor Kumuyi!

.Ojewale is an author and journalist at Ota, Ogun State, Nigeria.