Pastor Kunle Yusuf is the Chief Executive Officer and lead consultant, Above Productions Company, a registered company that deals in event management, radio and television productions, sports marketing and public relations consultancy. A media and public relations practitioner of over eighteen years standing covering both print and electronic media, Pastor Kunle, in this interview, shares his life experience including his career and how he was called by God to spread the gospel. Excerpts…
You are a career person. Are you moving away from your job to run a full ministry?
The answer is quite simple. I am combining my career with ministry assignment. My desire had always been serving God and humanity. But it was difficult combining all this together in another man’s calling. You knew before now that I was serving as a Pastor in the Redeemed Christian Church of God, but not at optimum level. As a trained PR and media practitioner, it turned out somehow challenging combining both roles together. So, I started praying, asking God for directions. And answer finally came last year; hence my decision to start my full time ministry without cluttering my career path. After all, both are services to God and humanity.
What gifts and skills do one need to serve effectively as pastor and how well prepared are you?
The calling of God is without repentance. You must be sure of the calling of God before venturing into it. Part of the issues plaguing Christendom today was that too many people were ambitious but not really sensed the call of God before venturing out. And this is serious! You must attend medical school before calling you Doctor; attend Law school before being called a Barrister. Not exactly the same when we talk about spiritual issues. While your bible knowledge must be above average, that itself does not guarantee a successful calling as Pastor, Prophet, Bishop or any other ministerial callings. While not playing down the knowledge of the bible which is key; that itself is never enough. Talking about gifts and skills you must possess, I will say, maturity is very vital. You must be a mature Christian inside out. You must not be materialistic. You must ignore filthy lucre. Gift of oratory is never enough. You must be word-driven.
The calling is never a meal ticket.
When you received the calling, was there a specific area that God asked you to serve in?
The spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord has anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound. That is the mandate. To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn. That is the mandate. To appoint unto them that mourn in Nigeria and abroad, to give unto them beauty for ashes; the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified. That is the mandate.
Tell us some of your past experiences in the church that prepared you in leading your own ministry?
This would probably occupy a whole book. Though from a Muslim background, the deaths of my parents changed my outlook to life. That we are alive only is by the grace of God. I started out as a Cell leader; later youth pastor and after marriage, Pastor in the Redeemed Christian Church of God. I had met and dealt with Pastors with different characters. Some were good; some to the extreme. Few experiences hurt more than learning that someone you trust has lied to you. If you are devout, the effect could be profound, as it was for me in the beginning.
Your congregation is interested more in your leadership capabilities; how much are you prepared in winning your members’ confidence?
I think the most important confidence they would need from you is to exemplify Christ. When I started out as a church goer several years back, guess I was eighteen (18) years at the time, I was angry seeing the way things were. I felt I had been tricked, that my hopes and goals turned out to be futile. But I have learnt a great deal. You must look unto Jesus: the author and finisher of our faith. This way, you would never be shocked or surprised at your leaders’ character flaws, while not giving excuses to the ways of Pastors and church leaders, who frittered away the goodwill of their members. Truth is, focusing on Jesus, the head of the church is the way out.
What is your understanding of faith?
Faith is never a feeling. It is viewed in many ways, and thus discussion of one’s faith may be difficult without first pinning down which meaning we are talking about. Faith could mean allegiance to duty or person. It could mean firm belief in something for which there is no proof. For me, understanding faith, I always put it in terms of a relationship. When we speak about biblical faith, that I am disposed to, we are speaking in terms of having faith, trusting, based upon relationship with God through His son, Jesus. With that in mind, Hebrews 11:1-2 do come in. Faith believes even when it makes no sense to believe, not because of the proof before you , but because of the trust you placed in the object of your faith. Biblical faith is in a person, the person of God, ( God the father, son and Holy Spirit) they are one. Faith is never in me or my abilities but on God and His abilities.
What is your honest position on tithing and what is it that you are going to do differently that will stand you out as a church leader?
Like every good deed, Satan, through the enemies of the gospel, is waging war against tithing. The bible says, ‘I will build my church, and the enemies will never prevail against it’. What this means therefore is there is quarrelling or struggling with the church, but the enemies will never have the final say. That is they will never prevail against it. The truth is: tithing predates Jesus Christ. Despite the fact that many people used the word ‘tithe’ synonymously with any church-related giving. The word tithe literally means “tenth”. Tithe was an obligatory offering from Mosaic law requiring 10 percent of an Israelite’s first fruits. However, a note of caution must be observed: only pay up tithe where you are getting blessed and you are sure the place is a fertile soil.
Share with us your journalism years and academic achievements.
I was a senior correspondent and entertainment writer with Nigerian Tribune from where I later functioned as contributing editor at Society Post, a weekly magazine. Between 2011 and 2012, I worked as the marketing consultant at Unique FM, Ilesa, Osun State. I was the general manager of Breakthrough Television Services Limited, where I produced highly successful programmes such as ‘Check It Out’, a live TV programme on Galaxy TV; ‘Weekend Delight’ on NTA Port Harcourt, Rivers State Television (RSTV); ‘Sports Circuit’ on LTV 8, Lagos, and several others. I was once an associate producer of ‘Child & Society’ on Nigerian Television Authority, NTA 2 Channel 5. Currently, I work as the editor, ‘Straight Times’ magazine, based in Ibadan. For my academic, I hold a National Diploma in Mass Communication; Bsc. Degree in Public Administration and Masters Degree (Distinction) in Communication Studies from the Lagos State University. I obtained post graduate Diploma in Theology from the Redeemed Christian Bible College, Main Campus. I’m a member of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR), where I serve as part time lecturer while I’m the former secretary general of the Entertainment Writers Association Of Nigeria, Oyo State Chapter.
Tell us about your business outfit and how far you have spread
Above Productions Company is a registered company with Corporate Affairs Commission. We are event managers, radio and television producers, sports marketers and public relations consultants. We produce ‘Entertainment Plus’, a highly successful programme on several television stations in Nigeria. We have extensive experience on event activation and public relations consultancy. We also produce ‘Family Line’, a radio programme on Premier FM, Ibadan, and other stations. We enjoy, by the grace of God, patronage from Nigerian Breweries PLC, Universal Mccan, MindShare Lagos, Unilever PLC, and Insight Communications, etc.
Tell us about your family and how is your new vocation going to impact them?
I’m a young man with budding passion to serve the Lord. I am happily married to Pastor (Mrs.) Motunrayo Olakunle. For now, we are blessed with three wonderful and God-fearing boys; David, Daniel and Samuel. Like their parents, they don’t joke with their faith. I’m a voracious reader and this, they pick from me. My wife is a trained teacher with first Degree in Economics Education. Telling them about my faith posed no problem as my wife was a minister in the church before we met. She did give birth to our children as a Pastor’s wife.
The church’s relationship with the state, how should it be?
Jesus commands to ‘render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s. The relationship must be mutual. Note that religious organizations helped many countries to draft their new constitutions. In countries like Benin, Congo, Togo and DRC, religious leaders were asked to be speakers of parliament. In Togo for example, a Bishop acted as a speaker of parliament for two years and in Congo, a Bishop acted in the same capacity for almost four years. In Liberia, during the war, the head of the Lutheran church was asked to be the Vice President of the country while people were looking for ways to end the civil war. In Nigeria, the same is playing out as we do have as Vice President a Pastor. The church’s relationship with the state must be cordial so as to guarantee peaceful co-existence of citizens in the state.