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Bishop Charles Ighele
Bishop Charles Ighele, General Superintendent of Holy Spirit Mission Church, also known as the Happy Family Chapel, an ardent promoter of godly union and family values, in this interview with Odinaka Uruakpa, speaks on marriage and increase in the rate of divorce, his church’s campaign to make marriages better and honourable, among other issues.
What should believers expect from the ‘Marriage Promise Keepers’ campaign of the ministry?
Our vision is to provide a meeting place for couples who believe that marriage is honourable; to build a community where they can fellowship. To create a robust and thriving forum where these couples can acquire the necessary knowledge and wisdom to make their marriages better and more honourable. To be a place where members of the Marriage Promise Keepers will gain more experience and insight on how to raise their children to become the righteous and mighty seed they are supposed to be. To provide knowledge for all ministers and their spouses on how to equip and positively impact members of their congregation to have a happy, successful and blessed marriage and family. To be an important entry point of blessing into a person and their family, knowing full well the importance God attaches to marriage and family. To be a place where ministers and their spouses can run to when faced with marital and family conflict; where issues can be resolved secretly or quietly at any point in time. To be a place of refuge for turbulent marriages and families of ministers and their spouses. Place where your marriage and ministry will be bulletproof and protected against sexual attacks and scandals. A place to provide leisure, entertainment, fun-filled parties, couple getaways and all other forms of relaxation. A place where members of the Marriage Promise Keepers (MPK) can influence their church community and make them family counseling centres in their neighbourhood. Through the MPK conferences such as Ministers Child’s Conference, International Conference of the Ministers Marriage and Family and other workshops, seminars and rallies, we will be mobilising at least 500 Christians across various denominations to raise awareness on how we raise a godly home, God-centered marriages.
Your selflessness in the ministry is noble. How did you do it?
In 1995 when I started the television programme, it was the first on marriage and family ministry on any television station in West Africa. The impact was huge. I was hosting commissioners and governors in my house; it was well accepted. We were touching on areas that resonate with marriages and family life. I was doing it not because I wanted to be popular but because I had a message. It is a big struggle; I don’t like to do things for popularity sake. I want to be great but not through image laundry.
What are the major challenges facing Christian homes?
One of the major challenges facing homes in this part of the world is our culture. Culture is so powerful. When you grow up in a tribe or ethnic group that has a culture that does not make up for a romantic culture, you can imagine the kind of homes those cultures are breeding. Some family culture does not make up for a good family life like the one I grew up with. There was nothing I could learn from my parents on how to run my home romantically. When a child grows up under such culture he or she needs to come out from such culture like Abraham was called out from his father’s house. I made the decision to come out of the obnoxious culture before I got married. So, when you are operating under the culture that is in aberrance with the kingdom culture, you will look at things from a different angle.
When do we strike a balance between culture and Christian marriage?
You can never strike a balance if you are truly a Christian. The Bible says, ‘Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you’. When you seek righteousness in your marriage, then your home becomes a light and conflict becomes easy to settle.
Why do we have failed marriages among some church leaders?
The issue is that there are few pastors that have had sex scandals. The point is that there are three categories of pastors – some pastors are not called of God, but by Satan and they use demonic powers to deceive many people. Many people fall for their supposed signs and wonders. The Bible says in Matthew 24:24: “For there will be false Christ, and false prophets, and they will show great signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, even the chosen ones.’’ Some people come into pastoral ministry because they can speak and teach, but do not have their root in Christ. Many people are moved by their swelling speeches and teachings. The so-called preachers perverse the true gospel of Jesus Christ for peculiar gain. They twist the word of God to support their theology. The third sets are those who are genuine ministers of the gospel but fall away at some point. Like Samson who was not careful in his relationship with women fell for Delilah and ended his ministry in a terrible manner. When you are born again, it is the beginning of the kingdom journey. Now, man is a spirit and he has a soul and a body. When you are born again, it is that human spirit that is recreated, the mind and memory are not touched yet. When man fell, it was the spirit, soul and body that fell. So, being born again is the beginning of the journey whereby the spirit of God, as you hear God’s word and it enters into the human spirit, should now begin to take possession of your mind, your feeling, emotion and memory. When you are born again, then the souls which consist of memory, will, feelings, imagination, intellect, when it is not renewed in accordance to the word of God or worked upon, then the person will misbehave, behaving like an unbeliever. Born again inside and has the character of a believer. The nine fruits of the spirit are put in you at the new birth experience and it’s supposed to possess your soul and make you behave accordingly. If it is not so, the person behaves like an unbeliever. When the persons see sex, they want to have it like an unbeliever because the mind is still polluted like an unbeliever. It is imperative to know that being born again and filled with the Holy Spirit is not the end but the beginning. When someone becomes born again, it is the spirit that is changing but we need to grow into the character of Christ. Our hearts must be changed.
Can you share with us your voyage into pastorate?
I studied History and Political Science and graduated in 1980 from the Obafemi Awolowo University, formerly, University of Ife. After my Youth Service, I came back to Benin City, the Edo State capital. I joined a ministry and was very dedicated to it. The lifestyle of the head of the ministry was not okay in terms of his relationship with the opposite sex. I quietly left it. I wanted to join a deliverance ministry but God restrained me until l met the founder of Holy Spirit Mission Church, the late Bishop Michael Marioghae. I went to the church and he was preaching. But before he started his message, he told the congregation that he went for a programme and one pastor who preached gave a great message and he wanted to preach the same message. I was surprised because I had not heard anything like that before. I read a lot of books and some pastors make some quotations without quoting their sources. For me, it is important that things should not be done at the pedestrian level. We should add godliness to intellectualism. I came back. Then, as a young pastor, I opened churches in villages, cities in Benin and other places in Nigeria. I later became the Secretary to the Leader of the church. I married the second child of Bishop Marioghae. I surpassed their expectations and l was chosen by God to take over the leadership of the church in 1997. Before 1997, people thought I was the GS because I had a television ministry and I attached the programme to the name of the ministry.