How I struggled with pornography, says Oyedepo

Pastor Isaac Oyedepo of The Isaac Oyedepo Evangelistic Ministries speaks with Pastor Leke Adeboye on his Confession Box with PLA Podcast Episode 11, where he talked about why he left the Winners Chapel, life outside the ministry, marriage among other issues. Olumide Olusegun brings excerpts

Has your name worked for you?

Yes, it has. I don’t think it’s a common name, but it has worked for me. It has worked for me in ministry. It has worked for me everywhere. You know, the name means laughter. And so for me, anytime the name is called, it’s a reminder that regardless of what you are going through, joy, and laughter are always going to be beneficial.

What is your favorite and least favorite scripture?

My favorite scriptures are Nehemiah 8 and 10. The joy of the Lord is your strength. And on my least favorite, I probably don’t remember it. Oh, this might be long.

You have been much coded as a family for those who are on the outside and even those who are on the inside, you have been super-coded. What was life like growing up?

I think most PKs (Pastor’s Kids) will agree with what I’ll say. It’s, it was interesting but also tough. I don’t think all of us got to enjoy childhood like other children would. Well, you know, my story when I was going to be named, there was nothing for the naming. So it was, it was I think water and Chin-Chin. But I think that the pressure that comes on pastor’s children and somehow we just want to be sure that we’re not putting our children through the same pressure as well. You are first a child before a pastor’s child. So, I think it was fun but I don’t think I have too many fun memories though. I think the fun memories I probably remember were things I did with myself. So for instance, I have this, it’s a good platform to share this. If you look at my palm, there is a mark. I got electrocuted at the age of five riding my bicycle. I also remember riding my bicycle and closing my eyes saying, look, I’ve mastered the route around the house. To know where to turn and then was riding and the next thing I was on the floor. I have that mark somewhere on my head.

So you had been intentional about making sure that your children have memories then that they would enjoy?

I am so intentional about that, very intentional. I am not sure I even really remember what we did for birthdays. So my son’s birthday is coming up in a few days and I am very intentional about planning it. Very intentional about being there. I still do drop-offs. I still did drop-off this morning for my daughter’s common entrance. I do that every day. I guess we learned that from outside the country. So I know where that is coming from. So I do drop-offs when I am around, I do pickups. I plan my trips around that. So you hear me say, I can’t leave on a very early morning flight because I know I have to drop them off. So give me a 9 o’clock flight, a 10 o’clock flight. The only reason is because I want to drop off.

WHY I LEFT WINNERS CHAPEL

Why did you leave Winners, Living Faith Church?

That’s very interesting. So I am still in Winners. I am still in Living Faith. I am still a member. I am still a steward, trying to be. But because of the assignment that God has given to us. I think we just overcomplicate very simple things. Before I came in full-time to pastor, I was a member. And I see it as a transition phase. It is moving from one phase to the other, nothing changed. I am still there. But seeing me on the altar, ministering as a pastor, I think that’s where the challenge is. But first of all, I am still born again. I am still a child of God, a Winner, and still a Living Faith member. I am currently planted in the church in Abuja, but then I now have the liberty to pursue what God has asked me and called me to do. And really, you can’t do that being a full-time pastor. Nothing has changed except a phase. So it’s like a book with different chapters. So you knew me in chapter one, doesn’t mean the book has changed. The chapters just flipped. And you know me now in chapter two, you may not be ready for what chapter three is. And if you’ve peeped into chapter three, you may have no idea what chapter four is. One thing I do know is that our times are in his hands. He is the only one that knows the end from the beginning. So I think what is quite interesting about this is while many are shocked, God is not. I think it is Isaiah 29, 11 and 12. ‘The vision of all is as become as the words of a book that is sealed. I thank God, that God seals our destinies from many people.

In terms of relationships, how many hearts did you break back in the day and how did you manage the aspect of preferential treatment you used to be a drummer? So that even made it worse?

Well, I think, and maybe that also happened to you. So I went to boarding school. At the time I was in secondary school, the Winners didn’t have a school. Some people knew who we were but at the same time, there was nothing at the time to write home about. I attended a catholic school. A wonderful school. And then I think what may have helped me was leaving after secondary school for the US. I can say pretty much nobody knows me where I went to school for high school. So I think for me, the best memories were actually after I left Nigeria.

Why? Some people will be thinking of japa. They may think this is a sign that God is saying as Pastor Isaac has said best memories are when you japa.

And I heard somebody say that God is the God of Japa and He is also the God of japada. He was the one who also told me to return.  That’s when I got to enter into any relationships anyway. I don’t think any was really because of my background. Nobody knew me.

So did you break hearts, Pastor Isaac?

No, So my wife is not my first relationship. And she is aware. I was quite open to her. So I believe I did, but I think it all worked together. I tell people, that a relationship didn’t work out, doesn’t mean the other person is evil. It just means the combination is not right. I met quite some very good people, good Christians, good believers. And I am sure they are all doing well in their marriages today. It is just that the combination didn’t work.

Did you date only Christians?

I have always been a bit reserved. Now I remember that in high school, in Nigeria, I also dated one or two people. At the university, after a lot of pressure, some guys told me to go to the club. And we were in the queue to get into the club and I turned back.

Why?

I think that was the last time those guys ever did such. So, it’s back to what you’re saying, preloaded. And I think that’s the benefit of having this foundation that we have. You never know when that will be your saving grace.

You were a regular Pastor at some point and later you went into hyperdrive mode and you were absolutely off the chain, especially during the COVID. What happened?

This is one of the reasons I would always thank God for COVID. There is a lot of things in the secret place. One of the things that that period did for me was it drove me to my closet. So all of the activities that a pastor would have to do daily, and the appointments you would have to keep were no longer there. So on March 15th, 2020, we received information that the churches in the U.S. would be shut down. But that was supposed to be the last Sunday. So just in my time, we’re already hearing news of COVID and all the rest. And I just had my time with God Sunday morning, praying, studying the word and I heard his voice and he said this statement I will never forget. He said, men are made in crisis and voices are heard in crisis. That’s what drove me all through COVID. So in other words, COVID will make the best out of some people. COVID will give some people voices that never had voices before. So use this season wisely. That’s where the switch happened. That’s where the vision for what I do now was birth. So people think it happened in 2023, that’s late. It happened since that time. My hunger for God. It became very difficult to be satisfied in any church meeting, including the one I was preaching in. I was wondering, what is this? There has to be more, you know? So I think for me, my hunger for God, hunger for the things of God, I did read a lot during COVID as well. So, you know, reading from our fathers, reading from past revivals, you know, when you see what is happening in certain places and things that had once happened, except you don’t know these things or your heart is not right, you would be very unsatisfied where you are. So that’s where I’m surprised that you noticed that, you know, but I knew that there was something that happened to me in that instance. We went to church some of those days, as you would know, 10 people, but like you said, I was hungry for impact. I started looking back. People like John Gillick, without the black plague, who would have known him? There needed to be in crisis. So it’s like in the midst of crisis, men are crucible. Amid a crisis, there is a refining and an elevation. So before the crisis, we are crude. If we subject ourselves to the crisis, we become refined. So all of us came in crude. Somehow, and if you find out, many of our fathers had to go through certain things. So I saw this as my own thing.

You have this grace or anointing for the crowd during programmes. How do you do it?

It is one of the reasons I am here at the camp. There is no grace that you can’t tap into if you truly desire it. And my scripture is, greater works Jesus said than I did shall you do. So if there is any servant of God that carries any grace that you observe and desire and are hungry for on time, you can get it. So I don’t want to go into all the details, but I have seen this thing in other people’s ministries and I said, look, I like it. The truth is never to see anything you like and pretend that you don’t like it. The reason for the hatred is because of what that person carries. So I am quick to say, look, I like this. And when I have had the opportunity to meet great men who carry, I tell them that I like this. I think one of the things that would help us or help that has helped me is there is not one person that carries everything. So regardless of the family you come from, yes, there is grace, but one person can’t carry everything. I had seen this happen. I was very small when Lekki 98 took place, but I heard of it. There was no way I could make it to Lekki 98, but I heard there was something that happened in Lekki 98 that Nigeria would never recover from. So I think it is for me the attraction to graces. I can spot it from far. Right. So if I see what I like, I don’t pretend like I don’t like it. But if I have access to the individuals who carry this grace, I do all I can to get it from them with hunger, not with money, desperation, and a passion for it. Now there are many instances that you don’t get to meet these people, but there is still a transference of that grace because proximity doesn’t always equal collectivity. Pastor Leke, you’ll find out that the closer you are to the people who carry such graces, the more difficult it is for the grace to rub off on you because of familiarity. So that could be a disadvantage to be so close to people who carry, except you are very discerning, very disciplined. So I found out that many of the graces that God has helped me receive from are people I have never met. People that are far, so far ahead. But I say, Lord, if you can do this, I truly desire it.

So, how do you prep for ministration when you have to go for service?

My answer may be shocking. I found out that the impact of ministry for me is not when I am preparing to minister. What I mean is I think having a consistent prayer and study life is key. Sometimes you find out that the meetings you may consider as very impactful, everything that we received as a message may have come within five to ten minutes. You know what I am talking about? So sometimes the ones we have spent time preparing more; because I think what happens in the public space is a reward for the secret place. So really the preparation for me is how intentional I am daily in my secret place. One hour here, two hours here, 45 minutes here, not prepping to preach, but prepping to live. Because these things will flow out of you so naturally. That’s why you can find out a person takes the same message another person preached, and preaches it the same way, but the impact is different. Because our father which seeth in secret is the one that rewards you openly.  

What are your biggest fears for this generation?

This is what I believe is scary for me and our generation. In 2015, I was in South Africa, I think we had some issues with news going up and down about some powerful men of God who had issues and so on. And in just my childlike manner, I was asking them, Lord, why? What’s happening? But these gifts are so, I mean, they’re still at work. Miracles happen. And I heard something very interesting.  The gifts and callings of God are without repentance. So that you see whatever you say, you see is not an approval from God. So if you talk about the crowds, if you talk about the miracles, if you talk, that doesn’t mean you’re approved of God. Then in the same year, I think that’s second Corinthians 10 and verse 15. I don’t know who can check that for me, but it says not he that commended himself that is approved, but he whom the Lord. So second, as you carry the Bible now, the scripture came. Second Corinthians 10, 18. I was helping you open it. Yes. It’s not he that commended himself that is approved, but he whom the Lord commended. So in fact, you can have results. You can have an impact. You can have miracles. Don’t be deceived by those things. For in fact, he said in the last day, people will say we did miracles in your name. And what will his reply be? Depart from me. I know you not. If you are sincere as a pastor, as I think this is a confession, there are things that you know, God did without your input. So that’s another huge lesson that I learned as well. I remember for a couple of years, for those who were in the church, then I would always say, Lord, I vow to give you the glory. And I meant it. After service is done, I will close the office, and kneel. Father, thank you for everything that happened. Thank you for one soul that gives life to Christ. And then that becomes 20 and that becomes a hundred. And then that was my second lesson.

What is another thing that you think God is sought for?

I think another thing that God is looking for, and this may be out of what you’re asking, it just came to me very strongly is that don’t try to compete. No competition.

But do we live in a society filled with competition?

That’s what social media has done. I think our originality and authenticity must be guarded very strongly. For instance, he that compared himself with another is not wise. So look at who you are, look at God’s plan for your life. Whatever he has asked you to do, do it. Don’t be a copy, be an original. So that takes me to a book I read, John Mason. Don’t be a copy. That’s the title. I don’t know if that book is still in print because this was 15 years ago.

If you could live your life all over again, what would you change?

It’s a tough one. And the reason is even the things I do not like, I think worked to shape me. So if you’re asking what are the things I didn’t like, there are many, but has that not helped me become who I am becoming? I just think the lessons I have learned or the things that I have seen that I did not particularly like have helped me work on bringing up my children a bit differently.  And like my parents would always say, you should be a better version of us. I think I picked those lessons and that helps me to train them up without changing the values. For instance, I would have loved to have my father pick me up at school but that didn’t happen. This is confession. So I think my dad came to my school once or twice and it felt so good. I still remember that feeling. Just hear people say your dad is around. I know my wife is watching this.

Where did you take your wife on Valentine’s Day?

Where was I? You know, with the ministry. On my behalf, I apologise.

How did you propose to your wife?

I was very direct but it was after her service. Our story is so interesting that nobody introduced us. We didn’t go to the same school. We never went to the same university and never belonged to the same fellowship. I saw her and I told her, look, I want to marry you. Immediately. No delay, no scripture. no long letter and within one week. I think one of the things that I thank God for as a nature that he gave to me is to just be real and just be yourself. I am not in for a lot of pretense. When things become so official, they don’t work well for me. Ours is a very interesting one.

But you have knelt at some point maybe in secret to present the ring?

I didn’t. I guess I wasn’t as educated then to know that you should kneel.

What confession do you have for us?

I think that in my confessions really would be good stuff to help people. So I have struggled with pornography. And I remember when it started. I forget what country we traveled to. I was in the room, switched on the TV. That’s it. But God brought me out of it very quickly. And you know, a lot of people still struggle. If anybody who had struggled with it had walked up to me and said, look, I have struggled with this. This is how to come out of it. Maybe I would have come out faster. So I think the lack of authenticity, there are things that you were not supposed to talk about. And today some pastors struggle with it. There are members of churches who struggle with it. Remember again, back to what we said, you may be anointed seeing miracle signs and wonders does not mean you are standing right. So there is this old saying that, if it is working, then I must be getting it right. I found out in my little age, that is not always the case because there are times I knew I was not right, but grace and mercy still. And I think the reason is for the sake of someone genuine in the congregation. God can bypass you and meet the person. This is you at a messed up stage, but there is someone who is sincerely crying for a touch from God. So you can use the donkey. He can use anybody.

Where do you see the Christian journey heading especially with the politics in the church being even more than the one in Aso Rock, backbiting, the backstabbing which derails people from the actual focus on the goal?

Maybe this is too high for me to answer, but I will tell you that in three months of the evangelistic ministry, I have seen things that have made me afraid. And it takes me back to the Acts of the Apostles. The revival and the outbreak of the church wasn’t just because the Holy Spirit came, wasn’t just because there was fire. Yes. The Holy Spirit is still here. There is fire, not because of just the sound. We still have wonderful sounds going on, but I think one element is missing and that is unity. Acts 1:14 says they were all in one accord in one place. People throw away that act two one, it also talks about being in one accord. So I don’t think with all the great things, and this is my humble submission. I am not qualified to answer this question, but in my humble submission, I think one thing is missing and it is unity. Um, I said recently that God didn’t create denominations, man did. And now beyond denominations, I think the previous generation, our fathers, maybe, if they were asked, they may say, look, one of the issues would be denominations. But I think for us, it’s moved from denominations to competition, which is worse. It is a worse concept than the previous one. Right now, there are people doing things they were not called to do. We are not fighting. We are not competing. The one who is sent out goes out and the one who is staying stays to build. I was watching Enoch, the movie, and one of the things I picked up there was discipleship. That for me, I believe has been missing. Where someone sits down to disciple and to teach, to show you how to pray, to show you how to study. See what we have to do. Now, how many people in church would claim to be disciples? Thank God for 5,000 souls saved, 20,000 souls saved. What next?

What is your advice to the people?

Be authentic, be real with God, and be hungry for the things that we see in the word of God. For this word is not a lie. It is the truth and it will always work. I think also locate purpose and do that on time. I think one other thing is, to live every day of your life with a sense of urgency, never be laid back. I trust God that our confessions may have helped.

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