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Until I Am Sure That All My Members Will Make Heaven, I Cannot See Myself As A Success, Says Bishop Curtis



Bishop Curtis Fianu, Church of God Mission International Incorporated, New Warri Bishopric

Bishop Curtis Fianu is the Bishop, Church of God Mission International Incorporated (CGMi), New Warri Bishopric.

Recently, he celebrated his 56th birthday.

In this interview, he spoke on the journey so far, his call to the ministry, service in CGMi and other related issues.


How has the journey been?

The journey has been well by His grace, but it has not been an easy journey. I have told a lot of our young people that when you see a man in his glory don’t desire his glory until he has told you about his story first. Behind every glory there is a story. Sometimes the stories are not pleasant. I have had very rough and very painful experiences. I have shared some of the stories with some persons. And when I tell people, they tell me: “Bishop you mean you went through all these? We have seen a situation before where there was no food to eat and we had to…

I learnt how to eat cotton seed that they use to cook soup. On a Christmas day many years ago, we were not even having pure water to drink.

Did all these happen when you were very young or when you were married?

(Cuts in)… as a pastor before I got married! I have pastored a church for four years with no salary. I have slept on the floor for six months before. Like I said in church on Sunday, there was a time I, my wife and three children, sat on one motorcycle to go to church because we could not afford two. Sometimes if the bike man refuses, my wife and three children will go, while I will use my leg to follow them till we get to church. It has been a rough journey. It has been difficult; we have had some very challenging moments, but in all, He has been faithful.

Sir what kept you going despite all of these challenges?

   I was very convinced that God called me. There was no iota of doubt that he called me and I was also too sure that if he calls you then he can pay the bills. No matter what we went through, we were very sure that God cannot fail us. He has been too faithful to fail. Going through the bible, I have never seen anybody that God disappointed. Like I said, one of the things that make people commit suicide is when their expectations are not met. I have a book that God gave me an inspiration to write. The title is: ‘When expectations are not met’. When expectations are not met, suicide is not the answer. It may not be met now but tomorrow it will be met. I was too sure that my future is glorious because God said I know the thoughts I have towards you, they are thoughts of good and not of evil, to give you an expected end. So, I settled it long ago that difficult times will come but it will not last. I know that the future is beckoning on me.

During your early days in life did you always wish to become a pastor?

                        No, no, no! It was the last thing I ever wanted to be. Actually when I was growing up, it may sound funny… initially I wanted to become a Medical Doctor. Then at a point I did not know how the idea came and I started saying I want to be a policeman. My friends laughed then, saying you mean police and I would say yes I want to be a policeman. I did not know why but at a point, my father was an Accountant and then I started desiring to be like my father. Instead of police or Medical Doctor I went into Accounting. What discouraged me from doing Medicine was my Mathematics teacher. When my Mathematics teacher then came to class, he did not make the subject interesting. So, many of us lost interest in Mathematics. This affected me, but my Account teacher was excellent, so he motivated us to love Accounting. I ended up falling in love with Accounting instead of Science and so I followed that line. I desired to be a Chartered Accountant. Even though we did not reach that goal, but that was my expectation. I believe God that one day that I will get there. To become a Chartered Accountant has always been my dream.

Talking about ministry Sir, our readers might want to know the circumstances that led you to answering the call, becoming a pastor and how you joined the Church of God Mission.

                        Like I said I never dreamt of becoming a pastor when I was growing up. I hated the idea of becoming a pastor. I did not like the pastors I saw when I was growing up. It did not look attractive. But, when I gave my life to Christ in less than one year I was already a Sunday School teacher because I have a passion for teaching. I was teaching and people loved my class and my teaching.

You mean in the Church of God Mission?

No, Baptist! I got saved in the Baptist. Everyone wanted to be in my class you know, so, I developed passion for teaching and reading. And then before two years as a Christian, I was elected as a youth leader and was a youth leader for 2 terms and so I just started having revelations of seeing myself in a big congregation, and I will be teaching. I started going to a mountain to pray and we spent some time to pray and God started speaking that he his calling me to preach and that He will confirm His word. But I didn’t read meaning into it to say it is pastoral. I just wanted to you just do your teaching, and I will have everything in control. But, I just discovered that I started losing interest in everything. Then, I had a big shop and I was making a lot of money and I said I will make a lot of money and will take care of pastors. Suddenly the government came and said where all those shops were that they want to destroy it and want to build and expand the roads. So, we had to pack our things. Even the people I was doing business with took my goods and disappeared. I lost heavily. In fact a friend called me and said look you have become Jonah. He added, “because of you now see people lost their shops.” So, I started praying. Somebody gave me a magazine; it was a magazine from Church of God Mission. I have seen Papa Idahosa occasionally and a lot on TV. So, when I saw the magazine of Church of God Mission, as I was going through it then I saw an advert of the Bible School. I just wrote to them in Benin to enquire about the school and I expected a reply. But they gave me admission and a scholarship to come to the Bible School. Nigeria was the last place I ever wanted to come to and nothing would have brought me to Nigeria. I didn’t have passport to come to Nigeria. I went to my pastor first then told him I have been having this burden and sleepless nights; that I always saw myself teaching and doing the work of God. I told him that there are things that God is asking me to do and to go into ministry. So, he said that is fine. Meanwhile, because of the way I performed as a youth leader, my pastor wanted me to go to Scotland to go and do a youth programme and come back and take charge of the youth fellowship in Baptist. But, I told him that God is leading me to Nigeria. He then said if Nigeria why Idahosa and not the Baptist School in Ogbomosho. I said no Sir that God is not leading me to Baptist and I need to obey God. My pastor got angry and he said look when you go don’t come back. We don’t need you. I did not have a passport. So I told God if my passport comes out on Tuesday it means you are calling me because I won’t pay for express. So, I went to submit my form. My Uncle happened to work in the Foreign Affairs, so I went through him and gave it to him. I did not say anything. So, he collected the money and he said come back for your passport on Tuesday. So, on Tuesday I didn’t go. On Wednesday he called me and said your passport has been ready what happened. I then went on Thursday to collect my passport. Then, it was the issue with my ticket. I said God I don’t have money for ticket. If You can buy me a ticket, then I know that you have called me and I will go. So that evening we closed from church I just visited one family who are my friends and they told me “we heard you’re going to Nigeria Bible School,” I said yes. Then they asked: “so is your ticket and everything ready?” I said I am trusting God. They then said all these youths… you are still believing God when you’re supposed to live on Sunday? They wondered why I did not tell them ever since. She then said I should allow her go into her room that whatever cash she sees will be given to me. You know this was a weekend, a Friday and I am suppose to leave on Sunday. So, she entered her room came back and brought an envelope and said use it for whatever this can do for you. So, I collected it and went home and when I checked it was exactly what I needed to buy the ticket. The next day I went I went to buy the ticket and I said God it is not through yet. I am going and you know that I have never been to Nigeria before please give me somebody to help me there. Then there was this big ship that was coming to Nigeria. So, I boarded the ship and prayed to God to connect me with someone that knows Benin City in that ship. So, I met one guy who had finished his first degree in Four Square Bible School in Nigeria. He is a Ghanaian. But, he did his first degree in Four Square Bible School and he was going to Benin our Bible School to go and do his Masters. So God just connected… and everything I asked God to do, he did it and they were confirmations. So I came, I didn’t come with the intension to stay & work with the Church of God Mission. I just came to the Bible School and go. Few months to my graduation, I started praying to God to know what he really had for me… where do You want me to go? Where do you want me to serve? I wanted to know. But, He didn’t say anything. So, we normally do practical. I went for my practical in Kaduna and someone just requested that they should post me to him to come and assist the work in Kaduna. So Papa approved that they should send me there. I called one of our deacons in Ghana and I said when I was leaving my pastor said I should not come back and he said don’t say that, we are looking up to you. I was confused because there were many openings. One day I just went to one of my lecturers and said I am confused. So, I told him everything. He said take your decisions and don’t think of the consequences. The moment I said I was going to go to Kaduna, I had my peace. So, I obeyed the Archbishop. That has been the journey so far.

You have risen to the top in CGM since you preside over a Bishopric. What are your secrets?

                        My secret is God because He has been my strength. Without him, we won’t get here. So, whatever we do He has been our leader and our everything. He has been faithful. So, na God.

Sir we will like to get some specific details. Are your secrets your study life, faithfulness, etc? I mean your driving principles.

                        You know when I was in the bible school, when my course mates were buying shoes, I used to buy books. I have a library in my house like 3 times the size of the one in my office. So, when they were buying shoes, dressing well, I did not have any shoes and I was not dressing well. I was buying books and tapes and I was reading. Today, I have shoes and good clothes. So, I like to read, study and pray. I don’t pray the way I used to pray. When I was growing up I used to pray for 7 hours. The least we prayed then was 3 hours. Now, I get so tired that to pray 1 hour is a struggle. We have to struggle to do so because we have to still sustain what we do. I tell people that so many things you see today are an accumulation of prayers we prayed then and the kind of study we engaged then. I have been seeing people since morning. So what would I read now. Then, I fasted till my wife went to report me to papa that I want to kill myself. So, we had to pay the price to get here. The things we did then are helping us today.

Who inspires you the most in ministry?

                        Papa Idahosa! Papa Idahosa in life, in death, is my mentor. I have always aspired to be like him and do what he did and go to the places he went. He is my number one mentor. Then, second on the list is Mama Idahosa. John Maxwell is also my mentor when it comes to leadership issues. I don’t joke with his books. In fact I used to read his books like… I have almost all his books.

                        In these days of breakaways you have remained in CGM for this long? What kept you in?

                        Like I tell people, God asked me to stay in CGM. He has not said I should go. So, I need to hear him say that I should go.


                       Is there the possibility of Him asking you to leave?

                        It is possible for God to speak to ask me to leave. Like I tell people God will not speak in the midst of confusion. When there is crisis somebody says God told him to go. It is not true. God speaks in quietness. I have heard occasion maybe when there was a transfer that I didn’t like and I would have resigned but I have not heard him say go and so I did not go. Like I tell people even if they remove me from Praise Center some people think I will resist, but no. I have told them in church I came with four years grace. So, I was expecting transfer after 4 years, but it did not come and I waited for another 4 years it still did not come. But, I have said it over and over again that my load is packed and if I get a letter today, you won’t see me in Warri tomorrow. So, I need to hear God. I have even seen Bishops and Archbishops asking me to go because of certain transfers. I said no, I cannot resign because of certain transfers. Anywhere they send me to, I see it as where God wants me to be. So, God has always glorified Himself. Until I hear him say it, I have my inheritance in Church of God Mission.

Sir apart from ministry, what else do you do?

                        I don’t really do anything apart from ministry. I do full time ministry. I write books, organise seminars. I don’t do business. Basically all I do is ministry.

                       How many books do you have to your credits and what message do you try to convey through your books?

When God called me, he called me as an exhorter or an encourager. So my messages mostly are to encourage people. I encourage and give hope and so I write in that direction. I have a book I wrote with title: “How you can survive in times like this.” We are leaving in a time when people are committing suicide. When you read that book you will not have any reason to commit suicide. I have another one on “When expectations are not met.” People need to read some of these books. Like you know, life is not a bed of roses. Sometimes you don’t get what you expect. You will be disappointed by men. There are many more of my books out there.

You are a widely travelled preacher. How do you cope with the church, your marriage and ministry?

                        I don’t travel without my wife. So, most of the time when I travel outside the country, and will stay long, I go with my wife except it is for a few days. So, we are still married on our trips. In ministry God has blessed us with good people that we can leave church for and not be afraid because there are good people around. So, when we live church, church goes on. But, for me I believe that you don’t build the church around you, rather you build it around Christ. The church is not built around me but it is built around Jesus. So, whatever I can do any of my pastors can do. God has helped us. It is not about me, it’s about Him.

Sir let me go back to your person. If you are asked to describe yourself what would you say?

                        I am an easy-going person; I am simple and I take life easy. I don’t believe in struggling for anything. Whatever God gives me, I take. So, I take life easy. People say I am humble. But I don’t know whether I am humble. But for me, I like to be simple and also live a simple life.

Sir do you consider yourself as a success; are you actually were you want to be?

We are not there yet. I am still believing God. I want to see a church (well God is the one that determines) but that you are sure that all of us are going to heaven. You are sure that everybody you pastor is following you to heaven. When we all get to heaven I can say we are successful. But, until then, we are not there yet. We are still working. I have always dreamt to fill Praise Centre 3 times or 4 times. That has been my desire but we are not there yet. I want to run 3 or multiple services and everywhere filled up.  My desire is that nobody will lack anything in church and everyone is self sufficient and can take care of their family and comfortable to an extent. I will say I am successful when I get to that point where nobody is asking me for house rent or for school fees and everybody can take care of themselves, meet their needs and pay their bills. That is the kind of church I want to pastor. So we are not there yet.

You are very philanthropic. What is the driving force?

That is what Jesus lived for. Jesus took care of the needy and the poor around us. So, that is actually Christianity. Christianity without impact in the lives of people is not Christianity. Jesus said whatever I do for people I am doing it for Him. He said I was hungry you didn’t feed me. I was naked you didn’t clothe me. I was in prison you didn’t visit me. I hate to see people around me suffering. My heart cry everyday is God bless and give me so that I can bless and give to others. If God blesses me nobody will suffer around me. Seriously I like to see everybody around me doing well… everybody around me happy.

Do you have any most memorable day?

That is the day I married my wife. I cannot forget that day. My wedding day was a glorious day. It is not an exaggeration. I am not sure I have seen any wedding in Church of God Mission like my wedding. I have not seen. Papa put his feet down and he officiated himself. He brought four state governors. Delta State governor sent his deputy. Edo State Governor was there with his deputy. Ondo State governor, one evangelist Bamidele was there with his entourage. Also, Anambra State governor was invited. He could not come but he sent somebody. All the big pastors in Nigeria were all there. Faith arena was like a carnival. Everywhere was filled and the reception was in his house. He said he wanted us to be close to the governors and the people he invited. It was glorious. He gave us his Limousine and police escort blowing siren behind us. I said “God na me be this”? I cannot forget that day. Anytime I remember that day I cry because I felt the son of a nobody was so honoured. God has done so much. Every time I remember that day it brings tears from my eyes. I cannot forget that day.

Sir do you have any red letter day, the day that you will not want to remember?

I and my Father were not too close. We were getting to reconcile when he died. That morning we even saw before I went to school. I was teaching in one private school when the news came that he had an accident and died. I cried… I have never cried like that before. It was like my world had crumbled.

You just talked about the late Archbishop, how did he impact your life?

                        He impacted my life in so many ways. Papa was a man of God. He was very plain, open and very transparent. He never gave up on anybody. Papa can spot gifts and that is one of the strong things I got from him. He identifies gifts and knows how to harness them. He was very courageous and bold. We desire that we get to that level and be able to talk and speak on international issues. Papa was simple even at his level. If you know him he was a simple man. Sometimes people around us make things difficult for us but when you come close you will find out that it is not as you thought. Somebody said I didn’t know it was this simple to see you talking about papa. He is simple, accessible, easy going, was a prayerful person and was a good giver. He paid 90 percent as tithe of his income. He is a man of God. We miss him. I have always desired to be like my father (papa). Sometimes, when I preach, people say you preach like papa. I don’t know if it is true. Some say when they see me they remember papa.

To those looking up to you what is your message to them?

They should keep looking. We are not where we want to be, we are still a work in progress and we trust that as they look up to us, we will also look up to God and we will not disappoint them. We will look up to God and make sure that whatever God has put in us, that he wants us to bless them with we will bless them. If Papa did not give us the opportunity many of us will not be here. Papa believed in us and gave us the opportunity that is why we are where we are today.

Sir any word for young ministers?

They should be patient. Sometimes they like to run faster than us. I was speaking with one Bishop and he was like why will somebody go and take title that you cannot defend. He has a title, but he does not have works. That does not make sense. I will encourage young ministers that it’s not the title that makes ministry. Let us not crave for titles. Let us allow God to magnify himself through us. They should be patient. Many desire to be like the big men they see and don’t try to find out where they are coming from. Many have made shipwreck of their faith, some have become native doctors because they don’t know and they are not patient. So, they should be patient.

Is there anyone you will like to give credits to after your 56-year journey so far?

My wife… my super, super, super… if I have opportunity to marry her again, I will marry her. If there is marriage in heaven, I will marry her again. My wife is a wonderful person. She has really helped me. Many times I will want to do something; she will say no, you can’t do this. If I refuse, I will go and crash. She has been there and supportive. I tell people that I am blessed. I married a wife who has never given me stress. When women are pregnant they give their husbands stress. Even paying her dowry, my father in-law said to me I don’t know any list to give you. He told me to go and bring anything. Then, Mama Idahosa too, she is awesome. She has believed in us and given us several platforms. She has been there for us and we appreciate her.


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