Pastor Israel Ayanfe Olubori is the spiritual father of Rock of Salvation Apostolic Church which started as a prayer group under the guidance of Prophetess Mary Adeleke, his wife over 25 years.
A few days ago, Prophetess Mary Olubori and her hubby celebrated the 24th anniversary of the Rock Of Salvation Apostolic Church which Prophetess Mary Olujuwon Olubori (Nee Adeleke) started as a prayer meeting on a mountain called ORI OKE OJOO. The meetings were held between 9 am – 3 pm under a tree before it later metamorphosed into a church over 2 decades ago.
This celebrity couple who co-run their churches both in Lagos, Ibadan and London were filled with gratitude to see many of their followers come all out to felicitate with them.
City People had an exclusive interview with Pastor Israel Olubori where he spoke extensively on why their church is under attack, how they started the church. And why his wife dress the way she does.
Looking back 24 years ago when you started, how has the journey been, and how many members did you start with?
Then I wouldn’t say we had church members because they were coming because they had this belief that whenever you have a problem, you go to a prophet. So it’s different from the normal Gospel or Pentecostal church setting. They come, fast, pray and generally looking for solutions to their problems. From that point, we started like a prayer ministry on the mountain before it metamorphosed into a full-blown church. So you come and you’re given some prophecy. During the prophecy, you are given some fasting and prayers to do, then we meet on the mountain.
When your problems are over, most people will leave because they are from another church and have not come to join but came because they had a problem. They believe that our ministry is warfare and prophetic ministry where they would get messages, prophetic revelations and know the will of God concerning their problems. So it was a hectic problem trying to stabilize the church since people were coming and going. It was now my duty to let them know that we have the words and prayers in this ministry and not just prophetic ministry. So we started building members’ confidence.
So then, it wasn’t like a church when you started?
No, it was just like a room where she would give them the prophecy, then after that, there was a need to follow up with prayers which we do on Ojor Mountain in Ibadan in 1996-1997. We had not really met then. We met on the mountain in 1997 and that was how I came into the picture. We laid the foundation of the church in October.
With how many members did you start the church?
Well, I wouldn’t really call them members, because they were just more like the regular ones. Many people were coming then, you know when there is a prophet in town, many people will come from far and near. Alhaji Ayanda Sawaba was coming, a lot of people were coming but most of them were Muslims so I wouldn’t call them members. They just heard of a place where they could get solutions to their problems. The regulars we had then were about 15-20 people.
So seeing how far you’ve gone, when did you and your wife move to the United Kingdom?
Well, she moved first, I don’t really know how God has structured it but when we moved from Ogberi where we started to Osanyo, I had just finished 40 days dry fasting, I was so skinny and at the point of death, she was the one going about to acquire the land for the Santo church. The same thing in Lagos, she was invited by someone for prayers, then we moved to Lagos. So in December, she and the children moved to London.
What year did this move occur?
This happened in December, 2008.
Sir, we know you to be a very calm person and Mummy to be very fashionable. How do you balance it.?
Well, you can be calm and fashionable too you know, but one thing I know is that she is this loud type. She likes being out of the ordinary. Initially, we were too ministry focused going from mountain to mountain. As husband and wife, there are times that we would hardly meet two or three times in a year. We were living in the mission house and we were not allowed to do anything there. So we were just like that. It was all ministry. It’s like laying a foundation and you know you have done the needful and now you can now rest. It was then things started to change. Then it was duty, duty, duty, and we were too busy. It just like starting a business, you have to do a lot of running around to ensure that the business is balanced and stabilized.
Sir, how do you cope, being a father with kids though they are now grown, and a husband to your wife and still have to look after the church?
I would say, that one thing I noticed about my wife is that she is an extremist. If she wants to do things, she does it to the extreme. When she wants to be spiritual she’s always spiritual to the extreme so I can’t tell her not to be extreme when it comes to fashion. I have to allow her be the kind of person she wants to be as long as it is not a sin against God. God has given us the free will to be who we want to be. I don’t know the grace that God has given you and you don’t know the grace he has given me. You don’t have to ask me and I don’t have to tell. I know personally the things he has denied me and the things he has allowed me.
Talking about the children, they understand that that’s what we do for living. It’s so funny when people say that men of God don’t work, they are lazy, they are this and that. I don’t know how many times I eat in a year and I know we have to pray for people who call us. You can’t call your doctor if something happens to you in your nightmares, you also wouldn’t call your doctor if a masquerade is chasing you. There are certain things like that. Even in the middle of the night, God says I should not switch off my phones that anyone can call in the middle of the night. So that is the work of God. So you have to be proactive, alert and ready to help people and support his ministry
We noticed that initially, you were not really online. Mummy has been the online person but recently we have been seeing your face even when mummy is not around. How are you fitting into that role seeing that mummy was the face of the ministry on Instagram?
Well, when it comes to the face of the brand, I know that people these days are looking for faults and mistakes, things they believe this is the way it should be as though there is a standard. Who sets the standards for being beautiful or ugly? It is the standard set per the person in his mind. That is why they say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. People set standards even for Christianity. They ask should a Christian wear jewelries? Should they dance? Some of the people were interested in her because she was dancing and she attracted so many people to the page.
So sometimes, if I preach, they are not really interested in it. They just want to pick some good things of the ministry. It is not everything that Jesus did that they believe in. Jesus was said to be a glutton because he related to sinners. So they sometimes tag us as evil people when we preach.
How do you cope with all the things you hear as a man? I know there are times that mummy will get weary and cry. How do you cope?
Well, women, break down so many times but you just have to be a man to carry everyone along. Because I have set my own priorities right. After God, it is my family and it is my duty to make sure that everything is calm. Women go and bring problems for the man to solve because when the chips are down, you just can’t fold your arms and watch.
Some people attach meanings to things like when someone spreads a clothe on the floor for your wife to walk on, what do you think about this?
All these things depend on people’s faith. When it comes to Mantle, Paul and Peter never asked people to bring Mantle. It was that faith that made them bring the mantle so that they can take it back home to heal the sick after the disciples have touched it. Jesus never asked the disciples and all those people that were following him to spread their clothes on the floor. But people were doing it.
Nobody has seen God and no one can do the work of God without doing it through men. The motto of Rock of Salvation is serving the divinity through humanity. Take for example, I work for God but all I do is for humans. I can’t pray for God or fast for him. I do it for people. If people do something out of their faiths and it heals them, they should not be chastised for it.
Seeing how far you have been able to keep this ministry for 24 years, what comes to your mind with all the love struggles and the sacrifices you have made.?
Well, the bible says that if it is of man it will not stand but if it is of God, it would stand. When people who you have dinned together, eaten together and drank together now decide to say so many things negative about you and you just wonder where they got the story from, you realize that people will try so many things to bring you down when they are angry and can’t get what they want.
So in your church in the UK, how many members do you have there?
Well, we still have the initial problem there. We talk about people that have come to the church, we would be talking about thousands but how do they stay in the ministry. I was born and bred a Muslim, even my wife too was a Muslim. Her father was a Herbalist in Lagos here but a Muslim convert. But we give all glory to God. The initial problem is still there. People come but are they ready to stay?. Some come saying they have issues with their British passports and documentation etc but staying in the ministry has been a difficult thing. They have their church that they attend because but only come because of their problems. I tell people, don’t be problem-focused but be God-focused. Change your focus from your problems to God. Come to God because you want to worship him.
Sir, you were a Muslim before, what is your Muslim name and can you still recite the Quran?
My Muslim name is just by the way. But yes I prayed daily. I even went to an Arabic school in Oyo State in the sixties before I left for the north in 1974.
So can you speak the Hausa language?
Yes, I can. I schooled in the barracks in the North.
So we thank God for everything. I didn’t call myself but when I was born, I was given the name of a priest in the Quran. But I didn’t even know I would be one. I don’t know how and didn’t plan it.
I read an interview you granted back then, you said your wife led you to Christ. Is that true?
Not as such, I was a Christian when I was in the North because I went with my brother, the first son of my mother. He was also a Muslim convert too that converted to Christianity then. we lived together and started with the Apostolic Church.
So I was on the mountain praying and she was holding her normal Thursday program and called me that day and gave me a prophecy, that was how we knew each other that day.
Can you give me five things that you love about your wife?
Well, I love her when it comes to the things of God, she does it sacrificially to her own detriment and even to the detriment of her husband and children. When she wants to work for God, she does everything to the extreme. That was the first thing that attracted me to her.
What about her fashion sense?
It’s beautiful. I remember when we were in Ibadan, she didn’t just start because there was no social media then, she just called me and said she wanted the best tailor In Ibadan. I told her it was going to be expensive and we were just managing ourselves in Ogberi then. Then I think the first daughter of Baba Awolowo who lives in Awolowos house in oke gbona that is where we came from Ogberi to give her clothes. She is about class and she is not prudent. When she wants something, she gets it. Even in those days when we go the bank, from the gateman, she starts giving them money and she established a relationship with the manager.
So she makes sure she establishes a relationship with people. I’m the quiet type but she is the type that always gets things done. So I’ll give that to her. Anytime we need to get things done, she is always there so we don’t need to worry because she would always make sure she knows someone there and would do everything that needs to be done to ensure everything is fine.
How do you cope with all the various allegations against the church?
People always find fault in everything. So we are fine.
Let’S talk about your wife’s love for Gold and all?
Well, remember my wife wasn’t wearing all these jewelry before now but one day she asked me if it is a sin for someone to wear gold and look good as a prophetess. I told her No. This is because even in the Bible when Mary gave birth to Jesus, they presented her with gold. It was not written that she sold the gold or threw it away. You see people find fault in lots of things but as long as it not a sin before our creator, we are fine. There was a time my wife wasn’t wearing gold but she has always been a fashion-conscious person who pays attention to details.