I bring you the testimony of Bishop F.E.B Idahosa, He is the only son of the great apostle, Archbishop Benson Idahosa. A well cultured, humble, unassuming gentleman, let me add that he is the only man I have seen in this part of the world in recent times wearing a 3 piece suit on a Tuesday afternoon. Behind his soft spoken British/American accent is a man with total faith in God, he trusts absolutely in God this is evident as he shared with me on his childhood, marriage, ministry and God’s plan for Nigeria. Excerpts;
MY TESTIMONYS: What was growing up like for you, being the son of the great Archbishop Benson Idahosa?
Bishop FEB IDAHOSA: It was a very normal child hood for me; people seem to ask me this question a lot. Perhaps they think my father would come home and start working miracles all over the house, for example, if there was no light maybe he would just perform a miracle and light would appear (laughs); it was a very normal childhood for me. I got in trouble, I did silly things that children do and played like any young boy at my age would. For me it was normal but it was only as I got older I began to realise the magnitude of who my parents were and what they were doing and it was then in my teenage years that I noticed that people began to watch me to see what I was doing. As I grew up, I began to see more of who we were and what our pedigree was.
MY TESTIMONYS: When did you become a Christian did that happen automatically or you got to a stage when you had to give your life to God?
Bishop FEB IDAHOSA: I think I was born as a Christian, when I was born I came out as a Christian (chuckles). I’m kidding, of course.
The truth is I don’t remember the specific moment when I became a Christian. I remember as a child making a decision to know Christ but I don’t know the particular year that was. I do remember when I was a teenager at 13, I made a decision to rededicate my life to Christ. When I was 13, I told God I wanted to rededicate my life to Him, because I finally understood fully. But you know as a child you make a decision one time you are not sure, you make it second time, third time, fourth time, fifth time, etc.
MY TESTIMONYS: Did you know you were going to end up as a pastor?
Bishop FEB IDAHOSA: I always knew I was going to be in the ministry somehow, I didn’t just know exactly what, where or how it would be. I was in medical school for 2 years because my whole life I wanted to be a doctor and take care of people. A few years before that that though, while I was working on my masters degree in the US, I came back home to spend three months my masters Capstone Project. This happened to coincide with the unfortunate killing of the activist, Ken Saro Wiwa by the military government. When they did that, diplomatic relations between the United States and Nigeria struggled, and I became an accidental victim. I was supposed to return to the United States to start medical school at the end of the 3 months Capstone research and I needed a new visa to return to attend medical school. i went to the embassy, and I was denied a visa. It didn’t make any sense because I had been going to the U.S since I was five years old so I had at least eight visas and I had never had any problems in the US. My family and I tried everything we knew to get a visa; we called the US ambassador, we called my medical school, we called all kinds of people and tried every connection we had but every way that we tried seemed to be blocked. I remember thinking that this didn’t make sense in the natural, so I switched to fasting and praying. Then I gave a big seed offering. I did all these things as a means to please God thinking, in a way, “Ok, God I am doing this, so it’s your turn to give me a visa back.” Of course, God is never moved by our acts to please Him. He does the things He does and allows the things He allows because He has a plan that will always work out for our good.
God always has a plan that we don’t understand and cannot see. At the time, I did not understand what the plan was because it seemed that everything we tried did not work out. I ended up staying in Nigeria for nine months instead of three months. In those nine months, I worked at our hospital, Faith Mediplex in Benin City. I spent a lot of time at the hospital, learning under some of the best doctors in the State. As I shadowed the doctors and was learning, I realized that I was actually was in the environment that I wanted to work in for the rest of my life. At some point in there, I saw that this was not what I would do with my future. During those nine months, I also got to travel with my father on many ministry trips. We traveled around Nigeria, around Africa, and even as far South America together. We spent a lot of time together in those nine months and we really got very close.
This is where the unseen plan of God comes in: after nine months, I got my US visa, I travelled to the US and from there I transferred to a different medical school in the UK because I wanted to get more of a Nigerian or British sense of the practice of medicine. After just two years from the time that I was in Nigeria, my father was called home to be with The Lord. It wasn’t until a few years later as I reflected over all that time that I realised that God kept me in Nigeria for a reason. God wanted me to stay in Nigeria to see what medicine was like, to see what I wanted to do with my future, and to see what the ministry was like in Nigeria. Most importantly, I got to spend nine months with my father, during which time we had gotten very close and we understood what our plans were for the future.
I look back now and in hindsight, I can see that if God had not closed that door to the US, I wouldn’t have had that time with my father, I wouldn’t have had that time to travel with him to understand his heart, I wouldn’t have had that time to spend in the environment that was to become my future. Those months, which God carefully crafted, helped to shape my next couple of years. After my father passed away, I came back home to Nigeria in order to assist with the stability of the ministry that was now in the hands of those he left behind. It was then I made the decision not to pursue a career in medicine, but instead to pursue the work of the ministry. I hung up my stethoscope and I got into ministry full time from there.
MY TESTIMONYS: Talking about your dad, what was your personal relationship with him, for many kids, there is a certain point when we withdraw from our fathers, were you close throughout?
Bishop FEB IDAHOSA: We always had a good father/son relationship but like I said, during the time when God closed the door for me not to go back to the US, a deeper relationship developed. I lived in the US for about seven years and in those seven years my parents established and grew a lot of our ministry outreach products: the Word of Faith schools, Benson Idahosa University, our Faith Mediplex hospital and many other things which I couldn’t be part of because I was either too young or out of the country. It was in those nine months in Nigeria that I got to know more in-depth and understand the ministry. I found out that my father’s heart was in the future. I had a good relationship with him, I enjoyed his company, it was a very sad day for me when he passed away but like I said, God knew what He was doing. While we thought things were going bad, God had planned a future for us.
MY TESTIMONYS: You have been President of the Benson Idahosa University for fifteen years, how has it been running a university?
Bishop FEB IDAHOSA: It’s been challenging and it’s been interesting, I have enjoyed every minute of it. I am always quick to tell people that I don’t actually run the university because we have very good and capable people there from the Vice Chancellor to good Deans to very intelligent professors who are there with us, that’s what makes the university run. I would love to take the credit for it but the truth is there are so many people who work to make the place one of the best in Nigeria right now. What I do is work with the University on strategic vision, planning, and in keeping in focus what our founder wanted to ensure we achieve what we set out to achieve.
We are planning for the next couple of years now; we have a five year plan and are putting things in place to see that by God’s grace we achieve what God wants for us. Our core purpose and the reason why we exist is to change Nigeria; two simple words, ‘Change Nigeria’. Everything we do revolves around changing Nigeria, changing mindsets, living change, changing people’s thinking so that we can see Nigeria become the giant of Africa that it really is supposed to be but is not quite yet. We try to infuse the gospel into what we do so that our students can go into all parts of the country and the world to begin to make a difference after they graduate and even before.
Our vision is to raise academics, professionals and entrepreneurs. Academics are those who are your teachers, the writers; the people who basically control how the nation thinks. The professionals are those who work in the different professions like law, accounting, medicine and other fields. Entrepreneurs are the ones who make the nation run with finance and businesses. We believe that if we can put students in these three areas with the right mindset, graduates who are thinking change, who are thinking development, who are thinking efficiency, who are thinking no corruption, then we can really begin to make a difference in Nigeria. That’s where my work comes in, we make plans to achieve these goals and then make the university through her students and staff, carry them out. We can make Nigeria what it should be.
MY TESTIMONYS: What phase in God’s plan do you think Nigeria and Edo State is going through right now?
Bishop FEB IDAHOSA: Nigeria and Edo State are squarely in God’s plan. When my father was just beginning his ministry over 40 years ago, Benin was called the city of blood due to the extreme prevalence of idol worship and animal sacrifices made to those idols. It was said that only one out of ten people in Benin went to church, but today, Benin is more known as a City of God, where nine out of every ten people go to church. Every great ministry in Nigeria today can trace their roots somehow to Archbishop B.A. Idahosa, because his focus on preaching and evangelism brought Christianity and the Pentecostal movement to prominence. That’s just to show the influence of what this man from Benin City, Edo State, had on the state, Nigeria and Africa as a whole.
Benin City is set up as a trigger point for change in the rest of Nigeria. Nigeria in God’s plan too is also a place from which God is going to make a difference in all of Africa. If you look at the map of Africa and you turn it on its side, it looks like a gun, and Nigeria is the trigger of that gun. Nigeria has been spoken about through prophecy to many people; through my mother Archbishop Margaret Idahosa, through Rev. Adeboye, and through so many others. They have all said that God has spoken that Nigeria in the next ten to twelve years (by 2025) will be the most desirable place to live in Africa and God is going to do some mighty things in this Nation. God has spoken to them at different times and they have declared it publicly even without talking to each other. So we see that Nigeria really has a place in God’s plan for Africa and I believe that Benin City is a strong trigger point for that. Out of Benin came Archbishop Idahosa and he changed Nigeria and the gospel ministry in Nigeria. Out of Benin City came the Bible School which he founded, All Nations For Christ, which has trained over 11,000 pastors in 40 years, out of Benin is coming Benson Idahosa University with her graduates who want to change Nigeria. I believe that so much more can come out of this place; the university, the ministry, the church are all bringing together Christians to show the world what God can do through people who trust him.
MY TESTIMONYS: What are your views on Boko Haram?
Bishop FEB IDAHOSA: Boko Haram is a scourge to this nation that must be dealt with. They are doing so many wrong things against Christians and Nigeria that we are at a point where we must look back and ask, “How did we get to this point?” If you watched the news 10 years ago and heard stories of kidnapping and bombing you would have thought, this can never happen in Nigeria. Yet here we are 10 years down the road and this is happening just down the street from us. It’s a shame unfortunately, but at the same time, it is a challenge. I look at it as a challenge for the Christians. If God can allow this to happen, it is only because He has equipped us with what it takes to turn it around and that’s why Christians in the position of power and authority need to start talking about how they can put an end to it.
I don’t have the answer now but I know that within our circle of Christians, we have the answer. There are people among us who know what to do and it’s time for us to step up. If God has spoken to you, then we need to begin to take steps to attack this shame on our nation head-on and also outflank the enemy. We can’t sit back and watch it, God has a plan for us and this enemy will not stop it. It is wrong and we have the answer so we need to come out and do what needs to be done.
MY TESTIMONYS: What were those moments when things went down south and you just had to stay strong in faith?
Bishop FEB IDAHOSA: There are so many of those that make up a man, make up a Christian. One of my biggest was when my father passed away. On the day we received the news on the 12th of March 1998, we thought our world was going to collapse because everyone thought he was invincible, everyone thought he would live forever, no one ever thought that he was a human being and that one day God would call him home. That was a time when I had to stay strong and in those times you think of everything from your family, to your sisters, to the future of the ministry and you wonder what you should do but God always has a plan.
For me that was a great faith moment because I had to tell God I didn’t know what to do. I mean, how do you even think about continuing this legacy? God spoke to me very clearly and said, “I am going to take care of you, I am going to show you what steps to take” and here we are now, 15 years later and I can look back to say God really showed up and took charge of everything concerning the ministry, the schools, the hospitals, the university and we have not been shaken. We are increasing, we are thriving. That’s when you realise that no matter what happens in your life, God’s plan is working and you are in His plans, so no matter how bad it can be, if you just stop and say, “God, You must have allowed this to happen, there must be a plan that You are working, let me flow along with Your plan.” As long as there is God’s Spirit inside of you, He will lead you where He wants you to go. No matter how bad the place can be, as long as we are there, we bring life so I am very excited about the future.
MY TESTIMONYS: How did you meet Pastor Laurie?
Bishop FEB IDAHOSA: (Smiles) I met my wife when we were both 13 years old and we met in Benin City. Her father and my father were friends and my father was a mentor to her father. When her father would come to Nigeria, they would do crusades together all around the country. It was when she came to Nigeria with her parents for one of those crusades that we met. We were friends since we were thirteen years old and we remained friends for all those years.
In September 2001, I was on a trip from Nigeria to the US for a conference when the World Trade Center incident happened. I was flying to Houston but when the plane hit the World Trade Center; our flight was redirected to Canada. The conference was cancelled, all flights were cancelled and the airline offered to drive us from Canada to the US. The airline drove us to New Jersey, which was close to her home, so I spent the next few days with her and her family. You could say the romance was rekindled at that time, and a little over a year later, we were married. So out of all the tragic things that happened on September 11th, 2001, one good, romantic, love story came out.
MY TESTIMONYS: How has married life been?
Bishop FEB IDAHOSA: It has been a wonderful journey, and we are now in our 11th year of marriage and we have been blessed with three great sons. God has been wonderful because our marriage is full of testimonies of God’s goodness through the good and also through the challenging times.
MY TESTIMONYS: What was the most crucial factor you were considering when you wanted to get married and what would you advise the unmarried?
Bishop FEB IDAHOSA: When I met my wife I didn’t even bother about all the things I said I was looking for as a child. Those things suddenly were no longer the criteria for my happiness, I just knew this was the right person. For the young people I meet, I tell them, marry someone who is your friend, someone that you know and you enjoy their company. Marriage is not about sex or having someone to cook for you, it’s about companionship. If you marry for sex how long will that last? After the euphoria of lovemaking ends, what do you do with the remaining 23 hours of the day? If it’s about someone to cook for you, after the food, what happens?
Marry your friend, someone you can joke with and laugh with and live with because that’s really what the companionship of marriage is about. You are going to be growing together; it’s about both of you doing things to become one. My advice is, don’t marry someone you just met because you are desperate. Get to know them to see if you enjoy their company, see if you enjoy who they are, know about their dreams and aspirations and then marry your friend.
MY TESTIMONYS: Let’s talk about some of your vision and initiatives. What inspired your TV show, ‘The Bottom Line’?
Bishop FEB IDAHOSA: The Bottom Line was a TV show we started many years ago, because we wanted to have a programme on TV where young people could watch music videos, dance, inspirational discussions and so on. Those things are very common these days but they weren’t very common back then in 1999 and 2000. We ran the TV show and from there we started churches and outreaches to target young people between the ages of 15-30 years. The idea was to reach young people with the gospel in a way that was exciting and attractive to them, since they didn’t really want what was traditional. From that beginning, we today we have eleven churches around the country that target that younger age demographic.
MY TESTIMONYS: Let’s talk about the Big Ben Children’s Hospital, there was a vision behind that hospital, how have you been able to achieve the dream?
Bishop FEB IDAHOSA: Big Ben’s Children’s Hospital began as a vision that God gave to my wife and I after we lost our first son. After our wedding, we were told we couldn’t have children. For 5 years we tried different methods including In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) and finally one of our IVF cycles worked. My wife had a full term pregnancy and our son was born healthy, but unfortunately after 12 hours, he died. It was very sad, that was another trying faith moment because it seemed as though God did not answer our prayers. We were very devastated but as we were crying and mourning at the funeral service, my wife left where she was, went to the altar and knelt down and started worshipping God. Right there, God spoke to us that He wanted to use this tragedy as a testimony to reach other people. Here we were in the US they had all kinds of equipment, specialist doctors, and everything yet our son still died. God asked us what happens in Nigeria where our people don’t have half of these things.
So God spoke to us to start the hospital to be an excellent care center for children. Over the next few months, the miraculous happened, and people began to donate equipment to us as we began to take out of our sorrow and sadness to help other people. Today, BBCH is one of the best children’s hospitals in Benin. We have some of the best doctors and equipment for labor and delivery, for antenatal care and many more; we are planning to make it even better by God’s grace. Out of our sorrow, God brought out something to help other people. As we were doing that, just few months after our first son passed away, my wife got pregnant again. I remember at the funeral service, God spoke through Bishop Hopkins and he said, “Within a year from today, God will give you a reason to rejoice.”. Exactly one year to the day from July 9th 2008, our son Feb Idahosa IV was born. Once again, God showed up. Awesome God, awesome testimonies. We are very happy to see what God has been doing through our lives and through the hospital.
MY TESTIMONYS: Let’s talk about Mama, Mama will be 70 this year, how has it been with you being the man of the house without Papa Idahosa?
Bishop FEB IDAHOSA: God has shown Himself faithful to us. Mama oversees the ministry; God gave her wisdom to set up boards with competent people over the different ministries. So all of these work together to ensure that each ministry, the hospital, the church, the Bible school, the secondary schools, the university, and everything else works with the right people. That was God’s wisdom, each one works independently and they all report back to her. And that’s how we have gotten even better and grown.
This year she will be 70 years old; we are very happy and very excited, and are planning to do a countdown to her birthday over 70 days. We are planning to organize 70 events to celebrate over 70 days to celebrate her 70 years. The countdown will begin on May 21st and events will happen every day from Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, the US and the UK and all over the world people will be celebrating her birthday. We will be celebrating the God that is inside of her and God that brought her from where she was as a school teacher to now an Archbishop who oversees one of the biggest ministries in the world. I hope you can join is for the celebration either in person or online via Facebook, Twitter, or her webpage, www.margaretidahosa.com
Thank you for the opportunity to share my testimonies with you. May God bless you, prosper you, and continue to increase your voice and your influence vie this blog and other outlets.
It was impossible for me not to tap some of that grace.
Culled from MY TESTIMONYS