His name is Sunday Ogidigbo. He is the Lead Pastor of Holyhill Church – one of Abuja’s youngest, yet most influential churches. In January 2014, Holyhill Church became globally renowned as the ‘100-Dollar Church’ after the church trended on Twitter for giving everyone who worshiped at the church on a particular Sunday, a cash gift of $100 each! Everything about Pastor Ogidigbo and his Holyhill Church provokes a sentiment of that which is out of the norm, excellent, stylish and exceptional. In this exclusive interview with BREAKING TIMES, Pastor Ogidigbo speaks about his calling, 3 years of Ministry, his passion and motivation and once again shows clearly why Holyhill Church is one Ministry you can’t put in a ‘box’.
As Holyhill church turns 3 this October, how has the journey been this past 3 years?
It’s been a journey of faith and a journey of discovery. One of the first things that I realized upon starting church is that the greatest thing about ministry is starting. That’s the toughest part. It took me 4 years to get to the point where I decided to go ahead and do this. So, it’s been a journey of the discovery of the faithfulness of God. When God calls you to do anything, no matter how hard it might appear whether in business or ministry, He has provided everything you need but the provisions don’t begin to show until you start walking in obedience. So it’s also been the journey of obedience. Things were not together at first, but things started getting together as we continued in the journey.
Within the last 3 years of your ministry you have built the reputation for doing things that are unusual and extraordinarily different. Where do you derive your inspiration?
From Jesus (laughs)! The Bible is my compass for everything. If you study the scriptures very well you can call Jesus a radical. That was why He was killed because He didn’t fit into the norm and everything in His message was not like those of the Apostles or the Pharisees. He spoke differently, talked differently, and acted differently. At a point people thought He came to destroy everything Moses taught and they did not know He actually came to fulfill them. For me, we have a template that guides us in what we do. One of the things you realize is that there is the place of doctrine the body of truth that governs the Church, to which all of us subscribe and there are programs that churches are known for. It is now left for the Pastor to look for the style that fits. It is for us to, by all means, be all things to all men so maybe in the process of doing that people begin to think we do things differently or that we are unusual with our style. It is just doing everything within the ambit of righteousness and common sense in order to get the message of the gospel across, because one of the things that I believe is that you have to contextualize that gospel without it losing the truth of the Word of God; but designing programs that will situate the gospel of Christ within people’s realities. That is what we are supposed to do as Christians, when you do that, people will begin to think that you are unusual. When the unusual becomes usual, then the usual becomes unusual.
What is the vision of Holyhill church?
The vision of Holyhill church is to bring people to a place where they can eloquently express the wisdom of God. Holyhill’s vision is ‘to give eloquent expression to the wisdom of God’. So, wisdom is our message. In essence, we are supposed to bring the people God has called us to reach to the point where others acknowledge that they are wise people just like Daniel in Babylon and like Joseph in Egypt. They should be men of wisdom in all endeavors whether in politics or business. So it is about getting our people to operate in the wisdom of God and when we do that then we have succeeded with our work.
Designing programs that will situate the gospel of Christ within people’s realities. That is what we are supposed to do as Christians, when you do that, people will begin to think that you are unusual. When the unusual becomes usual, then the usual becomes unusual.
You have a strong passion for charity and helping the poor, tell us some of your projects and the inspiration for these projects.
One of the 5 fingers of our ministry is what we call heavyweight charity (laughs). What inspires this is the Scriptures. Jesus clearly told us in Matthew 25 that we should take care of the disadvantaged people that are around us. Every student of the Bible knows that reaching out to the underprivileged is the core; it is the heart of the gospel of Christ. So we draw inspiration from the Scriptures. Right now we have activated 3 of the 4 sectors that we want to focus on. We have this project that we call EDX (Education Support Services). It is a project that gives scholarships to indigent students and members of our church because we believe that charity begins at home. So, we do outreach as well as in-reach by offering scholarships to very brilliant members of our church who want to study abroad particularly, however, we include those that are studying locally. We also give little grants to children of our members who we know are not too privileged.
We do community work where we get members and non-members of the church to volunteer their time to teach in a public school here in Maitama, that is one project that takes a lot of our attention and energy.
There is also the Agric project that we are doing, we go into farming communities because in Abuja, most of the villages around the city are predominantly farming or Agric based areas. We actually go there to help or to see how we can encourage them embrace new agricultural techniques as well as get them to send their children to school and to empower the kids. This is purely community work and we also help the women in these communities. These are the things that we are doing now but it will expand with time.
Who are your role models and what makes them special to you?
Ok, top of my list right now is Pastor Poju Oyemade (Senior Pastor Covenant Christian Centre) whose teachings and lifestyle is a very strong source of inspiration. He is humble. He is a man so powerful, yet so accessible; so great and yet so available. Pastor Poju is, for me an example of the way Pastors should be. Pastor Dele Osunmakinde, Yemi Davies, these are people who are my direct role models. I follow other ministers, I listen to their messages. Bishop Oyedepo is father to every one of us. I don’t have direct access to him, but I listen to his tapes and I learnt a lot about the foundational principles of my faith and my ministry from listening to Bishop and I still listen to him. Also, Mike Murdoch, Kenneth Hagin, and I read a lot of E.W Kenyon. So I draw from the fathers, living and dead.
One of the 5 fingers of our ministry is what we call heavyweight charity (laughs). What inspires this is the Scriptures. Jesus clearly told us in Matthew 25 that we should take care of the disadvantaged people that are around us. Every student of the Bible knows that reaching out to the underprivileged is the core; it is the heart of the gospel of Christ.
The theme of your 3rd anniversary celebration is the purple cow. What does that mean?
(Laughs) Yeah the Purple Cow actually means the purple cow. I think it is our way of saying we are different. The slogan of Holyhill church is ‘BE DIFFERENT’. Indeed a purple cow stands out; when you see a purple cow you stop because it stands out. I think the foundational principle that drives us is the policy our church holds to not be different for the sake of being different; but indeed when you begin to embrace the teachings of the scriptures and apply them to the letter then you standout. So we are celebrating the fact that God has helped us these 3 years to be true to our values. That is why we tagged it ‘The Purple Cow’.
Very recently you were in the news as the church that gave $100 each to everyone that attended service that day. What was behind that gesture?
We didn’t know it was going to spin into what it became. A family in church was just flowing in the spirit of the season that we were in. In January I had asked members to give gifts to one another and to look inwards because the Bible says ‘do good to all men especially those of the household of faith’. At that time I was also teaching about money, about the futility of money, that you don’t tie your soul to money and so after that Sunday service people exchanged gifts, people got iPads, phones, perfumes, clothes and shoes. It was one unusual Sunday for us that last Sunday in January. So 2 weeks after that, a family walked up to me and said they wanted to give everyone in church a cash gift and knowing that the owner of the money had a right to how the money should be spent, I checked my spirit, I spoke to a few people because it has never happened before and we were fine with it. It was an instruction, God said give blessing to everybody in church. We did not do any publicity to get people to come to church to get money, the service had ended and the envelopes were handed out and one or 2 persons within the age of social media just took the picture and before you knew it, it spun into what it became but it is fine.
The slogan of Holyhill church is ‘BE DIFFERENT’. Indeed a purple cow stands out; when you see a purple cow you stop because it stands out. I think the foundational principle that drives us is the policy our church holds to not be different for the sake of being different; but indeed when you begin to embrace the teachings of the scriptures and apply them to the letter then you standout.
What are the highlights of the 3rd anniversary celebration? What should we expect?
The anniversary will begin with an evening with Pastor Poju Oyemade. He will be with us on the 30th of October, which is the actual day of the Anniversary; it’s a time to give praise to God and to listen to what the Spirit will tell us going into the New Year. On Friday – which is the next day – we will thank Him for how far He has helped us. And then on Sunday we will come together for the thanksgiving service. It is pretty much a Thursday, Friday and Sunday morning event.
Where do you see the ministry in the next 5 years?
I don’t know (laughs). Because if you had asked me this same question 3 years ago, “Where would you be in 3 years,” when the church was starting I don’t think I would have guessed that we would be where we are right now. So the fact is, I don’t have a clue. Somebody asked me ‘why don’t you know?’
Now, if you had asked me ‘what do I want to see?’ I think most of the things I want to see usually tally with what God eventually does. We want our people to be better Christians, we want to have qualitative and quantitative growth and we want family units to be stronger. In the little period we have been here, we have had people come to us and becoming better people. There is a family whose testimony is outstanding. He came in fresh from NYSC, 2 years of being with us he started a business, got married and now he has employed like 15 people all because, according to him, he does things based on what he hears in church and that are the kind of things we want to see more of. We want to see people rooted in the Word, we want to remain true to our values and we want to go where the spirit takes us.
In the little period we have been here, we have had people come to us and becoming better people. There is a family whose testimony is outstanding. He came in fresh from NYSC, 2 years of being with us he started a business, got married and now he has employed like 15 people all because, according to him, he does things based on what he hears in church…
What is your word to Christians across the globe as your ministry turns 3?
I will like to tell every Christian that Jesus is coming back again and the rapture is real. The second coming of the Lord is here and you should take your faith work very seriously. Put the kingdom first and know that persecution is normal in the faith. People should not feel that the way Christians are being persecuted is abnormal; it is part of the faith. Jesus said that you gain material things plus persecution, so persecution and martyrdom for Christians is normal. We should be strong in the faith, we should stand our ground and work at our salvation with fear and trembling knowing that all that we do, say and tweet, we are going to give an account to God.