With Kenya getting its first registered atheists organisation, writer TONY MOCHAMA posed some questions to HABIL OLEMBO, a pastor based in Nairobi
How old is your church?
Our first church was a healing centre. I started it in Kericho in 2004. Then I handed it over to my assistant pastor in 2008 when I went to spread the word in Meru. It has been a long journey.
Tell us about its origins?
I started ministering when I was in Form Two. I had a calling then in CU. God gave me a mandate to lift the lives of mankind through preaching the word of faith. That’s why our slogan is ‘giving your life a meaning’.
Your years in Meru?
I have been in Meru with the World Healing Evangelistic Church for nine years now. It has been a great experience and I thank God for taking me to Meru. It’s been a great time but I have had my high moments and low moments like any other church would have.
Why the new move to Nairobi? Isn't that a bit like being the proverbial traveling snake oil salesman?
Mmmm! Honestly, my entry into Nairobi for church purposes has been long overdue. The Lord put it in my heart three years ago. I did not know how and where, but now its clear. All I can say is that God wants me to come and be of help to the nation through this great city of Nairobi. Remember - your location determines your allocation.
Where is the new church and what is on offer there?
The new church will be located at the heart of Nairobi.
You travel quite a bit. What is your typical day like?
Eeeeh... It’s quite hectic for me.. Being the General Overseer of a church, a husband, father and a spiritual father to many around the country, my day begins at 4am and ends at around 11pm, every day including Sundays.
What is your church's affiliation to SA and Nigeria?
I don’t have a church in Nigeria but my mentor is there, and also a lot of colleagues in the work of the Lord. But I have a few registered churches in South Africa which are directly answerable to the main church in Kenya.
There is a certain flamboyance to you. What's your fashion sense?
Hehehe... I believe it’s God’s will for us to live well as we serve him. Living well, or flamboyance as many would call it, is not a preserve of preachers but all children of God. We all need to live well. A life that portrays the good that God has to give.
What do you think of preachers like Kanyari?
I don’t like minding what other people are doing in their work. I like to mind my own business and to fulfill my calling. As for Kanyari, what I can say is I thank God for him.
Do you believe in the prosperity gospel?
Absolutely, yes, everyone loves to live well. The prosperity gospel is of God. Even the people that fight prosperity gospel it’s not that they love poverty, no. In the book of 3 John 1:2 it settles it by saying “ Beloved I pray above all that you may prosper and be in good health even as your soul prospers.”
Tell us a bit about your family.
I am a happily married man. I have been married to my great wife Judy for ten years now and by the grace of God we have one adorable four year-old-daughter by the name Lerato, we are a close knit family, though issues are common, but I must say if I was given another chance to marry again, I would still marry Judy.
Do you find yourself sacrificing family time for church stewardship?
Yes I do but I try as much as I can not to, but it’s not easy, especially where the ministry is. Young people have issues that they want solved and you have to be there for people. At times you have no choice but to sacrifice for people... I thank God for my family they always understand when I am not there for them.
Would you call yourself a preacher entrepreneur?
I am a preacher by calling but an entrepreneur by study... You cannot be an effective preacher without managerial skills. I hold a business management degree, it has helped me to manage God’s resources effectively. I’m currently pursuing my masters’ degree from the California South University. God is the greatest entrepreneur. So as His children we should study and affect our world. Remember, we live in a business world.
What do you make of Prophet Owuor?
To be quite honest, I would not want to discuss Prophet Owuor. But I don’t find him sound on many scriptural bases or the basis of his so-called prophecies.
How come churches are so funny these days?
You know many churches have different reasons and drive as to why they were started. Many of us appeal to different people, so it’s not that churches are funny because not all of them are. There are many churches that are genuine and advancing the agenda of God.
Me as a Kisii want to know. Are witches and evil spirits real?
They are very real and it did not begin with us here. The evil spirits and witchcraft are from the days of old and passed to our present time. In Galatians 3 it starts by saying “ o foolish Galatians who has bewitched you? “ When one is under the spell of witchcraft and evil spirits you will not do as you will wish, but one’s life is controlled by unseen forces. Part of my mandate is to liberate people that are under satanic harassment through witchcraft and evil spirits. I exorcise demons.
Our politicians all quote God, go for prayer rallies, are laid hands on Sundays, but are very corrupt.
You know all these politicians are coming from somewhere, they attended Sunday school and were taught about God, so the seed of God is in their lives. So why they do to the contrary? (sic). If you want to know the true character of a man give him power!
You know money is power, but it’s the duty of us the clergy to pray for our political class. Politicians need the church for survival. The church is the nerve of any country and any government... so I am happy they back-tracked on anti-church measures at the Registrar.
You drive a Jaguar. How's the ride?
The ride is amazing; I would wish it on everybody.