I am starting a series of interviews of different missionaries that I have connections with. This one is a Q&A. Adesegun Hammad Olayiwola was one of my students. He is active in Nigeria, and has written many books on issues of African Missions, Evangelism, and Muslim ministry. (Most of these are available on Amazon.) For more about him, you can read his answers.
Can you tell us about your family background?
I was born into a practicing Muslim family in a mostly Qur’an scholars city called Epe, in Lagos State, Nigeria. I started informal Qur’anic school at age of 7; I was practicing Islam as well as worshiping idols as I grew up. Islam was the religion of my parents. My Mum died just before I clocked 5 years and my family was the head of a polygamous family. I was the first child and my Mum was also the first wife.
Please share with me how you became a convert to Christianity.
Sometime in 1985, I was 16years old then in Form 3 in secondary school; I remembered I picked up a tract written by a former Muslim who accepted Christ. Back then, that type of tract cannot be handed over to people but only placed on the ground at night because of fear of attacks from the Muslims. The tract was about a passage in the Qur’an, where Muhammed told his followers that, he has no knowledge of what will happen to him nor his followers after death. In a word he cannot promise them heaven because he is like a blind man showing a way to the blind.
The passage reads, “Say O Muhammed I am not a new thing among the Messengers (of Allah i.e I am not the first Messenger) nor do I know what will be done with me or with you. I only follow that which is revealed to me, and I am but a plain warner”. [Surah Al- Ahqaf, Qur’an Chapter 46 vs. 9] and it was also re-echoed in Hadith of Muhammed in Saheeh Bukhari Volume 5, Book 58, Number 266. When I read the passage again and again in the Qur’an myself, I believed the Holy Spirit started the work then because I had so many questions about Muhammed and his messages, because the tract also analyzed Jesus’s claim and assurances in John Chapter 14 from verse 1 which I also read. That was the time I thought God had started my salvation process, although, I did not accept Jesus until May 1990. My heart was divided then, and at times started thinking about two prophets here, one was sure of the hereafter and one was not. The decision to follow Christ must also be weighed carefully because of the family I belong to, making me me think that the Christians are only trying to twist a Qur’anic passage to gain converts. However, the thought refused to go away from my heart and head for 5 years.
Because of a situation in my life in 1990, I was pushed to ask a Christian friend to pray for me, because I was desperately looking for a solution. Telling my Christian friend to pray for me was a shock and seemed unbelievable to him, and so he at first refused to take me seriously. This was because of my initial responses and arguments on the issue of incarnation of Jesus Christ, in which all Muslims believe that God has no son. But then, whether Jesus is a son of God or God Himself has not important to me— all I wanted was a way out. However, when my friend noticed that I was interested in the prayer, he said he will not pray for me except I come to his Church. Church? It has no big meaning to me, and I promised to attend the following Sunday which was 13th of May 1990, I went the following day as promised, because I was really desperate for a solution to my then problems.
My first Sunday services experience was another story, because I went for prayers for financial breakthrough, but the pastor led by the Holy Spirit preached on a topic call ‘THE DESTRUCTION OF THE WORLD’— the text was taken from Revelation chapter 8 from verses 1 to the end. The message of that day was clear and direct enough for me to understand that everything in the world will come to an end one day. My heart was touched by the Holy Spirit because the message was so frightening, I could not even think about prayers for financial breakthrough again. Instead my concern was about how I will be saved from the destruction of the world and how I will be raptured and escape those tribulations that the pastor claimed will happen soon. To me that Sunday, it was as if the world will be destroyed that day, and when I considered my life of recklessness and idol worship, I felt I will be doomed with the world. The pastor didn’t not do an altar call that Sunday, however, we were allowed to pray for ourselves and my only prayer that day, was ‘Jesus save me,’ because that was the only solution given to us to be free from torment after rapture and even in heaven.
What have been some of the struggles you have faced as a Christian minister in your setting?
There are struggles I passed through and I am still passing through as a Christian
- The struggle of family and relatives was one of those struggles that I went through. I have to relocate to another city to be able to practice my Christian faith.
- Also the church, I faced the challenges of people known or non-Christian background problems. People to refrain from you or let me just say that, since I don’t have any family or relatives in the church, most people found it difficult to relate with me.
- Even when I started the planting of a church alone, many members of the church found it difficult to believe that God called me to do the ministry. May be I should call it the challenges of my identity as a Muslim background believer.
What are some of the blessings you have experienced serving God as a minister?
- One which is outstanding was the way God used people I don’t know to train me in the sense of scholarship to study theological education.
- Joy in my heart is another blessing I am still receiving from God up till this date.
- God is still using some people outside Africa to support me spiritually.
- I also received financial blessings, somehow.
What are things you wish that Christians knew about Muslims?
I cannot complete everything here but I wish Christians were more aware of:
- The doctrines of Islam are important to know, to help the discipler to know exactly the fears of new Muslim background Christian converts
- The likely persecution that might be faced by Muslim converts
- How to contextualized/find connections between some of the doctrines of Islam and the gospel messages
- Understand that Muslims don’t have a good Biblical studies foundation so Christian should go easy on them.
- Be aware of some of the Do’s and Don’ts in Muslim/Christian communications and relationship.
- Recognize that Muslims are also human beings created in the image of God and can be saved
- Recognize that Muslims are also part of the blessing of Abraham
- Christians should know that all Muslims are not terrorists.
What are things you wish that Christians knew about (or do for) Muslim Background Believers?
- Be aware of some of the likely challenges that may be faced by the MBBs including the challenges of Isolation, Challenges of adapting to Christian Culture, Fear of Persecution, Challenges of Identity, Fear of Dangers of Becoming Apostate in Islam, and even the Challenges of Death.
- Show MBBs special love
- Trust them and allow God to use them
- Give them the same opportunities as Christian background believers
- Give them time
- Because most of them would be ostracized, we need to know that they also have needs to be met, they need education, take care of their family and e.t.c.
- Be available for them always
- If possible allow trained MBBs to disciple new MBBs converts
Please tell us about your ministry work.
I believed God called me to do missions in Africa. I actually started mission work with Church planting since January 1994. I believed then that God wanted me to take the gospel to a village where I was going to do charms before I got converted, when I got born again God told me to take gospel to the village after some unwillingness to go I finally gave up and I went to start the work in January 1994. The church started in 1994, and 6 years later in May 2000 I moved to another village called Ido in the local government of Oyo state. In Dec. 2008, I was transferred to another church with no members, the church God started was with only me before I traveled to Philippines in 2013. I also went to Shamata in Nyandarua county of Kenya in 2019 as a missionary to open a Philippine Baptist Theological Seminary – Seminary Education by Extension which I was the Coordinator and the only lecturer.
Where is God leading you in your work?
I believed God is calling me back to East African countries but currently I have an invitation to do missions with Emmanuel International Organization in Uganda. There I would have a series of lecturing opportunities— seminars and Muslims ministries have been scheduled for my visit in Uganda.
How do you balance your life as a husband and father with your ministry work?
Well, I think that is a little bit suffering because I don’t have specific source of income as a missionary, I depend on God for his provisions. At times many things were left undone including my children’s education because of my meager or little income. However God has been faithful in all.
How others could be involved in African missions?
People could visit us, come for medical missions, send books for our library, volunteer to come and teach and e.t.c
How can people pray for you or support you?
- People could pray for provisions for the mission work in Uganda
- People could pray for my ministry, ONLY WAY EVANGELICAL MINISTRY
- People could pray for me because I still wish to start a Theological Seminary where people could learn about Muslims Ministries
- People could support me financially for the Uganda work
- People could pray for more sponsors who will support me regularly
- People could pray for me for Partners
- People could pray for my family
- People could pray for my protection and provisions
- My current contact are:
Facebook: Vision For African Missions