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My husband won my heart with coffee and cake......Bishop Dauji:

Bishop Dauji



Bishop Chioma Dauji is the founder, Amazing Grace Pentecostal Church, Lagos. A proponent of improved welfare for prison inmates in Nigeria, she tells ERIC DUMO in this interview how she combines being a church leader with her roles as a wife and mother.

You are a trained accountant, so how did you become a clergywoman?

In 1973, I was privileged to visit my grandmother at a spiritual church where she was kept at the time because of her illness. It was believed that somebody had poisoned her. I was the only grandchild at the time, so my mother came to pick me from school for us to go and see her. I was in secondary school then and was a member of the Scripture Union; even though, I was born into an Anglican family.

When we got to where my grandmother was, I immediately fell under God’s power and began prophesying into the lives of some of the people there. Even though I had never met them before, the spirit of God led me to tell them what their problems were and how healing had been declared upon them.

After that incident, the founder of the church and his wife told my mother that God had called me into ministry and that He was going to use me for His works. My mother was not happy because she didn’t know what to tell my father as he never liked such places. But after some months, the pastor and his wife came to our house to tell my father personally what God had told them about me. Immediately they stated their mission, my father drove them out of our house. He said he wanted all his children to worship God but not to become ministers.

Was there any particular reason why your father said he didn’t want any of his children to become a minister of God?

It was because we were not too educated at the time and also due to what we saw around us. My father believed that ministers of God were poor people and so he didn’t want that type of life for any of his children.

But in 1975, during a visit to the United States of America, there was a day I was watching a preacher on television. Following his teaching, I was moved to sow $20 into his ministry. Not long after, I dreamt of being given things to go and distribute to people. By morning, the mail man came with a box containing one big bible, tracts and a medal. I told him that I didn’t order any such thing but he insisted that he was ordered to deliver the box to me. After trying to return the box without success, I started distributing the tracts to people around the neighbourhood where I lived.

I came back to Nigeria in 1984 to start a new life. I wasn’t thinking of doing any ministry work at the time. But one day, the spirit of God told me to go to a bible school; I refused and told my husband about it. Even though I tried on several occasions not to listen to the voice of God, my husband eventually encouraged me to go to a bible school. That was how the journey started. The ministry actually started with ‘area boys’ (louts) and ex-convicts at the Ojuelegba area of Lagos.

Were there times some of these hardened guys tried to molest you being a woman?

There was no such time because they all saw me as a friend. Even though there were some who felt I was coming to disturb them unnecessarily with my preaching, many others enjoyed my presence and so had no problems with me.

I had shops at Idumota and Adeniyi Jones in Lagos at the time but had to close them down to concentrate on spreading the gospel and catering for these guys, who had little hope in life. It got so serious that some of my family members thought I was mentally ill for doing such a thing. Despite all they did, I continued to obey God’s command. It was not easy but God saw us through.

Were there protests from your father, considering the fact that he never wanted any of his children to do such?

Unfortunately, my father passed on before I even went into full time ministry. But there was so much anger from my brothers; it was war between us. They were angry with me for leaving my studies halfway in the US to come to Nigeria to start a ministry. The issue was so serious that for so many years, my siblings were not on talking terms with me because I decided to do God’s work.

One day during a visit to the US where I was supposed to minister at a programme, my immediate younger brother found the flyer of the event at a mall and saw my photograph on it. I got a call from a woman telling me that my brother was standing next to her and that he would love to speak with me. I told the woman that I didn’t have any brother and that I was not even interested in speaking with anyone.

So how did you settle your rift with them?

The man, who today is my husband, did all the work. He made sure that the differences between me and my siblings were settled. He was the one who united all of us again.

How and where did you meet your husband?

We met here in Lagos at a church we used to attend. He was always seeing me around but couldn’t walk up to me to express his feelings. So, he contacted a woman I was staying with at the time to make his intention known. One day, he called her telephone line and requested to speak with me. He told me that he wanted to marry me and immediately I told him off. I told the woman that the man was crazy and that she should warn him never to say such a thing to me again. The woman tried to talk to me about him but I said I was not interested in marrying any man because my interest then was on fasting and praying.

So how long did he keep at it before you finally agreed to his proposal?

I have never seen a man that has the type of patience my husband has. I was never the type of woman interested in men even though they were always after me. When I was younger, a lot of men had misconceptions about who I really was because of how I dressed. But when they got close to me, they realised that I was a completely different person from who they ever thought I was.

My husband was after me for over two years before I finally agreed to his proposal. We have been married for over 20 years now and it has been a period of blessing for the two of us.

However, by the time I started my ministry fully in 1996, we had a few challenges. The fact that I was not always around for us to share those special moments as a couple began to get to him. He complained bitterly about this but got used to the situation at a point.

What were some of the things that endeared him to your heart?

I am a great lover of coffee and cake; he would always buy me those things whenever he was coming to see me from work. I would pretend not to like them but immediately he left, I’d finish everything.

Also, he is a very kind-hearted man. His nature really won me over. When my family members met him, they loved him instantly.

At home, your husband is the head; in church, you are the leader, doesn’t this bring some sort of crisis between you at times?

Even though I am head of the church, I have never failed to give my husband his due recognition whether at home or in the church. Men like authority, every woman must understand and respect this fact. I honour my husband a lot and that is why there is peace in the home.

Even despite my very heavy schedule, I ensure that I find time to cook nice meals for my husband once the opportunity arises. My husband loves the way I cook okro, oha and other local soups. Even if he tasted it somewhere else, if I was the one that cooked it, he’ll know from the taste. He is from southern Zaria in Kaduna State but he enjoys Igbo food a lot even though, I also make his native food for him. My husband and I have been through a lot but with patience, understanding and God’s grace, we have managed to stay strong.

Are there things you do nowadays to rekindle the flame of your love?

Even though there isn’t much time these days to do some of the things we used to do before, as a result of God’s work, I ensure that every second I spend with my husband now is memorable.

Sometimes, when the opportunity arises, he takes me to a Chinese restaurant for lunch or dinner. Other times, we go to the movies. He shuttles between Lagos and Abuja.

The role of a bishop can be time-consuming, how do you combine this with your role as a wife and mother?

It requires a lot of organisation and knowing one’s priorities. Whenever my husband is in town, the situation changes; when he is not, it is different.

Gender discrimination is a big issue in Nigeria, as a female bishop, how do your male counterparts relate with you?

In the bishop’s college I attend, I am the only woman there. Whenever we have events, I take up the aspects traditionally left for women like cooking. But over time, I have been assigned more responsibilities to suggest that I am not seen as just a woman but a valuable member of the group.

The truth is that men love authority anywhere they find themselves and as a woman, you must understand this fact and respect it. Even though I am a bishop, I respect every man I come in contact with because God has made them the head.

Most churches in Nigeria are run as a family business, is your church any different in this regard?

This church is a public entity; it is not run as a family business. It is not good to run a church as a family business, but it is good to bring your family close to God through it. The church belongs to God, so nobody should make it a family thing.

You dress quite elegantly, what informs your fashion choices?

I love to look good to glorify the name of God. Before going into full time ministry, I told God that He must provide me with everything I needed to always look good because I wasn’t going to look like a beggar.

While still in the Scripture Union in secondary school, I used to wear earrings and didn’t put on scarves. A lot of people attacked me for this but I made them understand wearing earrings or not had nothing to do with holiness. So, from back in those days, I had always wanted to look good before my God.

At a point in my life, I travelled to Italy to learn fashion designing. This was after I had also trained as a cosmetologist in the US. As a matter of fact, all the cream I use, I make them myself.

So, do you do these things commercially?

No, I do them only for my own consumption.

Considering your heavy schedule, do you ever go on vacation and where are some of the places you love visiting?

As a result of the work before me, there is no time for such yet. Even though my husband and children go on vacation, I don’t because of the demand of the ministry at the moment. I am hoping that one day; there’ll be time for that. For now, we are focused on the work before us.



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