Many young men and women surrendered their lives to Christ during the revival that swept through Nigeria and Africa in the 1970s and 1980s. In the heat of the revival, many of the youths also claimed that God had called them into Ministry. There are five such ministry callings – apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher – according to Ephesians 4:11.
Close to 100 percent of them said they had the ministry gift of evangelist and were called into itinerant preaching. They showed good evidence. Their evangelistic prowess manifested sufficiently in the many crusades that held in streets, village squares, football fields in schools and town and city halls. The evangelists were fervent, dynamic and zealous for souls.
However, 40 years or so after, over 95 percent of such preachers are found to have deserted their call as evangelist and started churches, grown them into cathedrals and changed their titles to pastor, reverend (which is not in the Bible), prophet, apostle and bishop.
It is not so with Bishop Michael Amamieye, a Port Harcourt-based itinerant preacher. Although going by the title of bishop, he was converted during the Nigerian revival and called in 1984 to do the work of an evangelist. In an attempt to pattern his ministry after great American gospel projects like Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association, he started what was then known as Michael Amamieye Evangelistic Association that year. But some six years later (1990), when his focus turned global, he replaced the name with Michael Amamieye Word Outreach International, a.k.a Aggressive Faith Ministries.
On Sunday, January 14, a large number of Christian leaders from parts of Nigeria assembled at Cornerstone Foundation on DLine area of Port Harcourt to celebrate with him and his wife, Monivi, 28 years of working around the globe as an itinerant evangelist without church-based support. Many from far-flung places like United States and Britain sent in goodwill messages that were streamed on the screen. It was amazing to learn that within the period, Amamieye has taken the gospel to all five continents of the world and some 64 nations including remote and metropolitan settings in India, Mexico, France, Haiti, United Kingdom, United States of America, several West African nations, Kenya, Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo. He has been in many other African nations time and again.
Amamieye said at the event that his mandate is “to evangelise the world by taking the gospel and miracle power of Christ to some 30 million souls in at least 50 nations and to equip believers to do the work of the ministry.” He said in the course of his job, he has seen fair weather and had more than pockets of attacks and opposition to the assignment but “God’s grace has always been there for me”. Crusades aside, Amamieye runs a School of Evangelism, an evangelism training programme for churches, Christian centres and gospel related groups around the world.
Between January and April this year, he would hold the training in Kenya; Nigeria, United State, Brazil, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo and South Africa.
“Those who dropped the vision of itinerant preacher to establish church or provide themselves with a church-based support did so out of fear of survival.
“They succumbed to pressure from family, friends and more importantly patriarchs, to build such support around themselves and stay back to pastor the churches. I was called to be an evangelist”, he told this writer.
Among personalities at the event was Bishop Winston Iwo of Grace Covenant Ministries, Port Harcourt and the wife, Mercy. Iwo is also the special adviser on Religious Matters to Rivers State governor Nyesom Wike. Iwo, who is Amamieye’s pastor, in a speech commended him for his commitment to the ministerial calling in the past 28 years. He also led in a special prayer for the Amamieyes and their ministry.
Bishop Matthew Omodiagbe of Liberation Word Ministries International, Lagos, who preached for the day, was full of praise for Amamieye, for abandoning all other things and serving God sacrificially. He called on the people to support his ministry and donate generously to the ultra-modern headquarters project the evangelist said he was planning for Port Harcourt.
Amamieye’s latest book, ‘Who is an Evangelist?’, presented at the occasion, was reviewed by Pastor Obong Akpaekong, a former senior associate editor of Newswatch. The book urged those God called to do the work of an evangelist to maintain the status quo and to trust that the God that called them was able to cater for them. “You became the evangelist that God created you to be, called you to do and chose you to perform, stick to your call until you arrive at destination point in sweet Beulahland”, states the introduction to the 80-page book. The book, which has seven chapters, in one instance defines an evangelist as “A person who seeks to convert others to the Christian faith, especially by public preaching”. It also states the qualities of an evangelist and points to some evangelists in Bible and contemporary societies.
In a flashback to Amamieye’s conversion, the book says it happened the night before his planned initiation into a secret cult he intended to use to avenge the execution of his father by the Nigerian state for a crime he says the father did not commit. Akpaekong described the book as one written in simple and straight forward language and meant to be a practical tool for the promotion of soul-winning among Christian leaders and believers around the world.
Akpaekong is a public affairs analyst