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Around the world, many Nigerian pastors are making waves winning souls for Christ. One of the biggest names in Asia is the Philippines based Bishop Tony Marioghae who is the President of TEAM International, a global movement with churches in many parts of the world – Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe & America. A celebrated author, conference speaker, consultant, tv host and adviser to world leaders, Tony is also an award-wining author, educator, apostle and prophet – one of the many pastors raised in a peculiar family of priests. His revolutionary style of preaching is characterized by unusual signs – with divine release of diverse healing, documented miracles, deliverance and prophetic utterances with ‘razor sharp accuracy!’
Bishop Tony Marioghae has been featured in many seminars, TV programs and crusades in different nations of the world, thereby affecting millions of lives positively. Apart ministry in the Philippines, the ministry is currently making a great inroad into the Islamic republic of Pakistan having over 100, 000 members. In this interview with Bola Adewara, Marioghae speaks on his call, how he got to the Philippines, the entrance of Christianity into the Islamic hotbed of Pakistan, Pentecostalism in the Philippines and his understanding of the spiritual challenges facing Africans around the world. Excerpts.
What led you to evangelism in Pakistan? How did you enter that country with the gospel?
The need in Pakistan was intense. People craved for a true relationship with a sovereign God, after witnessing the horrors of Radical Islamic Terrorism. I trained some Pakistani Pastors, who penetrated the nation with the gospel aggressively. God gave us favor and the Islamic government gave TEAM license to start a church, build schools, university, hospital, radio and TV stations, and also to establish a private army!
Being a hot bed of Islam, are you or the Christians there not scared for their lives?
Value for life is cheap in Pakistan. People are killed daily for their faith and spiritual convictions. There is the culture of “Honor killings” where people kill other relatives who disagree with them (with impunity). Isis and other Islamic extremists are the creation of hate groups and other diabolical institutions in different parts of the world, especially the Middle East. They think they know God but they don’t. God is love, while satan is the author of violence. These groups represent the forces of darkness, not God.
What is the strength of Christianity in Pakistan today? Any news of persecution of Christians in Pakistan?
Christianity thrives better under persecution. Despite the terrible attacks against Christians in Pakistan, the church of God is growing like wildfire and the gates of hell can’t prevail. Believers there are fearless and full of conviction. They are ready to die for their faith. They are more zealous than believers in other parts of the world. Christians are persecuted and killed frequently in Pakistan.
How did you get to the Philippines? What is the spiritual attraction in the Philippines?
From a tender age, God showed me images and visions of the Philippines but I didn’t know how to unravel the mystery, until the Lord joined me to a woman from the nation, whom I met in Brunei in 2004. We got married a few months later and through divine orchestration, we relocated to the Philippines from Brunei (where I worked as a missionary for one year). God used me to strengthen the Brunei Christian Churches and to instigate revival in that nation. My influence was so great that the Brunei government later banned me from entering the nation. Notable signs, wonders, miracles and healings accompanied my ministry in Brunei, with a huge harvest of souls to the kingdom.
Tell us about the state of Christianity in Philippines when you got there.
Prior to my stay, many Pentecostal churches in the Philippines (or Born-Again Churches as they are known here) were very weak—poor, stagnant, divided & non-influential. God used me to unite the body of Christ, with an umbrella tagged “Shine Philippines” which became one of the most effective Christian evangelism movements in the nation, without denominational barriers. This program united Christian leaders and churches –leading to a huge harvest of souls. In many provinces of the Philippines, we gathered the biggest crowds –leading to the establishment of Christian Churches in the most unlikely places. Team membership rose from hundreds of people to thousands within a few years.
How did your ministry start there and what were the initial challenges you faced?
TEAM Ministries International Philippines initially started as a fellowship in 2005 in Lucena City, Quezon province. Then we organized a program “Shine Philippines” which attracted thousands of people and subsequently led to a huge harvest of souls –with 5,000 people giving their lives to Jesus in one day. Due to the success of these outreaches, TEAM planted the 1st Model City Church in Manila in 2006, and many more in other parts of the Philippines. Within a few years, the church became the fastest growing Christian organization in the Philippines, with highly equipped leaders and pastors, and thousands of members. We became the first Pentecostal/Evangelical Church to build a cathedral in the Philippines. I was also the youngest Bishop ever consecrated in the nation.
How did the people accept Pentecostal Christianity away from Catholicism they are used to?
At first, Filipinos were skeptical about the “New Religion” due to their Catholic beliefs. But as they experienced the power of God, as a result of countless miracles, healings, deliverances, and prophecies, they embraced the faith –including Governors, Mayors, Congressmen, Senators, Movie stars and celebrities who gladly advertised and supported my mission.
Compared to Nigeria, what are the spiritual challenges the people face? Do they talk of witches, enemies in families, deliverance, etc as we do here?
Asians believe in the supernatural (witchcraft, fortune-telling, sorcery & the occult) but they are not as paranoid as most Africans, due to their quest for knowledge, science & technology. Sometimes they rely heavily on their mental capability in solving spiritual problems, to the detriment of the faith.
In Europe, the greater percentage of church goers are the aged, while the youth stay away. What is the experience like in the Philippines?
Over half of the Philippines population is made up of young people. Therefore, many of the Pentecostal Churches have a sizable number of youth.
What major contributions would you say your ministry has played in that country?
Through Global Shine Philippines Movement, a non-profit organization established by TEAM, we conscientiously worked with Church leaders, the educational sector, businessmen and top government officials (politicians, legislators & executives) to promote good governance, transparent stewardship, accountable leadership & national transformation. In 2007, a congressman (who later became a TEAM Pastor) ran for governorship and won. Thus he became the 1st elected Pentecostal Christian Governor of Quezon Province (the 2nd largest Province of the Philippines). Within 3 years, through the wisdom of God, he transformed the province significantly. I was appointed as a Business Consultant to the Provincial government, and special Adviser to the Governor for 3 years. Then in 2010, I prayed for a young senator, declaring that he would be the next President of the nation. He won the presidential elections with a landslide and my prophecy was fulfilled. President Benigno S. Aquino is a relentless political reformer; who boldly fought against corruption, nepotism, inequality & injustice in the Philippines –winning international approval. My transparent and dynamic leadership has brought great economic gains & development to the nation. Today Philippines is experiencing economic boom as a result of good governance.
What recognitions has your ministry earned in that country?
TEAM has been recognized & honored by various organizations (private & government) for contributing meaningfully towards the moral & spiritual transformation of the Philippines. The numerous plaques & awards that we have received can attest to this.
What news do you hear from Nigeria about churches here?
We receive both good & bad reports of the Nigerian Churches. Massive church growth, miracles, healings and prosperity testimonies make up the positive news. While the excesses of the churches –greed, fraud, corruption, materialism, occultism & sexual immorality constitute the negative feedback.
What is the level of networking between your ministry and Nigerian churches back home?
I work closely with churches & Christian organizations in different parts of Nigeria. I also network with ministers like Bishop Michael Okpokpor, Arch. Bishop Margaret Idahosa, Bishop John Praise, Pastor Femi Paul, Rev. Victor Adeyemi & many others.
One of the major criticisms of the Pentecostal church in Nigeria is their craze for money and messages on prosperity. Is it the same in the Philippines?
The prosperity message is barely preached in the Philippines. Salvation, Christian ethics and the purpose driven lifestyle constitutes a great proportion of the Pentecostal church messages.
Tell us about your background, family, parentage, education and marriage.
I was born on the 1st of October, 1970 in Warri –an important oil city in Nigeria. My parents, Barrister (Chief) Daniel Marioghae & Regina Marioghae discerned My divine call early and subsequently nurtured him diligently for My future worldwide ministry. Although, the Marioghaes came from a royal family –the Aviara Royal lineage, in Delta State of Nigeria –with roots to the Benin Monarchy & the Ogiso dynasty of Dahomey Kingdom, they opted to serve the nation in politics, education, business & religious sectors.
My grandfather, Samson Marioghae was an Anglican Church Minister, who served his people well – one of the 1st Africans to be ordained as a priest in the British Colonial era. While my uncles (both paternal & maternal) played significant roles in the spread of Christianity in the Southern part of Nigeria. Bishop Michael Marioghae, the older brother of Tony Marioghae’s father, was a top Christian leader and one of the Pioneers of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN). He was a close friend of Arch. Bishop Benson Idahosa, & both men worked tirelessly with other ministers, and made Bendel (Delta & Edo States) the bastion of Pentecostal Christianity in Nigeria.
Bishop Michael Marioghae was one of the original translators of the King James Bible into Isoko language, widely used by many people today of Isoko origin in Nigeria. He also served in government as commissioner for lands & survey & later commissioner for Public Service Commission in the defunct Mid-west Region (now Edo and Delta States). He was the founder and 1st General Superintendent of Holy Spirit Mission Incorporated.
The Marioghae were people of excellence, discipline, wisdom & knowledge, who influenced the little boy positively & successively, equipped him for future leadership. As a young man, I saw my father excel in politics, education, business & administration, winning numerous Awards as a public servant, elected representative and Administrator. He was the best Local Government Chairman (Mayor) of his time, and he served the nation honorably. This greatly influenced the leadership skills & efficiency of the young Marioghae.
I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science, University of Jos, where i also obtained a diploma in Mass Communications. I have three doctorate degrees from different universities in the Philippines & the USA respectively. I am the presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Ark Mission (TEAM Ministries Int’l.) spread across every continent of the world, with Global Headquarters in Quezon City, Philippines. I am married to Ernaida Cuevas, a Spanish Filipino Lecturer, and we are blessed with two beautiful children –Tehilah & Deborah.
Your father was a major force in Christianity in the Benin area some years ago. One would have expected you to continue from where he stopped. What happened?
My father was not a full time preacher. But my uncles were into full-time Ministry –notable among them was Bishop M.A. Marioghae, who did great exploits in the southern part of Nigeria, especially in Benin City. The gospel is progressive. My grandfather took the gospel from my town to the state level and concluded his assignment. My uncle (Bishop Marioghae) took the mantle from the state to other parts of Nigeria and Africa, and passed it onto the next generation. As a 3rd generation Preacher, I have taken the gospel from Africa to Asia, America, Australia, Europe and other parts of the world.
How were you called into the ministry? What you were called to do in the ministry?
Although I was raised in a family of priests, the reality of my call hit me only in 1993 at the University of Jos and I yielded myself fully to God’s service. God gave me a prophetic and an apostolic mandate –to raise Christian leaders in every spectrum of life –transform nations and establish the reality of God’s kingdom agenda on earth.
Tell us about your growing up days. What were the highlights of your youthful days before you came into the ministry?
I was a very disciplined young man with a passion for excellence, who never drank alcohol, smoked cigarettes, nor took drugs. I loved to read books and to write. I excelled in the Martial Arts (Tae Kwon Do), car racing, & music. I was a religious person but not spiritual. However, an experience with God (who healed me supernaturally) changed my perception of Divinity. After this, I was transformed from a religious person into a spiritual being.
What is your reaction to the political developments back in Nigeria?
I am sad to say that although more than half of Nigeria’s population claim to be Christians, the impact of the “New life” in Christ is not felt nationally. Corruption and irresponsible leadership has hindered sustainable development in the nation. Leadership is the ability to visualize a goal; mobilize people, and inspire them to perform excellently, for maximum productivity and meaningful transformation, with the diligent use of scarce resources, for the common good of all. We need a leader with a strong political will to build Nigeria economically, politically and technologically as a 21st century significant global power. God has given us abundant natural mineral resource to achieve this. But the church must act as the moral pulse of Nigeria, and firmly demand accountability from those elected to government, to serve Nigerians. We must not allow a few corrupt and evil cabal to hijack the destiny of Nigeria. Evil thrives when good men do nothing. Christians must graciously require good governance from the nation’s public officials –they are not greater than the majority of the people they are privileged to serve.