Prophet Moses Ogbonogono, A Ghana- based Nigerian preacher and senior pastor of the Evangelistic Vine Ministries International with headquarters in Ghana can best be described as an enterprise- driven pastor given the focus of his message and the large number of youth entrepreneurs that he has raised in his church through his message. He talked to the Pleasures Magazine crew exclusively on his mission to make millions of millionaire entrepreneurs out of the ordinary African youths.
We observed that your church population is predominantly made up of flourishing young entrepreneurs who are doing well in their respective businesses. How did this come about?
Let me start by saying that as a Prophet of God, I recognize the fact that I have to plant a seed, water the seed and the Lord God will give the harvest. I recognize that the best way to bring the young people to God and make them useful to themselves and the society is to make them realize and understand that they can stand on their own and make meaningful impact in the society. I don’t draw them to my church, but you see, when people come to a church and hear a message that makes them begin to see life differently, a message that gives them a sense of self discovery and the power of leadership, they will not need anyone to tell them to stay. That is my kind of message, because I believe that if the youths of Africa can discover the power of God in them and how to use it to succeed in whatever they do, there will be very much less crime in the society. I teach entrepreneurship and leadership. Moreover, we don’t just teach entrepreneurship and leadership, we actually support them to start and stand in any business that they choose to go into, and that has helped to raise thousands of youth entrepreneurs in the society.
Do you have a centre and an organized programme where you train the youths in your church in entrepreneurship?
Yes, there is an organized programme tagged ‘Youth empowerment and leadership seminar’. The programme is specifically dedicated to youth entrepreneurship and leadership teachings. We recently had one and in that programme, we taught them about entrepreneurship and leadership skills. We also do a follow up of those we have trained to give them the necessary support they need to stand on their own.
You are doing a lot to encourage entrepreneurship in Africa and from the results we can see, I can say that African youths are very creative and industrious. What do you think the governments of African countries can do to encourage youth entrepreneurship on the continent?
Just two things: first, create a secured enabling environment for the youth to strive in entrepreneurship; second, create a platform where young entrepreneurs can access capital to start their businesses. The way it is right now, the environment is too challenging. The youths are thrown in the wild to survive all by themselves. However, I thank God for His Grace that has helped some of us to break out of the wild and are now helping others to come out of it too. If the governments can do just these two things, young people across Africa would begin to explore their unique creative abilities to create wealth for themselves and the continent instead of running to other countries where they believe they will find better opportunities. Nevertheless, I think that God is reserving Africa as His last card for a great revolution. I see the next revolution that will change the course of this starting from Nigeria and coming through Ghana to other African countries. All these said, I challenge the governments of African countries to begin acting now so that we can begin to harness the creativity of our youths and stop the massive brain drain from Africa to Europe, Asia, and America.
Talking about Nigeria, there seems not to be the kind of unity that existed among the people again today. There is so much division along religious and tribal lines today. What can you say led to that?
I think Nigeria, like other African countries, began to miss the line some decades ago. What is happening in Nigeria is not peculiar to Nigeria; the unity crisis is also in many other African countries. I can say that the problem started when our leaders decided to abandon the African way to bring in government policies that are alien to us as a people. At home, our parents may be doing their best to teach their children their family values, but what happens when the child goes out to meet the practice of other values that are contrary to what he has been taught at home? The division amongst us is because of the introduction of foreign cultures into our systems. So, African leaders must begin to address that headlong, and now, so that we can redirect ourselves in the right path.
How do you see parenthood some seventy years ago as compared to parenthood in our time?
Well, life is in stages: Our parents in the forties and fifties did their best in relation to the resources and information available to them in their time. They were able to give birth to us, give us education as much as they could, they gave us their cultural values as a way to go, and led us to God. Thank God that they were able to do all of that for us and also kept us alive. They have played their own of life. Now it is our turn. The question now is, what are we doing in our own time to keep the legacies, which they left for us so that we can pass them onto our next generations? If you ask me to assess that, I will say that our generation of parents is too preoccupied with concerns for material things to bring out time to raise our children the way we ought to raise them. I challenge today’s parents to create time for their children so that they can raise them in the way they would be proud of them tomorrow. We have more access to knowledge now than our ancestors did, so must take advantage of the knowledge available to us and lay a better foundation for next generations than the ones our ancestors laid for us.
Some churches start their programme by 8:00 am and last until about 5-6:00pm on weekdays, what do you say about that as it affects productivity?
It is not proper for a church to run a programme on a weekday from morning to evening. I say this because there is a spiritual role to life and there is a civic role to it as well. When one goes to church to pray, it is expected that he has acquired spiritual power and guidance. He is then to go to work and apply the power and guidance he acquired from God in his daily endeavour for a fruitful result. It’s the duty of the pastor to spend more time in the church praying for the members of the church while the members go out there to work, create jobs for others or do their businesses to make profits and pay taxes for the development of the society. So, the idea of a church running a prayer programme with its members for a full day during the week is not correct. The members need to work or do their businesses.
The social media has been grossly abused by many African youths who use it to either attack some personalities or post absurd things like nude pictures and so on. It has been so bad that the president of Tanzania recently passed a law to put a check to it. What is your opinion on this?
The social media can be censored. Every country of the world has their rules that govern the operation of social media, so African countries cannot be exceptions. While social media is good for its power of enlightenment, African countries should not be like loose societies where anything goes. We have to make laws or policies that will check the kind of things that are put out on the social platforms that operate within our countries. In summary, I am in support of the step taken by the Tanzanian president.
What advice do you have for budding African entrepreneurs?
My first advice for them is that they should never give up on themselves or on what they are doing. They should develop the tenacity to keep on. Secondly, I advise them to give themselves and the business they have started some time to grow, it will not boom overnight. Thirdly, they should be open to learning to acquire new knowledge about their area of business. The more they learn, the better for them and their businesses.
Is it right for a pastor to run a business aside from the church?
Yes, it is allowed, provided he has the capacity to do so.
Your advice for young pastors.
They should open up and invest, buy shares and establish businesses. If they do that, they will be more financially strong and self-sustaining so that their personal burdens will not be entirely on the church. That way the church will grow faster.
Evangelistic Vine Ministries International is located at Nungua Barrier – Adjacent Jehovah’s witness Headquarters, along Tema Beach rd., Accra – Ghana.
Phone: +233 302938211, +233 248729973, +233 266851077