BY REGINALD TOBIN
The man—David Ibiyeomie, is different things to different people. For me, he comes across as that quintessential preacher whose teachings has transformed lives, set-free the captives and comforted the broken hearted. His impacts in the lives of his followers are immeasurable.
As a preacher, Ibiyeomie has a deep understanding of the word of God and how God works; he’s a fine preacher by all standards.
I have been listening to him for some years now, and there are lots of things I admire in him. I admire his kind of Christianity and lifestyle. If there’s one thing I can tell you about Ibiyeomie, it’s that; as a pastor, he practices what he preaches, (faith, love, giving Etc.).
Ibiyeomie is not just a preacher of faith, he’s full of faith. When you x-ray his life as a preacher, from his beginning days to his present day, all you see is faith.
As a preacher who had a little beginning, he had faced several challenges in the past. He once told a story of how people never thought Salvation Ministries Church would exist for long. He narrated how people in Port Harcourt never believed a Pentecostal church with its headquarters in the city could survive. And because some Pentecostals who had started earlier couldn’t stand the test of time, everyone assumed Salvation Ministries wouldn’t be any different.
He also narrated how he preached on a particular Sunday, with only a few little children in attendance.
There was a time he had no money and no car. As a preacher, there was a time in his life when he had only one suit and one shoe with a broken sole.
There was even a time a sitting governor attempted to intimidate him by telling him to move his church out of the area where it is located.
There are many more, but these are just a few of the many challenges the revered man of God had faced in the past. However, he overcame.
He has successfully pastored the church since 1997 to date, (twenty five years) with over a million members across the globe. Today, he’s one of the richest preachers on earth, giving out cars, suits and shoes like he is giving out sweets. His church also did not move, and today, he commands the respect of leaders and notable individuals from around the world. But the background of how he soared through these challenges is “faith”.
Ibiyeomie was not deterred by his days of little beginnings. Despite the challenges, he maintained his faith in God who sent him on the mission of preaching the gospel. Like he would always say “I didn’t call myself, God sent me here”, I am sure he has always held unto this, because even in penury, he proclaimed, saying “I am one of the wealthiest preachers on earth.”
Another situation where Ibiyeomie’s faith has also been tested was during the dreaded covid-19 pandemic that hit the world sometime in February, 2020. Ibiyeomie was not threatened by the rise in figures as released by the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control. Unlike other preachers, Ibiyeomie did not succumb to locking up the church. He maintained that Covid-19 had no place in the church, because it is the house of God, and both him and members of his church can never be infected for gathering in God’s house; a place where the sick ought to find healing. And just as he said, Covid-19 found no place in the church till its disappearance. Only faith and understanding of God’s word can make a man take such stance.
But that’s not all I admire in Ibiyeomie. While I admire his lifestyle of giving, I admire more the quietness in his giving. I also admire his life of love. He loves people.
David Ibiyeomie understands the place of love and giving. He preaches and practices both. He gives without making it known that he has given. But as a philanthropist who has done so much in this area, some of his works are still seen.
Sometime in 2018, to mark his 56th birthday, Ibiyeomie built a standard “home for the elderly,” a place where old people are kept and catered for. After commissioning the edifice, he officially donated it to the Catholic Diocese of Port Harcourt, owing to the experience of the catholic church in running “home for the elderly”. A Pentecostal pastor handing over such edifice to another denomination to manage? It’s seldom seen; but Ibiyeomie did it. What a way to advocate unity in the body of Christ.
In 2019, Ibiyeomie built a free school in Port Harcourt, for children whose parents cannot afford to give formal education. He also released fifty million naira through his foundation (David Ibiyeomie Foundation) for the school fees of one thousand children.
Still on his philanthropic works, In February, this year, Ibiyeomie commissioned the new building of Banham Methodist Academy, (his alma mater) in Port Harcourt, after giving it a new look. Until Ibiyeomie’s intervention, the school was housed by a very old and dilapidated colonial building.
Lest I forget, to mark his 60th birthday, he has also hinted on giving scholarship to one-thousand students. This is just a few I have mentioned and I will stop here.
As a preacher, Ibiyeomie has the traits of a true man of God. His penchant for soul winning is mind blowing. No Saturday passes without him hitting the streets, telling sinners about Jesus, and why they should come to repentance.
Ibiyeomie is bold and fearless. He condemns evil and speaks truth at all times, irrespective of circumstances.
Born in Bonny, Rivers State, in 1962, the Pastor and Author has gone through different phases of life, and today, he has success story.
But Ibiyeomie’s success story cannot be considered complete without the mention of his dear wife and sweetheart, Pastor Peace Ibiyeomie, who has been with him all through this journey.
At 60, Ibiyeomie certainly has a lot of testimonies to tell. As someone whose life was transformed from being a “man of the world” to a preacher of the gospel. From pastoring a church of less than 50 members at its beginning stage, to over a million members today; and moving from penury to prosperity, indeed, Ibiyeomie has a lot to be thankful for.
“Papa” as he’s fondly called by members of his church, and in the City of Port Harcourt, has contributed greatly to the Christendom. So far as the body of Christ is concerned, in Nigeria and beyond, Ibiyeomie has paid his dues and is worthy of celebration.
Happy 60th Birthday, Papa.
Reginald Tobin, a journalist, can be reached via Reginaldtobin2@gmail.com