The Bible is flooded with stories of unlikely characters used mightily by God to advance His Kingdom agenda and to wreak havoc on the enemy’s camp: David, Gideon, Jonah, Peter, Paul… Just a few of our best loved Bible characters deemed flawed, reluctant, fearful and unworthy of God’s call – by men’s standards.
Fast forward to the present. God has plucked a man from obscurity in Africa, and charged him to add his voice to the resounding call for revival in the UK. “I had absolutely no intention of living permanently in the UK, and definitely had no ambitions of serving in full-time ministry. I have always had a desire to help people, and believed that entering into politics would be the most meaningful way to impact lives,”says former barrister and investment banker, Agu Irukwu.
Upon completion of his law degree, at Warwick University, Irukwu left for Nigeria with two intentions: to make money and to enter into politics. A chance invitation to church, by a woman who would later become his wife (Ify) and a second invitation by a work colleague, proved to be the catalysts that would set him on a new trajectory.
“I had never heard the Word of God expounded with such clarity, nor been so drawn into worship. I decided to visit the church a few more times. Little did I know that a seed of faith had been sown into me,”recounts Irukwu. With a piqued interest in Christianity, he asked Ify for a Bible, and began to spend time poring over the Scriptures. Initially, he read it as a legal textbook, until the Holy Spirit began stirring his heart, leading him to finally surrender to Christ.
Two years after being planted in church, Irukwu was ordained an RCCG pastor. He was later sent to London to steward a young ministry of about 30 people, whilst the parent church sought a permanent resident pastor. “Well, 25 years later, I am still here pastoring at Jesus House for All Nations. So, I guess they never found a resident pastor,” laughs Irukwu.
Akosua DF (ADF) recently interviewed Pastor Agu Irukwu (PAI)
ADF: Thank you so much for taking time out for me. I know your schedule is extremely tight, so I really appreciate this.
PAI: My absolute pleasure.
ADF: You head up the fastest growing Christian denomination in the UK: the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG). Despite the fact that mainstream media continually tell us that UK church attendance is steadily on the decline, your denomination is growing rapidly. What do you believe are the keys to the success of RCCG in the UK?
PAI: I am careful about using words like ‘success’ in reference to myself and the work I am involved in. RCCG has grown from about three or four churches to circa 800, but it hasn’t been growth without challenges. I believe that some of the keys to our growth are commitment to prayer; being relevant, in terms of the message that is preached, and also being intentional in church planting.
ADF: In 2011, Metro readers voted you the Most Inspirational Black Man – beating out the likes of then US president, Barack Obama; former South African leader, Nelson Mandela, and US human rights activist, Martin Luther King Jr. Your sphere of influence extends beyond the UK Christian community, as evidenced by some of the luminaries that have graced your services and events over the years. These include Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, Boris Johnson, David Cameron and Theresa May. What do you believe your assignment in this nation is, beyond the remit of the Church?
PAI: (chuckles) I always try to put the whole Most Inspirational Black Man into context. Barack Obama, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King? I don’t think I have done anything remotely close to what any of them have done. I like to say it was a vote by the Metro, predominately for Londoners. I live in London and serve the Christian community. It’s a very cohesive community. If all our RCCG church members voted, I would likely be a forerunner, solely because of the sheer numbers in our denomination. Yes, we have had these luminaries and political leaders visit the church. I believe this has happened because of the visibility of the church, the impact of the church and, in some cases, because of the significant numbers, especially at some of our events when we come together as RCCG for Festival of Life – having over 40,000 people in attendance. Those things attract attention, so I like to put all these things into context.
I believe my mandate is clear: Prayer and Revival. My desire for a spiritual reawakening and revival are key to why I feel I am here and a part of what the Church is doing in this dispensation. It’s part of my DNA now; I live and breathe revival. This nation, that served the Kingdom of God in the past and has fallen on some dark times, just has to come back to God.
ADF: Amen. In 2017, you penned a book, The Blessings of the 7th Season, based on a word that God gave you. What does the ‘7th Season’ signify?
PAI: It was a booklet borne out of a revelation that I had, based on 1 Kings 18. The passage hinges on the prophet going to Mount Carmel to pray for rain. Six times the servant returned saying there was no sign of rain, however the 7th time there was a sign arising on the horizon. I believe God was sending a word of encouragement to the church and myself, that our prayers were not in vain and that we were to continue to persevere in prayer, believing what He had told us about this nation. God said there would be an outpouring of His Spirit, that there would be a revival and reawakening, and that this nation would turn back to Him. Despite the contrary signs in the natural, God was saying: “Stay in the place of prayer, keep confessing what you believe, and keep being salt and light. It doesn’t matter how many negative reports you receive, just believe what I have said and it will come to pass.”
ADF: Speaking of negative reports, we are on the verge of the dawn of a new decade, yet there seems to be so much political turmoil and uncertainty regarding Britain’s future, post-Brexit. Could you give our readers a message of hope for the new decade?
PAI: My message of hope is very simple: God has never lost control. Cast your mind back through the chaotic times in the history of this world, God has always proven that He is in absolute control. Yes, the nation is facing trying times, people have lost trust in some of our institutions, we are having serious challenges in some of our cities with the rising spate of gun and knife crime, but I take encouragement from Isaiah 60. Darkness and gross darkness may cover the people, but His clear word to the Church is that it is a wonderful time to arise and shine. God is in control. I can actually see God working out His own plans and purposes in this chaos and confusion. There isn’t a fire brigade mentality in heaven – No! God is never blindsided. He is not frantic with worry, frenetically strategising to discharge Archangels Michael and Gabriel to Britain’s rescue. No. God is sitting in absolute control, and our responsibility is to partner with Him. How do we do this? 2 Chronicles 7:14
says ‘Pray and turn away from everything that is displeasing to Him, then carry the light of His Gospel into society.’
ADF: Thank you for that encouraging word. So, what’s next for Pastor Agu Irukwu?
PAI: I have committed myself to the work of believing God for revival in this nation. We have to keep pressing for that, and building alliances with like-minded people, encouraging the Church to a place of persevering, prevailing prayer. I have sensed a deep call to writing for a number of years, and hope to find time to do that. I pray God will also give me the space to be able to specifically and intentionally train and mentor a new generation of pastors and leaders within the Christian communities.
Pastor Agu Irukwu is Senior Pastor of Jesus House for All Nations in Brent Cross, London NW2 1LT. He serves as Chairman and Head of the Executive Council of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) in the UK. He is the current Pentecostal President of Churches Together in England (CTE). Pastor Agu is married with three children.
IG – @agu_irukwu
T – @agu_irukwu