Dr Sign Fireman Ukoha, presiding General Overseer of Perfect Christian Mission, opens up on his background, negative rumours and how he started miracle crusade at 19.
In this interview with the News editor, Adegbenro Nurudeen, he speaks about charity and his new book, the Final Move of God. Excerpts.
Who is Dr Sign Fireman?
Actually, my life just involves round only one thing which is to take families closer to God. That is what I live for and what I do. To make the final move of God as a God’s servant and to the common man
Generally, what was your background like?
My father grew in Moscow, Russia and became a medical doctor. My mother was from a different background. She was born through a man who happens to be a member, House of Representatives in the First Republic. They married after the civil war. Then I schooled like any other person and eventually I was called by God. Before I was born, my mother said, she told the lord that if you give her a son, she would dedicate the child to God’s service. And that was exactly what she did. Before then, my mother and grandmother were born again. In fact, my great grandmother was involved in the ministry of Mary Slessor in the Eastern part of the nation. I was born into a kind of Christian home and missionary family. My mother is a preacher too and in addition, she is university lecturer, a professor of Psychology.
Being a Pastor in another country is totally different from Nigeria. How can you describe what it takes to be a pastor in Nigerian Environment?
I believe perspective depends on training. The kind of training you get determines the kinds of perspective you would have. If you have a holistic perspective, your training becomes spectacles through which you see. In the same country, the way you see ministry may be different from how some people see ministry. Being a pastor is not about Nigeria but it depends on your personal perspective and the background you have.
And from your perspective, you have been called for many crusades in Nigeria and abroad. How can you juxtapose the preaching in Nigerian environment with the foreign?
For a person who travels from country to countries, ministering in Nigeria is easier than in foreign countries. I believe you need extra training or extra gifts and experience to preach in other countries. Nigeria is more opened than other countries. For example, if you try to preach in England, you discover that some people go to church but average people are not church persons. You will meet people that just go to church on Christmas Day, Easter Day and New Year. So, rest of the days, they don’t care about going to church. They identify themselves as Christians but they are not born again. But in Nigeria, most people got o church. It is easier in Nigeria to preach to people than other countries. To preach in the Western countries, you need to have message, gift and blessings to attract people to church. But in Nigeria, going to church is part of people’s lives. That is the difference.
Many Pastors in Nigeria, particularly the way you manage your Ministry, have tagged you to be a controversial Pastor. How do you see that?
I think the term “controversy” many times does not mean controversy. Many times, people who are in the news media (journalists); I love them. They want to market their news and try to use the word “controversial” since it attracts attention and get people to read the news. Sometimes, they use the word to market their news and give someone a name that does not identify with the person. It is not just about me alone. There are some other ministers being tagged to be controversial. When people get to what they (ministers) do, you will not see controversy. Reading through the story, you will not see anything controversial. The journalist will quote someone and says “someone said”. And the headline says another thing. They do these things to market what they have; not because the minister is controversial. To those who may actually think I am controversial, I do invite them for discussion so that they can tell me what is controversial about me. By that time, they would see that scripture shows those things and not someone’s opinion.
What are the Challenges facing famous pastors like you as churches crop up daily in Nigeria?
I wouldn’t try to say I am famous. What matter is Jesus! Jesus knows. For people to receive Jesus as a personal Lord and Saviour, anything about fame is not important. What is important to me is for Jesus to be famous. If someone is in ministry, one of the challenges you can face is if God grants you a success, you are going to have those that will envy your success. They will come with lies and try to frustrate the successes you have. One man’s success makes another man unsuccessful. For example, when you gain a member someone somewhere looses a member. I don’t mean from church to church. If you preach to people who have no religion, voodoo people and idol worshippers, and they decide to give their lives to Jesus; they Juju priest has lost the person to you (as a member). You don’t think the person (Juju priest) will be happy. Success or favour from God brings about anger, envy and lies. When people are envious and they want to fight back, they will fight back with lies. The bible says in the book of Jeremiah “Come, let us device devices against Jeremiah”. When people find a way to fight you and find none, they result to lies. Just like Jesus. For them to kill Jesus, they have to tell a lie. Lie is a challenge you can face in the ministry.
How did you come about your name “Sign Fireman”?
I believe that the name you answer based on the name your father gave you. Some people do ask me that is “Sign Fireman” your real name? When I was in Kampala, Uganda for crusade some weeks ago, we had a press conference and journalists asked me this same question about my name. I answered that if I say yes, you may doubt me. I just brought out my ATM cards. If you go to a bank to open an account, the bank will ask for your identification. The identification must be official like what is on your international passport. That is what they will put down. I brought out my ATM cards for them to see the name “Sign Fireman” of which I can still present to you now. Even my international passport carries the name “Sign Fireman”. Sorry, Sign Fireman is my name. Whatever question you must to ask, I cannot ask about the name your family gave you. The same way you cannot ask about mine too. Because you cannot determine what you answer, your name was given. So, that is my real name.
Your name is synonymous to a man meant to extinguish fire. What do you think about your name “Fireman”?
In Nigeria, we have people who answer different kinds of names. I asked an Igbo man his name, and his name means “Death”. Another man says his name means “snake”. I cannot begin to mock him because his name means snake. Let us see, in America; people answer “Bush” and we know what “Bush” is. Bush is synonymous with forest. We cannot come out and begin to mock the name. That could be an insult to the person. If somebody asks me, what would you like your name to mean? I don’t want my name to be someone who puts out fire but someone who set people on fire for God. I think if you get a name, try to get good perspective for the name. If your name means something that is ambiguous, you have to choose the good side. It is just like you had a dream. In a dream, you see a thing and wake up to decide what the dream means to you. Dream can mean positive or negative. You have to show the good so that the good can manifest in your life. What matters is your faith. That have to do with your name and others.
In Africa, People tend to have doubt about Signs and Wonders. Many of your crusades do feature miracles. How do you do that?
First of all, let me answer the question that we are leaving in the time where all kinds of miracle are being done… We have heard stories where people involve in fake miracles upon investigation. What I have to tell people is that you don’t because of fake thinking everything is fake. Regardless of what people think about miracle, it is real. Jesus performed miracles. The Apostles performed miracles. And some people said miracles died with the apostles. It is not true. There were miracles that happened in the ministries of those who were not apostles. Miracles happened in the ministries of Stephen and many more. The bible talk about the gifts of the holy ghost in 1 Corinthians: 12. It talks about spiritual gift and gift of healings. The bible also talks about gift of how you can heal. It also talks about the working of the miracle. If a man possesses these gifts, the person can perform miracles. And performing miracles are not for certain people alone. Jesus wants all believers to be able to proclaim miraculously. Jesus said in the book of Isaiah Chapter 8 that we are for signs and wonders.
Coming to my ministry, by the grace of God, we see a lot of miracles that happening in our services and crusades from country to countries. It doesn’t matter where we go. God goes with us and He confirms His work. That is Sign and Wonders for you. I have heard some people say the miracles are fake. What I have to say is come to the crusades. If you come to the crusades, believe me; if you are there once, you will see the miracles.
When I was preaching in Mississippi, United States, we have a journalist who has come to the crusade. While I was ministering, he was trying to take pictures. I said to him, No! Come forward and move closer; before I pray for the people, try to interview the people and verify their cases before I minister. He verified and discovered that their cases were real. So, after he had verified and taken their pictures, I prayed for the people. And when the miracles happened, he knew the miracle was real. Guess what, the next day; we saw the story on the front page of the newspaper headlined: The Popular Miracles evangelist brings miracle and healing practices to America. The link is still on internet. If people talk about miracles, all I have to say is come to the crusade and bring your case.
Locally, we had a man who works with one the television stations. He came to me and said he heard miracles are happening here and they also said they are fake. I said he should choose a case. A person was brought forward for prayer. A young boy who was about 12 years was brought to the service crippled. The man asked me to pray for the boy and I just said in the name of Jesus, get up. At first, the boy was sluggish to work. After some minutes, he walked and people that came from television stations were crying like babies. Sometimes, when you say something, people deny but we have the video, pictures as evidences to prove. When those things happened, in spite of the fact that we have some faith, there are still proof. From nation to nations, even the countries that are not Christians, they see these things happened. We have journalists, in some cases, doctors. Like one of our crusades, we have two doctors from Onikan Health Center that were allowed to check the cases before praying for them. And they checked after miracles to confirm that real miracle has happened to those people. I love miracles like that because it shows you that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. That is what he did in the bible .He still does today. He was the one that was dead and alive till restoration and glorify himself.
What do you want to achieve with Perfect Christian Mission?
Ministry is not about what you want to achieve. Because what you want to achieve is called ambition, but ministry is about what God has sent you to achieve. Whatever you sent yourself to do will be backed up by God. What God glories is what he sent you to do. The mandate that God gave to you is to take the final move of God to the peoples of the world. And with,bringing harvest of souls to God’s kingdom.
Sometime in 2014, there was an allegation that one Ikechukwu Friday alleged and linked you to ritual killings. What is your take on the allegation?
I will like to ask a question. Did the story says I did ritual killing or he did?
Reporter cuts in: The story said that he did. But you are allegedly linked to the crime. And the allegation needs to be clarified.
Dr. Sign Fireman: First of all, the story said he (Ikechukwu Friday) did it. Why linking me with the crime. If that story says he did it, he should go and sort himself out. I heard the story the same way other people heard it. I saw an online publication that says “Dr Fireman arrested….” That is not true. When I heard the story, I drove myself by myself to the station to confront the nonsense. If I actually did something, I would not drove myself by myself to confront it. Instead, I would have been on the run by now.
When I got there, I was told by one of the officers that the person is in the police cell. I told the policeman to bring him out because it involves my name. And Online publication reported that he was living in my house. I asked him where do you live? If you are living in my house, name my address. He did not know my address or my house .I later told the policeman to follow me to my house and check. They came and looked around, after checking around, the policemen said I am innocent, that was when he (Ikechukwu Friday) broke down and stated crying that it was a lie. He said he was leaving at Badagry and had served in Badagry prison. And I asked him, why did you mention my name? He said some people met him and told him a lot of nonsense. I later moved to Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) and it issued a document certified me to be innocent.
That is to tell how devil works. A lot of men of God have faced this kind of situation before. There was a time people said something about Adeboye, Oyedepo, which are lies. When God begins to do good things in your life, you will have some people used of the devil who will come up to do all kinds of things. I think it is one of those things.
Late Actor Enebeli Elebuwa told the Press that you are a fake Pastor. What is the relationship between you and the late actor?
Although, it is belated. Enebeli Elebuwa or as I like to call him “elder”. He was a respected person among a lot of people. In spite of the things that transpired, I still love him. Because as a Christian and as a representative of Christ and a man of God, the bible teaches us to love everybody. The truth of what happened was back then, I was running a service in one of our churches in Surulere (an area in Lagos State). That was many years ago. During the service, an actress with another actor along with some people brought Enebeli Elebuwa to one of our services that he was paralyzed. At that time, we have video as proof of what I am saying. I gave some clips of the footage of that Programme to the media. During that service, I prayed for him and he got up. The video shows he got up and began to walk. After that, he came back some days later and did thanksgiving in our church. We have the video of the thanksgiving. When all that happened, we glorified God with him about what God has done in his life.
For two years, he was acting movies. He did different movies and featured in different movies. Some of which he brought to me (the new movies) because of the relationship we had after the healing. If you trace it and go through the movies he featured in, you will see that there is a gap between when I prayed for him and when he went to the press; AIT to be précised. The question is if he never got healed, how did he feature in those movies in the space of two years? A pressman asked me then, if he actually got healed , how did he become sick again? I asked the press man, if you are treated of malaria, does that mean you will never have malaria again? Does it mean mosquitoes cannot bite you again? If your doors open, you can have malaria again. For the fact that someone is healed sometimes ago, even Jesus revealed “Go and sin no more, let the worst things happened to you”. Jesus says it is possible to get back even something worst for what you are heal of. In another place in the bible, Mathew chapter 12, the bible says when an unclean spirit leaves a man, it says, I will return. Demons of disease and sickness want to go back. For them not to come back, they will recall alliance in faith, holiness and in natural maintenance of health. Also, we have to obey laws of health in order to walk in health. The point is, for a man who said he was paralyzed or crippled featured in movies for two years, after the time I prayed for him is a proof that he lied. Why did he start when I prayed for him? So, if it was fake, why did he come to our church to do thanksgiving concerning a miracle that is fake? How can a crippled man be dancing during thanksgiving? So he lied! When people lied against men of God, bad things happened. Because God cannot be silent and just watch and keep quiet. God has a way of vindicating the righteous. I still love him.
Let us look at scope of audience. Some flyers were said to be from your church tagged: Hot Girls in Lagos. What do you want to achieve with that ?
If I see a flyer, what is the proof that he came from me. The people that claimed the flyers came from me, I will like them to provide proof otherwise keep quiet forever. Because if they have proof, let them provide it.
Does that mean the said flyers were not from your church?
I should ask them where they got it from. If their intentions are right, when they see such flyers, they ought to seek for the origin. Because their intentions are wrong, all they speak about those flyers are all negatives. However, I was in United States when someone told me about the flyers, and I never saw naked girls on the flyers.
Who are the people your ministry is targeting?
Many pastors and ministers like to preach only to the righteous. I don’t want to say that is bad of them. Because I am not the one that called them. The God that called them must have given them the direction who to preach to. Different people are called for different reasons. In the bible, Peter was ministering to Jews. For me, I want the world saved and pursuit the passion to get the world saved. Everyone needs to come to the saving knowledge of our Lord, Jesus Christ. And also, come to the revelation benefit of Christ and enjoy it. I want to reach everybody with the message of Christ. Some people may not see it necessary to reach out to these who are looked down in the society; like people in the parks, prostitutes or drunkards, less privileged and orphans. I want to reach out to everybody. Sometimes, some people don’t like it. I do ask them this question: who would Jesus preached to if he were on earth today? Jesus won prostitute over in the bible. I want to be like Jesus who reached out to everybody and want sinners saved. We are messengers of Christ. Why do you reject the people that Jesus would have reached to? Jesus fed the poor and why do we need the hunger?
We do organize (feeding programme) for everybody (not for church alone) at Oshodi, Lagos. We chose Oshodi not Ikoyi, Banana Island, Lekki Phase 1 and Victoria Island. We chose Oshodi because we want to reach out to everybody that is suffering. All the people that come to Oshodi this Sunday will be fed. We want to reach out to the poor. Last week, we gave out money to the less privileged. I believe that is what Christ would do. I don’t believe that offerings are just to help pastor to buy another car, house or jet .I am not trying to say a Pastor having a car to use in going to church is bad but I believe Jesus would use part of the offering to help the poor. He (Jesus) fed the poor. Apostles in their days, Act of Apostles Chapter 6, use part of offerings, the donations to help the widows, the hungry and those who are less privileged. That is what I believe is the real message of Christ. And to save sinners, to heal the sick ,to help the poor and to reach out to the less privileged. To take a little you have and share it with everybody so that a lot of us can enjoy the mercy of Christ. That is what I think the real Christianity is all about
Many Pastors in Nigeria including you do talk about the importance of sowing seeds in the House of God. What is the importance of seed sowing to Churches?
I will like to ask a question. Do you believe in getting food? How do you get it? In the world, the only way that a thing can be multiplied is by investment. I don’t believe in trying to use game or lies to get money from people. I don’t believe in that but part of Christian teachings is when you are going to church, you go with an offering. There is a time for the message; there is a time to give your offering. When it is time for the message, you listen to the message. When it is time for worship, you also stand up and worship God. When it is time to give your offering, you also stand up and give your offering. Because it is a fact from the Christian worship, not from founder. It is like time immemorial and written in the scriptures. I believe in everything that is in the bible and if I believe in everything that is in the bible, I have to practice what I see in the scriptures. Like me, I give a lot to the poor. We celebrate Day of Charity. I announce in the church, if you lack anything, come and pick what you need in my house. The last time I did it , they come to pack everything in my house. The “AC” was pulled out of the wall… I believe that if you teach something, you have to be an example. So, I do that all the time. I believe part of Christianity is charity; giving to God and the less privileged. In one way or the other, nobody is perfect. In spite of your needs, you see that God has granted you some mercy that you can extend to them (poor). I believe all Christians must extend the mercy
In this challenging time, Economy is bad and people are complaining. What is the role of Preachers in elevating the standard of living of people in Nigeria?
When you treat scripture, it teaches salvation. Also, the scripture reveals to us about nations that had faced famine and how God delivered them. When those people reached out to God, God showed them a way out of difficulties they faced. I believe the role of preachers is to guided the people and show them examples in the scripture.
In the days of Joseph, God showed there how they could come out of famine. And in the days of Abraham, there was famine. God revealed how they could come out of the famine. I believe the role of preachers is to guide the people and show the examples in the scripture.
In the days of Joseph, God showed them how they could come out of famine. And in the days of Abraham, there was famine. God revealed how they could come out of the famine. I believe in spite of the problems facing a country, preachers can lead the people to re-discover themselves…that God has solutions their problems. Preachers can lead people to God to rediscover how (Nigerians) can come around this situation.
What is your relationship with other top rated Pastors?
I believe in following example of Christ. Nobody is as great as Christ and nobody will be great as Christ. When Jesus was in the world, in spite of his superiority, he respected the people before him. The bible says when he (Jesus) went to the temple, he respected the elderly people who were ministers before he was born. So, my relationship and how I will relate with the ministers who started before me and older than I in faith and age. My duty is to honour those that God has placed in such level. I believe in honouring those God place before me. When I see such people, I want to relate with them with honour and respect. There was a reason for God to create them before me God is the all-wise and he has a reason for calling them before me. Though, I don’t know all the reasons. I should for (God’s ) reasons to honour them . That is what I should do and that is what I advise others to do .
Many Pastor and Churches venture into Education and Health Care System. Is it part of your plans too?
I can only speak for now. The only person that knows about the future is God. Right now, I love charity. I want to help the poor. I want to pay the school fees and house bills of those I can help. I have helped many and I pray to God for more strength to do more. I believe there are lot of schools already buy I think we need more people who can help in charity. Because if there are schools and people do not have money to pay; you see the situation. While some people are building schools, I want to pay for those who are going to the schools. And someone who hasn’t eaten cannot learn. I want to feed the poor. That is what I want to do for now. I am not trying to condemn those that are building schools but that is what I want to be doing
As a Man of God, what did you think about someone who has been praying for many years and his /her request is not granted?
This brings people to my calling. I was born again when I was five. I started preaching when I was seven and I started miracle crusade when I was 19. One man that really influenced me was Dr. T.L Horseburn. I followed him closely since 1984 and he prayed for me to speak in tongues. Until he died in 2013, I followed closely. I have Christians in different countries of the world. I have had crusades in different nations. One of the things I discovered is that, back then in one crusade, like the one in Umuahia (Abia state) here in Nigeria. We have 50 blind people healed on one service. We have the videos so people can’t say it is a lie .It was awesome and a lot of crippled walked. All kinds of miracle happened.
One of the things that I saw in crusades is that you can see more than 10 thousand people in crusade. If 50 people come to the stage to testify and the whole crowd is excited about the miracles; the miracle of 50 out of 10 thousand; my heart was bleeding. And a minister asked me: What is wrong with you? I said 50 people out of 10 thousand people are still little. When few are celebrating, what about the pain of the majority who returned the same way they came? That was my case. Since when I was a kid, I saw the lord and ask God. I want to know why these things happening so that I can bring solutions to my generation. That is what my calling is all about; the final move of God. It is the answer to all inadequacies that happened in Christianity for ages. And in the year 2014, I was in a hotel in United States and Jesus appeared to me and he said “I brought the answers”. In the multiplying visitations that span over 43 months, he gave me the answer. Right now, I can tell people, I can give you the answer. And that answer is put together in this book titled “The Final Move of God”. It is a book of 440 pages of well – insight of God’s mystery that is unknown for ages and finally revealed to provide answer to every Christian. When you read this book, you will find the solution to unanswered prayers, miracles once and for all. This book contained secrets for profession power miracles and results. It is best selling . The first printing finished in less than 8 hours. And we are receiving the third printing in one month. This is how is selling. We have people buying from United States and around the world. The order has been heavy and the results have been unusual. People can see the unusual results I see in crusades.
What will you tell the world about Jesus?
What I want to tell the whole world about Jesus is if you are not saved, you need Christ. Christ is the only way for salvation.