Andy Gaor, a preacher of the Word from the Philippines has stories to tell. His mother thought (and indeed cursed) that he would dire in poverty because he gave his life to Christ. But today, his life is a portrait of God munificence and his accomplishments a vindication of those who wait on the Lord. From the level of spiritual nothingness and rejection from parents in the Philippines through threats of death sentence on those who preach the Word in Saudi Arabia, Gaor rose to pastor one of the biggest churches in the Philippines. On his second visit to Nigeria, Gaor spoke to elifeonline.com.
At what point in your life did the call to service come? What where you doing when the call came?
I was working as a civil engineer in Saudi Arabia, although I was already a Christian. The life of Christians living in Saudi Arabia is hectic because Islam is a state religion. When the call came, I was only reaching out to friends and we hold fellowship but when the call became very strong and insistent, I resigned my job and decided to return to the Philippines.
When exactly did you give your life to Christ?
Well I was still a student in the university taking my civil engineering course. One lady in church preached the gospel to me but I thought I knew Christ already but I was into so many vices, all the bad things you can name like drinking, womanising, smoking, gambling. In fact, I was into a special type of gambling, but later, I realised there is a better plan for my life when the two ladies preached to me the gospel and I attended a bible believing church
When you gave your life to Christ, what were the initial challenges you had, more especially in a country like Saudi Arabia?
The challenges were many, the first of which was my parent’s reactions to it. They did not want me to go to Saudi Arabia because they wanted me to end up a politician just like them. My mother was a mayor and my father worked the governor. But after I gave my life, I knew there was a better plan for my life. I still went to Saudi with the intention to win soul for God. Not long after, many people started coming to me and I went on sharing the love of God. I was holding an influential position in the company (surveyor of the company) and I was reaching out to every person under me until we started a church underground.
What was the reaction of the government at that time?
They don’t know. My friends and the people under me in the company kept a low profile and we were very careful. As more people became more committed, we were careful with our movements because conversion to Christianity in Saudi is a matter of life and death. You could either be put to jail if you preach or you will be sent home. In fact, a Saudi Arabian man was sentenced to death because a bible that was given to him by one of our friends was found in his car by one of the religious leaders!
At what point did you leave Saudi Arabia for the Philippines?
After a few years of working in Saudi Arabia, I felt a stronger call of being in full time ministry. This call became stronger so I obeyed. On getting to Manila, it was very clear to me that God was directing. I love the story of Joseph because my story is similar. The Holy Spirit made me to understand that I was going to be at the top.
What were the challenges you faced on getting to Manila?
The first challenge was when I declared my intention to go full blast into the ministry. My mummy was strongly opposed to it, same with my dad. In fact, my mother cursed me that I will die in poverty. She said no pastor is ever rich in the Philippines. They were concerned about riches but I knew that my God would not leave me poor. They cut off from me and my mother’s attitude to my wife was strictly odd.
But today, God has made me a success. I am staying in a house worth$75,000, debt free and stress free. She came top my house recently and what she saw mystified her. She could not talk because she saw what she had never seen in the house of a son she cursed an d believed would die in poverty.
"... One thing that has caught my attention in the Nigerian church is the fire of the Holy Spirit, the excitement and faith of the people. In the Philippines, we have come to point were the people are very complacent and the fire is lost..."
Did you nurse any bitterness against her when the opposition lasted?
Yes. At the time that she rejected us, I was very bitter especially with the way she treated my wife but latter on I confessed every thing to God. Just like Joseph who was sold by his brothers, he was offended but he made a decision to forgive. I decided to forgive my mummy and today we are very close.
There is a high concentration of Christian focus on Nigeria this past few years: so many churches are springing up, various revivals, crusades and so many pastors coming from abroad to preach in Nigeria. What do you think is special about Nigeria in this period?
The attitude of your people to the word of God. The people here love to praise the Lord. Don’t forget that God inhabits the praises of his people so, God loves to come down in a placer like this. In so many countries, the people are lukewarm. I am amazed at the way you people receive the things of God. Your country is close to something great.
How many branches do you have all over Africa now or is it just Nigeria alone?
We are not planting churches here, we only want to be a blessing and share what we have experienced and what the Lord has done for us.
What contribution does your wife make to your church?
She is the pastor and head of our children church, over a thousand children
This is your second visit to our church and the country Nigeria, how do you compare Christianity in Nigeria to what is obtained in the Philippines?
One thing that has caught my attention in the Nigerian church is the fire of the Holy Spirit, the excitement and faith of the people here. In the Philippines, we have come to point were the people are very complacent and the fire is lost. But we have started asking God for a mighty visitation. My visit to Nigeria last year changed a lot of things in my life. Today in my ministry, we have imported what we learnt and received from here. Presently, there is a revival of the Word going on.
Praise and worship is pivotal to Christianity in Nigeria. What is the picture like in the Philippines?
Praise and worship is very vibrant here. There is so much passion for God, the people here don't care what people say. That is how it should be. In my country, we are a bit reserved. This worries us so much that we are now inviting pastors from Nigeria so that more anointing could be imparted. Right now in our church, the anointing during worship is spreading such that you would think you are in a Nigerian church. The anointing here has affected our church. Though we are not into church planting, we are helping and empowering many churches in Vietnam, Burma, China and Japan.
In fact, a Saudi Arabian man was sentenced to death because a bible that was given to him by one of our friends was found in his car by one of the religious leaders! ..."
We have incidences of fallen men of God in countries like America, Nigeria, etc. How do Philippinos react to such saga?
We have some men of God that have fallen due to sin, but we are very quiet about it. We don't have all this scandalous things. It is basically covered up
Looking at the globalisation of the gospel what is your impression, is it just a coincidence or a prophecy?
God allows all these situations for the people to return to him, in some prosperous countries of the world, many people do not serve God. But in Asia, so many people are in great need of material and financial comfort so they easily accept the gospel that preaches hope to them, so they turn to God. But what is happening here in Nigeria is quite different. I found out that so many people are turning to God in spite of all their problems or comfort.
What is the state of your church worldwide?
We are called as a church to help people and men of God. We have stopped planting churches directly. We are doing church planting indirectly. Through many churches around the world, we empower their nationals and conduct special training for pastors. There are so many churches already but not all of them are properly equipped for the assignment. So we don't plant churches, we inspire them and do training.
What is the contribution of the youth ministry in your church and what roles do women play. What are your dreams for the children ministry?
We have a lot of young people in our church with a congregation of about 3500 members. 700 of them are young people whom we have taught to be career people through taking their education seriously. This, we believe will make them a useful tool for the gospel. I am an engineer by profession. My work took me to Saudi Arabia where I established a church and we now have over 3000 members. You can see how my education and profession has led me to carry out the assignment God committed top my hands.
Do you advise Nigerian Christians to go into politics or vote for Christians alone?
Some Christians are called to do politics and influence the government. Ordinarily, I will vote for my brother Christian but I don't endorse the use of the pulpit for politics. In our church we don't use our pulpit for politics. When our church was small, no politician dared to come but now that we are big and have influence, the whole community and the senators rush there to give to our building project. When I knew they were just trying to hoodwink the people into voting for them, I told them to make their contributions after the election or when there is no election.
How supportive is the media of Christianity and the church in the Philippines?
Not very much not as you enjoy here. In my country, over 83% of the people are Catholics and know very little of Christianity the way we know it today. But now many have come to the Lord genuinely. Today, about 93% of our members are from Catholic churches. With this, the media is more circular and not really committed to God. There is nothing about the fear of God, but we are coming up.
How organised is the Pentecostal movement in your country? In spite of the large number of Christians in the Philippines, how do you rationalise the increase in crime rate?
We have a lot of problems on this because many people do not have the fear of God. The crime is not only with the people who go to churches. Presently we have different Muslim groups and this cause a lot of problems too.
Lets look at the government of your President, Gloria Arroyo. How supportive is the church of the lady trying to bring a political rebirth to that country The whole church is behind her. In fact, I was given the privilege to pray over some problems facing our nation. When she learnt that we feed the children on the street every Sunday, she called my office and said she wants us to pray for her.
You are fond of saying tell five people, tell 12 people soso and so. Why are you so attached to numbers?
In Philippines, 83% of the people are Catholics and they know very little of Christianity the way we know it today. But now many have come to the Lord genuinely. About 93% of our members are from Catholic churches.
Because God believes in numbers, for example seven times the children of Israel marched round the walls of Jericho. On the seventh day, God rested. There are 12 tribes of Israel and the 12 months of the year. Remember God told Joshua to march round the wall of Jericho 7 time if he had marched round the wall 6 times, he would have missed it.
Do you have an umbrella organisation that controls the affairs of the churches in the Philippines?
Yes we have the Philippines Council of Evangelical Churches.
What will our church benefit from your church apart from the pastor or with respect to exchange programs etc?
Yes we can organise special meetings and encourage people
Do you have special mission or project for the church?
Our mission is to every church we hope to train and enlighten around the world
What is your vision for Nigeria as a whole?
We want to be an encouragement to all the pastors and to share with them what we have experienced
You mentioned Saudi Arabia it's a bit curious to me that you planted a church in Saudi Arabia which is regarded as the cradle of Islam what where the challenges you faced while you where in Saudi Arabia?
Persecution non stop. We moved from one place to another to be able to have the meetings and worship service but we know how to handle them
Who were your congregation, Saudi people or foreigners?
The foreigners that where reaching to there nationals. The Saudi nationals are very scared to join us that means death for them so they meet in caves
Are there Saudi Arabian Christians?
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