Freedom for All Nations Outreach (FANO), a Pretoria-based church, started off some five years ago as a fellowship of brethren with a mission to take salvation to lost souls and succour to the needy.
From a humble beginning at a rented hall for evening fellowships, and itinerant revivals, the church has grown to occupy its current 5.3 hectres property on the outskirts of South Africa’s capital city, Pretoria. NewsPlus paid a visit to the church recently and had an exclusive chat with the self-effacing, exceptionally generous and empathetic Founder and Senior Pastor of the church, Prophet Samuel Akinbodunse (fondly called Brother Sam), and he disclosed the ‘secret’ behind the exponential growth of the church:
Prophet, it is amazing that we are already talking about five years since you started this ministry. A lot has happened and, looking at the past five years, how well would you say you have fared working for God?
I can say that it is all about grace. Ministry is not an easy journey. It is about the grace of God because if we are to look at all that has happened for the past five years we will see that it is not something that an ordinary man can do. Somebody asked me to tell them the secret that I used to do in five years what 20 years could not do, and I replied that I’m not the one that did it. When the grace of God is at work with man, it makes the life of man easy. That is why I say it is the grace of God that made us to achieve everything that we have achieved now. It is true that we are fasting and we are praying; we rely on the word of God, even yet there are people who fast and pray more than we do, that understand the word more than we do but the difference is the favour, mercy, and grace of God. According to Hebrews Chapter 4 Verse 16, “Let us come boldly to approach the throne of grace so that we may obtain mercy and find grace in times of need”. It is only the grace of God that has brought us to where we are now.
It’s like you just took those words out of my mouth. I was going to ask you; everybody prays for the grace of God, how come this grace is sufficient for some people and some others don’t have it. Like you rightly said, some people have been in the ministry for decades and they haven’t accomplished what you have accomplished. You also mentioned mercy; to qualify for mercy you yourself have to be merciful. Could that be the secret?
No, that is not a secret. The Bible says, “Blessed are the merciful for they will obtain mercy”. That is not the hidden secret; the hidden secret of the achievement is found in the book of Exodus Chapter 33 from Verse 18 where God says, “I will show mercy to whom I will show mercy and compassion to whom I will show compassion.” The obtainment of mercy is God’s choice and God’s will. If we look at what we have achieved, it is because we have received mercy in God’s sight and that the grace is available. Without a man obtaining mercy, grace is not available because it is mercy that opens the door for grace. That is why we call our church ‘Mercy Land’. So, it is the mercy of God that we have obtained that has given us the grace that we are running with; we are not running just a race. We are running with grace.
You just moved to this new site as part of your expansion drive and already you have a massive auditorium in place. Tell us about that.
It is indeed the expansion that moved us to this site and, also, it is the Lord’s doing. People come from all over the country and from overseas. We have shuttle buses bringing people to our various services and we had serious space problems where we were.
By God’s grace, we acquired this 5.3 hectres or 53000 square metres property and the auditorium that you talk about is actually meant to be the youth auditorium. It is an 8000 capacity auditorium. Our plan is to build a 50,000-seater auditorium that is estimated to cost 300 million rands, and we are trusting God to help us put that in place within the next two years.
There are a lot of things that you are doing that are just amazing. Take for instance your School of Ministry. That is one major breakthrough that you recorded very early in the life of this ministry – I think in September 2014 you held your maiden convocation. What is the place of the school in your ministry’s agenda?
Actually, if we are to do this work for God we have to raise people because one of the things that I picked up is that there were great men of God in the past before we even came into the picture that didn’t raise men and when they died their ministry died and we don’t want the ministry of Jesus Christ to die because every man that is a true man of God is running the extension of the ministry of Jesus. So, if we don’t want that ministry to die, we have to raise men the same way Jesus raised men for his ministry. The school of ministry that we are doing is not an avenue for money making; our motive is to raise men so if we are no more, there are men who can do the work. For example, if I travel for months, the ministry cannot die because there are able men that have been raised for the ministry. So, if somebody is fighting me now because of what we have achieved, the person doesn’t know what he/she is doing because it is not me now; it is all about the people that have been raised. There are hundreds of Samuels that have been raised for the work so if I am no more, there are people that can carry on the work and the work cannot die.
That is divine wisdom. There is something unique that you do also that we have noticed: A lot of men of God leave Nigeria to go and minister abroad. You, on the contrary, leave South Africa to go and minister in Nigeria even though Nigeria has a lot of men of God. You do this consistently. Why is that so?
Jesus did the same thing. The headquarters of Jesus’ ministry was not in his hometown; he ministered outside and brought the gospel back to them. The same thing I did; so South Africa is not my birthplace, I was born in Nigeria. The Lord sent me to South Africa and I saw that there is a need in Nigeria for what God put in me and he told me, so I go back and give them what they need and they are benefitting from it.
You embarked on one of such missions recently, not just to Nigeria but to your home state, Ondo; taking the message back to your roots. What would you say is the most memorable experience during the Ondo Outreach?
The most memorable experience is the wonderful testimony of the woman who was pregnant for one year and four months. She had gone everywhere but could not find a solution to her predicament. However, after we prayed a short prayer she went into labor, but to everyone’s surprise, she gave birth to a live catfish.
We were so shocked; we took pictures and recorded the event. She too was shocked. It was a real birth, there was blood and her water even broke, we thought it was a baby coming out but it was a catfish. In fact, that was the most shocking testimony that I have ever seen in my ministry.
Watch the prophet relate the incident to FANO congregation here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-z1OJ8-g34o
Another amazing testimony is that when I was away, a thief attempted to break into the church. He got stuck on the perimeter fence for about three hours and only dropped from the fence when the police arrived at the scene.
When interrogated, he confessed that his intention was to steal from the church but he had no idea how he got stuck. It is not an electric fence; otherwise, perhaps he would have been electrocuted. Again, we can only attribute that to the power of God in action.
At your services, you make it a point to pray for Africa and you have in your auditorium the flags of different nations. What’s that about?
Our ministry is the Freedom for All Nations Outreach. We recognise the need for peace in all nations because that is the first condition for people to be truly called the children of God. Matthew Chapter 5 Verse 9 says, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God.” So, we pray for peace in all nations, particularly African countries because, first, we are in Africa and then, of course, we all know that Africa has its peculiar challenges. The flags you see represent all the nations we have visited for ministration.
That’s quite a number of nations. FANO Television is also part of your outreach strategy. How’s that going?
FANO TV is indeed a medium that helps us to take the message to the uttermost parts of the earth as Jesus commanded in the Great Commission:
“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15)
FANO TV is doing great. We receive a lot of testimonies from people watching it all over the world and the visitors that we get are mainly as a result of the encounter they have through the channel. It is a very expensive venture. But God has made it possible and He is using men to sustain it.
Thanks for your time and the great work you’re doing
Thank you and God bless you.
PHOTO HIGHLIGHTS OF THE ONDO CONFERENCE
In attendance at the Ondo Conference were men and women from all walks of life and from across Nigeria, including other ministers of God. Veteran gospel minister, Dr Bola Are, who not long ago collaborated with South Africa-based Trinity Band to release Songs of Zion (Orin Sioni), ministered at the occasion. Here are photo highlights of the conference:
A distinct characteristic of FANO is charity. The church organizes weekly feeding programmes at different locations that are supplied with groceries, clothing items and of course the word of God. These, according to the prophet, are funded with his personal resources, under the auspices of the Samuel Akinbodunse Ministry. On one of such occasions at a location known as Umalusi Hercules in South Africa’s Gauteng province, a young lady, Helen Tinyinko, who had been frustrated by poverty out of her dream of completing her tertiary education shunned rice and bread and made known to the man of God the desire to complete her education. Her hope became reality when Prophet Sam presented to her, before the FANO congregation, a scholarship certificate.
Visuals here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F46DV7yeqU4
Helen is just one out of many that are enjoying FANO’s bursaries and scholarships under the FANO MOVE OF HOPE programme. Below is a list of other beneficiaries ranging from pre-school to the university:
- Matthew Ekata
- Angela Oruameh
- Owethu Phasha
- Matthew Ajibulu
- Joshua Adeoye
(Pupils of FANO Academy (Pre-school)
- David Adefedipe
- Neo Mokwana
(Students of Dansa International College)
- Gloria Winney Matshozwi
- Mugon Tryness
- Maluleke Mkateko Clive
(Students of FANO School of Ministry)
- Khanyisa Simbini – Meyerspark Laerskool
- Marvellous Oluwasegun – Rosina Sedibane Modiba Sports School Of Focus Learning
- Pride Nyaleti – Tshwane University of Technology
- Thandinkosi Sibanda – EPT Aviation Training School
- Blessed Alekeh – South West Gauteng College
- Bongani Mafokodwana – Rosebank College (Tertiary school)
- Raphael Lartey
Brother Sam is blessed with the gift of prophecy – the gift that earned him the name Prophet Sam. People go to FANO from far and near to hear the word of God concerning them and their situations through the man of God. He is on record to have made accurate prophecies concerning people and nations, one of the latest being the storm that devastated parts of the Western Cape province of South Africa recently.
At FANO’s monthly service of the 21st of May, 2017, themed “Automatic Encounter With Mercy,” he had foreseen looming disaster in the form of a flood. These were his words:
“As I was prophesying around, I saw something in the western part of South Africa, It looks like a flood. It will happen in June or first week of July. Let’s pray to God to save us from any disaster that rain can bring’’
On June 7, 2017, a major storm that uprooted trees and pulled down shelters ripped through Cape Town and surrounding areas, as reported in the news.
Watch visuals of the prophecy and the storm here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-lSscEjCkc
JESUS IS LORD!