General Overseer of Grace-to-Grace International Church United Kingdom, Pastor (Mrs.) Atinuke Adesanya speaks withÃ‚Â naijachurchnewsÃ‚Â on why she has a soft spot for the less privileged during the annual Grace and Mercy Programme(GAMP) of the church recently in Ikorodu, Lagos . Excerpts:
What is the rationale behind GAMP?
We started the empowering programme eight years ago and we will not stop until Jesus come because we find out that there will always be poor people in our midst and people that are in needs.
One of the ways we can reach out to these people is to make sure that we pick them from the grass root and impact their life positively through our empowerment programme.
What does help the poor mean to you?
I am happy when I seeing peopleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s life transformed through our empowerment programme. Like today, we have 21 people graduating and I believe we are taking them from one level of life to another which is better from where they are coming from.
Those graduating today have been trained for two years on fashion designing; they are going with free sewing machine to start them up including some amount of money which they can use to purchase other things.
This empowerment programme is solely sponsored by Grace To Grace members in United Kingdom. They know the passion that I have and they are also interested in the passion and they respond anytime I call on them.
Any life experience that motivated to be doing this?
I will say yes because I am from a very lowly place and I know what it is for someone to struggle in life. It is only through the help of God I am where I am today and I know that I have the mandate to impact life positively, bringing smiles to the face of the less privileged by training them in one vocation or the other. There are some people who had similar experiences and they did not have anybody to help them in life. Coming from that kind of background, I felt strongly that I should be able to give back to the society.
What do you stand to gain in doing this?
I do notÃ‚Â need to gain anything. But just seeing that lives are changing, is enough for me.
What was your childhood experience like?
I am the second child in the family of six. We had other members of the extended family living with us in a one- room apartment in Fadeyi, Lagos.
I remember we used to be 14 in the same room. At night we all have to sleep in opposite direction so that the space can be enough for all of us. We always prayed that our visitors will go on time because they are occupying our small spaces.
We ate rice once a week and if we miss that very Sunday, it will be the next one. There is a friend of my daddy, who always visited when we were about to eat our rice and we know that our portion will be given to him. My sister and I will burst into songs, praying that the man will not come and if he comes, we will stay by the doors step and start singing. But he will not mind us and my mother will asked us to eatÃ‚Â Eba.
Why do you love talking about your background?
Yes, I love it because I do not have anything to hide and my experience has served as word of encouragement to others.Ã‚Â They believe in themselves that they too can become someone in life. As a minister of the gospel, I always use myself as an example so they will not see me as a saint or angel.
How did you wade through your humble background?
We have a praying mother. She tried all she could do to ensure that all her children were brought up in the LordÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s way. When weÃ‚Â were growing up, my mother sold moin-moin.
Later she went into clothing materials. My siblings and I hawked with her. But she always encouraged us, saying that is not the end of our lives. She said she foresaw we were going far in life.
Our parents also instilled moral values in us and she did not spare the rod when we got it wrong.
What advice do you have for the graduands?
TheyÃ‚Â should not relent in acquiring more knowledge. They should take the training they have received here to a higher level because the sky is their starting point. What they just learnt here is only a beginning. No one knows when an opportunity can surface.
How about churches?
Churches should reach out to the less privileged in their various communities, even if they are not their members. We started the empowerment programme not as a church. But the church angle started few years ago.
It is not about the church but the community because we know that if we impact our community positively, bringing them to Christ will be easy including propagation of the gospel.
WhatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s your take on moral decadence in the society?
It is obvious thatÃ‚Â most parentsÃ‚Â do not spendÃ‚Â much time with their children any longer, especially the mothers. When we were growing up, our mothers were always there for us. They spent quality time with their children.
It is no longer the same nowadays. Mothers are also bread winners at home and they are working and struggling to earn a living. They go out very early, come back late and she will be tire to check on the children. Most fathers are also lacking in discharging their responsibilities. They leave everything in the hands of the mothers.
What advice do you have for mothers then?
I will urge all mothers to mother their children and not be a murderer. When I talk about not murdering your children, it is for you to be there for your children. Talk to them and have quality time with them. If we fail to establish cordial relationship with our children, then we become murderers.
Parents do not have to get all the money before they train their children but if you are there for them, they will be able to discuss with you. They will share their thoughts to know what they are going through and proffering the right solution for them