Popular cleric, Reverend Yomi Kasali, is the Senior Pastor at Foundation of Truth Assembly Church. He told SEGUN KASALI the story of his unusual childhood.
You almost lost your life twice.
Yes. I went to preach but they were anti-God in that community. So, they tied me up and told me they were going to throw me into a well. All my other team members ran and I was the only one left. I would have died. Fortunately, somebody whose name was Samson showed up from somewhere and said he was going to defend me, adding that they should let this evangelist go. That was how I was saved. I still remember it very vividly. That was about 30 years ago. And there was also a time I had near-death experience. So, the man today had been shaped by all those unpleasant experiences.
You must have been a radical from childhood.
Maybe not. I don’t think so. Maybe different from childhood. Stubborn. But, I was a quiet type at home. My dad was a bit of a bully at home. Nobody could talk at home. We did not have that kind of good relationship with our parents. It was a very polygamous home. I did not know my mother until I left school. I never met her in my life.
Yes. She was not in my father’s house. Someone else, raised me. I grew up as an adult and one day, one woman walked through the door and my dad said that is your mum. I felt quite bitter that why should a woman abandon her sons and could not even look back to say hello to us. That is exactly where I coined my phrase that: “It takes a womb to be a woman, but takes a heart to be a mother.” Many women have wombs but that does not make you a mother.
Did that affect anything?
Absolutely! Maybe that is why I am tough because I was raised by a man that was tough. I understood pain. Pain was normal and part of my life. I was beaten everyday by my father. There was a time I made a mistake writing a letter that I want to die; hence, he beat me up and tied me like a criminal and gave me seven wipes of koboko that day. Funny enough, I could not tell what I did.
Was about asking your offence.
I wrote the letter to my brother and he stumbled on it. I told him I was tired of living and that I want to give up by committing suicide. So, when he saw the letter, he was like you want to die, I will kill you today. I can recall that event very vividly to the extent that my son was crying when I shared the story with him the very other day. He was like “You went through that?” And I said “Yeah”.
But, why your father’s constant negative reaction to you?
Towards me or towards all his kids? (Laughs). Perhaps, he did not like me because he said I look like my mum. Every time he saw me, he saw my mother. So, my mother offended but he never forgave my mother. He loved my brothers more than me. He maltreated me. He vented his anger against my mum on me. I took the facial expression of my mum. I am a carbon copy of my mum. So, he was very bitter and against my mum. It was towards the end of his life that he and I got close. He died many years ago but he apologized. And he was telling me what my mum did to him that got him embittered.
When did this happen?
We made up years after. But, you know I had already left the house. When I left, my aunt took me for a while. Thereafter, another uncle and brother took me for a while too. It was like that until God led me to one woman who led me to Christ and I became a Christian. Then, I was living from hand to mouth and not sure of the future. I lived in that woman’s house for a while until I met the Lord and my life changed.
Your education must have suffered, sir.
Absolutely! I dropped out of school twice. I started going to school when I became an adult. I achieved that through determination and resolve that I was going to work hard. I did programmes on my own and today I am who I am. I worked so hard and got married. My marriage was a changing and turning point in my life.
This is because my wife is very committed. She loves me and she is the very first person in my opinion that I would consider, believe in me the most. I proposed to her when I was a lecturer in Bible school then. Before that time, nobody believed in me. So, you were just out there looking for someone to say I believe in you. She was my student at Bible school. She had a professional job, working as a manager at Exxon Mobil while I had a pastoral job. And people would not expect her to marry a pastor. But, she just loved God. So, she kept on coming to the Bible school. One time like that, she travelled to the United States and missed her classes and I guess she was going to fail my course. So, I told her I wanted to help her out so she won’t fail my course as exams were coming. So, I took her through extra classes so she could understand better. So, that was how we got close and while we were talking, I found out that her values and mine were aligned. She then found the love about me. And after the exams, she passed.
So, you proposed to her?
Yeah. I asked her for a date and I told her. She wanted to know the person and not the lecturer. So, I told her who the person was. When I informed her, she was shocked and said she would think about it. She eventually said yes. I met her 28 years ago and got married to her 26 years ago.
So, you were never intimidated by her profession compared to yours?
Well, so many people do get scared proposing to women because of their career and others. If you love someone, go and propose to her. I have always been a bold and brave person. Perhaps it was because I had the advantage that she was my student. She did not frighten me. Again, she was very humble. You would never know where she worked then except you asked her. She would come to the class without leaving the impression that she was that big unlike modern day girls. By the time I knew where she was working, we had gone a bit far. So, by the time we got married, our ministry blossomed. She supported me a lot. In the early days of my ministry, she played a very key role.
Any habit she wants you to stop?
She believes I am very radical. She believes I am very controversial while she is not. She would like me speak less about certain controversy in church more than the government. You know my mindset is to reform things and I try to be honest by saying can we change the way things are. So, she thinks I can be very hard on church leaders. So, sometimes she wants me to tone it down.
Which of your children is taking after your ‘radical’ approach?
My daughter. My son is very conservative like the mum. He is very reserve and humble. But, my daughter is very bold. She is studying Law. She is the one I reckon that may likely take that part of me which is radical and explosive.
And childhood dream was?
Do I even have a dream in that house? You could not have a dream in that house. My grandmother gave all the grand children pet names. My pet name was chief. She would say “Hey! Chief Yomi. That man would be a chief tomorrow.” I usually wondered why she gave me the name. So, I would watch people being called chief on television. I remember my mindset was to become a finance minister. I wanted to be in politics and get to the limelight. But, I knew I had always wanted to solve people’s problems. My idea of chief was someone who would be able to go to hometown and pack bags of money to give to his people-pay their school fees, pay their rent, pay their hospital bills.
She never unraveled the idea behind the name?
She never did.
What gives you so much joy, sir?
Making people happy. Bringing people to Christ. That is what gives me joy. Seeing people after a sermon saying thank you for that sermon because it touched my life. I would go to bed and say thank you Jesus.
What would you love to be remembered for?
Oh! What a million-dollar question. I want people to remember me as a preacher. I want to be a moral leader. I want to become a humanitarian. I want to run a hospital that will be free.
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