Poverty made us eat corn three times a day – Gloria Bamiloye
Even without any make up, Gloria Bamiloye, wife of Evangelist Mike Bamiloye, Founder and President of Mount Zion Drama Ministry, is a damsel any day. At a tender age of 20, when her seniors in marriage were losing grip on their homes and her mates were indisposed to the marriage institution, she stood her ground on settling for marriage despite stiff opposition from families and friends. This almost ended in a disaster. But her conviction was stronger. It has been 22 years now and though with a price, her home, including the dream she shares with her husband, is not only kept intact, but actually thriving. She told YEMISI ADENIRAN all about the good, the bad and the ugly of the journey so far. Excerpts:
You don’t come across as a Yoruba woman. Where exactly are you from and what did you study in school?
It is always strange and funny when people ask me this question. I am a proper Yoruba girl. I am from Ilesa in Osun State. I grew up in Lagos and Ibadan because I schooled in both places. For my higher education, I went to the then Oyo State College of Education, Ilesa, where I studied English Language and Religious studies.
Where did you meet your husband?
We are both alumni of the same institution. But he left school before I got an admission there. He used to be our senior brother, big brother. It was when he came back to teach us a playlet that we met. He was always around any time we had programmes and so I was familiar with his face.
When you were growing up, did you ever dream of getting married to an evangelist?
I grew up to know Jesus though I came from a Muslim family. My elder brother got born again along the line and this influenced all of us. I was actually in the primary school when I got introduced to Christ. All along, however, I admired people who were in the Lord, their love for God, their desire to serve Him, their books and the way God uses them to influence other people’s lives always intrigued me. So, I desired to be like them, though I never knew how and I never knew it’s going to be through drama. My desire was to be a pastor, to preach the word of God. I did that in my own little way as a member of the church choir. But then, I wished to do more. When I joined the drama group in the college, I saw drama in another perspective. I saw the way members are committed, the way they pray. I saw it as a call. That was how I became a drama minister.
If you were not doing this, what other thing would you have loved to do?
Yes, I remember when I was in school. I was so loved by many of my teachers. I enjoyed school. Whenever they asked me what I wanted to be, I always declare my love to be a teacher. I believed from there, I could become a lecturer with time and achieve my aim of imparting knowledge in people. That was my desire. I never knew God had another plan for me.
What was the attraction when you met your husband?
We met in school. But then, I had no thought of settling down because my interest was to read and further my education. I had sisters challenging me to study well for a purpose. I never imagined I could settle down that early. My intention was to finish my education before settling down. It was just God because when he proposed to me, I wasn’t prepared for it. But after praying and seeking God’s face over it, I realised it was the way God wanted it. So, I couldn’t but obey the Lord. Simply, I entered into it in obedience to the will of God. It wasn’t so easy. Even my parents were not prepared for it. First, they thought I was too young and still needed to read. Secondly, my elder brothers had other plans for me. They knew he is into a full-time ministry and had nothing to cater for me. They kept asking me what type of job he did and all my explanations could not convince them. But they could not just stop me because I had made up my mind. I had prayed and got God’s go ahead. So, there was no going back for me. I knew God had something good for me. Thank God, I followed God’s will. Maybe if I had followed my parents’ will, I wouldn’t have been where I am today. It wasn’t as if I don’t love my parents or I don’t appreciate their intentions, but I believe God had the best plan for me and He is the one I will always follow. Thank God I obeyed Him because I am happy where I am today. Now they are praising God for the decision I made then.
Was there anytime your people tried to keep you away so that he would not have access to you?
Not at all. They don’t believe in forcing people against their wishes in my family. So, no one used any force on me. I pitied them then because they had no other choice than to leave me alone and be praying. We have pastors in my family too.
How has the journey been so far?
We have been through what they refer to as some thick and thin. But you see, following God is the best and that has made us survive the hard times. They call it the wilderness period and I guess it’s the right word. Everything will not always be rosy, especially in this kind of ministry where you don’t expect offering from anywhere as it is not a church. So, financially, it wasn’t easy. But we know God can take care of everything and He has proven Himself. We try to follow his step and as he leads, we follow. But of a truth, God has been so faithful to us.
What was the experience like at the initial stage?
At the time we got married, it was all a journey of faith. My husband had no other job than this one and I was not working. So, to even eat some times then, was not easy at all. We never ate what we wanted, but just anything God provided. But God sustained us. In it, we had all our children. I remember when my first baby was due. We had a ministration and I was almost following them because that was the only place I was assured of free food and all. But I was not permitted because I was heavy. I had to sit at home and cope with the hunger. This was how I lived all through then and many were always making jest of me saying that I should go and look for work. I always told them I am not lazy, that I could work but I believe in God. At times then, the only available food will be corn. I would then turn corn to all kind of delicacies. We even prepared and ate it like rice. Even my children grew up to meet this hardship. But that era is gone, all thanks to God. My children usually tease me of those days now. Of how I used to give them pap three times in a day. But the fact is that all these things built them up. It opened their eyes to appreciate the faithfulness of God now when they have a line of variety of food to choose from. As they take cornflakes now, in a flash back, they will say ah, mummy, God is very faithful. When I see people complaining, I know I have passed through the same process. During the period of hard times, the children scaled through and are now telling the stories as testimonies. Hard times definitely build and get one rooted the more. The Lord said those that sowed in tears will come to reap in joy. But today, many don’t want to sow in tears. They want to start big right from day one. Children of God must learn to pass through all the processes of growth. They must be ready to cope with the rough times knowing fully well that a better era awaits them in the future. All they need do is to wait patiently for God. If you don’t wait, you will crash. That is why many people are crashing today. God wants us to wait on Him, follow his steps and He will take us there.
What are the other challenges?
In this type of work, we have a lot of them. Before now, many never saw the drama ministry as no big deal and so they never took us serious. They believed we were not doing anything. Sometimes, we were tempted to look at the flamboyant aspect of the career. But you know these are no genuine things and so we appeared foolish to them. We are ministers, though in drama. In Mount Zion Ministry, we don’t beg around for money. If God doesn’t provide, we carry on and when he provides, we take it the way it comes. If He can’t do it, nobody will do it. So, we don’t move ahead of God. Since the beginning of the ministry, we don’t have any Godfather. Nobody sponsors us. It has been God all through.
How many movies has Mount Zion produced?
I have honestly lost count now. But I know we have produced so many and there are so many we have not released. There are some that are just ready. The newest now is, “A crack in the wall” and “fill in the crack,” part one and part two.
How do you combine your home with the ministry?
Presently, the children have grown up and they are all in school. So, it’s a bit easier. To me, the moment I got married to my husband, the Lord opened my eyes to see my home as a ministry. If you want to make it in life, as a married woman, your home must be given the lead priority. Don’t do things that will take your home away from you or else you will be neglected by the society. The glory of God will not be seen. All the women in the Bible that have made it and that have impacted greatly on life, all had their homes intact. Before I got married, I wanted to work the way men do. But the moment I got married, God said that is my first ministry. Women ought to build their homes because a wise woman builds her home. Deborah was a prime minister during her own time and she never joked with her home. When a woman builds her home, she builds a nation. God can now commit worthwhile assignments into your hands. Your vision will be established and realised. But if you fail Him in the area of your home, it means you have failed before God. This has been my principle and I have fought tooth and nail to abide by it. There was a time I was pregnant, there was a time I was raising my children. But all these things were done under the ministry. I see both as my assignment. Whether while I was on location or at home, I must be up to the expectations. When I am cooking for my family, taking care of my children, I see all as a ministry. Anywhere I function, either at home or in the ministry, I want to be faithful because that is what God will see, not what you are doing. If you are faithful to your husband, you are faithful to God and that is what God will reward. He doesn’t give us the home to take away the ministry from us or give you the ministry and take away the home from you. I see both together. If you are a nursing mother and you cannot go for ministration, don’t feel sad because what you are doing is still a ministration. God gave you the baby so you are ministering to God through the baby and the baby needs you.
Is there any plan for the ministry’s metamorphosis into a church?
We don’t have such a plan because we are not called to establish a church. It is only drama and film. We are only called to help the pastors and support them in their ministry through drama. We have our own church that we attend and we have a pastor. Anything we do is just to help spread the gospel of Christ.
What inspires you?
It is God. We rely solely on God and move on His direction only. We don’t just act. A lot of people have approached us to help them put their stories to play, but we have declined. The reason is that we don’t just decide on any story available, we ask God for a lead. Whenever my husband needs to embark on a production, he will go to a quiet place to pray and wait upon the Lord until the Lord impresses one on his mind. We believe God always has something for his people and so we wouldn’t do anything until He speaks. I mean, unless God gives a lead, we would not move. We won’t for any reason cook up a story just for the sake of having something released. Though it can work for some people, we don’t joke with this rule. I believe that revelation from God is more powerful because God knows what is happening now and what will happen tomorrow. I am inspired by God’s revelations. We are just like any other pastor who prays and waits upon the Lord for instructions before he proceeds on any ministration.
How fulfilled are you?
I thank God because I believe one can only be fulfilled when he or she is able to discover his or purpose in life. I don’t think I will be fulfilled if I’m not doing what I found myself doing today. I have a passion for other things but I am happy with this calling because through it God has been able to show me His purpose in life. And I had to know that it is not all about money. Discovering Christ is better than money. When you know that this thing you are doing is of the Lord and you are touching lives through it, you will feel very fulfilled. That is enough for me to be happy and to me, that is fulfillment in life.
What is your prayer for this ministry?
My prayer is that God should keep us alive and assist us to achieve more on His behalf. I believe there is still more in life for us to cover. We have just started and we are still growing and aiming higher. My prayer is that God should just help us to fulfill all that He wants us to do for Him.
Do you have any plan of releasing films specifically for children?
For now, our focus is on adults. But movies that will be for both children and the youths are coming. I believe God is using other people from other ministries too to have people’s lives touched. We have people that God raised from our school and other evangelists for this purpose. Though Mount Zion deals generally in whatever God releases at a particular time, I still believe this is part of our vision as well.
What is your beauty routine?
Nothing special, I try to look good in my own little way. I try to take care of myself. I love wearing things that I’m comfortable in, that is why you hardly see me wearing all these traditional clothes. I love being free, I love wearing simple things like my shirt and blouse and simple foot wear.
What advice do you have for our mothers and wives of ministers of God?
Some people have neglected their homes all in the name of serving God. I want the women who are married to really handle their homes with fear. Because when the home is good, the society will also be good and the church of God will also be good. I’m advising our sisters to take time to build themselves in the Lord’s presence. Love God. When you love God, you will obey him. When you summit to your husband, it will not be difficult. When you love God, to rear your children in the fear of God will not be difficult. Be faithful to your husband. Be a good mother to your children, love them, keep them in the home and give them good food. This will make them to grow fine and also to love God. They need your prayers and love. The home is the greatest ministry every woman needs to build for herself. Be fruitful in the vineyard of God and be devoted to God. When we do that, God will take us to the highest level and you will be settled till the right man comes your way. So, our mothers and our sisters should take the home as their menu. If you don’t build yourself and be strong in the Lord, you can be easily deceived. Husbands too should love their wives as Christ loves the Church.