1) Who is Apostle Azemobor Gregory and what do you do for a living?
Azemobor Gregory is a messenger of Truth, a servant of God with a divine calling to preach the message of love to the world. By the grace of God, I am the Chief Servant of the Voice of Divine Truth International Outreach, a non-religious humanitarian organization propagating the virtue of love amongst humanity.
You see, there are two sides to the life of everyone: what you do to fulfill God’s purpose for your life is your ‘calling’, while what you do to earn a living is your ‘career’. And so, my understanding of the dual nature of our existence has guided me to create a perfect balance between my calling and my career.
I am the MD/CEO of Bethel Mendels Group. I started a marketing company in 2001, from a seed capital of N20,000 I borrowed from my mother. Over the years.
Our company, Bethel Mendels Group has grown into a conglomerate with interest in local footwear manufacturing, Promotional printing, Landscaping and interior decoration services.
It is important to emphasize here that your career (business) should fundamentally provide for your calling (purpose) that is why you see people like Bill Gate, Warren Buffet spending almost their entire riches supporting noble causes. Bill Gate has spent millions of dollars fighting polio and improving the quality of life of several poor Nigerians.
I like most white people, they understand how to live a ‘balanced life’. They are not religious like Nigerians, but very godly. Godly in the sense that they are compassionate to the needs of others.
2) You said your organization is ‘non-religious, can you explain?
Yes, we are non-religious, but we are believers and followers of Christ. May I say here that Jesus Christ is not the author of the ‘Christian religion’. He came with a message of God’s kingdom to a world that has gone astray from God. His mission was to restore humanity back to the rulership of God on earth. The world today is not ruled by Godly principles, but by human ideologies and philosophies that have created an unstable world.
The Christian religion today, at best, is a perversion of the gospel of love and the kingdom of God that Christ came to preach. Look at most of the churches and those who called themselves ‘Christians’. Do they behave like Christ? Why have they abandoned the tenets of Christ teachings, which is love that could heal a sick world, to preaching prosperity (a euphemism for greed), miracle and healing. No wonder, the great soul, Mahatma Ghandi once submitted, ” I like your Christ, but not your Christians, because your Christians are unlike your Christ”.
Religion, generally was invented by man, God is not the author of any religion and He does not belong to any of them. Look at how religion has divided humanity. Please don’t tell me that I am different from you simply because I do not subscribe to your religion. God created us as a human family called humanity. All of us are one irrespective of our race, colour, language, creed or religion. I think the time has come for us to push for the abolition of religion, if we are serious about creating a peaceful world. If we don’t kill religion, religion will kill the humanity.
3) People see you as ” Man of the Widows”, why do they have this perception?
Well, the Widows empowerment Project, we launched in May this year, is one of our numerous social projects designed to improve the life of the poor and the less privilege around us, preaching the message of love in the process. The bigger vision of our Movement is to build a Charity City in Nigeria by the year 2025, that will be a place of hope and refuge for the poor. The activities of the charity city is intended to inspire global governments and especially religious organizations, to promote the cause of love and our share humanity.
Essentially, The Charity City is going to be a microcosm of God’s kingdom on earth. We are going to bring heaven down to Nigeria first, by 2025. Then we are go to replicate the Charity City Project in all Countries of the world.
The charity city will have the following facilities:
We are going to build a free 100,000 housing units for the poor that are homeless, We are also going to establish a free university, primary and secondary schools for indigent kids and youth. The Charity City will also have a massive warehouse that will provide free food and clothing items for the needy on a daily basis. A free food kitchen will also be built to feed about 200,000 people on a daily basis. Another facility in the City will be a state of the art hospital that will provide free medical services for millions poor Nigerians.
The City will also have a rehabilitation center that will provide rehabilitation, training and skills empowerment for drug addicts, ex-convicts, prostitutes, street kids and many more. And lastly we shall have an empowerment training Centre for widows, poor families and unemployed youths.
Please, do not ask me how we are going to get funds for the Charity City Project. I believe strongly since this is God’s vision, He is able to make provision for it.
For over ten years of our existence as a humanitarian Movement, we have done several life-touching projects that are basically subset of our bigger vision. We regularly organize free Food kitchen events, distribution of free clothes and food items, free medical outreach, compassionate visit to prisons and hospitals. For many years we have been involved in an advocacy for the welfare of indigent kids, through our Project-Help-a-Child Global Campaign. Many indigent kids with heart ailment got funding for free heart surgery and many more.
4) Why are you so committed to the course of widows?
The book of James 1:27, says ”True religion and undefiled before God the father is this: to visit the widows and the orphans in their moments of afflictions…” I see this project to support and empower poor widows as an act of true service to God. That informs our commitment to lift widows and their families out of poverty.
It is important for most of us religious folks to understand that the religion we practice is meaningless before God when we fail to help the poor and the needy around us. Nigeria is acclaimed to be a highly religious country, and yet, just recently we have infamously become the poverty capital of the world. How do you reconcile such contradictions.
Basically, we do not have the resources to help all the poor widows in Nigeria, but we believe that the little we are doing should inspire individuals and the government to come to the aid of poor widows
5) Do you have any close relative who is a widow whose suffering moved you to go about touching widows lives?
Not really. I think the inspiration to economically empower poor widows came during the last Free Food Kitchen we organized at Saint Leo Catholic Church, Toyin Street, Ikeja, Lagos, in March this year, That was Easter period. And I noticed that about 50 percent of the over 1000 people that we fed were widows. Many of them had to trek long distances just to get a plate of food. I was really touched by that experience. So after the event we had a chat with them and what they shared with us motivated us to lunch the widows empowerment project since May this year,2018. We realized that, it is better to teach them how to fish (economic empowerment) rather than giving them fish all the time (surviving on charity)
Our target is to support a thousand (1000) widows with a free grant of N20,000 each to enable them start or boost their petty businesses. We assess those already doing petty businesses and support them with the money to boost their trade. And those who do not have businesses are trained on petty business opportunities and given a seed capital of N20,000 to get started.
The goal of this project is to lift the beneficiary widows and their families out of poverty, but most importantly we are also using the project to draw the attention of government, individuals and religious organization to the plight of several widows in our society living in lack and abject poverty.
6) How do you raise funds for the project?
Like I said our target is to support 1000 widows with N20,000 each. That means, we need about N20 million to support the 1000 widows. So far so good, since May this year, we have been able to put smiles on the faces of at least a hundred (100) widows. The funds have come from the little we have from our few team members and my friends who see what we do on social media. We are yet to get any corporate organization that will partner with us to put smiles on the faces of poor widows around us. Frankly speaking if we have any sponsorship, we can increase our target to ten thousand (10,000). Let me use this opportunity to appeal to corporate organization to support this cause, because this is a project that directly impact on the lives of the vulnerable.
But most importantly, we also want the Nigerian people to imbibe the core message of this campaign, which is showing love and support to indigent widows around us.
My special appreciation goes to the Management of Tribune Newspapers for this interview opportunity to pass this message across to the world. We would also appreciate enormous support from other media organizations to intensify this campaign to lift poor widows out of poverty.
7) Perhaps you are doing this because you are a rich man?
I do not know what you mean by being a ‘rich man’. In the kingdom of God, being rich is not a function of your accumulated possessions on earth; you are not rich by what you have, you are rich by what you give to help others. I think the time has come for us to begin to redefine the worldly concept of riches. In our society, we celebrate greedy, self-centred, egoistic individuals on the basis of their ‘net worth’ instead of their ‘net-giving’.
Would you say some of our politicians who looted our treasury inspite of their material wealth, are rich? No they are not. They are suffering from the poverty of the soul. They are sick and their souls are afflicted by an ailment called greed.
Recently, we visited a poor community in Idimu area of Lagos, their makeshift shanty houses were surrounded by beautiful edifices, obviously owned by ‘rich people’.
I do not need to have much money to help anybody, because I understand what true riches is all about. That is the message we preach to the world
8) Since when did you start doing this?
Actually we have been involved in massive humanitarian activities as an organization since, 2006, but specifically we started this widows empowerment project in May this year, 2018. It will last till June next year by the grace of God, when we hope to have successfully lifted 1000 widows and their families out of poverty.
9) People are sceptical about the activities of some NGOs because some merely use the platform for self enrichment, one wants to know if you are not one of them?
Let me correct a notion, we don’t see our self as NGO (social enterprise), we are a spiritual Movement with a divine mandate to propagate the virtue of love amongst humanity. Back to your question, I agree with you totally that several NGOs have abused humanitarian activities, especially those owned by African. They are set up for self -enrichment and it is sad. And this is why the few of us that are genuinely involved in positively impacting society have to struggle with credibility crisis. This is the basic challenge that we face: When many people are suspicious and skeptical about your activities, this would obviously diminish the public support and good will to achieve your set goals
Let me advise, fraudulent NGOs and individuals making merchandise of the sufferings of the poor to desist from such a heinous crime against humanity, as it is a grievous offence that God would punish severely.
10) Are you into politics; perhaps you are doing this to ventilate your future political ambition?
I do not believe in worldly politics. I am a representative of the government of God on earth. I am an ambassador of heaven here on earth. I am here to promote God’s government and His plans and purpose for humanity. I am a citizen of heaven sent to entrench the culture of heaven on earth.
Earthly government designed by human ideologies cannot, I repeat cannot deliver good governance and create a better society that would provide for the good of all. The great prophet and music icon, Fela of blessed memory aptly described our system of government, when he defined democracy as a ‘demonstration of craze’
Take for instance, I do not know, how we can rationalize and justify that a country, tagged the poverty capital of the world spending about N143 billion on organizing just an election to select people into political offices. For goodness sake, Nigeria is about 200 million, if we share that N143 billion by empowering each poor Nigerian family with N100,000 each to do business, over 14 million Nigerians families will be lifted out of poverty. If each family has about 5 dependents, We are talking about lifting 70 million Nigerians out of poverty.
I interface with poor Nigerians daily because of the widows empowerment projects, I know how much difference, the N20,000 we give to widows makes in their lives. So what are we saying? I am sure you are also aware that over 70% of Nigeria’s budget is spent on the cost of governance. Does that make moral sense in a country where over 80 million people go to bed hungry? What I am saying in essence is that the N143 billion budget for 2019 election can stop about 70 million Nigerians from going to bed hungry
What you call government in the world is a farce, which the political elites use to impoverish the poor, especially in Africa.
11) Unlike Nigeria, in other societies widows and other vulnerable groups enjoy welfare packages. What message do you have for government in bridging the gap between those who have and those who don’t have?
Yes, you are right. In saner climes, the government puts in place social welfare schemes to cater for the poor and the vulnerable. The aged are cared for. Parents are even paid stipends to cater for their children. You have a health system that provides free services for the poor, the widows have a welfare scheme, so on and so forth. Even, religious organizations like churches provide massive social support for the needy. But in Nigeria no such social scheme exists substantially, the few social interventions we see are driven to gain political mileage. It is so sad!
The Nigerian constitution expressly states that the ‘welfare and the security of the Nigerian people shall be the primary responsibility of government’. But if you juxtapose this basic tenet of our constitution and the reality of governance since independence, one could be tempted to probe ‘if our constitution is a’ document of lies’? Because it does seem that the security and the welfare of the political elites has been the primary purpose of government in Nigeria since independence
My advice goes to our greedy politicians who runs the affairs of our beloved country, “what will it profit you to gain the whole world (enrich yourself only, with our common patrimony) and lose your soul at the end of your life on earth?”
Let me also add that it is important for the government to enact laws to protect the rights of widows. Now, if we already have such laws, I think they should be enforced, because many widows are traumatized and oppressed by the families of their late husbands. Many are falsely accused of being responsible for the death of their husbands. Many are dispossessed of their husband’s estate and the children taken away from them. I think this barbaric, and the government must put a stop to it.
12) You are into helping helpless women, what is the attitude of your wife to this; does she feel threatened about it?
I have a very supporting wife, who understands that what I do is my life. She is an active member of my team. Even my kids at times follow us to some of our outreaches to distribute food and clothing items to the poor. I also thank God for my few team members who believe in this cause and are making sacrifices to support our activities. You know Nigeria is a funny place, many people are only motivated by what they can get before they do anything. Volunteering is not a culture here.
To be part of the team follow Azemobor Gregory on Instagram: @gazemobor.
Please remember to share till the mindsets of our government and her citizens are changed towards the plights of widows in our society.