The General Overseer of Royalty Christian Centre, Pastor David Adeoye, and his wife Sunmbo Adeoye, who is an entrepreneur, music minister and public speaker, talk about their ministries and the intricacies of their marriage.
How would you describe the task of leading a church?
It is a huge responsibility. Many people look at the glamour around the life of a pastor especially when God is beginning to bless the pastor and people start to give him cars and houses. Right now, I could get a call saying a member has just been delivered of a set of twins. A few minutes later, i may get another call saying a member just passed away. It is a job that tosses your emotions up and down. Later, I may get another call saying a member just passed away. It is a job that tosses your emotions up and down. You cannot even have a life of your own because you have to make yourself available for members of the church. People think pastors are supermen, that must not make mistakes. They forget that we are also human beings. To manage people, success, growth, failure and other things is tough.
So that people can learn from your example, how have you overcome some of life’s challenges?
I will be 46 in October and when I look back, I don’t know how I survived most of the things I have been through. I lost my dad when I was 25 and my mum died when I was 32. I lost my first wife about six years ago, so I have seen betrayal and dishonesty. One of the things that have really helped is that I trust absolutely in God. I always go back to God though His word and I always come out in a victorious manner. When I was to get married to my wife, the crisis that ensued was out of this world. It was the worst kind of noise I have ever heard in my life. I faced problems from my family and also the church. Only my friends did not give me problems. Everywhere I turned to, I was faced with criticism.
Why did you choose to remarry after the death of your first wife?
I was 40 when she died and this was a marriage that lasted for 13 years without a child, so my family, mentors and friends were eager to see me remarry. Initially, I never wanted to remarry and planned to adopt two children that would be cared for by a nanny. As time went on, I realised that plan was not going to work because about that time, the number of female worshippers in church was on the increase. Then, I knew that if I really wanted to play safe, I needed to remarry.
How did you manage the chaos that happened when you started dating your current wife?
When we lost my late wife whom everybody called mama, there was noise but it was sympathisers’ noise; but when I started dating Sunmbo, the noise changed to something else. It was horrible. Because I had a strong conviction in me that she was my wife, I did not care. People would call me almost every time to ask if I had seen what had been written about her in one magazine or newspaper. People feared that dating her and eventually getting married to her would destroy the church because worshippers had started to leave the church.
While I was battling this in my heart, I stumbled on a video of Joyce Meyer and that was how I got to know that she was a single mother who was in an abusive marriage before she met and married David Meyer, who had never been married before he met her. As soon as I watched that video, an inner voice told me that the way Joyce Meyer commended her husband is the same way the world would commend me by the time I am done with Sunmbo. We have been married for three years and I don’t regret getting married to her. Most of the people who kicked against me marrying her have come back to apologise.
How did you meet her?
Many people do not know that I have known Sunmbo as far back as 1998. She is a music minister and I had a brother who had a gospel rap group. She was the only girl among them. When she finished singing one fateful day, even my late wife commended her singing prowess. I never thought that we would one day get married. In fact, she was close to my late wife such that when she fell from faith during her dark days, my late wife played a major role in her restoration.
Unknown to most people, her past experiences became my greatest attraction. You can hardly find a man of God who married a single mother; most men of God married a virgin. Every time, the body of Christ in Nigeria preaches 2 Corithians 5:17 but do not believe it. I saw people run away from me because they felt I had embarked on a risky journey when I started dating Sunmbo.
Apart from ministering, what are your other interests?
I like to play table tennis, I like watching movies with my family. I am beginning to enjoy travelling and I love music.
How do you like to dress?
I like corporate wear. I like to dress in a simple manner and unlike my wife, I do not like too many colours but I try to wear incorporate colours into what I wear. One of the things marriage does to you is change you and I have had to embrace colours in my dressing.
You used to be a banker, why did you make the switch to entrepreneurship?
Having worked in two banks for two years, it became monotous and I wanted a better work-life balance. It got to a point in my banking journey that I became really tired and started thinking of something that I could do.
I realised that I had potential in me that I naturally churn out by way of service but because I was working in a bank, I did not pay so much attention to it. In 2008, I started writing a business plan and I registered the company. I had children already and I wanted more out of my time. I was carrying a burden in my heart because I was making money but I was not spending time with my children and I did not even have enough time to serve God. I started to seek God’s face and He told me to resign and go to serve Pastor Adeoye.
I was struggling with the decision and in January of that year, I just resigned and the following day which was a Tuesday, I attended Success Summit in Church. I went to meet pastor and told him I had resigned from my job because God told me to go and understudy him. What we had at that time was a father and daughter relationship and his late wife was still alive at that time. I brought my business plan to him and mama to review. Unknown to me, God had gone ahead of me to also tell him to mentor me. They introduced me to a lot of people who helped to fine tune my business plan and I also attended the Lagos Business School under the Goldman Sach’s scholarship.
Tell us a bit about your background?
I am the last child in a family of seven. My parents are committed members of a Baptist Church. My parents were choristers in church so I think that is where I got my gift of singing from. As a teenager, I became a member of the choir. As a youth, I became the coordinator of the youth choir.I lived my life as an altar minister and I was committed to kingdom service the whole of my life. Even when I gained admission into Yaba College of Technology, I still found my way to joining Original Love Choir , which is the choir Midnight Crew came out from.
What is the focus of your foundation, Esob Heroes?
The fact that somebody helped me to access the Goldman Sach’s scholarship helped my business to grow. I thought that if God availed me this privilege, why don’t I extend a hand of fellowship to other women and support entrepreneurial ideas. I made up my mind to help improve people through mentorship and advisory services. I also started a movement whose focus is to ensure that the future of the girl child is safe and secure. We have supported, learned and unlearned people by empowering them with work tools and cash gifts.
How did you handle thetransition from being an entrepreneur to being the wife of a general overseer?
Everything just fell into place. You can never be prepared for becoming a mother until you are delivered of the child and you begin to care for the child. When I was a mum and a banker was a different phase from when I became a mum and an entrepreneur. That was also a different phase from when I became a wife, mother , entrepreneur and running the NGO on the side. If it is God that has called me to do all of these, He has equipped me before now. But I keep learning and improving. I have mentors who are doing all that I do better and I look up to them. My husband is my number one mentor and Pastor Nomthi Odukoya is another person I look up to. The Internet is big and you can learn from people who you are not even friends with but are connected to through the social media.
How would you describe meeting your husband?
It is so funny because he had always been my pastor. He is someone I always went to for mentorship, so when he came across as wanting to be my husband, I was a bit scared. Even though I knew I was asking God for a husband, a father, friend and mentor, I did not know it was my pastor that was going to fit in because nobody was praying for his wife to die. When he made his intentions known, I thought maybe if I stayed away from church, he would forget about me. I realised that whenever I stayed away from church, I would lose my peace. I was a committed member of the church as well as the praise team lead.
Then, I started praying and fasting. I began to ask God if it was what He wanted for me. I knew my past and I told God I was going to drop my tall, dark and handsome standard for whatever He wanted for me.
How did he make his intentions known to you?
What we had was a father and daughter relationship. The first thing I noticed was that people close to him were coming closer to me and they would always invite me to be in their midst. I think it was a strategy for them to know me because people were saying a lot of things about me. To so many people who did not know me, I was a club girl and baby mama. I challenged God to rewrite my story and He did because I was just a victim of circumstance. This is me who used to sing in Ebenezer Obey’s church. I was a spiritual daughter of one of his sons, Pastor Lanre Obey. I used to lead praise sessions at Obasanjo’s chapel at Ota, Ogun State. Even when I worked with Intercontinental Bank Plc, I used to lead praise sessions. I knew I had the call of God on my life but unfortunately, I fell in love with someone and instead of me bringing the person into the light, I was dragged into something I never bargained for and I started having babies out of wedlock. I was only a victim of my emotions.
Many will argue that having a second baby is not circumstantial.
That happened because we were in a relationship. I met Tuface when I was a student of Yaba College of Technology. I had just lost my dad and my mum was living in America. For someone who was a daddy’s girl, I needed love. This was the only person that was showing me love at that time. I feel I had that experience so that other young girls would not make the same mistake. I was 24 when I fell pregnant the first time.
When I got pregnant the first time, I approached the pastor of the church I was attending then and he brought me out before the church and judged me. I was asked to go and bring the father of my unborn child so we could be joined together. I brought a different person and we got married at the registry. Everything fell apart when I had a child who looked nothing like him and my mum came back from America to ask who gave my hand out in marriage because she was not a part of it. I had to walk out of the marriage which I arranged by myself. I moved back home and by age 25 I was already a single mum and a divorcee. There was so much shame and reproach.
It got to a point in my life that I felt that the Devil you know is better than the angel you don’t know, so I went back to my baby daddy and his mum talked me into living with him so he won’t have more women and babies. We lived together for three years and that was how the second pregnancy happened.
It was not a bed of roses while I was there because I was trying to put together what was not supposed to be. I think we broke up in 2009 after I had the second baby. There were other women who were also going to have babies for him around that time. I came to my senses like the prodigal son and I was so broken. I think my baby daddy was out of the country that fateful day when I returned from work and I packed all my things plus that of my children, and I went back to my parents’ home.
How would you describe being married to your husband?
It is a privilege that comes with a lot of glory and responsibilities. It also comes with a lot of glamour and commitment. It comes with its own challenges and God has equipped us to handle everything. This is not the Sunmbo that got married to Pastor Adeoye three years ago. I am a better person and I am now refined.
How do you relax?
I do a lot of reading in my spare time. I also play with my children because I am grooming them so that they can be very free around me. I also like to watch movies at the cinema , listen to music and write.
What are your pet names for each other?
I call him baby all the time but sometimes I call him pastor. He calls me baby or Desunmbo.