By Tribune Church / www.tribuneonlineng.com | on 11 June 2017
Biblically, men of God should be rich —Prophet Shepherd Bushiri. Prophet Shepherd Bushiri, a Malawian national married to Prophetess Mary, and founder of the Enlightened Christian Gathering, with headquarters in Pretoria, South Africa, in this interview with TINUOLA AYANNIYI, speaks on his businesses, achievements, the growth of his church, including some controversial issues.
What is responsible for the church’s growth?
In a little over two years in South Africa, the church has achieved over 300,000 registered members just in South Africa. Further, we have branches in Africa, Europe, Australia and North and South America.
Journalists often ask me: ‘Why is your ministry growing fast?’ My answer is simple: It is because we do not just preach, in words and deeds, the gospel of the living Jesus Christ. We also teach and empower people on how to face daily economic challenges of their lives through entrepreneurial programmes and skills development. People are able not just to read and hear about the word of God; they also see, live and experience it.
In a nutshell, I am a servant of God; a father; a brother; a mentor and a friend.
You appear strong in the prophetic ministry, is it a gift from God and how did you develop the gift?
What I possess is a gift from the Lord God Almighty. I received this gift at a tender age of nine when the Lord God called me. Since then, I have lived a prayerful life, always fasting, studying the Bible, meditating, interceding, preaching and seeking the hand of the Lord on every decision I take.
What is the meaning of Major 1 and does the criticism that attends this title bother you?
Major is a military term. I consider myself a soldier for Jesus Christ and for the Lord God. Criticism is a part of life. I don’t let it affect me as I know who I am and what I am. I belong to God. My calling was to serve the Lord by spreading His word and this is what I do.
You can also be described as an apostle in the market place, considering the number of businesses you are involved in. How does this affect ministry work?
I do own and manage a number of business entities under Shepherd Bushiri Investments (SBI). Some of the entities include: SB University, SB Airways, SB Mining, SB Mobile Network, SB Trading Exchange Platform, SB Media, SB Real Estates and SB Agriculture. These investments have provided an excellent opportunity to empower the youth, particularly women, through job creation and skills development. The youth is our continent’s greatest asset and we need to nurture that. However, against managing this portfolio of businesses, my ministry work is not affected.
This is because of three things: one, the works of the Lord God is my calling; two, I master time management with efficiency and; three, I have an effective professional team of employees that I have faith in.
You are fast-becoming a global personality. How do you intend to carry your followers along?
As I have said earlier, my secret is to seek God’s will on every decision I make. My God has never failed me and He shall never fail me. The calling to serve the Lord and spread the word means this journey is for all of us; we are all one family – brothers and sisters. As a family, we lift each other.
I live by 1 Thessalonians 5:11: Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
What’s your relationship with the powers-that-be in Malawi?
I enjoy a cordial relationship. I am a patriotic Malawian who is proud of our land and its people. I am free to travel, move around and transact business. I travel to Malawi often on business, vacation and philanthropic endeavours. On philanthropy, I believe it to be of paramount importance to assist others facing hardships. We are involved in the distribution of maize to feed those facing hunger; we do outreach programmes in prisons and offer other ad hoc support; we reach out to those facing health challenges; the sick need support and we also work with the elderly. Youth and gender empowerment are close to my heart as well.
Leadership is about empowering others and central to this is the promotion of good governance. I respect all our past leaders and the current president.
What is PSB doing with three jets?
One of the entities under SBI is Shepherd Bushiri Airways. It is this entity that manages the aircraft. They are chartered by anybody who wishes to use them. You too can charter them.
What is your greatest passion – soul’s saving or money making?
I am and I will always be a man of God with the aim of preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. That’s my life, my calling and my everything. However, I need to emphasise here that there is a tradition of vilifying men of God who have been blessed with a fortune. There is this perception that men of God are not supposed to be rich. I don’t know where this perception comes from, but, if you read the Bible, you will note that men of God were rich, including Abraham. It really sets a good example but then, you do not just get rich. You must be a great worker – something which I am.