Anchorman: Many English-speaking western sources report on your your situation in Ukraine, and that you have become subject to racial and political discrimination and persecution. There seems to be a clearly emphasized idea of your active participation in the presidential election, in favor of Victor Yushchenko and in the Orange Revolution. As a matter of fact I was also there in those years and I was able to observe the situation from the inside. Do you believe that your participation in the Orange Revolution has in some way provoked the events that are happening to you? By this I mean the persecution that comes from the government, as you say.
Sunday Adelaja: No, I do not think so. Our church and I were not the only ones who took part in the events of the Orange Revolution. I took part to the lesser extant; the members of the church were more engaged because they are citizens of Ukraine. They took an active part, as well as members of other churches. I do not think the persecution was started because of it. I think it is all a political persecution, but I do not really think it because of the Orange Revolution. Although it could be be so, especially if it has a Russian overtone: it was after the Orange Revolution, that the FSB or KGB of Russia issued a decree banning me from entering Russia. The reason they stated was that I was the vanguard of the Orange Revolution. Because of this, Russia has made me “persona non grata,” and later this attitude reached Ukraine, etc.
Anchorman: Why were there attempts at criminal proceedings, rather than administrative? Who requested it?
Sunday Adelaja: That is obvious to all who live in Ukraine. It is not a secret. Imagine that a man who came out of the Embassy of God Church has been elected a mayor of Kiev. Also the party, which included the Embassy of God Church members, received more than 30% positions in the Kyiv City Council. Imagine, the members of the Protestant church, with a black pastor, controlling 30% or 34% of the city. In addition, the mayor of the city was a member of the church…
Even now, if you enter the name “Sunday” into Google search (regardless of language), you will find headlines and slogans: “No – to a black mayor” and articles alleging that the city was run not by the mayor Leonid Chernovetsky but by Sunday Adeladja. Nationalists put pressure on us, surrounded our building, chanting various slogans, etc.
Leonid Chernovetsky’s authority rose very quickly in those days, so a second election was organized. They decided something was wrong, saying it was because he fed the people. I mean a soup kitchen for homeless people, which we talked about previously.
Anchorman: That is attributed to Leonid Chernovetsky. Who was really doing it?
Sunday Adelaja: Leonid Chernovetsky provided the finances to support the soup kitchen, and we fed the people.
Anchorman: What kind of relationship do you now have with the former mayor? Is he still a parishioner of the Embassy of God church? And another question: in my opinion so few administrative resources have been used in the time of Leonid Chernovetsky for supporting of the Embassy of God Church. Why? I have lived in Ukraine and know that the use of power and position for personal benefits is quite commonplace in Ukraine. It is not a secret. You neither built a building, nor made any breakthroughs, materialistic ones…
Sunday Adelaja: First of all, it proves once again that we are not as devious as people think. We are not corrupt, we are Christians. We are Christians who try to live by the Bible. I had an opportunity to receive 10 hectares of land in the city of Kiev and build a church building. But that would be wrong. I advised Leonid Chernovetsky to avoid actions that can become temptations for him and the church.
Anchorman: Well. I like your position, it is very much like mine! You think taking advantage of administrative resources and position of power is wrong. What about the use of administrative resources to protect the church’s pastor, to make money, promote political views, financial institutions? Is it the same?
Sunday Adelaja: Administrative resources include state resources and state taxes. It is when a group of people use what belongs to the people for their own private interests.
Anchorman: Yes. What about within the church?
Sunday Adelaja: I will explain. There is no use of administrative resources in the church, because the pastor builts a church, and then we are all a community group who share similar views. Every member of the church is free to advertise himself or his business to the other members. We practice it in our church. It concerns the case of the “King’s Capital” issue. I do not deny that the ads of the “King’s Capital” were promoted, but they were not the only ones. Everyone in our church can talk about their business. Therefore, if it is considered an administrative resource, it is used not only by the pastor, but also by other members of the church. Every Baptist and Pentecostal church I know supports a particular candidate in the elections.
Anchorman: But that’s wrong, Pastor Sunday. Church is not a political organization. It is a spiritual structure that should take care of the spiritual revival of a person. I think it is not quite appropriate when network or non-network business advertising, political promotion, elections etc. is voiced from church pulpit…
Sunday Adelaja: Yes, it’s your opinion and you are entitled to it. But I have a very different view.
Anchorman: What is your view?
Sunday Adelaja: You cannot live in society and be free of this society. If a man is a Christian, it does not mean he is no longer a citizen of the country or no longer uses the resources of the country. If a man is a Christian, attends church and prays regularly, there is still more to his life. I am a pastor of a church, but at the same time I’m a father and husband. It also concerns our role in society. I propagandize that every member of the church, every Christian should take responsibility for the society in which he lives. He must bring the salvation to the society, bring God into politics, the economy, the business – in all areas of society. That is why you work in radio. You help bring the Kingdom of God in this way. The same is in the church. The fact that a person is a believer does not make him someone who only prays all day.
Translated by Helene Stohnii, Anna Krets, Valeria Granova
Edited by Natalia Ioffe