Anchorman: You have been awarded a diploma from the President. I’d like to read it out, may I?
Sunday Adelaja: Yes.
Anchorman: “Sunday Adelaja, I sincerely thank you for your participation in the Presidential campaign of 2010. Your selfless labour, awareness of duty and citizenship, manifested in the difficult conditions of the political opposition, were the main key to our victory. I highly appreciate your support and help, and hope for the successful continuation of our cooperation in the way of approval of Ukraine as a strong, prosperous nation, for the people of Ukraine” . You have accepted this commendation, would you care to comment on that?
Sunday Adelaja: Yes, I received a diploma and commendation not only from the current President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych, but also I have a similar letter from the previous President VictorYushchenko. This is because our people really are active citizens. And, despite all the things that are happening right now, I want to remind all listeners that this situation was not initiated by this government. It was started by Mr. Lutsenko (ex. Minister for Internal Affairs), who was in the previous government, where Yulia Tymoshenko (ex prime-minister) was. All that is happening to us is a continuation of what was started then. I got certificates, commendations because, as I said, our people is actively involved in social and political life, and not as a church, but as citizens of Ukraine.
Anchorman: A few people were marked in your church including you. Each of you got awards separately as leaders of the church.
Sunday Adelaja: Yes, It is. Because they also comply with their civic duties.
Anchorman: Let’s talk now about the “King’s Capital” company. Pastor Sunday, I would like to ask you some questions that, maybe be unpleasant, but I have got a lot of listeners tuned in. Everyone is interested to know what house or palace – people refer to it as your “home palace” – you live in, and where did you get the money to build such a house. They think that, for a pastor, you live in luxury.
Sunday Adelaja: This is a very good question. If you will come to Ukraine, I readily invite you to my house.
Anchorman: You will have me as a guest?!
Sunday Adelaja: Yes, yes, as a guest and as a journalist, you would have an opportunity to see how I live. However, before I got a house, no one paid attention, when I lived with my wife and 3 children on the 20th floor in a 2-room apartment, with mold on the walls and leaky ceilings. I lived there for 14 years, enduring all. And not because there was no other option. I lived there out of principle. As to the house where I live: I would suggest you to not trust journalists so much.
Anchorman: But can I be trusted?
Sunday Adelaja: Can you be trusted? When you come and see for yourself, then it would be possible. I do not live in a palace. I do not live in a mansion, as people say. I built two large buildings with a combined area of 2 thousand sq. meters. One of these buildings is completely dedicated to the members of the church – this is the uniqueness of Pastor Sunday and the God Embassy Church. Many people do not understand that. Imagine, even now, as I speak to you, about 150 people live there. Ask the members of the God Embassy Church, any person can come and stay there for 3 days or more. I live with my family on the top floor, in one of the apartments in the building. All other stories are given to the people.
Anchorman: You know, this is great news for me! Indeed, I did not know this and I have one simple question: why is this not on the air? Why has it not been covered in the news?
Sunday Adelaja: Look on Youtube or on the site of the God Embassy Church right now, “The Secret Life of Pastor Sunday.” You’ll see the interviews with the people who live in my house. It’s all there.
Anchorman: Well, an interview is not the same as seeing…
Sunday Adelaja: I mean, the camera shows the house itself. Interviews are with those who currently live in the house. There are several series.
Anchorman: You know, now that you mentioned this footage, I have seen it there, but I assumed that it was another “expose” to show your private life in the negative light. I simply did not look into it, because there is so much media against you, that I just said “enough”. It turns out that this is a positive movie, which unveils the “mystique” around you. Thank you, for bringing it to my attention and I will be sure to take a look it.
I want to continue to talk about your relationship with the “King’s Capital.” The organizers of this company were and have remained members of your church. As far as I know, from last news, five of them are in custody. You are suspected of being involved in the financial machinations of “King’s Capital”. What are your thought on the fact that you are still free? What relationship did you have with the leaders of this company?
Sunday Adelaja: I am not only suspected of being involved in this company, I am being accused of forming a criminal organization. Those who were arrested, allegedly, are the people I involved in the company. According to the legal case they are not the leaders of the company, but Sunday Adelaja is. And they are just victims. Therefore, the question is – if Sunday Adelaja the main suspect, why then is he at large, and those who are his presumed victims are in prison? It is clear, that one ought to find a base of evidence to connect Sunday to all this. The entire country has been investigating this case for 3-4 years already and still can not prove my involvement in it. That is why I feel free now to do this interview with you, and will have another interview soon. “The righteous is bold as a lion”. God in heaven and the people as well know that I was not involved in the creation or management of the company, especially financial companies. Therefore to prove it someone has to invent something. Of course, our country is a country of “wonders”, and anything is possible here, but basically it is not easy to prove something that simply isn’t true, even if someone says that he has proof. You know, a lie can travel with a speed of 1,000 kilometers per hour, but the truth can overcome it in 5 seconds. The truth will always overcome any lie.
Anchorman: What kind of relationship did you have with King Capital leaders? Did you know each other well?
Sunday Adelaja: On the subject of my relationship with the leadership of “King’s Capital,” I want to repeat that this was not the only company in our church. There are over two thousand businesses that are owned by members of our church. “Kings Capital” was one of those businesses. One of the founders of this company was actually a member of the church…
Anchorman: Who is this?
Sunday Adelaja: Alexander Safonov.
Anchorman: And the others were not members of the church?
Sunday Adelaja: No. The fact is that there is another founder of the company – Alexander Bandurchenko. He was allegedly a member of another church in the Crimea “Word of Life,” graduated Ulf Ekman Bible school in Moscow, then arrived in Kiev to start a new business. He was a bank employee in the Crimea, and then came to Kiev. When he came here he needed money. I know that now, but I did not realize it at that time. He found Safonov, who was one of our youth ministers, he was known well because he went to church for over 10 years. He was not a businessman. But it turns out that they had the agreement: Bandurchenko convinced Safonov: “you supply the people you know, as you know many and will have no problem with them. You bring in those who will be responsible for the drawing of the finances, and I will run the company. ” Therefore, the head of this company was not even the brother (Safonov A.) from our church, but it was through him that our people got into the company.
Anchorman: I saw a video blog of A. Bandurchenko where he told how everything started and how the Embassy of God church was involved with the King’s capital. He asserts that you came to him with two financiers having proposed their services. If he accepted their services and they became a part of the team you would promote their company at the Embassy of God church. Please comment on this fact, as people have seen this video. How do you see this situation? Was it true or was not?
Sunday Adelaja: Very well. Everything you have just said is true, but not in the beginning of the company. Everything that Bandurchenko says happened later – on the eve of the company’s collapse. He does not give exact facts. The company started to grow rapidly and became popular. Many of our people approached me asking:”Pastor, how are they going to pay such a high interest? Please find out what are they dealing with? What would happen if real estate would not be sold etc.?”I think it was a normal thing since they attracted people from the church. That is why I asked the pastor:”Did they have a youth pastor above Safonof. The pastor’s name is Eduard Belous and he is living in the USA at the moment. You can find him and ask him all the questions. He brought Safonof ,was his pastor and at the same time was my assistant. I called him and asked:”What is going on? Is Safonof your man? Is he accountable to you?” He said:”Yes”. Then I sat down with him and another young lady to clarify what the company was dealing with and to what extent we could be sure that the people would not lose their money.
And that is what it was, the video you were talking about, at that moment I decided: they had to come and personally assure the people that they would not lose their money as they insured the business. It was my deepest desire to protect the people. But then the media presented it as promotion. It is a pity that both believers and unbelievers perceive it to be advertising. Actually I wanted them to tell everyone in the church what they were dealing with, convincing them that they would not lose their money. They talked about different precautions that they had already implemented.
On the other hand Eduard Belous proposed to the people and myself to come to the company’s offices asking both Sashas (founders) to come to my office for an explanation of what they were dealing with. After we went to meet with them, they told us about their activities and that people would not lose money. I started to worry about it, as people were getting nervous about their investments.
Anchorman: When was it that you went to a meeting and a person was drawing a structure/diagram…
Sunday Adelaja: 2007. Drawing of the structure was a different story, please do not confuse.
Anchorman: Have you lost any money? Did you personally invest into the King’s Capital?
Sunday Adelaja: No, I haven’t. I told people that such high interest is too risky.
Anchorman: Pastor Sunday, I have a very serious question: as a pastor of the church, you stand at the pulpit, and as a Christian I trust you. You are Christian and I am an optimist and I do trust you. You stood near the pulpit worrying about your people who could lose their money, but personally you did not invest into the aforementioned company. You worried, but at the same time 600 members of the Embassy of God church mortgaged their homes in order to invest funds into this company. It seems illogical. May be your influence or concern was not made clear to the people? Why did it happen
Sunday Adelaja: I told you that I hadn’t personally invested into “King’s Capital”. Only one person from the church, Aleksander Derzhanovskiy, came to me and told me that he was going to invest money. I told him: “Don’t do it”.
Anchorman: When did you tell people that you haven’t personally invested?
Sunday Adelaja: Go on the Internet…
Anchorman: When was it?
Sunday Adelaja: 2007.
Anchorman: In 2007 you said from the pulpit:” I did not invest money in the King’s Capital.”
Sunday Adelaja: What I actually said from the pulpit was the following: “Go, take a look at your agreements and take your money back if there is no a guarantee. Do not invest money just because these people attend church. That should not be a sufficient reason for doing it.”
Anchorman: But that was not 2007, it was later, wasn’t it? In 2007 you still trusted “King’s Capital”.
Sunday Adelaja: Probably. There was the time when I believed them. May be in the beginning of 2007 I believed, but then I believe in all people. The pastor who does not trust his parishioners is not a very good one. How can I possibly know what will happen or what can go wrong in their life. Of course, I believed people and I still believe. If I hadn’t believed I would not be able to bear all this. At the end, when people started telling me what was happening I wanted to get proof for them that their investments wouldn’t be lost.
Anchorman: Have you learned any lesson from this situation?
Sunday Adelaja: The lesson that I learned is that all people- not only from the “King’s Capital,” but generally speaking- people do not think at all.
Anchorman: It is clear. They follow without analyzing.
Sunday Adelaja: Yes, they believe their friends more than anyone else and trust in the fact they will make a profit. They were told they’d been paid and I also saw it on paper. There are arguments. Back in 2007, I taught people to check and insure their investments (these are the laws of business). You can see it by watching the video. People listen selectively, hearing what they want to hear.
My main lesson is that people hear what they have inside of them without seeing the full reality. My greatest lesson is not what happened with the “King’s Capital” or what I taught about finances, but what I found out about people.
May be I should not talk about this, but I will: my second mistake was when people went to check the company (now Bandurchenko says that they are guilty of aiding in the company’s collapse). At that time different things were said. Members of the top brass, military men and people from the church said to me:” In order to protect yourself you must supply a written testimony against these people…”
Anchorman: You were told to do that?
Sunday Adelaja: Yes, of course. It was in the version they know about. I said that I would never go this way as will never be an informant against people. Then they said that they could turn everything against me. I told them that it could not happen. I was so naïve. That was my fault. I thought that people would not go against me as they knew I was not guilty. I thought they were normal people, but people want to cover their own back. Few people are able to remain decent when they feel the need to protect themselves.
If I would inform against them they would be put into prison and I would be absolved of all accusations. I would rather opt for the suffering I am experiencing now, being persecuted, sued and disgraced to the country rather than write information to the police against a member of my church.
Translated by Helene Stohnii, Anna Krets, Valeria Granova
Edited by Natalia Ioffe