Bamidele A. Kings

Transcript of Bamidele A. Kings
Interviewee: Bamidele A. Kings
Interviewer: Dorothy Nygren
Place: Chicago, IL
Date: September 24, 2014
Transcriber: Dorothy Nygren with additional explanatory material added in parentheses by Rev. Kings
Time: 46:17

Copyright © 2014 Edgewater Historical Society

DN: This is Dorothy Nygren and we’re with the Edgewater Historical Society and we’re at the Wells of Salvation Ministry interviewing Rev. Kings who comes from Nigeria. Today is September 24, 2014. Thank you so much Reverend for allowing us to come and do this interview with you.

BK: My pleasure having you ma’am.

DN: So could we start off the interview just by having you state what your name is and what country you’re from?

BK: My name is Bamidele A. Kings, Senior Pastor, Wells of Salvation Ministries & Dominion Center for All Nations, we are located at 1700 West Farragut Ave. Chicago IL.60640 and I came from Nigeria. I’ve been in [the] United States since 1997 but I have been in and out 4of the United States, especially the Edgewater area in Chicago since the ‘80s. But I have lived in Edgewater area since 1997.

DN: Thank you. Let’s go back to when you were a child. Can you tell us a little bit about your life in Nigeria when you were a little boy? Did you grow up in a village or a large city?

BL: I grew up in what we call in America a city. But not just too large of a city, but it is a city. We have good training growing up. I was born into Christianity. I went to Baptist Day School in Nigeria as early as 1954, 1955. So I was in the kindergarten. Growing up was very strict. We had to wake up early in the morning, as early as 5 a.m. to clean the house; to do all those things that never seem to be done in the house; to go out and fetch water; to fill the house with water; do scrubbing and cleaning before we go to school. And so when we get to school, the first thing we will do at school is Bible reading, to memorize the Bible, Bible verses and we must be able to recite. And so that is how I grew up.


Also within the family we must attend church service every day at 6 pm and church service on Sunday, the normal Sunday services. So every day of the week we must be on the church premises, learning and singing and doing all these things. Also we were trained to be able to fast and pray from the early days. Those are the trainings we had. I had a very strict father and mother.

DN: How many brothers and sisters do you have?

BK: I have one brother who is not far from here. He is at this place [Digital Image Computers & Electronics, 1929 West Foster] that we just opened in Edgewater. (Holds up an advertisement card) You can go with a copy of this. I have three, four sisters. Two are my seniors. Both of them are here right now. The most senior one is downtown staying with her daughter. The other one is on Sheridan Road. Those are my two senior sisters. I was the first male in the family. Also I have a brother, who is third position to me who is right over there (pointing east).

DN: Now your father, you said he was strict with your upbringing. What did he do to work? You were in the city so what was his line of work?

BK: Very strict. He was working at the general hospital as an engineer, so he was manning the power house where they have the giant generator that supplies electricity to the whole hospital complex, because in Nigeria at that time at the hospital, the electricity was not regular or at times for days no supply of electricity, so he was the engineer in charge.

DN: So your mother, did she work, or was she just at home with the children?

BK: She was a home person. But at home she sells shawls and things. She believes in selling. She cooks and sells. You know, [local restaurant kind of] rice, beans, bread and other food items.

DN: She was an entrepreneur. You said you went to this Bible Baptist School?

BK: Right … Baptist School from the early days and then went to college.

DN: And then, as you grew up, you said you were living in Nigeria until 1980?


BK: Yes, I was living in Nigeria until 1980, but from 1980 I began to travel out. First of all, I enlisted into the Armed Forces in 1967. I was a soldier.

DN: How old were you at that time?

BK: I was nineteen when I joined the Nigerian army.

DN: So that was a big change for you going from Baptist School into the army.

BK: A big change …. Yes, I had more education in the army, and I was there for eleven years.

DN: How did you feel going into the army? Were you excited? Were you scared? Were you thrilled?

B: A little bit of both. Because of the training I was relaxed though. The upbringing helped me a lot to be a disciplined person and to not want to go into all of the things that other people will do (smoke, drink, etc.). I was very relaxed.

DN: Were you drafted into the army or did you enlist?

BK: I enlisted voluntarily.

DN: Why did you do that? What was your motivation?


BK: Yes, my motivation was that the discipline at home was too strict. You know, it was too strict. There was a pastor, who was more of a disciplinarian, who was like a father also….. He was like…you know…. Boot camp trainer [laugh], but it all helped me!

DN: As a nineteen year old young man, you were ready to take more control over your life.

BK: Yes, I was ready to do that. And the best way to liberate myself was to go into the army. So I can be free from….you know….all of the harsh home encounter, it will be better to have that in the army where it will all be more useful. But then my father wasn’t able to do anything again, because at the age of sixty-eight, he had a stroke and couldn’t do anything again. So I was working. Before I went into the army, I was working with the agriculture. I was in the agricultural farm working and using whatever comes from that to maintain the family. So I was always working, with my little sister. She is passed now. We were both working to keep up the family.

DN: So you were working for the support of the family.

BK: The support of the family and the junior ones.

DN: And then you went into the army….

BKP: And then I went into the army. I was in the army for eleven years. So then I went into business of buying and selling after I voluntarily discharged from the army in 1974.

DN: What was your role in the army?

BK: I was in the administrative area of the army and then the quartermaster division. It’s called ordnance corps. I went in as a recruit doing all the odd jobs and all the things. That also helped me a lot.

DN: It made you be very adaptable. So you learned many different areas of knowledge.

BK: Yes … I learned many different areas of knowledge.

DN: Then you left that army after eleven years and went into business.


BK: Yes, I went into business. I was buying and selling; I was traveling abroad. That was when I began to come into the United States. That was from the northern part of Nigeria, because the army transferred me to the northern part of Nigeria where we have dominant Muslims. That changed me a little bit again, and to be more focused, because it was every day religious violence. The jihadists and the Islamic teachers were teaching violence, encouraging violence, and all of these things so they always wage war against Christians, but some of them can be friendly.

What I am telling you, I was still in the Church, my church upbringing is with me. Always I don’t forget the Church and teachings of the gospel. So there was at this time, this evangelist. Reinhard Bonnke was coming to the Northern part of the country [Kano State] for a crusade, a large crusade. So I took it all to go into the publicity so that we can see that…. Most of these (violent jihadist Islamic) people can be evangelized; to introduce them to the teachings of Christ and show them the way of the Lord; that they will learn more that violence is evil and does not pay, and then they will begin to embrace Christ. But the whole thing turn into a big religious riot and many people died! Then I had a big shopping complex. I used the advantage of that business to print T shirts for the event and circulate it like a kind of invitation to the event.


DN: This shopping complex is where in Nigeria?

BK: In Kano. Kano State is in the northern part of Nigeria. The shopping complex was named Kings and Ornaments Inc. It had twelve departments; shawls, baby care, men’s clothing, electronics, video rentals, art & signs, gift area, flower shop, a nursery for life plants and so on. That was from where I had a little set back. Because of the religious issue, the shopping complex was destroyed. I lost a lot of money. I lost over three and a half million [dollars]. Yes, because it was a twelve department shopping complex. I took a loan from the bank, one hundred thousand, for the publicity of the crusade - Reinhard Bonnke crusade and all was lost.


Reinhard Bonnke had to be smuggled out of Central Hotel Kano (the night before the crusade so that no harm will come unto him) because the Hausas would not want anything like Christian program in the city of Kano.

DN: When you said the shopping complex was destroyed, do you mean that by violence?

BK: By violence, and so….


So the jihadists when they started on the eve of Bonnke’s Crusade, they started burning houses. That was the height of the violence then, the Islamists. They were marching through the city and chanting, “Alah- wak-bar, Alah-wak-bar.” I don’t what that means but later learnt that it means ‘Allah is great’ Everyone was apprehensive. There was fear. Tension in the Sabongari area [Sabongari is where non-indigenes and non-Muslims reside. They destroyed the city where outsiders live for three full days but not their own fenced city.

DN: What year was that?

BK: That was in 1990.

DN: Okay. Thank you.

BK: Yes, and so for three days there was destruction of lives and properties. There was a particular church and other denomination. I was in the middle of that then. There were some people in one house, about fifty people, close to fifty people. They were praying because of the apprehensive tension all around the city and guess what happened? The jihadists went there, sealed all the entrances and burned the house down. Yes.

DN: With the fifty people in it? How tragic!

BK: Yes with the people in it, and these happenings were not reported by the media (because the media were not allowed to carry any unscrutinized news by the state government); outside communications were not possible, telephones were not working, you cannot call anywhere outside the state: courtesy of the Hausa people… the President… the government, no freedom of speech even the reporters were being incarcerated for doing their jobs some were killed .

DN: What church was that?

BK: The Deeper Bible Church and some congregation from there. I was a member of that church until our Pastor started another church – Calvary Life. Our pastor was from a Muslim family, by name Bishop Bello. He was my spiritual father. So he knows what the people can do. Then we began to pray and so on. (We took refuge at the police headquarters and do you know that the riot police that were supposed to combat the violence were not dispatched out until after three days. It was like, let whatever can, let it happen.) Among other things that happened were, they will take a person and ask him to decide the kind of death he or she prefers. Do you want to be slaughtered or thrown into the well? Over three thousand people were killed within those three days of the riot just because of a (Christian) program.


DN: Just because of a religious difference?

BK: A religious difference, but a Christian program triggered it. All the people there (especially non-indigenes), were living in fear. And at that time I still had the shopping complex and they realized the source of the publicity. Because myself and the bishop with a few others handled the publicity of that crusade… things began to settle in.

Another tribe; they were traders, the Ibo people, the Ibos in Kano. They came up with guns. But first, they took their families back home to the south their state of origin. They came up with guns, and homemade bombs. (The Ibo people showed the Hausas that they can also fight to protect themselves and others.)

That was when the Hausas, the Islamists, began to retreat. That gave a little peace and relief. So because of that displacement, I wasn’t able to stay there again, because I stayed in that State for eighteen years in the northern part amongst the Jihadists. But through the grace of God we were able to survive.

We went back to Lagos (where we originally came from). So from Lagos I was traveling Rome many times (on business trips)because I was buying and selling. I traveled to London more than twenty five times. I’ve been in Hong Kong many times. I’ve been all over. Europe, but I realized I had the calling of God upon my life to preach the Gospel and to teach the people.


DN: When did you feel the calling… can you tell us about that? I’m very interested.

BK: It was miraculous…. When I was sleeping, then I saw, I mean myself and my family; we were displaced in Kano. We moved to Lagos. The church also moved to Lagos. The first thing that happened was I caught my wife. One day she was praying for, “God, make my husband a preacher, a servant of God.” So when I heard that I was so very unhappy. “I said, “Why are you praying this kind of prayer?” We believe every prayer is answered by God. “Why are you praying this kind of prayer; for me to be a preacher? Do you want to kill me?” Then I said to her “Please don’t pray such a prayer anymore.” All I want to be is to be a businessman. Whatever amount of money I will make I want to use to support churches, not only my church but all the churches and support people in need. Because without being a businessman I can’t do that, where would that money come from? So I slept one day and I saw my pastor, the bishop. He came with a bowl, a big bowl of anointing oil, because we believe in the anointing oil. Anointing oil is the olive oil, the extra virgin olive oil from Israel. So I saw my bishop poured a whole bowl of oil on me. When I woke up I was shaking. That was the first calling but I didn’t realize it.


So I told my wife what I saw. Second time, after two weeks, he came again with a lesser bowl and he poured it out upon me again. I was like, “What’s going on?” Then I left to another church…. Then, after I left for another church in Victoria Island, the apostle there came in my dream again. He came with a microphone in his hand handed it over to me. “I don’t know how to preach.” “Well the microphone is in your hand. Preach to people.” So I woke up and began to think about it. Even when I was thinking about it, it didn’t convince me I had to do it.


So when we eventually came in here in 1997, we started the church and it was called Bethel Bible Church. And I had to call the apostles to send in a pastor. I said “I don’t want to be the pastor. I want to remain a businessman to support the church.” But he sent a pastor who didn’t stay for more than four weeks. He said, “Whatever it is, you started this church, you will have to continue shepherding the church, I can’t stay here,” and off he left. “This is your church,” he said. “God sent you to the church to preach. You have to continue.” So I had to, because of the knowledge I had in the past. I didn’t know I was going to make it. I started with myself, my wife and a brother who is still in the church today. So the first people, the first congregation I preached to were three people on Broadway where we started, and then the second Sunday we became thirteen people.

DN: You became what? Thirteen people? From three to thirteen?

BK: From three to thirteen, but then you know. Church issue, people come, people go. So we began to move from one place to another. We moved to Devon and Broadway on the second floor. Then we moved to another place where the Alderman said he doesn’t want the church in his ward. And then we had to look for another place to move the Church until God provided Trumbull School. We moved to Trumbull School where we were for about fourteen years.


DN: We live right near Trumbull School and I’ve seen the people coming to worship and I’ve seen some the beautiful outfits that the women are wearing…. beautiful.

BK: You can see them yes …. We thank God for Trumbull School. We stayed in Trumbull School for many years, about fourteen years. We stayed at Trumbull School until it was finally closed down.

We were looking for places for worship all over the place. My wife said, “God will have His way and that we will still be in that area,” but that area, we don’t know where.

The year we moved to Trumbull School was the year we had the 9/11. What happened was 9/11 didn’t happen accidentally what I mean, it didn’t just happen unknowingly, God revealed it will happen; we had the knowledge it will happen but didn’t know what, when and how.

Let me give you an account of how we had the knowledge. My wife had a revelation that something tragic was going to happen that many lives will be lost. But we didn’t know what. We prayed and prayed and the Spirit of God said there was nothing that can be done about it, it’s going to happen and again many lives will be lost. That Sunday I used Genesis 9 to preach to the people. That was the account of Noah’s time of destruction, and I took the people on a forty day fasting to avert 9/11.

So we were gathering at the parking lot of Trumbull School for forty days. We had to pray for forty days. (We had to meet as a church somewhere to pray every evening together for forty days, we had no access into Trumbull School because it’s a school, we can only enter on the allocated days of service.) So we were meeting at the parking lot of Trumbull School; we were fasting and praying that God should do something to spare the people, to avert the evil …. On the twenty-sixth day of our meeting, fasting and praying was 9/11…..

DN: That’s incredible.


BK: Yes and many people were calling, and calling us on the phone (to tell us what has happened, the twin tower in New York and others). We didn’t stop the prayer because we knew they would not stop; probably because of those forty days of fasting and prayer that helped saved the day with all the high rises in Chicago and other cities we’re not sure but it very well might be. We live in one of the high rises, the Park Tower Building. After the forty days of fasting, we realized God had put a stop to some of these serious things that would have happened.

DN: That’s really incredible Reverend. I’d like to ask you to explain about your shawl and your religious beliefs about why you wear that.


BK: I believe that Christianity, and all Christians, came from these roots (pointing to shawl) and whether we like it or not, we are spiritual Jews. So the idea is for the Christians to trace their roots to the Bible, to follow the Bible and learn how the Jews referenced God; how the Jews worshipped God; how committed they are to their religion.

Christianity is from that. (Christianity if we want to really understand it, is not a religion, it is a relationship with God the Creator.) It started during the time of Paul the Apostle and Jesus Christ. This became a new thing, (a new teaching, a new learning; it became a new relationship.) It was of old, but it became a new awareness for the people (to have a relationship with the ONLY LIVING GOD) the doctrine of the Lord, Jesus Christ. I believe that; with this, (holds his shawl) when the Bible says that Jesus Christ was wearing robes.

An account in the Bible, that there was a woman with an issue of blood for many years, probably for about twelve years and went to where Jesus was preaching, couldn’t get to him, and what she did; she touched the hem of the Garment of Jesus Christ. This was what she touched, [The Shawl]. (And immediately the issue of blood stopped.) Jesus Christ felt a virtue left Him. That was the power, the healing power that left Him and touched the woman. And instantly there was healing.

We believe healing is still available for us. That is why sometimes when I go to hospitals, I pray for people. Sometimes when I see sick people on television, I just stretch forth my hands toward the TV screen and pray for them (because I believe that there is no distance in the realm of the Spirit). I don’t need to know them because we are all One (people) from one God. I don’t care what religion you practice. I don’t care where you come from, your color doesn’t matter to me, I don’t care. I just know that God created us to be one People, one fellowship. I’ve always preached that in our church. If you want to find favor with God, all you need to do is love people; all are human beings, regardless of color, race and where they come from. It doesn’t matter, even if they have offended you, just love them. Love is a very very powerful tool.

That is why Jesus Christ has introduced us to only two laws. He said to, “Love the Lord your God with all your soul and with all your heart, with everything in you.” Now if you love God, I don’t see why you will not love the People. I don’t see why you will not love your neighbor. That’s what Jesus Christ was trying to preach; that God is love. You love every creature that God has created because God is love. You will appreciate God Himself, the uniqueness of God the creativeness of God. You will appreciate the Nature that you as man cannot create. He created all this Nature, all of what we enjoy; he created all for our comfort and pleasure.

The second law is to “Love your Neighbor like yourself.” The interpretation of that is that if you love your neighbor as yourself; you will not do evil to your neighbor; you will not hurt nor harm your neighbor because you will not want to do either of those to yourself. You would not shoot yourself. That is why….again when you kill yourself, that is suicide. That is against the law of God, you see. So everything that God has given, everything given law that is in the Bible is for our own good, (The Bible is the GPS, it is The Will given to us by God for reproof for correction and to guide us.)


DN: I’d like to go back to when you came to Chicago, when you came to Edgewater? Why did you come to this particular area?

BK: I think I was drawn by the whole experience. Because when you love the Lord the Bible says “He makes all things work together for good to them that love the Lord.” I might not know why I came to Edgewater, but its in the plan of God for my life, probably because of this Church that has to be at Edgewater, I don’t know but I know that God had a plan for me in the Edgewater area. That might be one of the reasons He led me to Edgewater. And when I came to Edgewater, it was the area I loved most. It was peaceful.

Everything you would ever want or need is here. The lake is there which complements the atmospheric condition of Edgewater. And that is why it is Edgewater by the way, you know, because of the lake. Edgewater is so clean and so peaceful. (I have not lived elsewhere in the city of Chicago, but at least I am in love with the area I live.) I love listening to the news and I watch the news channels a lot, I don’t think I’ve never recorded anything absurd or evil happenings in Edgewater. So to me, I believe Edgewater is the most beautiful and peaceful area in Chicago.

DN: What about the people in Edgewater.


BK: The people in Edgewater are friendly. They are friendly people and they are lovely people. They love innovation and unique creations and so on. You go through the streets, the stores on Clark, on Broadway, you see…. It’s amazing; the whole area in itself. People may not know but all kinds of people all ages and so on (events, cultures and people of all races are in Edgewater), as they are in other parts of the City of Chicago, but Edgewater, I believe in my experience, is the best and lovely a place to live.

DN: There’s a lot of diversity in Edgewater, many different kinds of people…. And they are spread throughout Edgewater…. I think you see that because of where you’ve had your church. You’ve had your church in all different parts in Edgewater.

BK: Yes…yes…that’s right. That’s why you see people in our church who go out to evangelize (to bring the people of Edgewater to the church, to worship The One God with us). On the window here in the office, you see all the little books, I mean all these leaflets (that people can read and have the knowledge of God and be introduced to Christ are on the shelf). My two sisters, sitting at the back over there, are always going out to the streets of Edgewater (to give out the flyers, the leaflets, the bulletin) to all the people.

Of course we have people coming in to the church but I know it does not matter where they belong, if they have the instinct of what God wants us to be, who He wants us to be. They will know that by reading all of this (holds up informational pamphlet).

Some of these like this ‘Our Daily Bread’ help the people to read the Bible every day. You can read the Bible in a whole year. That was what my wife gave to you or maybe to your husband…. It was my wife that gave him the pamphlets including a copy of ‘Our Daily Bread,’ from the church.


DN: We’ve walked by there, since we live just down the block, I don’t know how many times. And there was just something the other day that pulled us to make the connection. I think you would say it was God that was speaking.

BK: Yes, I believe so. My prayer is that we will have more people from Edgewater coming in (feeling at home and worship with us in this church that we call ‘The Dominion Center’ Wells Of Salvation!).

DN: How many people are in your church now?

BK: Like….we is a number of people, but …I cannot give a specific number of people. The reason is most people go to work on Sundays, people come and go, I also relate it to when God told David not to number his people. “Don’t count my people.” But you see….

DN: But you said it’s grown from three to ten and the number keeps growing….

BK: Keeps growing, yes. So we keep growing and we believe we will grow more. We have people from all races, from other parts of Africa, from…. We have both whites and blacks, as you can see from the video. We have people from different parts of the world I can say.

DN: I’d like to ask you one more question, and that is you said you came here in 1996, I think you said…?

BK: 1997.

DN: 1997 to live permanently. Did you come here as a business person, as a resident, as an immigrant? How did you come?

BK: Yes, I came as an immigrant. So to get to settle myself, the first thing I did was to drive a taxi to be able to know my ways around. But then I realized that driving a taxi is a Ministry. Look, you meet lots of people; different kind of people. You begin to understand people more. (Gradually you also learn how to adjust and see people’s reaction to everything.)

I was able to get the first apartment same on Sheridan Road, because I was staying on Sheridan Road with one of my sisters. The second place I moved to, still on Sheridan Road, is where I still am right now and I think I’ve been there in the same building now for fourteen years.


DN: Do you feel your identity is as a Nigerian or as an American or both?

BK: I see myself as both. I see myself as both because wherever I am, that’s where God has ordained me to be. I see myself as part of the people and I see myself as one of the people. Here is where I call home until God wants me in another place. But right now, here is home.

DN: This has been a most amazing interview Reverend Kings and I thank you for sharing with us. I’m going to stop the interview now.

BK: Thank and God bless you ma’am.

DN: God bless you too.