How I Veered Into Xtian Movies - Mike Bamiloye

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Mike Bamiloye, evangelist, producer and film director, is Nigeria’s best known maker of Christian-themed films. A graduate of the Osun State College of Education, Bamiloye has thrived in movie-making despite lacking formal training in the art. In this interview with Nehru Odeh, he explained how he has risen to the top of his art.

Q: What actually led you into film production?
A: I think it is a divine calling. I realised the fact that I could have been called to do something else. As a child of God, there must be an order you receive from Him. I realised in the College of Education that mine is in drama and film production.

Q: When did you start the film ministry?
A: The ministry started in 1985, but the film production, which is an outreach of the ministry, started in 1990. But the original work of the ministry was drama presentation in churches. So, we were going to churches in cities like Kano, Zaria and Kaduna to present plays. We travelled round the country and even abroad to Kenya, Cameroun and Ghana. We started the drama ministry by going from church to church and campus conventions. But the film production arm of the ministry became an arm of Mount Zion Faith Ministries in 1990.

Q: You have received a lot of commendations, including from distinguished professor of Theatre Arts, Dapo Adelugba of University of Ibadan. But have the films achieved their goals of evangelism?
A: They have, because we have received testimonies, e-mails and phone calls about what the films are doing in the lives of people. So, it is through those feedbacks that we know what the films are doing in the lives of people. We believe we are reaching out to people. And the films have been able to cut across religious boundaries because they address situations in people’s lives. So, whether you are a Christian or not, the films address you. They talk about your life. That is why I said they cut across religious boundaries. So, people have accepted it.

Q: How many films have you produced so far?
A: I think they are about 43.

Q: Which of your the films is your favourite?
A: It is very difficult to mention. The reason is that each film is unique in its own right, and it addresses some specific classes of people. Ultimate Power may be very popular, but that was because it was like a watershed. It created a demarcation between secular and Christian movies at that time. I think the demarcation is still there. Its production was very challenging because it was a form of open ground, a starting point. Though it was not our first film, but it was interesting. It made so much impact at that time. And I think it was our first major television serial.

Q: Tell us more about the Mount Zion Faith Ministries.
A: Mount Zion Faith Ministries has about six arms. It has drama outreaches which are responsible for our travelling to various places. So, all the members of Mount Zion Ministries are involved in travelling to churches, campuses and other places within or outside the country. Live performance on stage is the original work we started with in 1986. Our first drama presentation titled: Hell In Conference was on 11 July 1986. But it was in 1990 that Mount Zion Film Production started as a production output ministries. Another arm, Mount Zion Institute of Christian Drama, is an academic arm of the ministry. Churches send their members there to learn principles of Christian drama. We started that one in 1991 and we have been running the course every November. We have graduated more than 1200 the majority of those in drama ministries today graduated from the Mount Zion Institute of Christian Drama. There is also Mount Zion Publications, a resource centre for the publication of Mount Zion drama books and classics on drama. We have about six publications of this kind as well as other publications. There is Delegation Outreach, which is responsible for supplying television stations with our tapes. Recently, we created another department called Africa Mission. This is aimed at making sure our tapes are sent to all television stations in Africa. We also have the French department, which is involved in the translation of scripts into French. We intend publishing them and sending them to missionaries on missions in different countries. We intend using those scripts to subtitle Lost Forever, our film, which we would send to those missionaries and the television stations in French-speaking countries.

Q: What are your hobbies, likes and dislikes?
A: I read, watch television programmes, films and cartoons. I like people who work with faith. I like people who have vision. I like sitting down and talking with people who like talking about faith, ministry work and ministerial adventures. I don’t like people who talk too much about money and material things.

Q: What is your favourite meal?
A: Q: Anything, because I am an evangelist. The Bible says, ‘whatever I set before you, eat.’ Wherever I go, whatever is given to me, I will not make a choice.

Q: What are the countries your ministerial work has taken you to?
A: Singapore, North Korea, China, France, London, United States (where we had ministry assignment) and Thailand. I was also at North Korea for the Pyoyang International Film Festival.

Q: How are you coping with stardom?
A: Stardom makes no difference to me at all because I see myself as facing a lot of challenges. People may see it as being famous, but I see it as having challenges, at least to reach out more to people. I live like an ordinary man. I walk on the street like everybody. But I have challenges before me of reaching out to more people.

Q: Do you have a fixed production team, and what time do you set for rehearsal?
A: We have about 16 members of Mount Zion Films that are in-house members of the ministry. Apart from that, we have numerous guest ministries for film production. Whenever we have films that involve a large cast, we invite them. Those are the ones that are involved mostly in live drama performance. As for our rehearsals, it is only when we have new plays that we rehearse. If it is drama we have been having, we don’t usually rehearse it.

Q: How do you cope with setting and location?
A: There is a brother in charge of location. But at times, if there is need for a special set, we create it ourselves. On two occasions, we have invited external set designers; like in Apoti Eri, where we had to construct a king’s palace. The same happened in The Gods Are Dead. Apart from that, we have never had any serious set.

Q: What is your source of inspiration?
A: God. I prayed to receive those inspirations from God. It is not by the figment of any human imagination. For instance, if you look at Ultimate Power, it would be difficult to think that it is man-made. So, I would attribute it to God. The Holy Spirit brought the inspiration, telling me what I did not even know. I didn’t know many of these things, I just put them down. Many at times, I wrote things that I didn’t know. And I write things that I doubt, and I asked myself: ‘If those things come out now, won’t people dispute them?’ So it is not a story from somewhere. It is not from newspapers or testimony books. The Holy Spirit dictates, it gives these inspirations. Without Him, I cannot write anything.

Q: What kind of films do you watch?
A: I watch Nollywood films to know the latest trends and then get acquainted with all those cast, but not to receive messages. I don’t get messages from them. At times, I also watch Christian films. I watch foreign films too, because it is good to be acquainted with all those technicalities.

Q: What kind of music do you listen to?
A: I don’t listen to music at all. I don’t even know the musicians. Though, I listen to some Christian musicians like Panam Percy Paul.

Q: What future plan do you have as regards Mount Zion Faith Ministries?
A: We have the intention of reaching out to African nations. We want to translate most of our film into African languages, and foreign languages like French, Spanish, German and Dutch. We want those messages to reach out to a large number of people . We want to be given access to television stations so that we can supply them our films. . We have only been able to cover Nigeria. But that is not enough. It is just covering two per cent.

Q: What has been your most memorable moment in the ministry?
A: I think during our 20th anniversary; it was such a favour from God. It was at that anniversary that we dedicated the Habitation of Faith. People came and they were able to see the love of God. It was a very memorable day.

Q: Do you have regrets?
A: Yes. In ministry, there are always ups and downs. There is a time you come down, but when you get up again, it overshadows the time you were down. So, ministry is full of ups and downs. There are dull moments, but there are also several joyful moments too.

Q: What church do you fellowship with?
A: Mount Zion Faith Ministries is not a church. It is just an organisation, a ministry. Individual members belong to different churches. Where I got converted to Christianity was Gospel Faith Mission, at Ile-Ife. I was there for many years until we left Ile-Ife to Ibadan, and I began to attend Glory Tabernacle.

Q: Who are your role models?
A: I won’t mention names now. But when we started the ministry in 1984, we read a lot of books. Even before the ministry started, when God was introducing me to His work, I used to read books written by Kenneth Hagin, Oral Roberts, Kenneth Coleland and T.L. Osborne. I was engrossed in the magazines published by Kenneth Hagin and K.C. Price. I read about faith, giving, tithing and offering in all those books.

Q: What do you think is responsible for your success so far?
A: The mercy of God and His divine favour have been the secret of our success. I mean His favour in calling, helping and guiding me. It is His mercy that helps us to obey Him everywhere we go.


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though he circulates the same cews in different stories (the yoruba's) i still love his movies because the stories are profound

Gudmorning sir/ sending dis msg at abt 6am cos av bin thinkin.....mount zion did a movie so many years ago abt 666...abt d tribulations that befell those that were left behind....its about rapture...I neg you...the time is closer now than many of us need to watch that movie again and those that have not seen it need to see...they show your movies a lot on DBN,let them show the one that has to do with rapture,if u wnt bother about makin profit,give out in churches,make it available for sale,pls its very imptnt.the time is so us,so many of us need to understand what it means to be left behind.I watched that movie so many years ago and have never forgotten it.Thank you very much and God bless You.That movie wil win souls In Jesus Name.
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