Nathaniel Bassey shares how and when he knew he was called into ministry.
Pst Sola Osunmakinde: How did you know you had a call into ministry?
Pst Nathaniel Bassey: Well I would say as a very young lad, I developed an uncommon penchant or passion for improvisational music… jazz music. So come on, I didn’t watch catoons, those things children watch, I didn’t grow up liking them. Strangely I would be drawn to B-Bob, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, all these guys and I would just listen to, black American jazz music and then also listen with my dad to highlife music. I come from a family of music lovers, though they were not professionals they will serve in Church, play in church.
So my dad and I would sit down morning till night apart from playing soccer and maybe some other thing, I’ll sit with my dad listening to Jim Rex Lawson, Inyang henshaw from morning till night, just listening to music. Then I started… you know with the drums, Drummer Boy, very young young boy and then we got the trumpet for the church and from the first day I was blowing it.
But before then, there was a man who was very close to our family. A police sergeant, you know, you know… didn’t go to school but could read the Bible interestingly. He couldn’t read any other thing but could read the Bible Supernatural. The first man I saw raise the dead in front of me he will limp. I mean my cousin, she was living with a family friend. He hit her and she just collapsed and passed out they rushed her to the house, She was gone and we were crying, My dad was crying was crying he was an elder in the apostolic church, and then she was cold and then Here Comes Elder Ehegi Oha Just limping, Singing “I know his name, His name is wonderful (from home) I know his name” limping… came home and you know, wetin be her name?” (he asked), We said “Eno”, “Eno stand up! Eno stand up!!” (he said). She sneezed back to life… she came back.
So that was the man who when he comes to pray at home. He will call my father “E.J Bassey, you see this small boy, I see am for… (I mean like a prophetic dream) I see him for highway, big bus, dey overtake every body, watch am, watch am, watch am” and as a small boy, no encounter with God, I knew there was something special about Elder Ehiginwa. So when he is speaking, I’ll go stay very close to him so that his saliva will touch me. Yes, so he gave those prophetic words and I began to play the trumpet then I joined the Redeemed Evangelica Mission (TREM), incidentally today is Bishops (Mile Okonkwo) 75th birthday. So I grew up from the Apostle Church, then moved to TREM, then I was you know… ordained in 1998 as a minister.
Then I was led to go to the Redeem Christian Church of God, City of David. Now, while all of this was going on, I began to be involved in mainstream music. Mainstream is, I’m doing gigs with the guys, I’m involved with secular bands, so I worked with Ayo Bankole, T-Mag, Jive band, Steve Rhodes as …you know, Steve Rhodes Orchestra. We did sessions… I mean I was doing pretty much a lot of things, I was supposed to travel to France with Asa, you know Asa… Yeah, so I gave her a few trumpet lessons and all of that stuff, you know I was pretty much doing that and doing church. So I was at the City of David and all of these things I’m saying, have connection. So I was doing mainstream because I had the… you know desire to be… I just wanted to be a touring very good musician and Dunsin would understand this. You just want to be like at the, you know peak of your… you know, so you will practice for hours.
So I just wanted to be a good musician, traveling the world with bands go to Berkeley School, I mean I applied for Berkeley college scholarship. We won, you know, I was all ready to go to America and then my pastor Pst Esko, would call me to his office, all of this time, I never really had an encounter with God, he said “Nathaniel. Do you know that when you play the trumpet I cry. Do you know that you are carrying something”? then I had the typical musician mentality, you know gigging, traveling, just playing for the money, then I’ll go to the music room and tell my guys I’ll say “imagine this pastor, pastor say there’s something about me so that I will die in this church , and then your children are America uhhhh” I’ll just make fun of it… and he kept saying that he said “I don’t know what is it about this trumpet you are playing and I’m crying”, I’ll just think he’s trying to… I’ll say “Pastor dey whine me”.
Then one day, I mean the late Stellar Obasanjo that passed was gonna come to church and Pastor has said to me “go prepare this song” I mean, we had a pastor who would come for choir practice and listen and say “you know what, you need to take us to where we need to go tomorrow, If I don’t sense the presence, we’re not going home”.
Anyway, so we did the Song and while I was ministering on stage, I knew that this was what I was meant to do that it wasn’t jazz, I Knew by the spirit and then that sent me into a journey, a season. So I went back told my pastor and then I cut away from every group. I gave up the Berkeley scholarship, it was so radical, my elder sister who led us to Christ, my younger sister called her in Dubai. My sister was the head of a fellowship, she will go to cult boys “thus sayeth the Lord, in seven days If you don’t leave you will die”. She was that fiery, but I took a radical decision.
She heard my sister will say “he’s giving out his money ohh, He’s doing this”.
My sister called me saying “Nath, I’ve been there before, that thing is not that serious, calm down calm down”. So I shut down everything, gave myself to praying and I’ll just be weeping, I’ll drive to empty places, Terry McAlmond ministering, I will just weep, I’ll have encounters and then one day 12 Obi Wumi street, I was just ministering onto the Lord and then my pastor said to me “Nathaniel”, by this time, I was so close to him. We were relating on spiritual things he said “go find out what the Trump of God is 2 Corinthians 15”. So I just stood up all through the night, I had a vision, you know ministering and as I administered there was fires everywhere. So I just began to weep all through the night and my father came, when my father came, “Why are you weeping?” when he touched me, he started crying, and then I didn’t know why I was crying then I will take my phone and call people and they’ll hear me crying, they’ll start crying and then it continued to the next day, then I was worshipping, it felt like a blanket rested on my head, I took my hands off the keyboard ran outside. I knew it was a Holy feeling. I didn’t know what it was, but I knew it was a Holy feeling.
Then I was going to church, Bonny Camp you know after CMS a man who had never called me, I was driving my kia car, wearing a white shirt, a relative who I don’t know how he got my number, as I picked up the phone this experience happened some hours before I was alone in the room, he said “thus saith the Lord the hand of God is upon you from today conduct yourself accordingly goodbye” dropped the call, so from then on I knew that God’s hands was upon me and I had to set myself to seeking him and the rest they say, is history.
Pst Sola Osunmakinde: Wow wonderful, so you once played for T-mag?
Pst Nathaniel Bassey: oh yes I was with uncle Tee for… we traveled uncle Tee Mag, would play Fly-Robin-Fly, Ayo Bankole, Uncle Steve Rhodes ochestra was his band leader, Where we just did Jazz and then the French Cultural Center was about to send myself and Asa on a tour to France and that was when… encounter. So when I had that encounter and I pulled out, the director of French Cultural Center declared me a non persona grata and said I shouldn’t come near france… so I was a member of a group Spectrum four (4), Wale Oni, Ayo Osholanke, in the U.S.
We had worn a Beckerly scholarship we were about to leave, our black American manager a Believer. So I said to them I couldn’t come Woli Oni and the rest of them said “guy, we are all believers so don’t tell me God said” he said “so are we working for Satan”?
So I left you know, but it was tough and there was a time where a journalist Benson Idonije, wrote an article, He said “a gift like this is wasting away in a local church and doesn’t want to inspire his generation” you know, and of course I met him years later on the story changed. So God was faithful to make me go through those experiences.