Nollywood superstar, Liz Benson left the movie scene few years ago only to resurface as an evangelist married to a bishop. In this interview with Reporter, Wale Onifade, the movie idol spoke about her family, acting career and call to evangelistic ministry.
When did you give your life to Christ?
I got born again in 1996 at Apostle Anslem Madubuko’s Revival Assembly church in Lagos. He made an altar call that was for me. I have been a believer all my life because I was from a Christian home. But being born again is one thing that just set you apart from just being a Christian. Some people are just too good, but not born again. You need to be, if you are not yet born again. There is this saying that you haven’t started yet. So, 1996 was my year.
What was the conviction to accept Christ?
Mine was not like Apostle Paul; it was actually from God. Here was a life that was almost turned upside down by the reason of losing the father of my kids, my late husband. So many things went wrong in my life. But I believed in my simple prayers of a believer, which had been keeping me through and God became my hope and I hung unto that hope. And I was able to take care of my three children all alone with God. I was able to do things that people said I would not do because I was written off. I was almost like a rejected stone.
But after that altar call, all I could see is Jesus paying total cost for me on the cross of Calvary. Then I ask God what I could do for Him. I told Him I would do anything he wants me to do, just to appreciate Him. It took years of my believing God with the help of the Holy Spirit at my near dead situations. Early 2000, the conviction came and from that time, it has been what Jesus said to me. I followed and I have not looked back since 1996. It was a nurturing, grooming process for me and a season of Jesus welcoming me back home.
At first, when you newly come out and give your life to Christ, it is a step in the right direction. But you need a lot of spinning and nurturing to receive that conviction. I tell you, until you receive it; either spontaneously or instantaneously, it’s a lie to say you have Christ in you.
How was your life like before you gave it to Christ?
There is nothing like being terrible. It’s just like living your life without Christ and thinking you don’t owe Him that which He came to give to you. My life had been that of a normal Christian – go to church, do one or two things, but the conviction was not there. As a true and honest Christian, there is a part in the Bible that says there will be a time when Jesus will seek true worshipers. For me, everything was just happening. There were things I did that I shouldn’t have done. For instance, the drinking aspect; some people use the excuse, drink a little for the tummy and other things like that. There is a portion in the Bible that says “give a strong drink to a priest.” There is another one that says “don’t give a strong drink to a foolish man,” when he has finished drinking and he is drunk and when he wakes up his sorrow is still in front of him. There were many things I did in the past. I was not so conscious of the fact that I was a destiny carrier and when you are one, you need to set apart from some things. You become a model; you become a weapon in the hand of God.
Now that you are into evangelism, are you involved in Christian movies or can you still act in secular movies?
I have always been careful and selective with what I do. It has never really been about the money, it has been about what is the message there, what is it going to do in people’s lives. I had done so many things in the past, which is why I am very careful with any involvement now. If it is a good story, I will back it up with the gospel according to Jesus Christ. No two ways about it. I am not going to reduce standard, try to negotiate or come into compromise. I have never done it before, why should I do it now.
Do you still act?
It’s just like you asking a banker if he is still a banker. Outside counting money at the counter properly, working in the administrative section, you could move to any area of banking. The purpose of our being on planet earth is to affect lives. So you need to realise that purpose. I am made by God to fulfill His purpose of creating me. He did not create me to die in the film industry, but to glorify His name.
People out there feel that your role in the film, True Confession really depicts your true character. How do you defend that?
I will only laugh at this. It means they don’t understand what make-believe world is. I can see a lot of people when they watch a film; they get carried away with it. But I think it only got to show the dexterity of the actor. I mean I acted so well in the film that you believed what you saw. But of course meeting me makes the difference. If that was truly how I was, then how come I was doing other roles that were so different from that one?
Do you have a ministry of your own?
I’m married to a bishop and we are both nurturing the assembly called Freedom Family Assembly in Delta State. So I still have my evangelical ministry. And now, also, I have all the children in the church that I feed and train according to the grace, which God gives to me.
How do you feel moving away from a lucrative career that brought you fame and fortune into the ministry?
I have not moved. This is another understanding that people don’t have yet at this point. I will beg to say that the devil is a liar. God said I will equip you with that which to preach the gospel. God has made me stronger so that when any other one comes up, people will see it and know that God is God.
From the religious perspective, how will you access the film industry?
Nollywood is like every other field; the only difference is that they are in the spotlight. There are good and bad in it and every member of the industry comes from a family. They are flesh and blood like you. They have their flaws. To God be the glory, but in any form we find ourselves, we are still practicing whatever God wants us to do. In any career you belong, like you journalists go through lots of persecutions, humiliation, rejection, all sorts of things just to be able to bring out what God has put inside you.
Nollywood is going through some sanitisations and I believe that by God’s grace, we will be able to pull ourselves together and do something better and greater to the world. I don’t like the way people sweat like Christmas goat in the industry. We go through a lot of frustrations trying to put these films out. Many people don’t know these. We are getting somewhere in life and as you begin to realise the love of God in our lives; we spread it together in that movie world and beyond.
Do you have any regret?
I have no regret whatsoever. From the story of Joseph, I have learnt not to allow my past to affect my present and with that of many other people in the Bible. I have learnt not to be loose or speak negatively about past things. Honestly, I can’t say much about my experience. Like I said, I gave my life to Christ in 1996 and since then I have been involved in near dead situations. I have been involved in a tanker accident and God got me out, I have been shot at close range and I came out of it. I almost lost my daughter and God brought her back to life. What of the ones He has done that I cannot see, mercy is new every morning. Great is His faithfulness towards us.