Saliu Aliyu Olaiwola, popularly known as Testimony, Mr Jaga, is a gospel singer. His foray into gospel music began in 2012 after a brief stint with secular music. He is the pioneer of Street Gospel Movement, a ministry that combines music and social welfare service as tool for spreading the gospel to people in the streets of Lagos. In this chat with Newton-Ray Ukwuoma, he speaks about the impact of Pastor Chris Oyakhilome, the General Overseer of Christ Embassy Church, on his music career, among other things. Excerpts
How would you describe life before going into gospel music?
It was full of frustration. I was first a secular musician, worked with Obesere, Skalimental and some other musicians. I released a couple of singles and musical videos at that time. I thought I was successful, but something happened in 2011 that turned my life full cycle.
Would you like to tell us what happened?
I was arrested for something I didn’t do. A stolen car was found in the compound where I lived. When the police officers came, the people that stole the car were not around, so I was arrested. I was charged with car-snatching. I spent about four months in prison. While in prison, I promised God that if He saved me from being arraigned as a criminal that I will serve Him. The owner of the car was a big shot in the society. So we were told that some journalists were coming to interview the suspects, I was going to be paraded on national television also as a suspect.
But before that day, I was miraculously exonerated. The next day, all the suspects were published on the front pages of most of the newspapers in Lagos. But I was released. God saw me through. After I left the prison, I did not stop doing secular music, because I didn’t know what to do. But I heard an instruction from God to go to church. On a fateful day, I was walking on a street when a sister approached me. She gave me a hand bill inviting me to church.