LONDON — A pastor and missionary originally from Nigeria who had been arrested last Saturday in the UK after refusing to leave as a bystander complained to authorities that the man was “Islamophobic” is now thanking supporters and says that he was able to go back to the same spot where he was arrested and continue preaching without interruption.
“I am well. I am okay,” Oluwole Ilesanmi, 63, said in a video released by the group Christian Concern on Friday. “God has been so faithful.”
According to Christian Concern, Ilesanmi, pastor of Redeemed Christian Church of God, had been preaching outside of Southgate Station on Feb. 23 when Ambrosine Shitrit of the organization Eye On Antisemitism noticed that a man was taking issue with the preaching.
She got out of her car and began to film the incident.
“I thought he (Ilesanmi) was about to be assaulted,” Ambrosine told Christian Concern. “The preacher was fearless, but if I hadn’t started filming, he would have been attacked. The preacher was not breaching the peace and in no way had he been Islamophobic.”
She says that she encouraged the man to simply exchange ideas with the preacher rather than make threats, and the two began to debate each other’s religion for a time.
Two police officers soon arrived, stating that they had received a call that Ilesanmi was being “Islamophobic.” The complainant left, and the officers told Ilesanmi to leave as well.
“What are you doing here?” the responding officer asked, according to video footage recorded by Ambrosine.
“I am preaching,” Ilesanmi advised.
“I am going to require you to go away,” the officer stated.
“You can never!” Ilesanmi exclaimed.
“Okay, then I will arrest you for breach of peace, plain and simple,” the officer threatened.
“What breach of peace?” Ilesanmi asked.
“It’s what you’re doing at the moment. You’re posing problems. You’re disturbing people’s days, and you’re breaching their peace,” the officer asserted. He then repeated, “If you won’t go away voluntarily, we will have to arrest you.”
Ilesanmi again refused to leave. “I will not go away because I need to tell them the truth,” he replied, and resumed preaching.
“Jesus is the only way, the truth and life, and nobody …” he began, but was quickly interrupted by the officer.
“I appreciate that, but nobody wants to listen to that,” the officer interjected. “They want you to go away.”
“Oh, you don’t want to listen to that? You will listen when you’re dead,” Ilesanmi warned.
The officer then placed Ilesanmi in handcuffs, while his partner another grabbed the Bible from the preacher’s hand.
“Don’t take my Bible away,” Ilesanmi pleaded.
“You should have thought of that before you were racist,” the officer replied.
Ilesanmi says that he was then transported to the police station, but was not taken inside. After being searched, and as he advised that he did not wish to go home yet, Ilesanmi was dropped off elsewhere. A member of the public gave Ilesanmi money for a bus ride home, but the preacher decided to first go back to Southgate Station and continue preaching.
He did so without incident, and safely returned back home to his wife.
“God raised for me civilians … in the streets who could even be of assistance to me,” he said. “And I thank God that I came back to where I was picked up and I started preaching again the word of God.”
Ilesanmi said in another video released by Christian Concern that he wants to give the gospel to the British people just as the British people once brought the gospel to the people of Nigeria.
“God wants everyone to repent and come to Him, irrespective of whatever skin color you carry,” he stated. “The gospel started from the United Kingdom here and came over to the coast of Africa, and today, I give God the praise that I am given the opportunity to even herald the name of Jesus over the whole land.”
As previously reported, Ilesanmi had similarly been arrested in 2017 for allegedly violating the Public Order Act in speaking against Islam. Crown Prosecution Services later decided not to pursue the charge.