“Don’t forget the example of your spiritual leaders who have spoken God’s messages to you, take a close look at how their lives ended, and then follow their walk of faith.”
Hebrews 13:7 TPT
I join millions of others to wish the General Overseer of The Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye a happy 80th birthday. Very early in my ministerial journey, my spiritual father taught me to watch out for longevity and track record in determining ministers of the gospel I want to follow hard after. I remember in the 1980’s seeing a university lecturer on local television preaching after a simple song rendered by his conservative choir. He would later move to Lagos as overseer of a small Pentecostal denomination called The Redeemed Christian Church of God(R.C.C.G.). A dear friend, Sam, would also become a minister and consequently Pastor in the church and would relish me with stories of Pastor Adeboye’s visions which sounded more to me like fairy tales than heavenly inspired dreams.
True faith is persuaded of a more preferable future than the present. It is the assurance of things hoped for (Hebrews 11:1). Daddy G.O. declared, “I asked God for a village, he promised me a city”. The Redemption Camp has become a growing town inching daily towards the status of a city. At the time he made the declaration in the 80’s, there were few houses in the camp. Today, there are hundreds. The shed that hosted the Holy Ghost Night was a 5,000 capacity and today millions are accommodated at once under the same roof. The church of a few branches has tens of thousands of them in almost every known nation of the world. The vision of having a parish every 5 minute walking distance in developing nations and ( 5 minute driving distance in developed nations is gradually turning into a reality. One of the most absurd things my friend told me in those days was that of the G.O. seeing a day when the Holy Ghost Night would be so massive that when he would make an altar call, vehicles would have to convey people forward to save time. I could not contain my sense of wonder the day I watched on television and golf carts were ferrying people to the front from around the massive auditorium that preceded the current one. The gargantuan size of Daddy G.O.’s dreams can only be born out of deep encounters with God and His awesome power.
It is truly a blessing to live in these times as I have been able to witness the evolution of Pentecostal churches from store front gatherings to massive cathedrals and gargantuan gatherings like that of Holy Ghost Night. It is only possible through faith. That God has purposed to do a thing is no guarantee it will come to pass except He finds men on earth who will dare to believe Him. He had to find a Noah “foolish” enough to believe Him to build an ark that would withstand an unprecedented 40-day flood, a Joshua who would suspend time by faith and an Elisha who would raise the dead among many other mighty miracles. Many destinies are buried in unbelief and discarded in doubt. The lesson of today is for us to take inspiration from the likes of Daddy G.O. who dared to believe God and shaped their times by the power of God.
I wonder at times what it was like for Pastor Adeboye to obey God and start the model parishes several decades ago. It was a game changer in the quest of the church to not only appeal to the masses but to professionals and elites for whom Jesus Christ died also. With a background in extreme conservatism and a literal interpretation of aspects of the epistles relative to appearance without consideration for the cultural contexts of Bible times, the R.C.C.G. (classical) as the old churches were later known held little appeal to the educated, exposed and elitist. In the face of criticism from within and without the church, Daddy G.O. proceeded to start the new brand of churches, attracting the likes of Pastors Tunde Bakare, Tony Rapu, Agu Iruku, Felix Ohiweirei, Femi Atoyebi, Ghandi Olaoye, Yemi Osinbajo, Eskor Mfon, Remi Morgan, Leke Pitan, Itua Ighodalo, Ben Akabueze, and the list is endless. These pastors and a host of laymen and women came from all walks of life with their academic laurels, professional achievements, intellect and exposure and encountered the transforming power of God’s grace. In turn, they made their mental and financial resources available to expand the frontiers of the church and of evangelical Christianity. What if Daddy G.O. did not believe God?
The younger generation may feel we have more theological depth, more accurate interpretation of dispensationalism, better technology and communication, but we must never despise the labours of our fathers. Nor must we despise the foundations they laid for us nor their sincere pursuit of the glory of God to the best of their ability. There is no us without them and if we have nothing to follow, let us follow their faith as admonished in my opening scripture. We are to be followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises. At 80, Daddy G.O. is only staying longer for the furtherance of our joy and to strengthen our faith. I join multitudes to wish him more abundant goodness as he continues to age gracefully.