By Gbenga Osinaike
Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye joined the Redeemed Christian Church of God in 1973 as a young university lecturer, oblivious of the long road ahead of him. But 50 years after he joined, both the church and his person have not remained the same.
First, he came with a modicum of God’s knowledge. He was a simple man with his own challenges to contend with; his desire was to get a solution for his baby who was always wailing. But God wanted his heart first. And when he met the Lord, he submitted his heart to Him.
Today, apart from experiencing personal transformation, the Ifewara, Osun State-born cleric has influenced the RCCG positively since he joined the mission. The changes he brought to bear on the church were however done without raising a voice. Or, to a large extent, a memo. There was no hue or cry either.
Gradually, but surely, the church began to experience some transformation that was alien to it at the beginning. It got to an extent where there was some fear that the changes were being taken to the extreme. But, Daddy G.O., as Adeboye is fondly called, has also had to draw a note of caution to members of the church. He has had cause to remind them of the heritage of the church. While accommodating new innovations, he has ensured that the church’s emphasis on holiness is not tampered with.
That is a no-go area.
The founder of the RCCG, Pa Josiah Akindayomi, a man of unparalleled vision and conviction, had secured a promise from God that the church would be very much around at the second coming of Jesus. But even at that, there were many things that needed to be put in place so the church can attain its potential. At the onset of the church in 1952, the people had zeal. But their interpretation of God’s word was a bit skewed to the extreme. For instance, it was common to see men sit separately from women in a typical church service. The toga of poverty hung around members even when they had the potential to live better lives. They were so focused on the goal of heaven that they were largely irrelevant to the now.
Perhaps, one of the greatest transformations Pastor Adeboye brought to bear on the RCCG was the re-engineering of the minds of members of the church. He was perhaps one of the few educated folks in the church at the time he joined in 1973. His education helped a great deal to create an ambiance that attracted his likes. The thinking of the people had to change from a poverty predilection to a mind of possibility and wealth.
Adeboye himself said at several fora that his annual salary was more than the annual income of the church even at the time he took over as the General Overseer in 1981. The entire tithe of the church then was not more than N7,000. But that was soon addressed as he began exposing members to principles of prosperity. A one-time provost of the Redeemed Christian Bible College, Pastor Josiah Bolarinwa, confirmed that Adeboye joined the church with a touch of class. He was riding the best car at that time, according to Bolarinwa in an interview with Church Times, until he had to dispose of it to get money for missions.
Bolarinwa said, “Because of the background he was coming from, he asked so many questions during his early years as a Christian. He disagreed with so many things that leaders of the Church held unto in his early days. That almost put him in conflict with some of the elders of the church.
“Today, he is being vindicated. For example, he did not believe poverty is the jewelry that should be hung on Christians. He rode the best car in his time. He only did away with it when he needed money for God’s work.”
The Coming Of The Elites
One other significant change Pastor Adeboye brought to bear on the RCCG was the window of opportunity he gave to people in the upper class. Even while the founder was alive, Adeboye had established Christ the Redeemer’s Ministries (CRM) which is like a mother to many other ministries from his loins. It was the ministry that became the springboard for many of the elaborate changes that he brought to the church.
Through Christ Redeemers Friendship Universal (CRFU), an offshoot of Christ the Redeemer’s Ministry, the church was able to reach out to the elites. CRFU is a replica of the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship. Invitations to special programmes were targeted at the elite and influential in society. Through these programmes, many were won by the Lord. With time, the church gravitated to a new era that saw the establishment of what is referred to as the model parish.
This brought about two camps of parishes: The model and the classical. While the model is modern and designed for upward-mobile people, the classical appeals to people who still have the traditional mindset. But with time, the two types of parishes seem to have coalesced.
The RCCG, which was known as ijoelekun (wailing church) in its early days, had an imbalanced interpretation of comportment in the place of worship. Pa Akindayomi was a fiery preacher. His messages often made people wail and pray endlessly. Thus, people often stayed back after listening to him to pray. But the church did not allow any musical instrument whatsoever. They just made do with clapping the hands and singing. Those who dared to introduce drums and some other loud instruments into the worship service, were dubbed as being carnal.
Bolarinwa states, “It is on record that when he (Pastor Adeboye) joined the Pentecostal movement, it was taboo to play musical instruments in the RCCG and many other Pentecostal churches.
“But he argued with the pastors then; quoting the book of Psalms that there was nothing wrong in playing musical instruments.
“So, when he became the General Overseer of the RCCG, it was easy for him to carry out certain reforms. It probably would have been a different ball game if another person had been the leader of the church. But the good thing is that he was able to carry the founder of the church along on some of the changes he felt were necessary.”
Pastor Adeboye introduced both the Digging Deep and the Faith Clinic to the church. According to a statement credited to him in one of the church’s publications, the Digging Deep started with four people: Pastor Adeboye, Brother Lawal, Bro Ojo, and Sis Omoniyi, in his house on Adelabu Street, Surulere. The programme was transferred to Ilorin when he went to the University of Ilorin as a lecturer.
The Faith Clinic, on the other hand, started when God spoke to him in 1980 that he was going to start a programme that would be called Faith Clinic. Pa Akindayomi and Rev. E. Hagin, both now late, confirmed this separately. The monthly Holy Ghost night and the special yearly Holy Ghost service that is celebrated on the month of his birth, have become the hallmark of the church.
Adeboye’s coming to RCCG brought a paradigm shift in the church. The hitherto unknown church soon gained a global reckoning. The church, no doubt, has made a tremendous impact in the area of soul-winning. Only a few churches in Nigeria can compare to RCCG in terms of its zeal. In its drive for souls, the church has had to pay a lot of prices, labouring hard and spending resources.
One of the unique additions to the RCCG is the mission to traditional rulers. Adeboye’s love for traditional rulers is legendary. He has this undying burden for them. The RCCG today, perhaps has the largest number of traditional rulers who are born again. This drive has been extended to the academia and the affluent in the society.
The church can now boast of a number of influential people, starting from the Vice President of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, some governors in the country, lawmakers, and influential businessmen and women.
No doubt, the church has greatly impacted the nation and the world in general. Its drive for missions is also legendary. Troubled spots of the world have had a touch of the gospel through the influence of the RCCG.
The Redemption City
The Redemption City is perhaps the greatest impression Adeboye made on RCCG. It is located in an erstwhile domain of men of the underworld. It was a dunghill. But the coming of the church has turned the place into a wonderland. The place has since assumed the status of a City reminiscent of the Vatican City. It is a self-sufficient domain with all the trappings of modernisation.
The institutions controlled by the RCCG which include a university, several secondary and primary schools across the country, a Bible College and a host of other training facilities, are not only for the benefit of members of the church but also a blessing to the Church in Nigeria and the general public. Pastor Adeboye brought about the idea of the schools. Today, RCCG has greatly contributed to the educational needs of the country.
The recent inauguration of the Trinity Towers of the City of David of the RCCG is perhaps the height of its drive to make social impact in the country. The Trinity Towers is a unity of three towers. It is a breathtaking edifice with all the allures of business and leisure. Proceeds from the business concerns of the towers, according to Pastor Idowu Iluyomade, will be used to make more impact on the less privileged in the society.
It is instructive to note that the leadership of the RCCG makes it a rule for all its provinces to create programmes that will be a blessing to the environment where they are located. This informs the building of infrastructures and provision of social amenities by many of the parishes of the church. The Apapa Family of the RCCG stands out in the church with its impact on society. So many other parishes have also been a blessing to their surroundings over the years. This is coupled with the welfare programme being run by the church from its headquarters.
Though Pastor Adeboye joined the church after about two decades of its existence, there is no doubt that his coming brought monumental changes to the church. That is why some ignorantly attribute the founding of the church to him. Indeed, his impact on the church will forever be a reference point for historians.