The Redeemed Christian Church of God

By Gbenga Osinaike

When Marcus Adeniran joined the Redeemed Christian Church of God in August 1993, he never envisaged he would one day become a Zonal Pastor.

He had become born again at Ibadan where he lived and was a member of His Coming Evangelical Mission. But he had cause to travel to Lagos to stay with his brother who was already a worker in the RCCG. That was how he joined the church.

Upon joining RCCG, he had to start afresh. He had to do another water baptism though he had already been baptised in his former church. He also had to undergo weeks of training to be fully absolved into the workforce of the RCCG parish.

Three months into his attendance in the church, he was saddled with the responsibility of interpreting for the parish pastor. That was his first appearance on the pulpit in the church. He did that while also doing the training programme until he became a certified worker in the church.

Just like Adeniran, a consultant Dental Surgeon, Dr Olayiwola Obadeyi, had to also start afresh when he joined the RCCG. He had been born again and was a member of the Assemblies of God Church. As soon as he joined RCCG, he had to begin as though he was just knowing the Lord.

“I joined in 1996 from Assemblies of God. When I joined, I was opposed to the issue of undergoing a training programme because I believed I was already trained from where I was coming from. But I discovered that it was a training in submission and humility.

Pa Josiah Akindayomi, RCCG Founder

“In the workers’ class, we were asked to clean the toilet, sweep and do some menial assignments as part of the training programme. We had pilots, professionals and all kinds of successful people in my class during the training. They were all gladly washing toilet and sweeping. In the worker’s class, you are not only exposed to the doctrine of the Church but you are also made to humble yourself.”

For Oyinlola Adepoju, however, coming from the Anglican background to the RCCG was a sort of welcome transition. But she did not find the first few years in the RCCG exciting.

She joined the RCCG on account of marriage to an RCCG member who is now one of the top pastors of the church.

“I was a children’s teacher while in the Anglican Church. In my former church, there were no regulations to guide workers as it were. We dressed the way we liked as far as it is comfortable and we covered ourselves properly.

“We did not have to come to church so early. It was a kind of relaxed atmosphere. But when I joined RCCG, the first thing that was taken from me was the liberty to dress the way I liked. We had to dress formally. No more traditional attire except on special Sundays. That was the first shock. Also, I had to come to church as early as 6am. Those were the two things that came to me as a shock.”

But a former National Youth Pastor of the RCCG, Pastor Raphael Afolabi, who also came from the Anglican Church, said it was the hunger for God that drove him to the church in 1976. So, he did not find some of the rules and regulations for workers strange when he eventually became a worker. Rather, he saw them as normal life.

“When you hear Daddy G. O’s messages, you answer altar calls many times because of the presence of the Holy Spirit that keeps working on your conscience. I had a thirst for God. In those days, we were hungry for God’s presence.”

Afolabi who lived in Ebute Metta, Lagos, at the time, said the first motivation for him was the zeal he saw in RCCG members. “I used to see people practically running to church during services and I got curious. Deeper Life and RCCG were meeting in the same venue in Ebute Metta. It was the zeal in them that made me join the church and there I got born again after listening to a powerful sermon one Sunday.”

He said the beauty of the messages was that they touched on all aspects of one’s life. “It was not just salvation, we were exposed to sanctification messages, the second coming of the Lord, holiness and many other soul-lifting messages.

“You were convicted in many areas. One of the sermons that Daddy G.O. preached was Love Not The World. By the time you hear such sermons, you will repackage yourself.

“As far back as then, Daddy Adeboye told us it was a sin to pray for promotion.  He broke the message of Love Not The World down to the point of touching all areas of our lives and interaction with the world system. We also had expositions on the Book of Revelation and the person of Jesus. The messages were so down to earth that it was difficult for us not to be convicted. So, we found ourselves repenting almost all the time after listening to Daddy G.O.”

Pastor E. A. Adeboye, RCCG General Overseer

For Asaba-based Pastor Amos Agba who became born again in August 1996, his coming to RCCG was quite fortuitous. “My coming to RCCG is divine. I was searching for a church to attend but could not get one that could satisfy me. Nobody invited me to RCCG, I just picked my Bible one Sunday and walked along the Ogba road, Lagos, when I stumbled on a banner of a parish of RCCG called Great Sanctuary. They were holding their meeting at the Nigeria Institute of Journalism, Ogba. I branched to check out what was going on. And that was it.

“I enjoyed the service and I found out it was a place to be, it was a wonderful place. Today, most of us that were together then have become pastors in the church and have scattered around the world. Great Sanctuary is currently located after County Hospital in Ogba.”

Agba said he saw commitment, love and dedicated workers when he joined the church. That was what motivated him to join the workforce almost immediately. He went through the believers’ class, a three-month workers’ training programme, and now became a worker in August of that year.

He said, “We had to write exams and participate in several vigils before one could be admitted to the workforce.”

What it means to be a worker

But what does it actually mean to be a worker in the RCCG?

Afolabi explains, “Becoming a worker in RCCG meant you were ready to give your all to God. Your time now belongs to God, your resources now belong to God. All about you is for God. I became a worker in 1982. But I can tell you that all the commitment and sacrifices of those days were nothing to us. They were just our normal lifestyle.

Pastor Raphael Afolabi

“What we did was done joyfully. Compared to what Jesus did for us, we reckoned there was no sacrifice too much. We were eager to serve God using our time and resources. My mother wanted to see more of me, but that was no longer possible because I had to be involved in many evangelical outreaches and programmes organised by the church.”

He said there was nothing like parties for workers of RCCG. “The commitment was total. It was like Christ would come that year so we had to be always ready. Workers’ meeting was a joy. Some of us were at the meeting as early as 5.30am even when the meeting was to start by 6.30am.

“By 6.30am, every worker was expected at the church on Sunday. When you are one minute late, you will meet the door closed. Coming late was like missing the rapture. You will have to cry for mercy that you will not eventually miss the rapture.”

Afolabi is an accountant by profession. He said those years were unforgettable years in the sense that many of the workers then were sold to Christ.

He recalled, “The first Holy Ghost Service took place at the national headquarters of the RCCG in Ebute Metta. I recall very well. It was an awesome, refreshing time.  We were sold to Christ. We embarked on various kinds of evangelism from bus to the street to rural evangelism. We were always on the move.”

No time for the devil

According to him, “There was no breathing space. There was no time for the devil to suggest sin to you. We had vigil almost every day. All our social activities were in the church. Mummy G.O. played the role of mother to all of us. She was all over us. She cared for us. Church life was normal life for us. That was why we did not see what we did as a sacrifice but a normal life.”

Years after joining the workforce of RCCG, Afolabi saw that his commitment had to increase. “We had an aggressive follow-up schedule. We used to go to people’s homes to bring them to church in our cars and take them back to their homes after service. And we still go to visit people who did not come to church.”

He said the kind of orientation he had as a worker helped him when he eventually had to pastor some parishes. “There is no parish that was given to me that was not triple in one year. That was possible because of my background and training as a worker in the church. Beyond making people come to church, our desire was that they would become like Christ. Our goal was to disciple them and make them like Christ.”

Pastor Marcus Adeniran

Obadeyi in his appraisal, said being a worker in RCCG meant you could be saddled with any responsibility at any time. “After going through the workers’ training, you are considered fit to carry out basic assignments in the church. In my case, it was barely three months after the training that I became the Head of the Sunday School unit. After that, I began having revelations about missions. I later became HOD of missions.”

He said being a worker also meant you could be transferred any time to anywhere within your operating zone. “The implication is that you don’t have your time again. But it was a joy serving God and being a worker. You see your pastor as a man of God that you can obey, whatever he says you obey.”

While noting that people served God as a show of gratitude for their salvation he said, “Nobody wants to be kicked out of the workers’ training programme. People would weep if they were asked to leave the class for offending the teacher. That was the level of commitment that was rife in those days.”

For Pastor Agba, being a worker in RCCG means you value time. “Time is important to you as a worker in RCCG. You don’t want to come late to meetings. There was a particular day I came late to the meeting. As I was approaching the gate, I heard sonorous songs, it was like I had been shut out of the gate of heaven. Whenever you are about to get late for a meeting, even if it is for a minute, you run.”

During the workers-in-training programme, those who came late had to repeat the class and ended up having an extended period for their training.

“But We enjoyed it. The NIJ hall we used on Sunday was used for wedding reception usually on Saturdays. So as workers, we would go to the place on Saturday evening to clean it up. We also had to go and get chairs from another place to the venue every Sunday. But we did not see what we did then as a big deal. We did not consider it a sacrifice. If our pastor was in Lagos, no matter where he was, he would be in church on Saturday at 4pm for evangelism.”

Pastor Adeniran, however, recalled that being a worker meant you have to pray more and do more evangelism. “When I joined the workforce of the parish, we used to have vigil nearly every week.  There was a particular month we had a programme at the parish for one month. We had vigil every day for that period. That was the kind of toll being a worker has on you.”

It was also a taboo, according to Adeniran, “to walk majestically into workers’ meeting when you are already late. You will be running from afar. Some were asked to kneel for coming late. In some cases, late-comers were asked to wash the toilet and clean the surrounding. But people were serving punishment with joy.”

Obadeyi corroborated Adeniran’s submission adding, “In those days, we stayed back with our pastors after church. We sacrificed time to do a lot of things after service. We were never in a hurry to go home.”

The fire is going down

But the zeal of those days seems to be waning. All those who spoke with our correspondent lamented that the fire is going down.

Obadeyi states, “What we observe is that it appears the number of people enrolled to be workers is dwindling. They have this notion that being a worker is a burden. They believe being a worker will take a toll on their finance. Those who are workers are no longer prompt when they come to meetings. Workers no longer want to be rebuked.”

Dr. Olayiwola Obadeyi

For Adepoju, “The RCCG Go-A-Fishing has been watered down. We just gather and do crusades and once you have inspectors check us, we discontinue the programme. It has become a ritual and it has lost its steam. It is no longer a landmark event in many parishes.”

She believes many of the church activities have also been watered down. “We need a general revival. We need to bring in programmes that will enliven the hearts of people. Many of the church’s weekly programmes have also become a routine. The truth is that we have lost the fire. It may not be so in all parishes of the church. But what I have seen in many parishes shows that the zeal for God’s work is no longer there. We need to put in more fire that will make our programmes interesting for both the youths and adults.”

The revival Adepoju is talking about has to start from the top to the bottom. “If people are not told the truth, we will continue to deceive ourselves. Many people are discouraged because they see that the church is just about money going from the bottom to the top. They think it’s all about money. This is making the love of many grow cold. But when you know the God you serve, it gives room for spiritual development,” Adepoju said.

Pastor Afolabi however provides a critical appraisal of the situation. He believes what is happening in some parishes of the church is not unexpected adding that it is a consequence of growth.

He explained, “Over the years, there have been developmental tendencies.  The checks and balances are there. But from time to time, we get to see people who go overboard. It is a consequence of the size of the church. Christ Himself who is our Lord had issues with His disciples. One denied Him at the crucial time of His ministry, another betrayed Him and yet another doubted He was the Christ that resurrected. So, what we see should not take us by surprise, but rather, should give us more reason to go on our knees to pray and intercede for the church.”

He reasoned further that some people are in the evolving stage in their Christian walk. “We had the mixed multitude in the time of Moses and we are having them now. It is in the presence of God that everybody is allowed.  Some come to church with the mind to destroy. But the foundation of God stands sure, God knows those who are His, let everyone who calls the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”

Pastor Adeniran also believes that what the RCCG is experiencing today is a fallout of its expansion. “Growth has its only negative side. In those days, maybe because of the number of churches and people, we had dedicated people. People were more grounded. Today, you see workers behaving like new converts.”

While noting that people’s commitment has dwindled over time, Pastor Obadeyi posits, “A lot of people want the easy way out. They prefer spending their time on some other things than on the work of God. They believe after all, there is no money there. The disciples asked Jesus what is in it for us.

“That question is becoming recurrent. Some who have lost their bearing try to enrich themselves using the church’s platform. That is becoming common now, too. On the part of the church, workers and ministers are thinking of what is in it for them and not what they can give to support the work.”

Sis. Oyinlola Adepoju

The blessings of working in RCCG

But is there really gain in working with God in the RCCG? Afolabi offers, “Plenty of gains. I can’t imagine life outside the church as a worker. If I were not living this life, I would have been spending every day weeping. There is no way of describing it. When you get into God’s presence, what you do is to sometimes shed tears.

“One of the benefits for me is that I have not had cause to visit the hospital for a long time. God has favoured me with divine health. The joy of living a holy life is tremendous. Apart from good health, my soul is daily refreshed. I also have a strong human support base which money cannot buy. The quality of people in the church environment is beyond money. The relationships built in the church make us live meaningful lives. We have friends that are committed to us in humility and joy. There is no life outside Christ.”

Adeniran submits that being a worker has really helped him to be humble, heavenly minded and also to know he is not just anybody.

“Other people can do it, but I can’t. Being a worker gives me that sense of responsibility that I must not disappoint God. It has helped me in my Christian work. Most especially when people call me brother Marcus, it conveys a sense of responsibility on me.”

Apart from the intangible blessings like the peace of mind and hope of eternity and protection of God, Adeniran stated that being a worker comes with a lot of other material benefits.

‘The first car I used was given to me by a member of the church. All the jobs I have done so far before I decided to be on my own, were jobs I got through the help of brethren in the church.

Obadeyi stated, “Since I became a worker until now that I am occupying a higher position in the church, I discovered that I hardly fall sick. Those I know too who are workers, hardly fall sick. God also has a way of meeting us at the point of our needs.

“God knows how to fill our dishes with water. I also discovered that the blessing of being in the workforce of the church reaches to our children. Many of our children are doing well. God has helped them. God is always standing in for us.”

Despite some of the shortcomings of the RCCG workforce, Adepoju notes, “Being a worker has helped me to grow spiritually. It is so nice to have somebody who is monitoring you and putting you in check. It will make you want to do the right thing. It makes me more committed to the work of God and to live right.”

Pastor Agba maintains that life is somehow without the church. “About 80 per cent of my friends are church members. By God’s grace, our spirit, emotion and life have been invested into the church. Life will be somehow for us without the church.”

Agba believes, however, that it is not time for the church to rest on its oars.

“We need revival. We need to refocus so that we will not be distracted by the world. People outside are looking up to us. We need to go back to our first love and overlook many things in the world.”

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