FEATURE: The thrills and frills of Redeemed Church’s 2017 Congress

Pastor EA Adeboye
The general overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG, Enoch Adeboye. [Photo credit: Komolafe Segun (MD/CEO), SKenhanced Images]

For Enoch Adeboye, leader of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, the just-concluded Holy Ghost Congress of the church provided a test of his humility.

As church leaders and‎ eminent pastors from around the world redefined the church in a shower of praise, expectations were high about the reaction of Pastor Adeboye, noted for his disarming humility.

‎Indeed, with delegates from many countries, including Mongolia, a relatively unfamiliar country, at the Congress, no further proof of the spread of the church worldwide was required

The church, which had less than 40 parishes in the ‎1980s, has spread to about 198 countries, from many of which delegates and representatives attended the Congress, drawing commendation for the hosts.

Delegates and representatives from over 40 foreign countries were among the millions of people who poured into the Redemption Camp for the week-long Congress. There were delegates from the US, UK and other European countries as well as Thailand, Costa Rica, Georgia, Honduras, UAE, Chile, India, and Mongolia, among others. Africa was highly represented by many countries, as well as various churches in Nigeria, including RCCG parishes.

Added to that were the encomiums. Mensah Otabil, founder of a mega church, International Central Gospel Church, headquartered in Accra, Ghana, is highly respected around the world for his spiritual gifts and integrity. ‎His preaching style is predominantly teaching, bringing the Bible alive with revelations and connections of Bible characters and events to ease understanding.

His versatility was evident when he had a double session to the delight of the congregation during his stay.

Mr. Otabil described‎ Pastor Adeboye as, “the foremost Christian influence in the world at the moment,” and praised him for his integrity, holiness and high leadership qualities.
From Cote d’ Ivoire, came an eleven-member delegation from six different churches. Their leader Lionel Mitchell, described Pastor Adeboye as “the Abraham of our age, whose work and person continue to inspire us.” He added: “What God is doing through him gives us faith and hope.”

Pastor Paul Keith from Northern Ireland on the other hand had never seen a congregation that big, seated comfortably. The Pastor of Simple Faith Ministry in Belfast said, “This is my first time in Nigeria, and in all my ministry work around countries, I have not seen so much joy and hope.” He continued, “This has taught me so much; I am totally transformed by the experience.”

Those are a few of many such encomiums. So how did the humble Pastor Adeboye, who, for a good reason, doesn’t share God’s glory, ingest all the praise?

The cameras didn’t focus on him during the shower of praises to enable one read his body language. But someone very close to him revealed how the revered Pastor handles praises. “He is always humble, even at such moments; and returns all the glory to God, where it properly belongs; a process of transferring praises to the power behind his success.”

There is a fearsome reason Pastor Adeboye cannot take delight in adulation. According to a personal testimony he shares often, he was specifically warned ‎ against any attempt to take God’s credit in his ministry. He said: “‎Something happened after Lekki 98; one of the biggest programmes that we ever had. The whole of Lagos was paralyzed because of the programme.

“People walked kilometres to the venue and back. Fortunately, the programme was also transmitted by radio, so those who couldn’t get there listened to it on their radio. It was a fantastic programme!

After the programme, I returned to the Redemption Camp and soon proceeded on a prayer walk to thank God: ’God I bless Your Holy name, what a wonderful thing, etc.’

“It was between 2a.m. and 3a.m. when He spoke. I heard him say clearly, ‘Son, bend down.’ I did that quickly because, you know, I was in the jungle. You never can tell; a witch could have been flying past.

And then He said, ‘Draw the figure of a man in the sand.’

“I drew the figure of a man: zero for the head, one line for the body and two lines for the leg and so on. You know that kind of drawing.
God said, ‘Stand up.’ I did, but by then I was afraid because I knew something serious was happening. He said, ‘Wipe out the figure you have drawn with your leg.’ I wiped it out. And He said, ‘Son, if you ever forget who your boss is, I will wipe you out and nobody will even remember you came to the world.’

“That was what He told me. So, I smile when I hear people say, ‘He’s a very humble man. How can a man be so successful and so humble?’ You think I want to be wiped out? As they say in Nigeria, ‘You think say I dey craze? Me I no dey craze at all o.’

So, all the credit for the successful Holy Ghost Congress, including attendance, hosting millions of people from diverse backgrounds, accommodation and feeding of thousands of guests and volunteers, and even the seamless flow of activities and the safety of people were for God.

According to sources, what mattered to Pastor Adeboye were God’s validation and also the impact of the Holy Ghost Congress on people, which if he was ticking would go as follows:

Salvation: This primary focus of his ministry scored very high as thousands of people responded to the daily altar calls with a rush.

God’s touch: It came in multiple ways through sermons delivered by Pastor Adeboye and other anointed men ‎of God on the subject “Songs of Victory.” Participants were also enriched by the ways of achieving victory with a God who has enormous powers to do even practically impossible things; and also by fervent prayers for breakthrough in various aspects of their lives. Practical lessons on living successful lives were also taught by experts during morning and afternoon sessions.

Miracles: There were miracles galore, which were testified by many. An evening was set aside for deliverance and another, Tuesday, for healing. Pastor Adeboye disclosed that he had been attending to people after the programme on the first day up until 2am on Tuesday, and had wanted to catch some sleep but God won’t let him because He wanted him to pray. He then got out of his house, and as he walked around the Redemption Camp that night praying, God promised repeatedly, “I will heal, I will heal.”

Apparently God did. At the end of the special congregational prayers with seven prayer points on Tuesday to close the session, when Pastor Adeboye asked those who believed they had received the touch of God in their bodies to sing and dance to the altar ‎in praise of God, thousands of people, including some who lifted their crutches to show they no longer needed them, flooded out.

Excited by the work of God, he picked up his tambourine and joined in the singing, a broad smile on his face. The scene was so moving that he asked the band to play for two additional minutes for praise singing and dancing to continue.

He had started his ministration, titled “Victory Over Sicknesses and Diseases,” by correcting the impression that God is preoccupied with love for the soul and spirit of humans and was less concerned about the body – the third part of the individual.

Citing several Bible passages, he showed that the body is God’s and the temple of the Holy Spirit, so He is concerned about how it is kept.
“God is interested in your body; the devil is happy that you think your body does not belong to God, so that he can use it against you and your relationship with God,” Pastor Adeboye warned, stressing that the whole human body belongs to God.

Explaining that our responsibility to the body is to be careful how we use it, he stated that the reasons many Christians are sick today is that they don’t realize their bodies belong to God. He reminded the congregation that the involvement of the body in sinful acts attracts illnesses directly and through spiritual afflictions.

Pastor Adeboye had promised the congregation it was a special night they would not forget in a hurry. From the experience of many people, it indeed was.

Friday, which was the climax of the Holy Ghost Congress, was attended by millions of people at the Camp and at viewing centres around the world. It was a night full of expectations as Pastor Adeboye preached “Songs of Victory.” That was more so as he had requested the congregation to bring three new handkerchiefs each.

Although, he hardly spoke about the handkerchiefs during his sermon, expectations were high. He broke the topic into two parts – songs and victory – reminding the congregation that God created all things for His pleasure and expected man to praise Him through songs, as he expected same from even trees that sing with leaves; and oceans, with waves.
He also spoke on how God always grants victory to those who serve and obey Him in battles.

Citing the case of the Israelites, whose enemies were hot on their heels at the Red Sea, he said God did not only part the sea for them to cross but also drowned the enemies, making their leader Moses sing praises to the Lord. It is said that it was the first time Moses would do so.

With the sermon, prayers, prophecies and praise singing drawing to a close, Pastor Adeboye made an altar call for those who had missed Reverend Joe Olaiya’s earlier call to receive salvation – he never misses that occasion to save souls.

The hour of the handkerchiefs came shortly after that, as he urged people to return to their seats to get their handkerchiefs. He went for his – three large handkerchiefs on sticks which were really white flags.

He then reminded the congregation about an earlier testimony of one of the guests, whose son doctors were giving up hope on after an accident, but was discharged from the hospital healthy after she begged to be placed on him a handkerchief anointed by the pastor during one of the church’s programmes.

He also recalled the testimony of a lady, earlier that night, who after years of barrenness was blessed with twins and less than three years later, with a set of triplets; and how when one of the triplets died, she revived him with a dress she wore on a day he pronounced blessing on clothes people wore during a church programmes.

Earlier that night, there was also a testimony of a lady from Texas, who suffered multiple injuries during the last hurricane in Houston, but was quickly healed with the use of a handkerchief that had been blessed. She sent the testimony online.

Reminding the congregation of the various instances in the church when God had ordered him to do things that looked stupid to people, but turned out to evoke miracles, he urged the congregation to wave their handkerchiefs as he waved his, one after another, and prayed. It was an intensely solemn moment of waving flags as he prayed fervently.
“We will hear your testimonies,” he said in the end.

Many of the congregants however, were already aware of many of Pastor Adeboye’s testimonies to buoy their faith.

Other anointed men of God who ministered during the Holy Ghost Congress included Prophet S.K. Abiara, Founder of Christ Apostolic Church, Agbala Itura; Pastor Tudor Bismarck, Founder of Jabula New Life Ministries and Pastor of New Life Covenant Church in Harare, Zimbabwe; Bishop Mike Okonkwo, Presiding Bishop of The Redeemed Evangelical Mission (TREM); and Pastor Taiwo Odukoya. As at Saturday of the Congress, the church’s medical facility had recorded the birth of 51 babies – 25 boys and 26 girls.

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