The General Overseer(GO) of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Enoch Adeboye, has narrated how he emerged the overall head of the church forty years ago.
Mr Adeboye recently celebrated his 40th anniversary as the GO of one of the largest Pentecostal churches in the country.
Mr Adeboye, 78, said although he had initially rejected his nomination to be the GO, the way and manner the Founder of the church, Josiah Akindayomi, reacted to his initial rejection, made him reconsider his earlier position.
Mr Akindayomi, founder of RCCG, had chosen Mr Adeboye, then a university lecturer, to succeed him, but the latter declined the nomination through a rejection letter he wrote back to Mr Akindayomi whom he called “My Father- in-the Lord.”
Mr Adeboye, speaking at the ‘February Thanksgiving Service’ of the church held at its headquarters Ebute Metta, Lagos, recently, disclosed that it was David Kuo , then a young pastor, who read the rejection letter to Mr Akindayomi, who could only read the Bible in Yoruba.
Mr Kuo is now the Assistant General Overseer of the church in charge of affairs of Elders of the church.
Speaking on how he finally accepted the nomination in spite of his initial rejection, Mr Adeboye said it was Mr Akindayomi’s response to his letter of rejection that broke his resistance to be the General Overseer
He said although Mr Akindayomi told him that he had no objection to his refusal to succeed him, Mr Adeboye, however, said that Mr Akindayomi told him to remember that he(Akindayomi) loved him.
Mr Adeboye, popularly called ‘Daddy GO,’ said the Founder truly loved him and he did it so openly that it was an open secret in the church.
The chronicle of events leading to his acceptance of the nomination suggests that the making of the new GO was by some divine arrangement, according to the church.
God himself had “tied Pastor Adeboye up” and no amount of fasting, praying and letters could stop it, the church said.
From reports, Mr Adeboye had earlier ridiculed the church as a “small dog with a big name” because he felt the sign post of the church was bigger than its status then.
The RCCG was founded in 1952 by Mr Akindayomi at 9 Willoughby Street and remained there until they were able to acquire a piece of land at the present site of the Headquarters at 1-5 Redemption Way, Ebute-Metta, Lagos (formerly 1a, Cemetery Street).
In the early 1970s,Mr Akindayomi, now late, started looking for an educated successor, who had been spiritually revealed to him, but who was at that time not a member of the church.
The man was Enoch Adejare Adeboye, a lecturer in Mathematics at the University of Lagos, who was forced by circumstances to join the church in 1973.
His ultimate encounter with God
Mr Adeboye explained the circumstance that led him to God
Mr Adeboye recalled that July 29, 1973 was the day he had the ultimate encounter with God that completely changed my life.
“At the time, I was a senior lecturer in Mathematics at the University of Lagos. My wife, Folu, delivered all our children by caesarean operation and doctors advised us to stop having children.
“Soon after that, our new baby, the third, was afflicted with a strange disease. Sleepless nights and days of consulting orthodox and traditional medical practitioners, as well as spiritual healers yielded no relief, ”he said.
Mr Adeboye narrated further that his uncle, Fajemirokun, a reverend, then suggested he should try The Redeemed Christian Church of God.
There, he said the rather rowdy mode of worship, noisy prayers and the derelict environment were all strange to a man used to controlled worship of the Orthodox Church, saying “But because I needed a miracle, I endured.”
Although he said he liked that sermon, he could not understand why the bunch of illiterate preachers felt he had to surrender his life to Jesus Christ for the recovery of his child.
“Finally, the word of God touched me and sobbing like a baby, I ran to the altar to accept Christ as my personal Lord and Saviour.”
Before his new encounter with God, Mr Adeboye had, at various times, been a member of the Anglican Church and the Christ Apostolic Church, where he said he was taught to fast.
His journey to becoming pastor, GO
Narrating how he had rejected to be a pastor, Mr Adeboye said, “One eventful day in 1975, my Father-in-the-Lord called me to his office and said, “God has told me to ordain you as a pastor.
”I said, “What kind of problem is this? I didn’t come to church to become a pastor, I came to church to have problems solved and in the process my soul was saved. Beautiful!”
For fourteen days and fourteen nights, Mr Adeboye said he and his wife, Folu, fasted and prayed that he would never become a pastor.
“This is one of the prayers God didn’t answer, Mr Adeboye said.
Mr Adeboye stated that a few years after becoming a pastor, Mr Akindayomi called him and said, “You are going to succeed me.”
“Haa! Being a pastor was bad enough. General Overseer, no way!
“I couldn’t say no to him in his presence. So I made sure I got to Ilorin where I was lecturing before I wrote him a beautiful letter.
“Please sir, get somebody else. I will support that fellow to the best of my ability,” Mr Adeboye said.
Mr Adeboye said he didn’t want to be General Overseer but God compelled him, saying it was “the most challenging aspect of my Christian life, especially with so much opposition in the church from those who felt that I was too young.”
His becoming Mr Akindayomi’s successor came with its own opposition, especially from some members of the church who felt he was too young to be their overall head.
“ I joined the church only in 1973, even though it had been in existence since 1952. Some foundation members had been pastors even before I was born again.
“They regarded my promotion as too rapid! Some of them had become very influential because they had been pastors for a long time,” Mr Adeboye narrated.
Fortunately, according to the GO, majority of the members, particularly the youth, supported him because they realised that it was not what he wanted himself.
“God also helped me in many ways. My Father-in-the-Lord couldn’t read anything other than the Bible, so he had to ask somebody to read the letter to him. The young man (Pastor Kuo), who read the letter told everybody about it but the older pastors thought I was manipulating the old man. However, it soon became clear that the situation was the exact opposite,” he said.
A very senior member of the church recalled last week that although some members of the church opposed his choice of successor, others believed that the Founder was always spirit-led in his decisions.
But even after he became the General Overseer, Mr Adeboye said there were people who believed that he was not chosen by God and that he might have manipulated the old man who couldn’t read or write.
The GO, however, said the Almighty God soon began to give them a sign. “Every month in those days, we used to hold a seminar. And on the first day of every seminar, a child was born and it was always a boy. They knew that it was something that could not be manipulated.”
The journey, so far, as GO.
Summing up the journey so far as the GO, Mr Adeboye revealed last Sunday that the past 40 years have been tough; not easy.
The church was a poor one and so they had to struggle to pay salaries. At a point he had to sell his car.
He also had to deal with the persistent problems of the church’s 39 parishes.
According to him, the challenges were so much that he grew grey hair prematurely until God assured him that the church and its problems were His.
Although the new position was a promotion, it was physically a demotion of some sorts. For example, from the mansion he lived in as a teacher of the University of Ilorin, he had to move in a single room in Mushin, then a rough suburb in Lagos.
The accommodation problem became acute when his family was relocating from Ilorin to join him, but he said when he prayed for a bigger place, God promised him a city, which is today’s Redemption Camp.“
When they eventually relocated to the Camp, there were days they could not afford to buy meat and had to rely on “panmo” ( from cow hide).
However, from the growth of the church and its recorded achievements, it is clear that the past 40 good years have been good for the church.
From 40 parishes, including the Headquarters parish, in 1981, RCCG has spread to over 198 countries, with over 32,000 parishes in Nigeria alone.
There are at least 732 branches in the UK and Ireland, where it is the fastest growing Pentecostal church.
Although, the General Overseer, noted for humility and holiness, doesn’t take personal credit, his worldwide status looms far larger than that of the youngest Vice Chancellor of Africa, he was striving to be before the call to the service of God.
Activities to mark his 40th anniversary as GO
As part of the activities marking his 40 years as General Overseer of the church, a “Praise Walk,” starting from the Redemption Camp, was organised on January 23.
For four hours, over 2,000 people walked joyously, with Mr Adeboye showing no sign of tiredness.
The four-hour walk was voluntary, but the walk into the position as General Overseer, wasn’t.
A multitude of people moving down a road like a river is a strange sight, even if one knows it is a walking exercise. But it is quickly understood when it is known that the leader of the group is Mr Adeboye, the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God.
Walking is his favourite exercise, done on a regular basis. And many people like to join him out of the belief that they can benefit from the special anointing he carries.
Interestingly, it is said that many participants, including younger ones, soon run out of breath, while the 78-year-old cleric keeps walking at a steady pace.
“Forget his age and humility, that man is full of inexhaustible energy that challenges younger members of the church,” a member said last week.
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