"Everybody prays to attain old age. And the celebration of the 70th Year of one’s existence on earth is, no doubt, an opportunity to roll out the drums and clink glasses. But when the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch A. Adeboye, had the annual thanksgiving service with his pastors on Jan 8, 2012 at the Redemption Camp, along the Lagos/Ibadan Expressway, he shocked the gathering.
The cleric told the gathering that whoever was organising any birthday bash for him either in Nigeria or abroad was on his own
Adeboye said he had already told the Almighty God what he wanted: more souls for the kingdom of God and 70,000 children for those who want children among the congregation. He counselled that instead of wasting money, such funds should be donated towards the development of Redeemers University, which he said was desirous of moving to its permanent site.
Yet, there is every cause to celebrate a man who hastriumphed over adversity and the tides of life. A few months ago, during the monthly Holy Ghost Service, he told the congregation that he was a child of fate that joined the Pa Adeboye family, following the demise of a male child, at a time when the mother had given up on child bearing and the whole family was imploring the bereaved woman to ‘try once more.’
Interestingly, he was born to a poor family. To illustrate the extent of the poverty in the family, he told a selected group of journalists that the day his father bought a new umbrella and brought it to the family home all the members of the family had burst into songs for the ‘umbrella miracle’ in their home.
Right from elementary school, Adeboye excelled academically. But then, he had difficulty getting decent clothes to wear to the prize-giving day events where he had to receive prizes for emerging top of his class.
For a man who had cheated death several times, the occasion calls for celebration. In one of his messages, he narrated how a vehicle driven by a European, who came for mining exercise in one of the communities around his hometown, almost killed him.
Alone in a vehicle one night, the car gave the indication that the fuel tank was almost empty. He kept driving amidst the dangers lurking in the dark, while the hope of refuelling was dashed as all filling stations had closed business for the day. “All God told me was to stop looking at the fuel indicator in the dashboard. I complied and the vehicle travelled miles until it got to my compound in Lagos,” he said.
It was the tides and adversities of life that brought him into the RCCG fold sometimes in 1973. He was ordained two years after. But once the PhD holder in mathematics had put his steps on the righteous path, he never looked back.
From all indications, his predecessor, the late Pa Josiah Akindayomi, also knew that his successor had come. Apart from his diligence to the service of God, his deeds spoke for him. In one instance, the church was said to be in dire need and the founder of the church asked all the members of the church to close their bank accounts and bring the proceeds to the church.
The following Sunday, Pa Akindayomi asked those who complied with his order on the issues of closing their bank account to signify. Only Adeboye and his wife raised up their hands. Apart from serving as interpreter to the founder of the church, he also assisted him in quite a number of ways, especially in the area of arranging his itineraries.
With the passage of Pa Akindayomi, the mantle of leadership fell on him. Obviously, this provoked reactions, especially from those who believed that succession to such an enviable position in the church should be based on seniority. Many of them had to quit the church in protest, even as he was praying and fasting with his wife that the much coveted cup of GO should pass to another person. But it was a prayer that went unanswered.
With his huge responsibility as the leader of the church, the mathematics lecturer was left with no option than to quit his job. His colleagues in the university were aghast at his decision to settle for church leadership, not minding the prospect of continuing with his career as a university teacher. But he was sure of his call. And he had to surmount so many odds, most of which came from the church.
Under him, the RCCG has been growing in leaps and bounds. At present, the church boasts of thousands of parishes all over the world and maintains physical presence in over 100 countries in Africa and beyond. Some of the programmes of the church, like the Monthly Holy Ghost Service, Holy Ghost Congress, Annual Convention and so on, have made the Redemption Camp ground, along Lagos/Ibadan Expressway a central of attraction due to the mammoth number of people that congregate there each time such programmes are held.
The reasons for the success of RCCG cannot be far-fetched. Holiness defines his character while he wears humility as a garment.