Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye may not wear the garb of a military man. He perhaps might not have been to a battlefield before in his life. But he has had to face many battles as the General Overseer of one of world’s fastest growing churches.
As a matter of fact, the very day he stepped in the arena of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, there were strong indications that the enemy was up in arms against him. But in all these, he has come out victorious and seems to be getting stronger even after he marked 70 years on planet earth.
Indeed, Adeboye who joined the church in 1973 had been battling with a sick child before he was introduced to the church. His household was also said to have had frequent visits to the hospitals. But his encounter with Christ put an end to all that.
But the day he joined the church and subsequent years after, he has had to do battle with both God and man. It is interesting that Daddy G.O. as he is fondly called had to embark on a 14 day fasting and prayers during his initial years in the church to stop God from making him the General Overseer of the church. When he got wind that he would lead the church, he and his wife had to petition God that the cup may pass over them. But as he remarked in a publication by the mission’s department of the RCCG, “God won”.
Battles with the elders and aides
After he became G.O., the first challenge he faced was with the elders of the church who felt he was too young and inexperienced to lead a church of such magnitude. Coupled with this was the conservative atmosphere he found himself. Many people left the church even before the mantle of leadership was handed over to him. When he finally became the overseer, he had to grapple with the task of knowing who is who. He soon discovered that some people who were close to him were not sincere. He has had several disappointments so to say. He told Church Times in an interview during his 67th birthday that the greatest temptation that he ever faced was forgiving those who betrayed him. But he has had to imbibe the culture of forgiving people as soon as he was hurt when he realized that he too is a product of God’s mercy.
The financial situation of the church when Adeboye took over was so bad that the church had to agonise each time they needed money for major programmes. The entire tithe for the whole of the church at a particular year was put at N7000. Though the situation in the church has changed so well, it was real battle for the Ifewara born clergy trying to change the mindset of the members of the church at the beginning.
Reports about factions in the church date back to time of the founder of the church, Pa. Josiah Akindayomi when one of the church’s leaders in Ibadan decided to go his way taking along with him many of the church members.
But for Adeboye, he has had to contend with people he so much trusted but who eventually left the church. Since the establishment of the model parish, the church has suffered two major breakaways. One was when Pastor Tunde Bakare said God had asked him to start a fresh work. The entire members of the first model parish went with Bakare. That experience shook the church. Then, Pastor Tony Rapu who was among the first three intellectuals called by Adeboye to work with in the church also took his leave. Though there were no reports that he went with members of the church, his exit was painful because he was one of those who really sacrificed and ensured that the model parish was well entrenched.
Family of founder
Though the children of the founder have been very cooperative and have accepted the leadership of Adeboye, some extended relations have continued to stir the hornet’s nest. About a year ago, towards the church’s yearly convention, one of the relatives of the founder reportedly made allegations that Adeboye was marginalizing family members of the founder. It was one trying time for the life of Adeboye who in 1998 was rated the 49th most important persons in the world by Time Magazine.
Though there have been no reports of the General Overseer messing around with women as he has maintained high level integrity since he embraced Christ. He has mentioned at some points during his ministrations how a woman in the ministry was all over him. The woman was said to have gone to the extent of addressing herself as Mrs. Adeboye. Initially, the G.O. did not smell a rat as he took the sister on a face value relationship. But when she observed that the sister was stepping beyond her boundaries, he took some drastic steps, called upon God…And the rest is history.
It is said that uneasy lies the head that wears the crown. While many people will want to envy Pastor Adeboye, it important to note that his exalted position has come with a price. His rating by Time Magazine’s as the 49th most influential person in the world gave him more headache to contend with.
Since the rating he has been engaged in a running battle with fraudsters who have been dropping his name in their bid to dupe unsuspecting members of the public. Though the rating has not in anyway made him to ride on an ego trip, fraudsters have not seized to capitalize on it.
There was a time a text message went round, asking the recipients, mostly members of the church, to observe a prayer session between 11 pm and 1 am on Wednesday, July 1, 2009, so that someone closely related to them would not die. The message was purportedly sent by Pastor Adeboye. Many members of the church fell for the scam.
But it was shocking when the RCCG leader said he did not send the message. “I am aware of the message sent in my name, asking people to pray so that someone important to them would not die. I did not send any such message,” he said at the July 2009 Holy Ghost service.
Warning the congregation to be wary of impostors, he said, “Be careful when anybody tries to use my name. Please try to check with my secretary.”
According to him, it was not the first time his name would be used for dubious purposes. He recalled an occasion when a desperate job seeker printed a complimentary card bearing his name and then took it to a wealthy and influential Nigerian for assistance. “He printed a card saying that it was my business card and wrote a note at the back to the effect that I said the big man should employ him. Fortunately, the man was wise enough to check,” he said, adding that as a matter of principle, he does not send people around to seek help. “If anybody comes to you to say that I sent him, find out from me. I don’t send people to people. If I want to send people to you, I will come to you myself. Beware of 419,” he said.
He also recalled that a certain man traveled to London and told some members of the church that their General Overseer said money must be paid before he could bless their oil. “Have I ever asked you for money to bless oil? Before we discovered it, that person had got thousands of pounds for blessing oil, handkerchieves sponges and other objects. I don’t do things like that. I am not that kind of prophet. In fact, I am not a prophet, I am just a pastor. If I hear from God once in a while, it is because I am a child of God and that’s all,” he said, reiterating the need for the congregation to be vigilant. “Do not allow anybody to deceive you. This time around, they have asked you to pray. Next time, they may ask you to send money or give you a false prophecy. To be forewarned is to be forearmed. Don’t say I did not tell you.” Adeboye said at the Holy Ghost night.
Post 70th birthday
His birthday last March did not come and go like that. Some pastors according to reports were said to have called the G.O. to a meeting asking him to abdicate the leadership of the church. Reports indicated that 20 of such pastors met with the G.O. at the Redemption Camp and asked him to resign so that a younger person could take over. The pastors were reported to have cited the case of the four Assistant General Overseers of the church, Pastors M.O. Ojo, Ilori, Aderibigbe and D. Ojo, whose retirements were announced at the conclusion of Minister Conference on Sunday, August 8, 2010. But Adeboye had insisted he would not resign because God has asked him not to resign.
He captured the reason why he is still holding the forte in an address to those undergoing discipleship training in the church last July. He said, “Good success is more hard work. When I told God that by 70 I would resign, he did not answer me. I told him I wanted to go for sabbatical this year so I can sleep when I like, eat what I want, travel where nobody will know me and enjoy myself, then God told me good success can only be maintained by hard work. So I have just began.”