Levi Adegbe

Levi Adegbe: Exit of an apostle who spent and was spent for the Gospel

by Church Times

Theophilus Abbah

Pastor Levi Adegbe leaked a spiritual secret to my life in 1997, a coded encounter that has remained raw, undiluted and evergreen in my mind. It was on a Sunday morning. We, a dozen ministers, dressed in sparkling and well-laundered suits, flocked from the open vestry of the uncompleted building into the wooden pillars and corrugated iron roof auditorium for the Sunday worship service.

However, the General Superintendent, Pastor Levi Adegbe, signaled to me with a wave of the hand to stay back. It was not unusual for the senior pastor to play Jesus by pointing at some ministers to accompany him to the Mount of Transfiguration where deep spiritual or administrative secrets about Life Gate International Bible Ministries were discussed.

But the solemn and near-secret manner the GS singled me out from the herd of ministers, impressed on me that the subject matter was either personal or that he wanted me to perform a role, not discussed in our open vestry, during the Sunday worship service.

Pastor Levi waited until other ministers were out of sight and out of ears. He looked up,  away from me, focused on the tall trees that competed with aging multiple-storey structures that surrounded the portion of land that we had recently acquired to erect our church building on Alimi-Oke Street, Oshodi in Lagos. I began to suspect that what Pastor Levi wanted to tell me was as fragile as China plate and had to be uttered with the strength of caution.

“Brother Theophilus, you know I love you,” he began in a foregrounding that hit me below the belt.

That statement was rhetorical; I didn’t need to respond to it, and he didn’t expect a response from me. Rather, it filled me with apprehension about an impending revelation that could erase my name from his good book into his black books,  or even force me out of the ministry.

I was not in doubt that he reserved a special seat for me in his heart; not only I knew, but all the other ministers, his wife, his children, his extended family members, the church workers, and the entire congregation knew the unspoken but open secret.

A young graduate and blazing with the left-over zeal from campus as a former president of the Nigerian Fellowship of Evangelical Students, I was appointed as president of the Youth Fellowship. Pastor Levi bypassed other vibrant young men who had been his disciples for more than two decades in ministry to appoint me to head the youth ministry in Life Gate.

“I’ll not want to hurt your feelings, but there’s one thing I’ve noticed that is not good for your spiritual health,” he continued.

I wondered what that could be! I didn’t have a girlfriend in the church; I had not committed any sin that should expose me to ridicule in the church, I thought to myself.

Levi Adegbe

The real issue

Then, gently, he dropped the word: “I’ve noticed that you’re not regular in the payment of your tithes. We are not interested in the money, but that is not good for you as a young man. You’re closing God’s window of blessing in your life.”

Shocked and ashamed like one caught in the act, I felt deflated, as one of the spiritual exercises I had loved to engage in but found pulled back from, had come to the open. Though I accepted and taught the doctrine of tithing, and God had spoken to me in a dream about the dangers of not obeying the instruction, I still was irregular in the payment of my tithes. As irregular as paying only once a year.

Quiet and odd minutes flew past us. “I know, but It’s been difficult,”

“It’s all about faith, you obeying the word of God and trusting Him to keep you,” he explained further. “Those who don’t earn as much as you earn pay their tithes, but the Lord keeps them.”

“Okay, thank you for drawing my attention to it,” I responded, before walking into the auditorium.

That sneaky encounter in 1997 was as brief as a blink of the eyelid, but it redirected me on a path of a new spiritual plane, similar to my born-again experience in 1986. It ushered me into a realm of divine provision and physical promotion, as it flung widely open the door and window of heaven that showered blessings upon my life and family, a narrative long enough to fill several books of testimonies.

But, most significantly, the brief admonition bore the signature of Pastor Levi Adegbe’s clinical approach to ministry, that of personal care for the spiritual well-being of each member of his congregation, similar to how a physician examines one patient at a time and prescribes remedies to their ailments, or how automobile engineers repair each vehicle at a time, or how civil engineers attend to one construction work at a time, or how a barber takes his time to cater to the hairs on one head at a time.

He went beyond the pulpit

Pastor Adegbe did not limit his proselyting to standing on the high pulpit to shout himself hoax as he declared the prophetic Word of God under the anointing of the Holy Ghost; he stepped down to the pew, to the rows of plastic chairs to minister to each member, sharing in their pains, and dancing with those who needed a crowd around them in their hour of joy.

Levi Adegbe

As a personal testimony, though I relocated from Lagos to Abuja in 2005, Pastor Levi did not abandon me to Abuja pastors. For about 18 years, though I no longer sat under his ministration, he put calls across to me regularly, asking after each of my children, calling them by name, and asking intimate questions about their academic and spiritual well-being.

Pastor Levi Adegbe, in his live, audio, and video messages, expounded the doctrines of holiness, righteousness, brotherly kindness, the power of God, and sprinkling words about giving. But one expression, like his linguistic fingerprint, that has stuck to my memory is ‘spent and be spent for the gospel.’ Apart from being one verse in the writings of Apostle Paul, I hardly bothered to know the exact meaning of the expression or the exact passage Pastor Adegbe paraphrased.

I was to later learn it is 2 Corinthians 12:15, which says: “I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well. If I love you more and you love me less” (NIV). In terms of giving his time, resources, love, compassion, and everything to his local assembly, congregation, and those in the household of faith, Pastor Adegbe stood out like light on a dark street. I doubt if he had any personal possession, like a castle on earth. All his finances went into the work of the ministry and the care of members of his local assembly.

Pastor Levi’s exit

Born on July 27, 1957, Pastor Adegbe’s abrupt exit from this world on November 15, 2023, has left hollowness in my life, as I have lost shoulders on which I could pour my tears; ears that would patiently listen to my torrents of frustration; and a head that was not irritated by my gibberish talks about losing a job; hopelessness; life at a cul-de-sac; and issues of life that stood like the rock but resisted being moved.

Pastor Adegbe lived by listening to the voice of God, not exactly brought up by any man of God. His early Pentecostal experiences began in the 1970s, at the Deeper Life Bible Church in Lagos, where he began his service to God as a Bible teacher, house fellowship leader, and importantly a faithful worker. It was in the Deeper Life Church, at Police College, Lagos, that he wedded my schoolmate, Mrs Mary Adegbe-Agenyi, with whom they had five children.

In a move to take the Pentecostal message to his people, Igala and Idoma, now in Kogi and Benue States, Pastor Levi joined others to found the Christian Evangelical Ministry (CEM), and later the Christian Life Evangelical Ministry (CLEM), before he received the call to full-time ministry to establish the Life-Gate International Bible Church in Lagos in 1996.

The assembly, Life-Gate, is an inter-denominational fellowship, and I dare say, the life of Pastor Adegbe since its establishment. Not rushing for gold, silver, private jet, or any material resources, he lived a life that prioritized the reality of heaven more than any form of wealth and human glory. On a regular basis, he made reference to Philippians 4:12,13, to emphasize that he could survive any economic situation, being contented, not overbearing on church members, and not greedy for filthy lucre.

Six weeks before his translation to Heaven, he preached his characteristic transcendental message entitled ‘Put Your House in Order’ on his YouTube channel. Taking his text from Isaiah’s message to Hezekiah in Isaiah 38:1-7, Pastor Adegbe, in a six-part exposition of the scripture, admonished his listeners to prepare for life after death because death could strike at any time. In one of the series, he emphasized the futility of men being afraid of death, the untimely voyageur who took men from this temporary life to the eternal realm. Perhaps, the message was a herald of his own experience.

He left a mark

He may have faded away like the star in the morning, but Pastor Levi has left behind a lot of landmarks for which we remember and shall continue to remember him: his enthusiasm for God; open-mindedness; never harbouring grudges against anyone; his love; his care, his open-mindedness, and his willingness to give up everything for the sake of the soul of men. And he did this up till his last moment on earth.

In preparation for the end of the year’s outreaches to widows and the vulnerable in Lagos and Kogi States, he had embarked on a three-day personal retreat at the Mountain of Fire & Miracle Ministries in Lagos, from November 13 to 15. Pastor Levi Adegbe passed on at the end of the three-day retreat. He will be laid to rest at Ochi-Adegbe village, Ofu Local Government Area of Kogi State on December 28, 2023.

So untimely a death!

Pastor Levi, it is difficult to accept that we shall not see you again. God be with you till we meet again…


Theophilus Abbah is the Pastor-in-Charge of Goodness & Mercy Parish, the Redeemed Christian Church of God, FCT 4, Abuja.







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