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Pastor Enoch Adeboye @ 82 and some unanswered questions

by Church Times

Not many servants of God live to good old age. This has nothing to do with whether they are anointed or not. It is just about the reality and complexity of the pastor’s life.


While it is often thought that the life of running a Christian ministry predisposes such a person to spiritual attacks, the key reasons pastors or ministers of God do not live to good old age may just be due to overwork, lack of appropriate health care, and self-denial. Sometimes they just don’t know how to balance faith works with practical realities.


Often, pioneers of fresh work are usually at risk of transiting at a relatively young age. Those we can relate with in Nigeria are Apostle Ayodele Babalola of the Christ Apostolic Church, Archbishop Benson Idahosa of the Church of God Mission, and Moses Orimolade of the Cherubim and Seraphim Church. These church leaders did not live to age 60.


Many other church leaders never crossed 50. The statistic is grimmer on a global scale. Many great men of God like David Brainerd never lived to age 40 before they passed on. Yet, they did exploits that are far beyond what many others who had the grace of living long.


Yet, there are many inexplicable cases of church leaders that were ravaged by sickness. Many, indeed, are the afflictions of the righteous; but the Lord delivered him from them all in due time.


It is on that ground that one has to congratulate Pastor Enoch Adeboye of the Redeemed Christian Church of God popularly known as Daddy G.O. for clocking 82 on March 2.


Attaining that age is also for a purpose because God is not a waster. But then Pastor Adeboye many years ago said he discovered he was growing grey hairs as a result of the burden of the church.


God had told him it was because he was wearing himself over a matter that was not his. According to him, he had since learned to let God take over the burdens of the church.


While Pastor Adeboye might have balanced handling of church affairs to remain active in ministry at 82 years, it is unclear what approach he is adopting in handling church leadership, especially in paving the way for the emergence of who takes over from him.


At 82, it is expected he should have set in motion a clear path of a succession plan. While he has maintained the directive that all active pastors or assistant G.O. retire at 70, there is no indication of what the succession plan is for his own office. No doubt, the issue of succession is one challenge to deal with, not only for RCCG but for many other churches.

Adeboye and the rccg

Pastor Adeboye assumed the leadership of the RCCG when he was 39 in 1981. And he has been shouldering the church till now through the help of the holy spirit. The better part of his life is spent leading a church of many nuances, the covenant church as it is called.

It is this uncommon achievement that qualified Pastor Adeboye to be named one of the 50 most influential persons in the world in 2008 by Newsweek magazine.

The RCCG after Lekki 98

Years after the widely acclaimed Lekki 98, RCCG almost instantly became a household name. It capitalized on its mass acceptance and upped its game. The loss of some known denominations was the gain of RCCG.

Indeed, Pastor Adeboye deserves all the commendation for staying true to his calling and being a great ambassador of the Christian faith. The RCCG which he leads has been a huge blessing to the country and indeed to the world.

This credential can’t be taken away from him. His tenacity is unparalleled. While we praise him and the RCCG, we recognise that it is God that is working through him.

Adeboye: The past, the present, the future

While Adeboye is being celebrated, it will be great if he begins to unravel himself because the years left for him on this planet like every mortal are receding by the second.

I remember years ago when the RCCG was still relatively unknown, it was quite easy to see Pastor Adeboye. His office at the Redemption close in Oyingbo Lagos was readily accessible.

As a young reporter, we had the grace of getting answers to our inquiries. That was before Lekki 98.  After Lekki 98 journalists still didn’t have much of a problem getting to Baba as some would love to call him.

Just about a month before his birthday in 2008, we were able to facilitate a cover interview for this publication.

Then, we sent in questions and pastor Adeboye graciously answered those questions. The headline for that interview was “My greatest temptation”.

The other physical encounter with him was at Pastor Ayo Orisejafor’s Word of Life Bible Church, Warri. Several other journalists were at that forum. That was sometime in 2009 or thereabout.

There, Pastor Adeboye answered every question posed to him by journalists. One of the questions I asked was if he would honour an invite by the late T.B. Joshua to minister in the synagogue. He said he would on the ground that there is an agreement for him to preach the salvation message.

Far from the media

Today, it’s not easy to get Pastor Adeboye for an interview not because he would not love to grant an interview but because his schedules are simply out of this world.

But I think despite his busy schedule, there is a need for him to interface with the public even if it is once a year to give clarity to some perceptions, no matter how odd.

When a man gets to the point Pastor Adeboye is today, he would need more of the prayers of the saints. The danger in such a position is that he may be insulated from reality. He will have to make do with what his lieutenants want him to know.

And if the lieutenants are self-serving people, they will only tell him what is good for their ego and what is palatable to his ears.


The unanswered questions

 1. The 3 by 3 kilometre

As the RCCG continues to expand and as Pastor Adeboye grows in grace, some questions are begging for answers. If I were to meet him the first question I would ask him is the issue of the integrity of the 3-by-3-kilometre auditorium.

Indeed, it was that project that stirred in me many questions about the direction of the RCCG. It is a great initiative on the premise that we are still in the analog age; the age we used to fancy a church with a large single congregation. But we are now in a digital age.

At face value, the project has been a source of employment for many people up to the point that it is being constructed. It’s somewhat of a tourist signpost.

The irony is that not everybody who enters that auditorium would be able to see the altar. So for some of those who go it is as good as watching from home because they still follow the programme on a screen.

Pastor Adeboye himself gave a hint that he might have been climbing the tree beyond the leaf when he said the 3-by-3-kilometre auditorium was the first project he would have to beg tenaciously for support.

I listened to him at the redemption camp one night while he was calling for donations and had to plead with people for the auditorium. And the church has continually been pleading for support. People have been giving too. But it’s a gargantuan project. It is money-guzzling.

2. Ibadan size-auditorium

Ironically, the desire for a large auditorium is not peculiar to Pastor Adeboye. Many church leaders are in that race. But the intriguing part of it is when he said he was still hoping to build an Ibadan-size auditorium. I would have loved to ask; was this a slip of the tongue?

There is nothing God can’t do. But already God has given us the miracle of the internet. The whole world can be connected real time. So, why will God answer that prayer of an Ibadan-size auditorium? Perhaps those who have a deeper understanding can help answer that question.

3. Recent utterances: Is age playing tricks on Adeboye?

The other pertinent question is concerning Pastor Adeboye’s recent utterances. The RCCG has not denied any of those statements. They were his words.

The one that caused so much stir was “I decree in the Name that is above every other name Christians from every other denomination will bow before you.” There was also a prayer about RCCG members being benefactors to their neighbours and family members. It is easy to dismiss people’s angst and tell them to go say their own prayers.

But those prayers should be a source of concern for discerning believers. The question I would have loved to ask Pastor Adeboye is: What is the context of those utterances? Does he not think he needs to make a statement concerning the prayers and disabuse the minds of people?

Many are beginning to suspect that old age is playing a trick on him. Those who are close to him, who truly love him should, in the interest of the church call his attention to these gaffes.

Some perhaps would want to ask, is it not time for Pastor Adeboye to retire and watch the work make progress in his lifetime rather than hold to the position till God calls him home?

The Obed example

Pastor Obed Uzodinma who founded Ibadan-based Glory Tabernacle Ministry was a very close friend to Pastor Adeboye when he was alive. He retired from the church he founded about five years before he died. All he was doing was traveling around the world preaching the gospel and mentoring young ministers. But will Pastor Adeboye take that route?

Apart from Pastor Obed,  there are several examples of men of God who left the scene even when they could still carry on. Billy Graham for instance retired at 82 and he watched the ministry he started thrive during his lifetime.

Reinhard Bonnke also retired from the ministry he founded long before his death and handed it over to Daniel Kolenda. He watched the ministry grow and blossom in his lifetime.

Times have changed. The days of Pa Josiah Akindayomi and now are two different eras. Pastor Adeboye indeed needs the courage to make far-reaching decisions about succession  before his transition

4. Adeboye’s theology of salvation

There is also a great concern about Pastor Adeboye’s theological leaning.

One of the critical questions I would have also loved to ask is his concept of salvation. Every time I hear people being called to come and give their lives to Christ at the redemption camp, it’s always after a salacious message of breakthrough and prosperity.

Is salvation about coming to know Jesus so you won’t be poor and sick again or about the soul of the people?

I would have loved to ask why he paints an attractive scenario for would-be converts. Jesus was never in a hurry to get followers. The entry point matters and people need to be told they are to carry their cross and follow Christ.

Testimonies indeed bring people to God, but what difference does it make if the testimonies are about mundane things that they can also get elsewhere?

Besides, I have often wondered about some of the public prayers of Pastor Adeboye. An example: “You would be so rich that one day, it would take the whole day for the bank to count your money. Really? Since I heard that prayer, I have been asking what he meant.

We are in a digital age. The bank does not have to spend the whole day counting the money of the richest man on earth. The world is even itching towards a cashless society.

But then, I would have loved to get his response to why he places so much premium on the now.

5. Handkerchief and the oil

There is also the issue of asking people to keep the handkerchief that had been prayed on. This festival of handkerchiefs is repeated every year. People are advised to guard those handkerchiefs jealously. And many have come to share testimonies about the efficacy of the handkerchiefs and the oil.

But it is not about whether it works, it is, why ask people to give attention to handkerchiefs to the point of asking them to keep it? If the handkerchief is missing, does it now mean they have lost access to God?

From the account of Acts 19v12, people brought handkerchiefs to touch the body of Paul and took it to sick people. This was a spontaneous action and not a practice, just like the way the shadow of Peter healed the sick. Today, it is not about the people initiating it, it is about pastors initiating it to the point that it is now enshrined in our services.

The much-touted defence is that it works. Moses is a clear example that an answered prayer does not mean God’s approval. He was asked to speak to the rock but he struck it, yet, water came out of the rock. We enjoy the mercy of God though.

But we can’t continue taking the shine from Jesus the healer. What the handkerchief and the oil do is make people put their faith in the elements and not in Christ.

Time to consolidate

Apart from raising these critical questions, many believe Pastor Adeboye should begin to consolidate his past efforts, rather than trying to create a pathway that is incongruous with what he was known for.

For instance, pastor Adeboye had in the past said any church where people pray and say in the name of the God of the pastor of the church, the Church is a cult.

But it was shocking when he came out openly during a service that he would not stop people from praying and saying in the name of the God of Adeboye.

On the surface, it sounds plausible. But how does it feel for children of the same parents to always plead the name of just one of them when they want something from their father? It is a feeling of detachment from the father.

One would have thought Pastor Adeboye would encourage people to see God as their God and go to him boldly without mentioning his name.

But someone would say, we normally pray in the name of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Have they heard the God of Paul, Peter, and James?

When God introduced himself as the God of the Hebrew patriarchs, it was at the nascent stage of the Jews. And of course, by then, they had to go through the priests to relate with God.

They did not have the access we all now have to God after the veil of the temple had been torn apart. Now we all have the confidence to come to God in the name of Jesus.

Final submission

But then these are observations and call for retrospection. We can’t be right all the time. Even as I write, it is with utmost caution because we are all susceptible to misjudgment.

One thing we can’t take from Pastor Adeboye is his seeming sincerity of purpose. But because he is human, he is also capable of making a wrong judgment just like this writer is capable of doing. God is still the ultimate judge.

While wishing Pastor Adeboye more years in good health on this side of eternity, our prayer is that he will end well and end strong.

By Gbenga Osinaike

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