“What you give to others may leave your hand but it will never leave your life”
-E. A. Adeboye
The first day I saw Pastor Enoch Adeboye, I didn’t believe it was him because the image I had was that of a man larger than life. As an undergraduate, I had heard stories and seen student pastors who had other brothers carry their bibles while they trotted behind in shiny blazers. Pastor Adeboye carried his bible from his car, knelt on the seat and prayed. His short sleeved shirt looked too ordinary for him and when I realized it was him, I was shocked.
Daddy G. O. is the symbol of simplicity himself. He is humble, in manners, dressing and in submission to God. RCCG Pastors nowadays wear French Suits like daddy G. O. In my younger and more critical days, I thought members of the church often crossed the line between honoring the man and hero worship. Now I know better, I know that God deserves to be honored in the lives of his children who have put their ears to the Almighty’s heartbeat.
With a PhD in Applied Mathematics, he brought all that logic into Christianity. He took a church of just 40 branches and made it into a church that has presence in 192 countries. He tried to merge town and gown in his early days but he eventually had to leave the gown in Ilorin for the church. For a man who was brilliant and had plans to become Africa’s youngest Vice Chancellor, I am sure it was not so easy to submit to God’s will and see the bigger picture. Now, he doesn’t only appoint Vice Chancellors, he prays for world leaders.
Daddy G.O’s story is very relatable for many of us, a young man from a remote village who rose through the ranks to get a PhD. In the movie, ‘Covenant Church’, his background was reenacted but in my opinion, the director did not even do justice to it because from what he has said about his early days and what I read in his autobiography written by Rebecca Bible-Davids, he was born into the abject brand of poverty. He did not wear a pair of shoe until his teenage years and he had to practice how to wear a pair before the outing he needed it for. He has shared several challenges he had as a young man, days of despair and joy. He shared how he was a little taken aback when he had to talk to World leaders at the United Nations general Assembly because of the diversity.
Daddy G.O’s vision is one that is rare in history. Word in church circles is that many people had misgivings about his decision to purchase the large expanse of land that now houses the Redemption Camp. He told us of how he went to a Kenneth Hagin Camp meeting in the U.S. and requested an audience with the man. Some fellow Nigerians latched on to the opportunity and when the revered man of God asked what each wanted, others asked for tape and book distribution deals in Nigeria. Adeboye, full of vision asked for the double portion of Hagin’s anointing like the biblical Elisha asked of Elijah. He got it and is still working in that strength at 75. He also shared how he was inspired by Pastor Yonggi Cho’s home cell structure and church growth method. He learnt from Yonggi Cho and with the help of the Holy Spirit, he surpassed Yonggi Cho. When he announced an expansion that a new auditorium will be constructed, many people queried him for imagining too much. The 6km by 6km auditorium is almost ready and both auditoria only manage to contain convention crowds.
For those of us who are his spiritual children, fans and admirers, Daddy has taught us a lot of things from his teachings and lifestyle. He told us Christianity doesn’t get easier, we only become more mature and stronger. He famously shared how he used to be scared of laying hands on sick people in his early days because he was scared they might not be healed. He realized one day that it was not in his place to heal but God’s prerogative. Daddy taught us that a man is the head of the home but his wife is the neck. He told us about seeing the bigger picture. He shared how he was managing the boys’ quarter that was his official quarters in Lagos after he had left his Senior Lecturer lodge to take over as the General Overseer. He prayed that God should give him a flat so his family would be comfortable. God told him the plan for him is a city but even he could not imagine it then. He followed God’s leading step by step and see what God has given him now. Imagine the vision of a man who transformed a Nigerian Pentecostal church to a global brand second to only Coca Cola.
The new Open Heavens International Center on Holiness Road which houses his first apartment on Redemption Camp and old pictures of him is a brilliant attempt at demystifying the enigma he is. In the house, there are pictures of him as a young person, his old boxing gloves and the guide famously joked about how he joined the sports team because of free food in the University. After my visit to the museum, I came out even mystifying him the more. I saw his old bed, his old handwritten sermon notes and entered his old toilet. I understood how he has been able to work hard consistently for several years and I imagined him studying, writing and praying.
Daddy G.O. is not your regular man, he is a pastor of pastors. He is a man who understands his God… He knows his material, his teachings show a man who knows what he is saying. Daddy, I wish you many more years of grace, mirth and fulfillment. We love you, daddy. Happy 75!