Taking The Gospel Back To Europe

09 Dec 2012

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Pastor Mark Igiehon

Funke Olaode in this encounter with Pastor Mark Igiehon, Senior Pastor, RCCG (City of God) in Aberdeen, Scotland discovered effort being made by African missionaries to re-evangelise Europe, the colonial hub that introduced religion to Africans

In the beginning…
Giving his antecedent as a remarkable lawyer and one of the experts in oil and gas in the world, Dr. Mark Osayomwanbo Igiehon, an indigene on Benin City in Edo State, no doubt is opportune to live a life of affluence and opulence. Apart from pastoring a thriving Redeemed Christian Church of God (City of God) situated on 20, Holburn Street, Aberdeen, Scotland, he is also a Senior Advisor Standard and Assurance, Projects and Technology with Shell Global Solutions International in Netherlands.  But he has decided to serve God in totality despite his high-flying job. Dr. Igiehon is also a man of humility and calm disposition, the trait he said he imbibed growing up under the tutelage of parents, one of whom was a teacher and the other a clergyman.  Recalling his journey into the pulpit, Igiehon said an encounter with God while in Kano directed his path to God permanently.

“Apart from growing up under religious parents, I grew up in the Baptist church and while in the law school in 1987, I was invited to The Redeemed Evangelical Mission (TREM). I had a personal encounter with God; I felt the presence of God in my life.

“After TREM and youth service in Ibadan, I went to Kano and built my faith further solidly with God. In Kano, I was worshipping with my pastor, Pastor Kola Ewuoso. That was where I laid the foundational of God. I came back to Lagos and later went back for my post-graduate studies abroad. When I came back I joined RCCG, Freedom Hall in Apapa. That was when my journey with the RCCG continued. From there, I moved to Warri. In Warri, I continued, became a worker, children’s teacher and from there I became a minister.
Early church before crude oil discovery…

Pastor Igiehon currently pastors RCCG, City of God in Aberdeen in Scotland.  With emergency of missionaries springing all over Europe, is like taking back evangelism to “Africa’s colonial masters” which brought religions to Africa in the first instance. But according to him, Aberdeen is a city that historically typifies the long relationship between God and man, known for her exploits in kingdom business, and witness to the thriving ministries of such kingdom generals as John Knox, Mary Slessor, and James Kidd. You can scarcely walk down the streets of the Granite City without seeing a church or the remains of architectural icons that once stood out as church building. History has it that  the Gordon Highlanders –who marched in defence of the king, used to march down Aberdeen’s Union Street, in their full regalia Sunday mornings to church.

Furthermore, Sunday evenings, saw Aberdonians in great throngs to witness great debates between profound Bible scholars of their time, Rev. Dr. Kames Kidd and other ministers in the city. So great was the relevance of the gospel that families in Aberdeen made it a point of duty to pay pews in the church which would be reserved for members of their family to seat whenever they attend church.

Aberdeen, Igiehon explained further used to be a commercial nerve-centre, generating a large chunk of its income from fishing and the University of Aberdeen, which dates back to the 16th Century. However, it was the discovery of crude oil in the North Sea during the early 70’s that brought the city to the limelight as the oil capital of Europe.

Sadly, as the society became more industrialised, Aberdonians lost sight of the need for God in their lives.  “One of the things that you see across Europe is that is a significant distance from God. You see some parts that assume that they have outgrown God while some would say Europe is a post-Christian society. In other words, they have outgrown God. The truth is that a place like United States of America which has many things in place still finds a strong sense of God there. Everyman needs God.”

Taking evangelism back to Europe…
Europe is now becoming a missionary ground particularly Aberdeen where the gospel was taken to Nigeria and other part of the world.  “Mary Slessor was born here in Aberdeen. Visiting the museum in Nigeria in December 2003 was both a sobering and an awe-inspiring experience. For it is impossible to miss a large section of the museum dedicated to the life and ministry of Mary Slessor (a woman renowned for stopping the killing of twins) in large parts of Southern Nigeria. Mary Slessor was born in Aberdeen and in her early years relocated together with her family to Dundee, from where she was sent by the Church of Scotland to south-eastern Nigeria as a missionary. So mighty was her impact in the land that the fruits of her ministry still endure till today.

“We now get an understanding that God is sending people back to Europe to evangelise Europe again. We are seeing a re-evangelism of Europe as it was in the early days of the church.  Europe is now becoming a mission field so God is sending people all over the world from Nigeria, Africa, the Middle-East and India. Right now, churches are being sold in Europe. A church was sold and was converted to a night club and it was called ‘The Ministry of Sin’. This is offensive to God. There is another one called ‘The Cross’. But thank God that we can see the beginning of revival in Europe and of the revivals are churches like us acquiring buildings and in some cases we acquire old building that is being sold off other churches or new ones are being crafted out of ware houses. And this building RCCG (City of God) where I am currently a Senior Pastor is an example of such. It is a unique opportunity and privilege to join in the work of propagating the Kingdom of Lord in Mary Slessor’s home town and country.”

About RCCG (City of God),Aberdeen…
This building was acquired in 2007. It used to be Church of Scotland, Holburn Parish founded in 1836. It was put up for sale and 19 groups bided for it but we were the only one that showed interest in converting it into church. And by the grace of God we were successful. We got the building; God raised funds for us miraculously in Aberdeen, Nigeria and other part of the world. We named it City of God and was dedicated by the General Overseer of RCCG, Pastor Adeboye in August 2008. And since then the church has been moving forward, planting churches in Aberdeen and other cities.

City of God as a peculiar church with many facilities…
There is something peculiar about the church which are rarely found in Nigerian churches whether orthodontist or Pentecostal. Here, there are facilities such as gallery, kitchen, youth club centre and many. Igiedoh explained “Almost all churches in this part of Europe inculcate hospitality into their service. It is part of a culture that most churches that after service there is tea or coffee and everyone gather together to feast. We have a kitchen and we have a wonderful team here. We have gone a little bit further we have a thanksgiving service every first Sunday of the month and this is accompanied by a full meal for all the members as a church.

“Our understanding of God’s House according to David in the Bible is that God’s House must be magnificent, must be renowned, famous and must be a house of prayer for all nations. In those days in Europe the House of God and King’s palace were always the most magnificent buildings. So it is a place where the physical and the spiritual needs of the people should be met. That is how we see church. We also recognised that the church is more than the building. The building is a structure so we do a lot of outdoor works.”

Youth: Chill Connect…
Another fascinating arena is the youth centre.  “When it comes to the youth, one of the challenges in the society is how to ensure that the youths are connecting with the Lord and to keep the work going. One of the ways of doing is to catch them young. We have children and teenage church. We also have a place where teenager’s come together to have fun in the presence of God. A kind of platform to connect them to God. They come together every Friday for studies under: Jesus Junior Leadership Entrepreneur Achiever Programme (JJLEAP). We are using this to teach them from Christian perspective on how to be a leader in their generation how to be an entrepreneur; they play games and also have other activities. That way, they understand that serving God is fun and joyful.”

Joggling his roles as a pastor and corporate work…
Many people are juggling many things it is not a question of where you are. I love my job, I love God. Shell is a great company to work with and I am happy to be there. I am married with three children. My wife used to work with Shell as an environmental scientist. She is taking care of the home front. And for sustaining and maintaining the church? “The important thing is that if you go through the scripture it says if it is God’s business God will always able to fund it. So God is our complete fund.  It is not that we have so much money. Secondly, God uses is people to fund his own work. We thank God for the member who have constantly support the work of God. And when we have a project, people respond from all over the world having realised that Europe is now a mission field. We have a full complement of ministers who are on ground when I am not around as my job involves a lot of travelling. And we have a few members who are full staff. The full administration team is also there to push the work of God going.”

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