The General Overseer of Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Pastor Enoch Adeboye turned 74 last Wednesday. His 74th anniversary was marked with a public lecture, which was organised by the RCCG Triumphant Elders Consultative Forum with the aim of celebrating God.
Gboyega Akinsanmi writes

A sizable number of saints comprising clerics, disciples and elders recently converged on Haven Events Centre, Ikeja. They came from different parishes and provinces of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) in Lagos and beyond. They gathered purely in honour of the church’s General Overseer, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, who turned 74 on March 2.

A group of elders, mostly septuagenarians and octogenarians, put a public lecture together to mark Adeboye’s 74th anniversary under the aegis of the RCCG Triumphant Elders Consultative Forum. It was not really a traditional public lecture, but purely an extension of Christ’s Gospel. A blend of praise and worship songs were inspiringly rendered. A short, though heart-searing exhortation was also presented before the lecture.

Adeboye’s message was cogent and succinct. No guest, irrespective of age and status, left the venue empty-handed. He spoke directly to people’s hearts. He conveyed the message in a simple language, depicting his life and ministry as products of God’s favour and mercy and not of his making. And everywhere was quiet as though his clerics had never heard him.

Rather than recounting the bumps and stumps he had encountered on the journey of life so far, Adeboye gave God glory for sparing his life. The guests were surprised, but not disappointed at the content of his message. And the message mapped out a kind of life God wants all pilgrims on the earth to live if they must gain eternal joy He had promised all without exception.

Pure and simple, Adeboye said: “My advice to anyone that might be here who wants to become an influence in the society is give your life to Jesus Christ. That is the only secret.” Giving one’s life to Christ is a common message on the streets. But Adeboye testified to the fact that he became “highly influential, home and abroad, because he surrendered all to Him.”

And the outcome of his decision was amazing and awesome as well. As a result, Adeboye recounted that Christ had actually proved “to be the way out of problems. He is the way into joy and victory. He is the way forward. He is the way upward. If you lift up Jesus Christ, He will promote you, and when Jesus is the one promoting you He promotes you everlastingly.”

For all he said God had done in his life and used him to accomplish, Adeboye expressed profound gratitude to God. He also expressed gratitude to every guest, cleric, disciple and elder who honoured him at the public lecture. He thus offered them a very short, but pungent prayer that God who they “have all honoured in my life will honour and celebrate them.”

But the 2016 Pastor Enoch Adeboye Public Lecture Series provided much insight into Adeboye’s life and RCCG’s history apparently beyond what the guests had desired to know. The lecture was delivered by Prof. Oyawale Tomori, the pioneer Vice Chancellor of Redeemer’s University, Nigeria (RUN) and President of the prestigious Nigerian Academy of Science (NAS).

The theme of the public lecture is undeniably mind-boggling and thought-provoking. It was titled: “Vision and Vision Carriers.” The theme obviously agitated the minds of the guests, possibly craving for deeper understanding of the two concepts. But Tomori, also a pastor in the RCCG, provided an entirely different perspectives to it, which eventually quelled their longing.

But the guest lecturer of the 2015 series and the Vice President, Prof. Oluyemi Osinbajo explained the power of a vision, which he said, had not been discovered or realised by Nigerians of the Christian faith. He observed that Nigerians of the Christian faith “have the power to influence government policies to ameliorate the suffering of the Nigerian people.”

He added that Nigerians of the Christian faith “have been placed in positions of greater significance.If we choose to, we have the power to influence government and to ask the government. Why do we not have free health care for the poor?” Why do we not have free education? Why are you not providing for the elderly who are poor and for the disable who are poor?”

He therefore identified Nigeria’s grievous challenge. He said: “One of the big problems that we have in our nation today is an absence of integrity, which underlines every single failure of government. As if looking into the future, there was need to have integrity and that without it, there was no way believers could show leadership and attain significance.”

On this ground, Tomori said building a country “requires a vision.” But the guest lecturer observed that the vision “is not what you see when you are under the influence of drugs, too much alcohol or when you over feed. We are talking about the prophetic vision, that is, the act or power of anticipating that which will or may come to be.”

He added that the vision “is the experience in which a personage, thing, or event appears vividly to the mind, although not actually present, under the influence of divine guidance. Indeed divine vision involves the totality of God- God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God guides the vision carrier in the execution of the vision.

“The word of God keeps the vision in remembrance. God Almighty enables, empowers, and ensures the actualisation of the vision. A vision without the involvement of the trinity can be likened to the morning cloud and the early dew that passes away. It can also be likened to the chaff that is driven with the whirlwind out of the floor, and as the smoke out of the chimney.”

Tomori thus argued that the owner of all visions and the greatest visionary who “is God Almighty Himself.”But he described Adeboye as the carrier of the vision, which he said, was delivered “to the Founder of RCCG, Pa Josiah Akindayomi in 1952. What is grown to be the RCCG started as the Glory of God Fellowship after he left a Cherubim and  Seraphim Church in Ebute-Meta.”

The lecturer said for Adeboye“is not only a man of vision, but also an energetic, consummate, relentless, tireless, persistent and inexorable vision carrier. We fondly call him Daddy, not because he is older than all of us, nor because he has more gray hairs than we can show. But we call him Daddy because he is a true representative of our heavenly Father, because his life shows the human attributes of God in whose image we are made.”

Under him, Tomori noted that the RCCG “has established two categories of educational institutions to cater for spiritual needs of members of the church, and secular schools, run by the Church to offer alternative choices to those run by the government of private commercial institutions. Under the first category, four types of schools are currently in operation.”

He therefore pointed out the schools “to include the School of Disciples (SOD), the Redeemed Christian Bible College (RCBC), The Redeemed Christian School of Missions (RCSM) and the Redeemer’s International Leadership Academy (RILA).With his coming in as the leader of the Church, the global expansion started, first among the educated in other parts of Nigeria, and then to other parts of Africa, and eventually the world.”

Aside, Tomori said the RCCG had been involved in finding solutions “to social issues arising from poverty, disease (principally HIV/AIDS), drug abuse and misuse and the deteriorating educational system in Nigeria. The RCCG focus on education, business and social institutions to cater for the needs of members of the church and find solutions to these societal problems.”

He noted that the RCCG “has 1,500 parishes in Nigeria today. The church is growing by the hour. The Church has congregations in over 100 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and the United States. We must give glory to God for the way and manner the RCCG has flourished, for revealing his vision to, and guiding Pastor Adeboye as His Vision carrier.”

The guest lecturer, thus, concluded that Adeboye “has the attributes of a successful vision carrier,” which he said, was demonstrated by the vision carriers of the Bible. He listed such vision carriers “to include Enoch, Abraham, Noah, Moses, Elijah and Elisha among others.

“It is only through keeping to this advice that each of us can be a vison carrier for the attainment of the mission of the Church, which is to make heaven, to take as many people with us to heaven and ensure that there is a member of the RCCG in every family of all nations.”

Tomori acknowledged that there “is a lot of work ahead of each of us vision carriers if we are to reach every family in all nations. Remember that. When the Holy Spirit comes upon each of us, we shall be witnesses of our Lord Jesus Christ unto the uttermost part of the earth.” He said God had committed this mission to all Christian believers.

However, the Convener of the public lecturer, Pastor Tunji Onileaja explained why the RCCG Triumphant Elders Consultative Forum “marks Adeboye’s birthday annually.” He pointed Adeboye’s unique leadership, which he said, had really helped him influence others through inspiration.

He said Adeboye was always driven and motivated by a passion for winning souls that came from a vision based on personal conviction of the Lord’s mandate to go into the world and win souls and disciples of all nations. He thus said God “has so much worked with him and through him that the RCCG that had 42 parishes in 1980 now has visible presence in about 200 nations with giant strides in soul-winning, discipleship and church-planting.”

The giant strides Adeboye had recorded explained the reason the Head of Media and Publicity Committee, Pastor Ayodeji Olulani said God in the life of Adeboye “is worth celebrating. Adeboye has voluntarily submitted himself to God to be used for the good of humanity.

“We believe many things and virtues need to be learnt from this spiritual giant. His humility is worth emulating. His commitment to things of God, honesty and uprightness speaks volume. His vision and passion for what he believes in is a source of inspiration. His love for humanity in all raminificarions truly demonstrates a life of purpose,” Olulani explained.

Olulani thus said Adeboye’s life actually depicted a story of rags “to riches and honour. He is a rare model. Our generation and generations to come need to learn from his legacies. Nigerians are used to celebrating their heroes when they would have passed on. We are celebrating him and still learning from him.”