By Femi Akintunde-Johnson Jan 9, 2021
As part of the conscious optimism of our country people in the possibilities and opportunities inherent in 2021, I have elected to play along with similar sentiment. Perhaps, all this can be traced to our collective determination to spit on the faded eyes of 2020 – for all the damage and devastation the pandemic-ravaged year brought to our backyards. One of the mainframes of our social fabrics, arguably, are our religious and spiritual preoccupations; and in a narrower sense, our ‘adoration’ of our pet ‘Men of God’ (MOG) – as an aside, has anyone bothered to find out why the term, Women of God (WOG) is not as popular? This ‘attraction’ and our craving to “worship” at our big houses of God, were severely stretched and sullied by our half-hearted self-help; and governmental haphazard rush and measures we hope are still adequate to satisfy the glutinous consumption of Coronavirus, the new grim reaper.
While bold starry-eyed ‘visionists’ churn out ‘prophecies’ and ‘predictions’ of terrifying or fascinating treasures hidden deep in the intestines of 2021, we shall occupy ourselves with a tinted interlocution of some of our most publicised self-confessed servants of the Most High God.
In two parts, here are my well-considered portraiture of these religious cognoscenti… without prejudice to what might have clung or shaved off their characteristics or idiosyncrasies…in the past 10 years.
PASTOR ENOCH ADEBOYE:
The Ijesha man is about the only one I know who does not churn out strings of rustic verbal abuse, as is supposedly common with his kinfolk; at least I’ve not heard or read anything of such mentioned with his name. His fascination with simply designed French suits gives him the image of a man at peace with God without having to use the poor to practise how hell will look like (that is what happens when pastors become so rich that they can’t hide the glory of God in their lives without flaunting it at our faces – which is how we got “to hell with you!”). He appears contented; not overawed by the awesome “behemoth” his church has become, geographically and congregationally.
One of his greatest attributes – the magnetism which draws people to him like flies to honey – is Adeboye’s almost surreal humility. I doubt even if the Pope can win a humble-tie with the Daddy G.O. of arguably the largest congregation in Africa. Yet, his meekness is original; not invasive or contrived. His type is not the one you can take advantage of – as it is obvious to keen observers that this man of God is not afraid to call a sinner to order, however highly placed. He just chooses not to do it from the hilltop…with mega-watt megaphones.
To show that it is not only the Whites who have the corner on God, Adeboye has now given us a bible with inspired annotations. When the Europeans refer to the Dake’s Bible (by Finis Jennings Dake), we in the black world can pose with the Adeboye’s Bible. That feels so cool. The fact that the Nigerian soft-sell magazines or paparazzi don’t carry pictures or stories of his children or wife in one scandal, scam or incriminating position is also very inspiring and telling… it’s so good to deny those characters any chance to gloat: “So tan, se bi dem sey him be man of God!” Thank you sir, for these and many more that I know and don’t know.
PASTOR DAVID OYEDEPO:
My “townsman” is a shining example of putting your money where your mouth is. If you say (and I agree) that our God is a good God, the Bishop of the Living Faith Tabernacle has proved for the umpteenth time that God is what He says He is. With his ministry, outreaches, projects, and lifestyle, the man at the Canaanland has shown, time and time again, that he serves a good God. I am proud to address him as the first, if not the only, true multi-billionaire whose only business is marketing the word of God, free of charge to the unChurched. And he has done that to the envy of his colleagues (and even fathers in the faith). Yes, who says men of God are not mere men like us, who are genuinely overcome by occasional bouts of jealousy, at what God is doing in one man’s compound? Much like Prophet Zedekiah, son of Chenaanah, who dealt Prophet Micaiah a handsome slap, and shouted: “When did the Spirit of the Lord bypass me to speak with you?”
When our people say it is not how long, but how well we have infused value into our environment that matters, they are unconsciously referring to Bros Oyedepo. Can you believe this giant-killing David became born-again only in 1981? He’s (now 40) years old in the Lord, and his Living Faith Church is (now 37) years old. Look at his great leaps: one of the fastest growing churches in the world (over 400 branches in Nigeria alone, and in 50 countries around the world, the biggest house of worship perhaps in the entire Christian world (the Ota-Ogun-State-Nigeria based 50,400-seater auditorium has even entered the 2008 Guinness Book of Records – the man of God announced it himself at the Winners’ Chapel on February 3, 2008). Add the hugely successful Covenant University (I heard a University of Ibadan lecturer-preacher dreamily wished he would be accepted to spend his Sabbatical at the (17)-year old Covenant University because of the very mouth-watering package on offer).
Oyedepo also launched an African Mission project since 1994 to confront our continent’s physical and emotional impoverishment through sound scriptural teachings and precepts, in about 30 African countries…and, there are innumerable successful endeavours this Kwara-born pastor has accomplished. Yet, he’s barely in his 60’s! [By the way, most of these data were set ten years back]. This is truly a story of a distinctly successful man and his ministry. Thank God, he’s a Nigerian.
We continue next time….