What do y’all think – particularly of his answer to the question about protests versus prayers? Particularly in light of what just happened in Egypt? Oya, discuss!!
Here is the transcript of the interview:
Lagos, Nigeria (CNN) — Dressed in simple trousers and a shirt and bowtie, Enoch Adeboye’s modest appearance belies the enormous influence and power he wields.
The Nigerian pastor, known to his flock as “Daddy,” is one of the world’s most influential spiritual leaders. On any given night, he can draw more than a million to his service at Nigeria’s Redeemed Christian Church of God.
His fervent sermons, coupled with his magnetic personality, have turned the Pentecostal church into one of the fastest-growing evangelical congregations across the globe.
His numerous followers include national leaders, such as Nigeria’s president Goodluck Jonathan, as well as industry executives — many of whom often turn to him for advice.
Pentecostalism has swept through Nigeria and Africa in recent years, offering the promise not just of entry into heaven in the afterlife but of prosperity and healing in this life.
On a religious frontline
The Redeemed Church, which was founded in 1952 by Josiah Akindayomi, claims to have over 5 million members across 20,000 branches in 140 countries worldwide.
That’s a long way from the 40 branches Adeboye, a former mathematics lecturer, inherited when he took over the church in 1981.
Despite his congregation’s remarkable growth, Adeboye has no plans of slowing down. “We want to reach the whole world,” he says.
Adeboye, who was named by Newsweek as one of the world’s 50 most influential people in 2008, spoke to CNN about the role of religion in Nigeria and his future plans.
The following is a full transcript of the interview.
A. “I came to know God in a fairly dramatic way. I was born into a christian home and always gone to church because my parents said we had to go. But after I grew up and left home – I drifted away from church until I had a little problem that defied all solutions and then someone invited me to the Redeemed Christian Church of God – I came expecting the pastor would just pray and my problems would just go, but instead he said I would have to give my life to Jesus Christ first – that if my sins are gone, my problems would disappear. So of course I resisted for a while but eventually I surrendered and as he said gave my life to Jesus Christ and my problems disappeared.”
A. “1973 – I was just over 31.”
A. “If you don’t mind (laughs) – as the problem is gone now, we may as well leave it there.”
A. “Well, it didn’t quite change – once a mathematician – always a mathematician. But at that time I was a lecturer at the University of Lagos – that’s when I met the Lord. And after the founder of the church saw my zeal – he ordained me as a pastor, and when I became a pastor – I began to travel – going to universities, colleges and other institutions to share with them – my testimony, my experience. And when the founder died – we read in his will that I was to succeed him. To take over the leadership of the church – now, there was no way I could command the two, I couldn’t continue as a lecturer and still do my duties as the general overseer – that’s where mathematics had to stand aside for Christ to take full control.”
A. “Well, evangelical moves had been on before I became born again but yes it was quite exciting in those days – travelling across the country – meeting young people, lecturers, sharing with them – realising that many of us had been living in ignorance and then seeing the joy.”
A. “That was quite an experience. Of course I didn’t want to have anything to do with working fulltime for Christ – I preferred the way I was doing it – teaching at the university, preaching the gospel – because that allowed me more or less to be my own master. The university was paying me – in those days lecturers were well paid – and church was very poor. But then when the time came – I discovered, I might lack some things but I have a joy that money can’t buy. So it was quite fulfilling – challenging, but fulfilling.”
A. “Of course you feel excited. You feel fulfilled- you are being used by God to meet the needs of so many people at a time which is probably one of the greatest joys of being a pastor. In the university, yes you are influencing lives, teaching them – moulding them – but they are very few in number – I think the largest number of students I had in one class must be less than 100- now to see you could influence 1million people at a time can be very exciting.”
A. “Our freedom of worship – the way we dance, shout, enjoy the almighty God – so I think that bit of us, bubbling enthusiasm – all is a good influence.”
A. “I believe the gospel is for all people. But I believe it is even more for the masses and majority of the masses – if you are going to reach for them you have to be at their level. If they see in you someone they can relate to – it’ll be easier for them to listen, to hear from you. One thing I’ve discovered about the masses – even though they might be poor and not high up there – there’s still something in them that doesn’t like being looked down upon. So they relate to someone who will talk to them at their level. But not just that – the so called high and mighty – if you get close to them, you will know that underneath the beautiful dresses – they’re human – presidents, heads of states, CEOs – they all still go to the toilet – they all still get tired, all feel pain – so if you go to the basics you will reach everyone. Because in every man there is that basic need.”
A. “Maybe we’ll say the economic situation, social problems that we face have been a very good catalyst in bringing people to Christ. I must add that some people exploited that – setting up fake churches – knowing that people will come to wherever they hear God is healing. But , like I keep telling people – any time you see a counterfeit – it means the original must be somewhere. You won’t see a counterfeit N2000 note – cause there’s no original.”
A. “If we discover such a fellow – we dismiss him – we don’t compromise at all. And our people know that. If you find a pastor twisting the word of the bible to his own advantage – all you have to do is let me know.”
Quote – Pastor Enoch Adeboye
“Who is it who said man is a political animal. Everybody should decide who is going to rule over him and you should not complain about anything you permit.”
General shots of Nigeria / people
Nigeria is a country of 150 million people divided roughly between a Christian south and a Muslim north.
It is a fault-line along which there are often deadly clashes. Both sides stand accused of encouraging such violence.
Quote – Pastor Enoch Adeboye
A. “There’s no doubt about that.”
A. “I believe – anytime light begins to shine – there’s bound to be a little resistance from darkness. So that’s a settled matter. Unfortunate as it may seem – some politicians go in the guise of religion to perpetrate evil. I do not think genuine Christians and genuine Muslims will fight. If you kill a Muslim – you are killing a potential convert – someone who is dead cannot be converted and of course a Muslim killing a Christian – you are also killing a potential convert. But I think most of the crisis are not really religion – it’s politics. Some politicians choose to use religion as a tool for their own ulterior motives.”
A. “Of course – who was it that said man is a political animal. Everybody should decide who is going to rule over him and you should not complain about anything you permit. If you fail to vote, fail to participate in the political situation and someone gets to become your ruler and you say you don’t like the way he’s ruling you – who’s fault? Where were you when he was being voted into power? And if someone gets into power and he’s not doing what you expect him to do – then vote him out.”
A. “Maybe they should do more. Because I believe in the past – the people have been so focused on making it to heaven that they don’t want anything to do with politics – politics has gizzards, which is another way of saying politics can be dirty. Christians are the light of the world – should be shining a light not being the salt of the earth which is only of use if its applied – so I think we should be doing more than we are doing now.”
But noone is quite sure how much Pastor Adeboye is doing
Tonight’s service is attended by Nigeria’s President – Goodluck Jonathan, as well as various other state governors and politicians.
All seeking guidance.
But, particularly with controversial national elections in April – the degree to which his support and advice is listened to is unclear, also unclear.
A. “When I am consulted I do talk. But then all you can do is advise – you can’t command – you can say this is the way I think this thing should be done then they’re free to decide whether they will take your advice or ignore it. You are free once in a while to make a move that will show the man on top the feelings of the masses because we are very close to the masses. I’m into saying presidents and governors are not close to the masses – but you know fully well, that if there’s total black out in the nation – lights will still be on in state house. But as we live with the people on a daily basis – we can feel their pulses better. So when things become a little too uncomfortable for the masses – we take some actions.”
A. “No. I mean – when you have this kind of congregation – you have members of every party in the congregation and if you want to retain their respect for you – you must be neutral. My suggestion would always be – make sure you vote for the person of your choice – if the choice you make turns out to be right – glory be to God, if your choice turns out wrong then maybe another time.”
Services last throughout the night with numerous prayer sessions
And each sermon is simultaneously read aloud in English and the local language Yoruba
there are choirs, music, as well as donations and more controversially – healing.
Despite the Redeemed Church’s promise of an improved standard of living for the average Nigerian – the UN estimates 80% of people in the country still live on less than $2 a day.
A. “Prayers can move mountains. Protesting outside government house – how much has it achieved? You go there – you carry placards, if you’re fortunate – you will return home alive, if you are not fortunate – some overzealous police officer might accidentally discharge some bullets. And you protest day after day after day and after some time you get tired.”
A. “Sure – we are trying our best – the problem is huge – we might not see results to soon but we are doing our best we have programmes that are talking about how to start little business, we have seminars on small scale farming, seminars on almost everything – in other words we’re saying don’t look onto government for everything – be creative.”
A. “I love fishing. I used to be a boxer – unfortunately I can’t box anymore, except box the devil maybe.”
Adeboye on Newsweek front cover
In 2008 – Pastor Adeboye was featured in Newsweek magazine, as one of the world’s top fifty most influential people.
A. ‘I felt humbled. Because – how could they possibly leave all the archbishops and big, big names and chose a small pastor in one little jungle. I was surprised and humbled and drove me closer to God.”
A. “Of course it is- if I had my way, I would not want influence over anyone but my little family. Particularly as the bible says on the day of judgement – judgment is going to be based on this influence – how have you used this influence – for good or evil. One man was complaining to a great preacher – the preacher said what is your problem, the man said – my congregation is only fifty people in number. And the preacher said – you have a lot of people to answer for when you get to heaven – you should thank God there are only fifty.”
A. “I love fishing. I used to be a boxer – unfortunately I can’t box anymore, except box the devil maybe. And I go for walks, long walks. Unfortunately I don’t have time for any other thing. It’s difficult for me to now even walk in the streets – everybody wants to come and ask me to pray for them. Occasionally I want to go to market – to buy things for myself – but last time I went to the supermarket I had to run back into the car because the people who were around the shop left the shop and wanted to turn the place into a crusade ground. So I can only walk in the night when they’re supposed to be sleeping and they can’t disturb me – and once in a while I go to fish in a place that is excluded – just for the fun of it.”
A. “I would have loved to retire – I had plans of what I could do in retirement – when you are retired – you are more or less your own master – wake up whenever you like, go where you want, when you want. If I’m retired I don’t have to be in charge of the congress – I can just come and enjoy.”
A. “Still a long way from our goal. We want to reach the whole world – want to have churches in every nation and have members in every family in the whole world and that’s where we believe God will take us before I leave this world.”
That time, his congregation hope – is still a long time to come.