By Sam Eyoboka
This year’s Spirit Life Conference of the House On The Rock Church, which was held from Wednesday August 23 to Sunday August 27 was indeed a watershed.
From its array of distinguished speakers, such as the world famous preacher, Bishop T.D. Jakes, music icon, Donnie McClurkin as well as the daily spicing of insightful scriptures and the crowd of enthusiastic worshippers, the annual conference truly lived up to its billings.
The auditorium of this elegant edifice was jammed on all floors, the crowd spilling unto adjoining streets and corners. This was not totally surprising given a number of factors: life was involved, so was music and dance, irresistible icings on the cake of any event requiring massive attendance.td-jakes-osinbajo.
Add to these, the antecedents of the main convener, Pastor Paul Adefarasin, a generational impact pastor with eyes on excellence, and you would understand the deluge. He had lined up for ministration at the conference, globally renowned individuals, including impactful American preacher with deep scriptural insight, Bishop T.D. Jakes, the proverbial Lion of Zimbabwe, Bishop Tudor Bismark; gospel music impresario, Donnie McClurkin, five apostolic teachers approaching the word from different dimensions and a host of other indigenous artistes and gospel ministers.
Billboards lined strategic driveways in the city proclaiming the conference, complimented with social media publicities, and daily live-streaming. Also, in an era of chocking socio-economic pressures, the conference’s theme; “Emerge” was itself provocative and must have driven the crowds from their anxieties and worries in search of answer; they filled literally every spot in the 22,000-seater auditorium, spilling to extensions that were immediately improvised.
The desperation of many more to secure vantage positions inside the Rock Cathedral forced a breach of security protocols here and there. It took pleas and countless flash of our reporter’s card to get back in after a visit to the gents. But there was not to be any such grace on the closing day, as he, like a legion others, had to watch proceedings from grand screens at one of the many arteries to the main auditorium.
The lighting in the auditorium was exquisite. The flakes splashed successively all around, draping the walls, the pulpit and the worshippers in all hues of colours. And then, the choristers of the Metropolitan Choir rose to the occasion, with songs like My God is awesome, Igwe and Who Has The Final Say?, forcing the drumming and stringing from mid-tempo to upbeat pulsating music that tucked at the hearts of the excited crowd.
In fact, by the time, a Pastor Flourish Peters came to call that opening segment to order at about 5:08 p.m., the yearning for more had reached its peak. The choristers and musicians had sang their hearts out, and struck their best chords in the interim.
In his penetrative intonation, fast-paced speaker and main host, Pastor Paul Adefarasin was more than excited, as he did a run-down of proceedings for the five-day programme. Physically well built and handsome in his chocolate colour, and blue jackets, he cut the image of a refined reverend, leading a cutting edge congregation.
He had by his side, an equally elegant looking woman, Pastor Ifeanyi, whose beauty could obviously buoy up a man of God’s total confidence. Quickly barging into scripture at Genesis 41, Pastor Adefarasin latched on the story of Joseph in the Bible to tutor his congregation on the virtue of patience and waiting for God’s timing. His point of view was that waiting had its advantages and reasons so long one belonged to God.
If what you are expecting hasn’t happened, he said, it just means it’s not your time yet. “Don’t get tired of waiting for your time. When it was time for Joseph’s emergence, he was released from prison. If he had been released earlier or later he wouldn’t have fulfilled purpose. Your time will come in Jesus name,” he admonished them.
But then he was pained that a country as endowed as Nigeria was lagging behind in a number of development indices, and in fact broke when individual billionaires in other climes, such as Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg; Google founder, Larry Page as well as the boss at Amazon, Jeff Bezos, were making waves with personal acquisitions and endowments, the latest giving to worthy causes as if he wanted to give out all his worth.
According to Adefarasin, a common streak runs through the people he enumerated, who leveraged on transformational opportunity to impact their societies and change their worlds.
Nigerian youths, he admonished, should also optimise their potentials and leverage available opportunities to emerge so that they could change their world.
Referring to the growth that his ministry had experienced over time, he said 25 years ago, he didn’t reckon with what God had deposited in him, but that constant seeking, commitment and willingness to be the best, have accounted to the height the ministry had attained.
“What we are facing in Nigeria today is an opportunity for great leaders like you to emerge, those with great leadership quality so that they can change the course of history; someone with clear vision of what could be done to bring the country out,” Adefarasin said.
Charging the government to invest in intellectual and physical infrastructure development, he said without it, development in the country would remain a pipe dream.
According to him, Nigeria and other under-developed countries are in their quagmire because of failure to invest in human capacity, and to get out of the woods, the government must begin to put down money consciously for its development.
“God is not in the business of giving money to those who do not know what to do with it. He wants us wealthy, he wants us influential, but we must also be ready before such could happen,” he said. Introducing the main speaker for the day, Bishop Jakes, he described him as “a repository of knowledge, ubiquitous, a man whose life has greatly transformed millions around the world”, a man whose fame was giving the global brand, Coca Cola close competition.
“He is a leaders’ leader, father and many people call him the bishop of bishops; we have many instructors but this man is in a class of his own. I am very proud he calls me son and I call him, father”.
Expressing his delight for the invitation and describing Adefarasin as a good host, the bishop referred to the scriptures at Exodus 34:1-5 and its relationship with the conference theme, saying: “The entire book of Exodus is about the struggle to emerge. It is easy to say it, but it is not easy to emerge. You cannot keep your hair fancy and want to emerge; you cannot look posh and polite and emerge.
You look strange to give birth, and birth is death…” In his sermon, he said that life and death are different phases of the same journey, whereby presence in one state is absence in the other, and that those who do not understand this dynamic are usually taken unawares and tend to grumble when God says it is time to move on to another stage of their development cycle. Using Moses as an example, he reiterated: “Never mistake your transportation for your destination”.
The rest of the days were as loaded and engaging as the first, for they showcased many more ministers, in word and in the music ministry.
Bishop Tudor Bismark taught on the blessing of dominion in a life fraught with limitations and challenges, saying that the one thing the believer needs to emerge out of these limitations was dominion anointing as had Esau.
For Bishop Wayne Malcolm, however, revelation is necessary for emergence, as it is revelation that sets the human expectation and ultimately triggers his emergence. “Revelation gives you a fight of faith and opens your eyes to new dimensions.”
In fact, it was such that each session had loaded insights and revelational teachings. But then, it was not just the teachings and ministrations. Emerge also created quick business opportunities for those who have entrepreneurial abilities. By the edge of the street on the other side of the auditorium had arisen a handful of vendors of all manner of merchandise. They cashed in on the thousands trooping in and out to make quick sales.
If Emerge 2017 lived to expectation, many people made it possible. The security details for example, were ever on their feet scanning bag pockets and giving directions to first timers. The same way, the technical crew were literally running here and there, mounting improvised screens and making the rounds to ensure that these served their purpose.
Each session of the conference saw the music ministers watering the grounds, stirring the enthusiasm and firing the expectation of the worshippers before the ministers of the word. Such music ministers included Segun Obe, Onos Ariyo, Eno Michaels, and Sonnie Badu amongst others. Here again, one must acknowledge the fact that it must have taken the rare insight of a man like Adefarasin to discover these hugely talented performers.
You would see mortals wholly consumed in playing their part of a total endeavour tailored at delivering an impactful conference. But that is not the only commentary about both the HOTR and its main inspiration. For any attendee, especially first time visitors, the fact that the man of God is doing commendably well is just obvious.
The huge expanse of property where the ministry sits must have cost a fortune, not to talk of the solid edifices that now dot it. Yet, both the day-to-day administration of the ministry and the transparently efficient management of the conference is a lesson for contemporary political leaders, at their different levels.
Lagos State governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode demonstrated camaraderie in sending a goodwill message on the opening day. He not only commended Adefarasin for the successful hosting of the conference, but also for being a good corporate citizen. Ambode equally invited other residents of the state to partner the state government in making Lagos the ideal home for all. Thus, the 2017 Spirit Life Conference of the House on the Rock Church may have come and gone, but there is no doubt that its lessons and impartations would linger for a long time to come.