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76 Garlands for Adeboye

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HILDHOOD and early  life. He was born on Sunday, March 2, 1942 in Ifewara, Osun State. His parents were poor and could not afford to pay school fees for the children.

Pastor Enoch Adeboye, General Overseer, Redeemed Christian Church of God preaching at the ongoing 65th Annual Convention of the church. Photo Lamidi Bamidele

Enoch was, however, very particular about receiving a formal education and when his requests to be sent to school were dismissed by his father, he went on a hunger-strike to persuade him. His father eventually gave in and sold his goat in order to pay for his son’s school fees. Thus Enoch was enrolled at the only missionary school, St Stephen’s (Anglican) Primary School, Ifewara.

Though he started school quite late, he soon realized that he loved to read. He was admitted into the Ilesha Grammar School, Ilesha, Osun State in 1956, where he discovered his passion for science and mathematics. He badly wanted to pursue a higher education but the ongoing Nigerian Civil War and his family’s dire financial condition threatened to thwart his ambitions. Yet he chased his dream relentlessly and ultimately obtained not only a B.Sc. degree in Mathematics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka in 1967, but also an M.Sc. degree in Hydrodynamics and a PhD in Applied Mathematics, both from the University of Lagos, in 1969 and 1975 respectively.

Unregenerated activities

Married to Foluke Adenike on December 17, 1967, the young couple was facing some challenges in having children. They had two children through caesarean surgery and doctors advised them against having more. He was a fresh graduate and thus the couple had a very simple marriage. During the period of ignorance, Adeboye in desperation involved himself in several unregenerated activities that didn’t help his course.

After several disappointments, Adeboye miraculously found himself attending the Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG, which was pastored then by Rev. Josiah Olufemi Akindayomi, the founder who preached a sermon that changed Adeboye’s perception of life in general and the Christian faith in particular. Before Adeboye could use his mathematical calculations to analyse the preaching of the illiterate church founder, he found himself weeping while making the decision for Christ. That was the tiny voice on July 29, 1973 that let loose the avalanche shaking the world today. (Zechariah 4:10)

The story of Enoch Sunday Adejare “Ademaths” Adeboye who had to borrow a pair of oversized trousers over a  pair of Odutola tyred-sole sandals to attend his prize-giving day ceremony is very well known to those who have followed the grass-to-glory story of the Redeemed Christian Church of God. As he told Vanguard: “I was born handicapped, financially and socially. I was born into probably the poorest family in the whole world. Among poor people, my father was considered poor. For the first time in 18 years of my life, I never wore a pair of shores.”

No doubt, the contribution of his mother, Mrs. Esther Adeboye and those of other extended family members, his in-laws and other community members which were also impactful and collectively made the young lad to appreciate the culture of his people, its traditional music, mode of dressing, wisdom of the ancient, proverbs and riddles which he later deployed in various programmes and presentations, had played a significant role, but it must be acknowledged that there is the unseen hand of God in his miraculous transformation above all his peers.

“If there is anything at all that I know I carried over from secular into the ministerial or spiritual it is what my father had built into every one of his children, and that is hard work. The old man (Pa Moses Adeboye) never gave us any breathing space even when we were young. He drove like he drove himself. So, hard work has been more or less a part of me as it is a part of everyone in the house of Adeboye,” he said in one his rare press interviews.

But despite the industry and discipline, how many products of the House of Adeboye made it out of mediocrity? So there’s the God factor. Wonders, they say, shall never end! In 2008, the influential American news magazine, Newsweek picked Pastor Enoch Adeboye as one of the 50 most powerful people in the world.

Addressing management staff of Vanguard Media Limited, publishers of Vanguard Newspapers, who paid him a thank-you visit at the Redemption Camp for gracing their Vanguard Media Christian Fellowship end-of-year thanksgiving service, Pastor Adeboye assured Nigerians that God cannot allow the nation to disintegrate. The cleric also used the occasion to reiterate that when he had time to read Nigerian newspapers, he had made it a point of duty to pick Vanguard first because, according to him “It is consistent.

“I want to really thank God for Vanguard Newspapers. I am always very careful about what I say because I know that a lot of people are listening; if nobody else, those who are our members. Since they heard that Vanguard is the first paper I read before I read others, I am sure quite a few people now will be saying there must be something in that newspaper, because they know that there are some newspapers I don’t touch at all, because I have seen them falsify reports,

“I have found Vanguard surprisingly consistent in reporting the truth, at least, as much as possible. So I read Vanguard. It is the first one I pick when I want to read newspapers and after that I read two others. I don’t want to mention the others.” He thereafter appealed for a continuation of the relationship that has been established. “I will gladly want this relationship to continue and if there is anything I can do for Vanguard Media Limited too, no matter how little, I will be more than willing to do it,” he promised.

His thoughts on humility

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 as 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 state, 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.”

His thoughts on the explosion in RCCG

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 – because there’s no original.

Religious violence

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 crises are not really religion – its politics. Some politicians choose to use religion as a tool for their own ulterior motives.

Can the Church play a role in politics?

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.

Is the Church playing enough role now?

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.

Birthday

The world, today, is marking his 76th birthday. How does he feel about the occasion? He advised, “Birthday should be spent in meditation rather than celebration. The Bible says we should number our days so we could apply our hearts to wisdom. So, if there will be any celebration at all, it should be one of thanksgiving to God for sparring our lives to see a new beginning”

Nevertheless, the umbrella body of Christians in the country, Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, has sent him a special birthday wish, praying God will yearly make Pastor Adeboye stronger and more impactful in ministry. CAN President, Rev. Samson Ayokunle Ayokunle, in a terse message, described the former mathematics lecturer as a “pride to all Christian Leaders in Nigeria and the whole of Africa…one of the meekest men on earth today.

“A man of God has greatly prospered in every way but without any sense of pride. A father to many and pillar of support for CAN Leadership. We love him and wish joy unlimited thisday and everyday of his life in the name of Jesus,” Ayokunle prayed.

In a similar vein, the national president of Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, PFN, Rev. Felix Omobude on behalf of the National Advisoy Council, the National Executive Council and all members of the Fellowship, congratulate the General Overseer of RCCG on this special occasion of his 76th birthday.

“It offers us yet another wonderful opportunity to celebrate and appreciate you for the great service and sacrifice you continue to make in the vineyard of the Lord. You have been a huge inspiration to all of us in the Body of Christ. Your impact is evident across all the continents and many generations. Your humility and generosity stand you out as a true leader.

“We thank God for your life. We wish you many more yearsin great health, prosperity and service to the Lord,” Omobude prayed.

QUICK FACTS:

Name: Enoch Adejare Adeboye
Nick Name: Daddy G.O.
Famous as: Pastor
Nationality: Nigerian
Birth Date: Sunday, March 2, 1942
Age: 76 years
Zodiac sign: Pisces
Born in: Ifewara, Osun State
Father: Moses Adeboye
Mother: Esther Adeboye
Spouse: Foluke Adenike Adeboye
Children: Adeolu Adeboye, Mrs. Adebolugbe Adubi, Oluwadamilare Adeboye and Oluwagbemileke Adeboye


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Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.