The General Overseer of Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Enoch Adeboye, who turned 76 years old, last Friday, has touched many lives in various ways. For example, he made Vice President Osinbajo, a lawyer, believe in the supernatural.
Also, in a funny, yet profoundly instructive story, a member of the Governing Council of the Church vowed not to call Mr. Adeboye on the phone again.
Sometime ago, David Kuo was an RCCG pastor in charge of Kano State from where he called Mr. Adeboye over an issue. "I greeted him, but he responded with 'Yes sir', and maintained that in everything he said.
"Ha! Not sure he knew the person he was talking to, I reminded him, 'Sir, emi David lo n soro, sir.'(Sir, David is the person speaking).
"But he responded emphatically 'I know, Sir!' and the 'Yes sir' continued.
"Aah, who am I for a whole Pastor Adeboye to address that way? I was worried.
"To avoid that I decided I would not call him again."
Under normal circumstances, a boss addressing a subordinate that way is an indication that the latter may be in some kind of trouble or is being humoured. Besides that, even without being a pastor, Mr. Kuo knew that Mr. Adeboye, noted for signs, wonders and miracles, was a revered person. That was a lesson in humility.
The uncommon humility of Mr. Adeboye, which transcends the human realm, is one reason some people think he is more of a spiritual being than human.
It perhaps defies human psychology that a man who is so spiritually powerful, so widely revered, and even sought after by presidents of various countries hasn't been afflicted by the seduction of success - a phenomenon characterised by pride and disrespect for others.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who Mr. Adeboye introduced to the supernatural world, has this to say about his humility in the foreword of a book, "Stories of Pastor E.A. Adeboye", by this writer.
"The life of Daddy in itself is one big miracle! For a man born to financially-challenged parents in the remote village of Ifewara, Osun State, who had no shoes at 18 years old, who was not a Born Again Christian until the time he was a mathematics teacher at the University of Lagos, becoming the leader of a church with a strong presence in over 192 (now 198) countries, and with over 40,000 parishes in Nigeria alone, is indeed, a miracle worth knowing. For this same man to remain infectiously humble, in spite of his enormous power, influence and popularity, is also a miracle in itself."
Mr. Adeboye is so humble that he doesn't even want to take credit for his humility. He gives it to God who ordered the behaviour after the massive success of the first Holy Ghost Congress in Lekki, Lagos in 1998.
He says: "Something happened after Lekki 98; one of the biggest programmes that we ever had. The whole of Lagos was paralysed because of this programme.
"People walked kilometres to the venue and back. Fortunately, the programme was also transmitted by radio, so that those who couldn't get there listened to it on radio. It was a fantastic programme!
"After the programme, I returned to the Redemption Camp and soon proceeded on a prayer walk to thank God: 'God I bless Your Holy name, what a wonderful thing, etc.'
"It was between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. when He spoke. I heard him say clearly, 'Son, bend down.'
I did that quickly because, you know, I was in the jungle. You never can tell; a witch could have been flying past.
And then He said, 'Draw the figure of a man in the sand.'
"I drew the figure of a man: zero for the head, one line for the body and two lines for the leg and so on. You know that kind of drawing.
"God said, 'Stand up.' I did, but by then I was afraid because I knew something serious was happening.
He said, 'Wipe out the figure you have drawn with your leg.' I wiped it out.
And He said, 'Son, if you ever forget who your boss is, I will wipe you out and nobody will even remember you came to the world.'
"That was what He told me. So, I smile when I hear people say, 'He's a very humble man. How can a man be so successful and so humble?' You think I want to be wiped out?'"
The Osinbajo Transformation
A law professor, Mr. Osinbajo believed only in the demonstration of (physical) evidence, until he lost his passport after a trip to South Africa.
It is an interesting story he narrated himself. "One day, when Daddy (Mr. Adeboye is popularly called Daddy G.O) was travelling, we went to the Redemption Camp to help him with his luggage and I used the opportunity to tell him about my missing passport.
"He asked what happened, and I told him. I had searched everywhere, and even gone to the then popular Oluwole market in Lagos to check if it had been taken there for sale. I was told it would cost me N400,000 to get it, but I didn't even have N40,000 to give.
"When Daddy heard my story, he said if we prayed I would get the passport back. I said to myself, 'how does anybody even say that?'
"But I told him, 'Well, yes.'
"He prayed, 'In Jesus name you will find your passport.'
"I responded, 'Amen,' and promptly forgot about it.
"However, a few days later, under 10 days, the person who stole the passport brought it back. That was a very important lesson in my life, especially in my walk with God.
"Daddy was the one who was able to show me that aspect of the supernatural. For me, who believed that evidence is the demonstration of what is seen, God showed me that evidence could be something not seen."
These days, the supernatural aspect of Mr. Adeboye's life is discussed much more than his physical nature.
Another surprising aspect of Mr. Adeboye is his unusual energy and staying power. He has personally attended and led all major RCCG programmes at the Redemption Camp, which in itself is a testimony of God's special favour on Him.
In 1981, while he worried about accommodation for his family in Mushin, Lagos, God promised him a city. Today, the Redemption Camp of several residential estates and reliable socio-economic infrastructure is growing into a city. He also attends programmes in many of the 198 countries where the church has branches. He hops from one programme or country to another making people wonder if he ever has time to rest.
At 76, instead of cutting his schedule short to rest, it is getting longer. Last month, the daily prayer session at the camp for the church's 50-day fasting season was increased to a week. He also began ministration for the church's monthly thanksgiving service, broadcast live in all branches. It was also the month in which he organised special prayers for the nation at the camp.
The 50-day fasting of the church, with his full participation, ended on March 1, but it is only the first part. The second part, of 30 additional days, starts in July.
Asked if he would reduce or stop fasting, which some people observe has become his food, he had replied: "The moment I quit fasting, you can begin to expect my departure because I have resolved never to relax. As far as I am concerned, the day I cease to be relevant, I go."
Even during the birthday week, it was all work. Solemn Assembly, a programme for ministers of God in RCCG to hold frank discussion with him, started on Sunday night and continued from Monday, both morning and evening session, till Wednesday night. On Thursday, there was a Holy Communion Service, followed on Friday by a heavily-attended Holy Ghost Service at the New Arena. He had also attended the closing of a marathon praise session.
So what happened to the birthday celebration? As usual, it was marked quietly at home, without disrupting the programmes of the church and he made no mention of it at the Special Holy Ghost Service later that day in a green outfit. It was the first time in the 32-year history of the service, which God approved as a birthday gift for him, it would actually coincide with his birthday.
Last year, a video in which people had lined up to touch a chair that had been used by Pastor Adeboye for miracles went viral, with some people accusing the church of ritual practices.
The reality of the situation is that the anointing on the pastor has become so powerful that coming into contact with anything he uses could invoke miracles. There are many cases of barren women who have had their wombs blessed by eating leftovers of his food, or sitting on a chair he had used.
In one of the testimonies of such miracles, after a church programme in Dublin, an official of the church there took away the chair Mr. Adeboye had used to avoid the usual rush by people to use it.
The testimony: "There was a rush of women to sit on the chair I had sat on so that they could be pregnant as they had heard in many testimonies. But one man took the chair away.
"One of the women was sad but she quickly remembered that I had used the pulpit. She then rushed to the pulpit and rubbed her stomach on it. That same month, she became pregnant. And when she was testifying, she showed three children - two boys and a girl - as evidence."
God has continued to use Mr. Adeboye to perform several miracles across the world - healing of all manner of diseases, replacement of body organs, breakthroughs, etc. The book, "Stories of Pastor E.A. Adeboye" contains many of such miracles.
The anointing on him has become so strong that even oil and handkerchiefs he has blessed have been used to raise the dead.
For a man who is able to communicate regularly with God, Mr. Adeboye's sermons are usually punctuated with "Words of Knowledge" he shares with the congregation. And everybody goes quiet with anticipation once he gives an alert, "Daddy (God) says... .."
Some of the prophecies sound unbelievable but the rate of accuracy has not been faulted. In Ibadan, the woman who had feathers growing in her armpit, instead of hair, came out for deliverance and the feathers promptly disappeared.
In Lagos, as in other venues, women who had no wombs or fallopian tubes have been blessed with kids and testified the miracles with their babies.
Even prophecies some people find funny are announced once the "Word of Knowledge" comes. One of such cases was the healing of a woman with burning sensation in her private parts. As usual, when the prophecy alert came the congregation was eager for it, but when he said God has healed a woman with burning sensation in her private part, the Arena went quiet.
Mr. Adeboye noticed that so he said, "Well whether you believe that or not, we will see."
Two services later, an elegant middle-aged lady in a flowing gown, testified from the fearsome altar that the prophecy was meant for her and she had been truly healed. A similar testimony was given by another lady months later.
The phenomenal growth of the church is also a reason why Mr. Adeboye is highly respected. It takes the blessing of God for a church that had only 40 parishes to have several thousands of them in Nigeria, with visible presence in 198 countries.
The growth of the church is a prophecy foretold, but it still pleasantly surprises some of the members who have grown with it. And the choice of Mr. Adeboye to succeed the founder is said to be a key success factor.
J.H. Abiona, the 93-year-old Retired Deputy General Overseer of the church, who was appointed acting General Superintendent after the death of the founder to handle the transition, had to weather a storm generated by people who were eager to lead the church, despite God's plan, which had earlier been made known to them.
Respected for his humility, righteousness and commitment to God, Mr. Abiona is known as one of the very few people to pray for Pastor Adeboye and his wife during church programmes.
He said to a magazine of the church: "I thank God that we insisted on doing God's will and today everyone can see that the successor was God's choice."
Obviously, God walks and works through people who walk diligently with Him. "God himself must have been happy to choose Pastor Adeboye because of his holiness and obedience to Him."
"There is nothing we have done as a church, including the choice of the Redemption Camp, without him following God's direction; and I am sure that is what he does in his private life," says an old member of the church, who adds, "He is extremely humble, hardworking, honest, and hates laziness."
More Spiritual than Human?
From all that, many people find multiple reasons to believe that Mr. Adeboye is now more of a spirit than a human being. "Living with that man will be a nightmare because he will know everything you do," a young man in Lagos cracked recently.
Mr. Adeboye has heard what people say about his spirituality himself, and has reacted this way: "Someone once said that the reason why God is using Pastor Adeboye is because of his name "Enoch'", referring to how God related with Enoch in the Bible. (The Bible says that Enoch lived 365 years before he was taken by God, which some Christians interpret as Enoch entering heaven alive.)
"He doesn't eat. Have you ever seen him eat the pounded yam he talks so much about?" the person argued.
"When I heard that," said Mr. Adeboye, "I laughed. You think I don't eat? Invite me to your house, prepare some good pounded yam; get a very good combination of okro, make sure there is plenty of bush meat and chicken and fish and turkey. You won't have to go to any church before you see the glory of God. Right there in your dining room, a mountain will become a valley."
Of course, evidence of his human nature is strewn all over the place. His birthplace in Ifewara, schools he attended, etc., are still there, so are many of his friends and associates.
His son, Dare Adeboye, who doubles as his personal assistant, was told by a newspaper how people believe that everything about Mr. Adeboye is spiritual, and was asked to give an insight into the non-spiritual aspect of his life.
He said: "My father likes to fish, so every single house that we've had on the camp has a fish pond behind it. It is very relaxing. He likes to go for walks. He likes train rides; thank God the railways are being developed back in Nigeria. But any time we are outside Nigeria, he prefers to go by train to most places, because you get to see the countryside and have a different view of life than just being in the car all the time. And we watch movies, but not corrupt ones. We watch Mount Zion movies too, but not necessarily hundred per cent Christian movies all the time, because we would be caging ourselves, and would not be engaging in the reality of what other people are experiencing.
Mr. Adeboye can never be caught ascribing achievements of the church or his personal achievements onto himself. He says that without God he is nothing.
At the book launch last year, he said: "I cannot say I have any ability or wisdom. Everything has been the Lord Himself. When I was about 40 and spotted grey hairs on my head, I wondered why and God said I was carrying a burden that was not mine.
"God said, 'I am just using you as camouflage. People need to see someone. So, I am putting you forward so that I can do the work from behind.' So, everything that is happening in RCCG, nothing is of Adeboye at all; it is all about God. So, how do you say you are writing a book about somebody that is nothing; someone who has almost zero beginning, from a poor family and who passed through secondary school by God's grace?"
It is said that, indeed, "most things he does and his travels are dictated by God and he has little time or schedules of his own."