Amidst the incessant bombings of Christians by the Muslim extremist organisation, Boko Haram, in the north of Nigeria, there is a thriving Christian community in the south. This community is growing in leaps and bounds and one of the organisations playing a role in this phenomenal growth is Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG). The story of RCCG is one of wonder and awe, literally. Formed over 50 years ago this church is on steroids. Let me tell you what I mean.
A few kilometres from Lagos the church owns a piece of property that looks like a city on its own. They call it the Redemption Camp and in it you find schools, banks, a university, residential and commercial properties situated in streets with names like; Peace Avenue, Grace Street, Breakthrough Road, etc. I am attending a conference and staying At Redemption Resort which is in one of the many resorts situated inside the “camp”. If I have to walk from the resort to the conference venue, within the camp, it takes me no less than 30 minutes. As you walk you see church-owned buses, trucks and other vehicles for medical purposes, outreaches, etc. going about the business of the Kingdom. Those not being driven around are parked at depots or being serviced and maintained at appropriate maintenance places within this church-owned city.
Free land for church members
I am told that church members are given free land within the camp as long as they develop it within six months. You see houses of various sizes from simple single-storey dwellings to huge multi-storey houses and to me it looks like they have managed that difficult balance between capitalism and socialism. Now where do all these people go to have a church service on Sundays? This is where it gets even more interesting. There are a number of RCCG churches within this camp, so a person is free to attend or belong to any one of them. They are of various sizes and capacities and there are many I have seen being constructed. The church’s stated aim is to have a parish within 5 minutes walking distance in every city and town of developing countries and 5 minutes driving in every city and town of developed countries. Here at Redemption Camp there are also parishes for youth. That’s right, a church just for youth and in fact the conference we are attending is held in one of the youth centres. This youth centre probably seats more than 3 000 people.
I don’t think the leadership of RCCG knows how many parishes are under them. I know this sounds strange but this ministry is not centralised under the leadership of one “man of God.” Don’t get me wrong, the members and many Nigerians have profound respect for their pastor, Pastor Enoch Adebayo but he has a very unassuming demeanour. The 70 year old former mathematics lecturer, who they call the General Oversee, is a very humble person although highly gifted by God. He shuns publicity but crowds throng wherever he appears. On the first Friday of every month he holds an all-night Holy Ghost Service. It is estimated that an average of 500 000 people attend this service in Redemption Camp in a building they call an arena. Now the arena is a 3km by 3km monstrosity of a structure. It goes on and on for what seems to be an eternity. It took us a few minutes to drive around it and much longer to walk through it.
Prayer is a big thing here
Anytime you walk through or pass it you see people praying. Prayer is a big thing in this part of world. The building, or maybe I should call it a series of warehouses put together, is not walled and this helps with Nigeria’s hot and humid climate. Space does not permit me to report to you everything I am seeing here but coming to this country changes your paradigm about what we consider to be “big” or “mega.” This organisation has about 2 000 churches in Nigeria and many others in various parts of the world, including America, Europe, the Caribbean, various African states, etc. In fact they are in every country in Africa except for four states and they are not happy that they have not yet penetrated these four “yet-to-be-conquered” countries.
How do these believers achieve such feats? I think their secret is in simplicity. They do not unnecessarily clutter and complicate the Gospel. For instance their vision and mission statement is “To make heaven – to take as many people with us.” That is simple, isn’t? I am learning here that our Westernised view of the Gospel and its presentation is a hindrance to many of us. Now this story of God’s working in Nigeria does not end with Redeemed Christian Church of God. There are many other organisations with tens of thousands of followers. I can assure you that with the amount of praying the believers are doing here, the Muslim extremists are not going to succeed in their terror campaign.