For those that do not know, Living Faith Church World-Wide (Winners’ Chapel), is 32 years old! The church that started on May 2, 1981, has made significant and humbling transitions that clearly indicate that indeed, many are called but few are chosen. Winners’ Chapel is today a global phenomenon that has changed the history, landscape and perceptions of people about the importance of Christian missionary activities in the world. From small meetings at different locations in the country, particularly in northern Nigeria, the church now gathers hundreds of thousands at its annual Shiloh prophetic congregations and tens of thousands of worshippers at every Sunday service in Canaanland, Ota as well as multitudes of congregants in all its major church assemblies in the country and beyond. From a very small beginning, Dr. David Oyedepo by the grace of God, now leads one of the largest and most popular Christian ministries in the world.
What many may not understand is that the story behind this seeming fairy tale is Bishop Oyedepo’s uncompromising stance about obedience to and love for God. He often says, “I love God more than anything else, including myself and my obedience to divine instructions is total”. One dangerous prayer he often makes is, “wherever God cannot take me, let me never get there….whatever God cannot give me, let me never have it”. That speaks volumes about his attitude towards things of God. And this is what many people could never imagine as a sure foundation for total success in life and ministry. I had never heard such extreme form of prayers before until I entered that church years ago. It is not a common thing to hear anywhere, as the common thing is to hear people making a list of wishes and petitions to God, many of which God himself is averse to.
Incidentally, obedience to divine instructions is the actual foundation of the Lining Faith Church. Our church is itself a direct product of divine instructions contained in an 18-hour vision, which God’s Servant, Dr. Oyedepo received in an encounter in the most unexpected of places: in the outskirts of Ilesa (Osun State of Nigeria) just when he was departing the town as his Christian friends he had come to visit were not around. Hearing a divine call, ‘seek a quiet place, I want to speak with you” in the middle of a youthful quest to spend some more time visiting old friends, one would expect him to feign ignorance of any call and continue with his fun. But he sought a quiet place in obedience to that voice, and in the process got a divine mandate to “liberate my people from all oppressions of the devil through the preaching of the word of faith”.
When he was receiving these instructions, Bro David did not have anything that suggested he was a ‘liberator of mankind”, but like Moses and other personalities in the Holy Book, who became giants after divine instructions; Bro David had the staff of obedience, which, in my estimation, has made him totally different from others. This is a reminder of Matthew 6:33 (Seek ye first His Kingdom and His Righteousness and all other things will be added unto you”).
What has thus now become a vast Ministry with huge potentials to further increase to higher levels beyond human comprehension is a direct result of that singular experience of obedience. And that is what many people do not understand: they do not know the roots of success; in the same manner they do not know the genesis of Dr. David Oyedepo. I did not know all these things until I became a member of the church. I did not know the spiritual depth of faith and obedience until I heard stories on the practicality of obedience and faith from the altar of my pastor and father, Bishop Oyedepo. I used to win but I did not know it is done; in fact I had thought winning was a thing of luck, until he taught me that no, luck is not the source, for God is not partial; but that light from heaven and obedience are the secrets of winning.
What I understand from this, which he often says, is that when vision (instruction) is given, revelation (light: how to get the task done) backs it up if one believes (have faith) and obeys (do it). These are the secrets of riches, success, longevity and happiness. Bishop Oyedepo is therefore not a ‘prosperity preacher’ as many people erroneously assume. He is far too deep to be that; he is a practical teacher of godliness, faith and obedience, the only three keys to a world of exploits, including prosperity; and he stresses this all the time.
As a result of the infiltration of many pseudo-Christians in the Church of God today, many cannot decipher the difference. And it is simply not their fault because many are beguiled by the plethora of agents of falsetto and it s only when “ye know the truth can the truth make you free”. And it is this shallow knowledge of Living Faith Church that makes many to erroneously think it is one of those new-generation prosperity-regardless of-godliness ministries. I did not know this depth myself until I got close to the church. One most fascinating thing about Papa since I got privileged to have him as my Prophet and Father is that he is very kind and simple, he will not take from anyone, he will not put anyone under financial pressure, he will always render account to the people, and he will not waste people’s time. In an era of general moral laxity, it is uncommon to see a person so uncompromisingly firm, very principled and truthful like him.
Winners’ Chapel began as a small congregation of worshippers under batchers and rented apartments in Ilorin, Jos, and Kaduna. The very first vehicle of the church then was supposed to be a privately owned Volkswagen Beetle of the founder, Bishop David Oyedepo, but which was practically, the people’s car as it was more of the church’s car than the founder’s own. Focus and commitment have been the watchwords of the founder. In one of his stories I am privileged to know, Bishop shuttled Ilorin and Kaduna for years in his Beetle car after God instructed him to leave Ilorin, which was just beginning to grow in the early 1980s, for Kaduna, a place known in Nigeria then as the hub of religious strife. Just as Kaduna was gathering momentum, he was again instructed to depart Kaduna for Lagos and “raise me a people”. In an age that most ministries would start from Lagos because of its commercial value, Bishop detested the idea and almost did not want to leave until the voice got clearer and persisted.
Just as the Lagos arrival had become a phenomenon after all, there was yet another instruction to leave Lagos, and this time, for the bush, where it was most unlikely that anyone would come to worship. Yet he obeyed and remained focused. That “bush” is today, Canaanland, in the outskirts of Ota in Ogun State, where the entire world comes to worship every Sunday, and which seems every inch a model for the ruling elite in rebuilding the ailing Nigerian State.
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As we congratulate Bishop David Oyedepo and the Winners’ Family globally, on the 32 years of the Living Faith Church World-Wide (Winners’ Chapel) and for the cloud of living witnesses testifying of the Liberation Mandate, including me, I sincerely commend the lifestyle and beliefs of God’s Servant to all pastors today. I also recommend his legacies to present and future African leaders: integrity, diligence, focus and godliness.
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