Garlands to a Deserving General on His Birthday!

Bishop David Olaniyi Oyedepo, Founder and Presiding Bishop of the Living Faith Church Worldwide (LFCWW), also known as Winners’ Chapel or Winners’ Chapel International, is 60 years old! We celebrate the life and times of a renowned General in God’s Army. Papa, as we fondly call him, has come a very, very long way in God’s Vineyard. So many great people will, of course, say so many great things about this tireless and unrepentant Servant of God. But I have few things to say too, and mine may be humble remarks, but they are from a proper perspective, as Daddy is not really aware that I have been following him from the days I was in elementary school. I must confess, though, that it took me decades to realize that it was the same humble man under thatched roofs in my area in Kaduna that I would reunite with from 2004, having grown to becoming the world’s most sought-after evangelist, with his global headquarters in Sango Ota, Ogun State.

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When I was a little boy in the beautiful city of Kaduna, Angwar Rimi to be precise, our house, located in the midst of the Old Colonial Quarters, was not too far from a batcher, some hundreds of meters away, which housed the roots of Living Faith Church,. It was a route we as a family rarely took, but I remember that my mom used to pass through there sometimes when on her way to see a friend (a youth corper) who would later become one of the stars of the now rested Mirror in the Sun 111 television soap opera. My dad’s office, Nigerian Grains Board, was just few meters away from our sprawling quarters in this former colonial residential area.

I cannot really recollect, but I know that we used to hear very loud prayers, singing and dancing most evenings, and on Sundays, sermons amplified on megaphones or loudspeakers (I cannot tell which any longer) would rend the air. It was always a quiet Sunday, but the winds would blow the messages across once in a while. After services, if we were opportune to be around that batcher, we would see the few church members looking bright and fulfilled, coming out and smiling at passers-by. On some occasions, tracts would be brought to the gate and handed out to our Bozo (name for a Nigerien ethnic group) how to order diflucan onlinebuy diflucan for yeast infection mai guard xenical online canada non prescription ivermectinStromectol 3 mg tablets xenical to buy online for him to give to us. Sometimes, the pastors- I cannot tell if Bishop was one of them- spotting three-piece Nigeria-made suits would distribute tracts and invite us to come and see God’s wonders at the church. May be my mom (she loves God’s House so passionately and does not waste time to avail herself of such opportunities) would have visited the church once or twice (I will ask her again if she did because I have lost count of how many churches she had attended when we were growing up).

Whenever Bishop is sharing this story about his beginning at Angwar Rimi in Kaduna, I always try hard to figure out if he was the young good-looking pastor I used to see around the area, for most of his stories fit into the picture of my Christian experience in the neighborhood as a child. My dad recognized that my mom and I were the most receptive to the Christians that visited, including Jehovah Witnesses, CAC, Deeper Life and those enthusiastic young men and women from the batcher (I still cannot determine if it is Living Faith Church members, but they more probably were. There was no other Pentecostal church with such zeal and enthusiasm around our neighborhood).

We moved from Kaduna to Minna and that was the last I saw of my batcher-church friends. I later completed my primary education at Oro, about 25 kilometers from Omuaran, Papa’s hometown. I would not know it was the town of the same firebrand pastor I left behind at Kaduna (what does a child know?) We often visited Omuaran and there was never a time any reference was made to any David Oyedepo. He, like a typical Apostle, was busy doing God’s job in the land of hard-fighting Muslim fanatics.

But fast-forward to 2004, and I was led by God to Canaanland in Ogun State. My academic career brought me from University of Ibadan, where I had lectured for some years, to Covenant University. Then, I began to hear stories and saw pictures (during Papa’s 50th birthday) that reminded me of my 1980s. These looked similar to the images of the past. But I did not really pay attention to these things until I became privileged to work very closely with God’s Servant. Although I have never told him these stories of how I thought I knew him, but the details of what I have heard confirm my speculations- he is the same person!

From my little knowledge of him, Bishop Oyedepo is a lover of the deep things of God. From the 1980s when he stood his ground in a city known for the persecution of Christians, to date, Bishop has remained faithful, fearless, self-motivated, tireless, committed, busy and passionate about Christian Ministry. He is focused and sold out only to God’s instructions. His preaching is different; his writing style different; praise and worship different and ways of handling church issues different. He has a totally different approach because everything he does, he ensures they are the direct instructions in the Bible. Those differences were noticeable by me on arrival in 2004 and I soon adapted to them because the Man of God continued exactly from where my biological father- who is still very much alive and well- stopped. I grew to loving the man because of his unique approach and deeper understanding of Christianity. He would tell you exactly what you must hear and not what you wish to hear to massage your ego. He would tell you God’s hard instructions and rather than walk away in disappointment, you will still come and hear more. That can only happen when you have an original calling. And this was the style way back in the 1980s, as neighbours used to complain that his messages (over the filtering loudspeakers) often sounded too harsh for a “new generation” of soft Christians.

Ironically however, the “harsher” the messages, the more the people, Christians, Muslims and infidels, have come, from that time to the present. Today, the Faith Tabernacle, the 2008 Guinness Book of World Records’ holder of the Single Largest Auditorium takes 200,000 worshippers per Sunday, 50,000 people per service. There are large congregations everywhere in Nigeria and churches all over Africa, under Bishop’s tutelage.

Bishop Oyedepo’s unique way of handling people and making everyone around him to feel very important is something that singles him out as a leader of unparalled stature. This attribute underlies his unbelievable humility and friendliness when working with him at closer range. With his stature and stupendous affluence, he will sit and play with you like his own friend. He can share a piece of chicken with you if he is less busy. He makes life seem as it should be and demystifies wealth. He believes in you and makes you know you are a special person. No mater your age. This is probably why people, including many General Overseers of great ministries, see him as their Prophet and younger people like us flock around him. Who will not want to be around someone that makes him have a sense of being responsible?

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This is the human angle from which I wish to look at Bishop David Oyedepo. He has multiple parts from which different people can look at him. Books by him and from others about his life and times are in volumes; his is an endless story of human compassion, great initiatives, bold steps, dauntless faith, matchless accomplishments, unusual wisdom, unbelievable meekness and humility, and service to mankind. I pay my salutations to a Man of Faith and role model to generations of Christians and people of all religious persuasions and race. Happy Birthday to Dr. David Oyedepo at 60! I wish him another 60 years of God’s abiding faith and mercies, in good health and in Jehovah’s Vineyard.

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