By Ono Laurence
Between the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye and the Presiding Bishop of the Living Faith Church (Winners Chapel), David Olaniyi Oyedepo, there is an uncommonly close relationship. Indeed, many observers would wonder how two of the world’s most influential, famous and richest pastors would be so bonded together when they should be in competition.
The observer’s curiousity would naturally deepen when he realizes that both the Redeemed Christian Church of God and Winners Chapel, though very global in reach and presence are headquartered in Nigeria. The two churches, members from both sides seem agreed, do not have much difference in doctrine and orientation. That is why, it seems, a Redeemer would easily worship in a Winners’ church without feeling strange. Winners also attend RCCG churches and feel at home.
Such has been the bond between Oyedepo and Adeboye that until recently, the mega end – of – year programmes by both churches – Winner’s Shiloh and RCCG’s Holy Ghost Congress – were held in two successive weeks, making it possible for worshippers from both sides who might want to attend both programmes to do so. Remarkably, Pastor Adeboye would not only attend Shiloh as a special guest, his ministration would be one of the high points of the event. The same also happened at the RCCG end where Bishop Oyedepo would minster and many worshippers would go wild with jubilation.
The relationship between Adeboye and Oyedepo is one which has blossomed over the years. People who are close to them attest to the simplicity, sincerity and mutual respect that bind this relationship. However, for those who might still wonder about what binds the duo together, the answer came so freely and naturally last Sunday. The answer was given inside the Faith Tabernacle, the headquarters church of the Living Faith Church Worldwide which is located at Canaanland, Ota, Ogun State.
The church service was an unusual one as it marked the 35th anniversary of David Oyedepo’s Ministries and the founding of the church. Bishop Oyedepo and his Winners family called the occasion a celebration of 35 years of The Liberation Mandate. The service which was parked with worshippers had over 300,000 congregrants broken into five sessions in attendance. Oyedepo’s announcement of Pastor Enoch Adeboye’s presence in the third service sent the congregants leaping into the air in jubilation. It took some time for the worshippers to calm down.
Oyedepo had said: “I want to announce the presence of my Father – in – the – Lord, Pastor Enoch Adeboye. “It was at that point that he disclosed what binds them together. “At the beginning of this commission, God told me, I will have hands laid on you so you won’t go the way others have gone. Send for my servant, Enoch Adeboye to lay hands on you.” When the young David Oyedepo told Adeboye what God had said, he did not hesitate. So, 35 years ago, under God’s command, Pastor Adeboye laid hands on Oyedepo who believes the unction is still speaking today.
That Oyedepo regards Adeboye as his spiritual father is not a new discovery among Winners. The Bishop refers to it from time to time in regular church services. He tells anyone who cares to listen that he is privileged to have the General Overseer of RCCG as his spiritual father. He revers Adeboye, who should be his rival, openly in his church even when the former is nowhere near.
Oyedepo calls Adeboye his Father – in – the – Lord but Adeboye never refrains from addressing Oyedepo as “the Bishop.” Last Sunday, he humorously addressed Oyedepo as “the Lord Bishop” and that sent the congregation rolling with laughter because the joke was not lost on them. One congregant told this reporter how Adeboye sent everyone laughing at a Shiloh programme when he said: “If the Bishop sends for me, who am I, an ordinary pastor, to say no?”
At the anniversary church service last Sunday, Pastor Adeboye prayed for Bishop Oyedepo, his wife and children. He also prayed that in the next five years, when the Mandate will have turned 40, people will testify that the accomplishments of five years have surpassed those of 35 years.