The church service at the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Resurrection Parish, Lagos on September 11, 2022 was called a Surprise Service because it was not planned. God forced it.
It was a date that invokes pain over the loss of about 3000 innocent citizens in the United States but could have put the General Overseer of the RCCG, Worldwide, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, in trouble.
The Parish at Lekki, one of the oldest in Lagos, is the headquarters of Region 11 of the RCCG. It is the Second Model Parish in RCCG, after the one located at Ladipo Oluwole Street, Ikeja, also in Lagos State, started in May 1988 with Pastor Tunde Bakare as the Pioneer Parish Pastor.
As it grew, the Parish had at least three billionaires among its members who were planning to buy an aircraft for Pastor Adeboye to ease his movements. But the plan leaked to the General Overseer, who promptly stopped it, because, to him, what he needed then was money to build churches first.
Coincidentally, Pastor Adeboye’s journey down the memory lane during his sermon at the parish was on the day the United States was commemorating the 9/11 bombing of the World Trade Centre in New York. The dragnet of investigations by security agencies involved checking people who bought or planned to buy aircraft in the United States during the period. In the process, all telephone calls made in the US prior to the attack were checked and they found in their database that there was a time some people in Nigeria were trying to buy an aircraft from America Airlines.
So, they sent their operatives to pick up one of Pastor Adeboye’s sons, who worked with an airline in the US, to find out what happened to the billionaires’ plan to purchase the aircraft. They discovered that it was a pastor they wanted to buy it for, and concluded that a pastor of that status was unlikely to be a bomber, so they discontinued that line of investigation.
But Pastor Adeboye’s visit to the parish that day was not a coincidence. At the 2022 National Convention of the church at the Redemption City, where Region 11 won many prizes at the various competitions, he had said casually that he would them a visit one day.
As the days passed, Charles Kpandi, the Pastor of the Resurrection Parish, who brims with so much confidence that he wears a near-permanent smile on his face, was confident about the visit, so assured his congregation that “Pastor Adeboye would be at the parish soon.” He had gone ahead to write a letter to Pastor Adeboye, who could not immediately find a window in his tight schedule.
Pastor Adeboye said: “And I looked at the letter and thought he must be a joker because the work is multiplying in answer to prayers. Since after the Convention, we had been to Kenya to dedicate the Headquarters of African Continent 5 and do a lot of ministrations here and there. And back home in Nigeria, I had been running up and down again, so the Resurrection church was not in my immediate plans.”
But during a night prayer walk on September 9, 2022, for one reason or the other, he remembered the letter, adding: “And I said to himself: ‘My ’little friend who must be a comedian, wrote a letter saying: Daddy, you said on the Altar while they were distributing prizes during the just concluded convention (RCCG 70th Annual Convention 2022) that because they won many prizes that I better visit these people o.’
“I thought I was joking about the urgency of the visit then, but God spoke and said: ‘Anything you say from my altar is not a joke! Once it came out of your mouth, I stamped it!’
“It is because of that stamp of God I’m here this morning.”
In his sermon, titled: “Blessed Family – Where You Ought To Be,” which was transcribed by the Discovery Media Crew, he, however, confessed his love for the Region, also called the “Blessed Family.”
“As for this Family (The Blessed Family), you occupy a special place in my heart. And that is why I want to talk to you this morning as a father will talk to a special son,” he said.
He spoke at length about factors that slow people and organisations down in their quest for growth, which he labeled truth, some of which he warned may be bitter.
TRUTH No 1: Many a times, what slows you down is not your fault. At times, some “external forces” may slow you down! For example, Joshua led the Israelites into victory after the collapse of the Wall of Jericho and was doing well, but unknown to him, the sin of someone, called Achan, who stole what belonged to God, caused their humiliating defeat in a war to a small tribe. Things continued to worsen until Joshua did something about it and the offender was found.
TRUTH NO 2: Sometimes, people would be progressing fast but that may not be fast enough in the eyes of God, who endowed them with talent and resources for their progress. Joshua was moving fast, but at one point, God told him: “Joshua, you are old now, and you have not finished the work I gave you.”
TRUTH NO 3: At times, the reason that a man may slow down might be that he is overwhelmed – overwhelmed by problems, challenges, et cetera. He thinks of the things he is doing very well but he looks round and sees so many things that are not showing how well he is running and he may become despondent!
TRUTH NO 4: At times, people may slow down because they get to a stage when they begin to count on their own strength! It happened to Peter on the night Jesus arrested for crucifixion. Thinking that he could fight it out, he cut the ear of one of the attackers; and later even after swearing that he could never deny Jesus, he chickened out by a fireside. The same Peter later became so powerful after the arrival of the Holy Spirit, that his shadow could heal the sick.
Making an altar call, Adeboye reminded the congregation of God’s ability and willingness to restore and increase the pace of growth when we seek Him and serve Him.