July 29, 1973 was the day I had an ultimate encounter with God that totally changed my life. I was then a senior lecturer in Mathematics at the University of Lagos.
It all happened at an evening service at The Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) where I was so overwhelmed when it became clear to me that I was close to hell without knowing it. I suddenly realised that it was possible to have all the Ph.Ds in the world and still be on losing side. I knew all kinds of formulae but did not know the one for eternal life.
Sobbing like a baby at that evening service, I made straight to the altar, throwing my hands over my head in total submission to the will of Almighty God by accepting Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Saviour. From that day my priorities were re-ordered. Life became different for me, my attitude and approach to worldly things changed. For instance, extra-marital relationships were totally cut off. I abandoned alcoholism while my wife gained full attention and love.
Between 1973 and 1974, I seriously thought of what to give the Lord who redeemed me, something that would give Him satisfaction. Money? No. He owned the world, the earth and the fullness thereof. Besides, I did not have enough to make any meaningful impression. What else could I do than to work for him.
What actually took me to The Redeemed Church of God was that my third child was struck by a strange illness for which we had sought cure everywhere without success. Then one of my uncles referred me to the church. On arrival there, however, I found the mode of worship too loud and rather rowdy. I was used to gentle conduct and murmured prayers in the churches I had earlier attended. What I found more irritating was the leadership of the church that comprised some illiterate people but who were firm and radiant in the preaching of the gospel. However, the founder of the church, Rev. Josiah Akindayomi, particularly touched me with the extent of his understanding of the gospel and with his solid and incisive sermons.
Birth and early life
There were no special circumstances at birth to suggest that I would become a fisher of men as I am today. Indeed, life was cruel to me as a child.
Born on March 2, 1942 in Ifewara, a small farming town in Osun State, into a poor family, I grew up in Ilesha. I admit I suffered acute poverty and it was so bad that I did not wear shoes until I was seventeen years old because my parents could not afford it. But my father inculcated the spirit of hard-work in me and his other children. The old man never gave us any breathing space even when we were young. He drove us like he drove himself. So hard-work has been more or less part of me as it is part of everyone in the house of Adeboye. The training has sustained me.
What ministry is
Ministry is a calling rather than a profession, a vocation or a career because as at the time I came in contact with The Redeemed Christian Church of God, I was already lecturing in Mathematics at the University of Lagos as well as pursuing a doctorate degree in Hydrodynamics, a specialised area of Applied Mathematics. I was well on the way to achieving my well-laid our academic dream at just 31 and was hoping to be the youngest Vice Chancellor in Africa. But God had a different plan for me. My ordained mission was to become a preacher of the word and fisher of the souls of me, a foremost prophet unto the nations.
By the time I was baptised by immersion shortly after joining the Redeemed, my enthusiasm and the gifts of God upon me made me stand out. When I got the hint that I would be ordained a pastor, I thought it was a joke. I went into prayer to ask God to change His mind but that was too late. On September 14, 1975, I was ordained a pastor. I soon became deacon and also the interpreter to Rev. Akindayomi. Thus, my evangelical zeal rose tremendously and the University of Lagos easily became my primary target of evangelisation.
The most challenging aspect of my Christian life was the opposition to my choice as successor to the founder of the church in 1980. The opposition really came from those who felt that I was young in the church. I joined the church only in 1973 but the church had been in existence since 1952. There were people there who were foundation members and who had become pastors before I became born again. They said, ‘Where is this young man coming from all of a sudden to become our leader?’ They saw it as a rapid promotion. Some of them were influential people because they had been pastors for quite some time. Fortunately, majority of the congregation, particularly the youths, were on my side because they saw clearly that it was not something I wanted myself. In fact, God helped me in His own way. I had written to the late General Overseer that I did not want the position., that he should pray so that God would show him somebody else and that I would give my support to whomsoever was chosen to lead the church. The letter fell into the hands of one of the youths. This is how it happened. The old man could not read anything other than the Bible so he had to ask somebody to read the letter to him. So the boy read the letter and, being a youth, he told everybody what he had read. Everything became clear to the people because the old pastors thought I was manipulating the old man; it became clear that it was the exact opposite.
Keeping the faith
Keeping the faith is one of the most important aspects of Christian life and this has been my life. I am given to almost daily fasting and I keep a life of prayer even while doing my best exercise – jogging eight kilometres every morning.
Message to Nigerians
Nigeria must be handled with prayer and love, and must be set for prayer too. Those who are committed to Christ have nothing to fear. For us as Nigerians, if we want God to take us from glory to glory and we want the positive turning points in our lives, we must find out where we lost God and repent. We must check where we lost our first love, then restitute our ways and repent quickly. My advice to the youths is for them to live a holy and prayerful life so that peace and love will reign.
Almost everyday is different from the other and the beginning of a new day is determined by when I went to bed. But averagely, a day starts with morning prayers and some exercise, then I go to work and after work, I go to bed. The Holy Spirit himself determines my closing time. When there are emergencies, one cannot really sleep early.