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Nigerian outreach mission: Church to spread ‘like KFC’
The Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), an African Christian movement, is spreading like wildfire across the globe with more than 16,000 parishes, inclusive of four right here in T&T located in Chaguanas, Sangre Grande, Mayaro, and the head church in Mt Lambert.
With more than five million followers worldwide but mostly in Nigeria where it was founded in 1952 by pastor Enoch Adeboye, the movement recently made the BBC news, as it is in the process of constructing a 10,000-seat auditorium north-east of Dallas in Floyd, Texas.
Pastor James Fadele who heads the church in North America told the BBC, the goal is to establish as many churches as possible in North America, in similar pattern to the international coffee house giant, Starbucks.
“Because heaven is real, God is real. And that is why we want to plant churches like Starbucks,” he said, “to take people to heaven.”
T&T resident pastor Emmanuel Femi Ojuolape said the idea was the same for this country. “This is an outreach ministry and in a few years we will have churches in every community like KFC,” he told the T&T Guardian in an interview.
Ojuolape, who moved to Trinidad about four years ago, entered ministry in 1984 and began pastoring in 1996. When he arrived with his wife and children, he left behind his business in real estate and the position of chairman of a Microfinance Bank in Nigeria.
For Ojuolape, it was not a move that was decided, rather he said he was commissioned by God to come here to preach the gospel and to restore families.
“I was actually sad to leave my home and my business but it was not my decision to stay or to go. When you are operating in Christ, you are just obedient,” Ojuolape said.
“When I got here the first thing I realised was the terrible breakdown in family life. Almost every home is broken and as a result of this we are seeing how it affects society.
“Not all, but most broken homes produce very angry and disturbed individuals who are also emotionally wounded,” he added.
“If you think about it carefully, every breakdown in society begins with the family.
“We believe that at this time it is imperative to rebuild the family, restore family values which will ultimately affect change in our communities resulting in a more positive nation.
“That’s why we are building churches in every community, so that the people can be reached and saved,” said Ojuolape.
But what will the church do that’s so different in comparison to other churches? Ojuolape said RCCG is not just about filling churches or quoting scriptures. It is a church that is prepared to do only the will of God; showing genuine care and love for its members and it is in the strict business of saving as many lives for the Saviour, he said.
“When you come to us, we are with you always. We are not going to ask you to give your life to Christ and after that you are on your own. As a pastor it is my duty to ensure the members of my flock do not fall by the wayside.”
Giving testimony to this statement was Ian Riley, president of the church’s Men’s Association. Riley who accompanied Ojuolape to the interview at the Guardian office, said although he had been a Catholic for many years, he was never much of a churchgoer and often wondered how people spent so many hours at church when there was so much better to do.
However, since joining the church there is hardly any place else more special to him and his family.
Speaking highly of Ojuolape, Riley said what touched him was the pastor’s humility and genuine heart.
“I have seen with my own eyes, pastor go out of his way to help the people in his church. Even I have benefitted from his kind-heartedness.
“No matter how big the church is, he makes the time to find out what is happening with each and every member. I don’t recall ever seeing this type of caring at any church I visited before,” Riley said.
“In addition, the services are packed with African culture and the hymns and style of praise is different, you cannot stop dancing. Pastor is really about saving lives and helping communities,” he added.
For the church’s third anniversary which was celebrated on February 14, pastor Remi Oluboba of Lagos Province Nine in Nigeria visited T&T’s shores to speak on the reversal of roles with African missionaries coming to countries such as ours in an attempt to convert and strengthen Christianity.