It is a privilege to have been invited to this conference organized by the Center for the Studies of New Religious Movements (CESNUR) in Turin, Italy. My area of specialization is Church History with specialization in African Independent Churches and Pentecostal Churches. I have spent about twenty years of my research in the area of study. The New Religious Movements in all parts of the World have been of great importance and therefore deserves more research and understanding. On this note the Centre for Studies of New Religious Movements should be commended. In 1976, H.W Turner coined the term “New Religious Movements” to embrace these wide variety of religious independence1.
Scholars in tertiary institutions most especially in Universities have devoted much attention to them because of the phenomena growth of the Churches. According to Essien, “due to the global spread of the New Religious Movements, presently, special International Research Documentation Centers have been created for the study of New Religious Movements at Lima, Peru, by Kenneth Scott; at Durban, South Africa by G.C. Oosthuizen, at Birmingham,England,by Harold Turner. The Melanesian Institute is giving the research of New Religious Movements a high priority on its broader agenda.2
Therefore, may I use this opportunity to call on CESNUR to collaborate with the Department of Religions, University of Ilorin, Ilorin in the study of New Religious Movements in Nigeria and Pentecostal Churches founded by Nigerians in Italy. As part of my preamble, this is my second visit to Italy. In the year 2000, I was a part of the 49th Graduate school students from Ecumenical Institute, Bossey, Switzerland that visited Rome on an excursion to the Holy city. We met His Holiness the late Pope John Paul 11 on a courtesy call. I want to believe that Italy is the home of Catholicism in the World.
The theme of this conference titled: “Changing Gods, between Religion and Everyday life” came at a crucial time in the history of religion in the World. It is believed that religion is an essential part of man; it is a phenomenon to be observed daily. There is a constant communication between man and God the creator. In spite of the changing effect of science and technology, God is still constant and in charge of human daily life. However, the mode of worshipping God is changing daily. For instance, from Catholicism to the Reformation of the church and this eventually led to the features of Protestantism in Europe in the 16thc3.
The European countries later introduced the Anglican, Baptist, Methodist and Roman Catholic Churches to West African countries after the abolition of the obnoxious, illegitimate and illicit slave trade. The ex-slaves were re-settled in Sierra-Leone in West Africa4. It was from there that the missionaries were accompanied by the ex-slaves and found their ways to Nigeria. The country is presently regarded as the most populous country in Africa with a population of about 140 million people5.
There are three major religions in the country namely: African traditional religion, Islam and Christianity. It is necessary to mention at this juncture that African traditional religion was the indigenous religion of the people. The concept of God was found amongst the people before the introduction of Christianity and lslam. Idowu posits that “the real keynote of the life of the Yoruba is neither in their noble ancestry nor in the past deeds of their heroes. The keynote of their life is their religion6. In all things they are religious.” The two foreign religions came to convert the indigenous people to either of the two religions through some strategies of western education and improved medical facilities.
Christian missionary activities in Nigeria was led by Revd Thomas Birch Freeman of the Methodist mission to Badagry which served as an entreport of missionary activities to the country in September,1842.He was closely followed by Revd Henry Townsend of the Church Missionary Society(C.M.S.) in December,1842 to Badagry7. The community was however hostile to the missionaries. Hence, majority of the missionaries left for Abeokuta which became “sunrise within the tropics”. Other Christian missionary societies like the Baptist and Roman Catholic followed suit. They all went to the hinterland of the country to propagate the gospel between 1842-1900.These churches were called the mainline churches.
Ade Ajayi an eminent historian would refer to the churches that dominated the period as the “big four”. The next group of Church in the history of Christianity in Nigeria was the African Church8. It was introduced between 1888-1917 as a form of protest against the activities of the mainline churches. The latter were accused of racial discrimination and superiority tendencies.
The next brands of churches were the emergence of African Independent Churches, otherwise known as Aladura Churches9. These are: Christ Apostolic Church (C.A.C.), Cherubim and Seraphim(C&S), Church of the Lord (Aladura) and Celestial Church of Christ (C.C.C.). Incidentally, these churches were founded by Yoruba people from South western Nigeria. The churches emerged at various times between 1918-1933.Some features like healing, vision, praying, clapping, speaking in tongues, and visit to sacred sites which are fundamental and in line with the African traditional religion were introduced. I want to believe that some of these Aladura churches are found in Italy and they deserve our adequate attention and research. The next brands of churches in Nigeria are the Pentecostal churches which is the focus of this paper. Ojo highlighted the different Pentecostal churches in Nigeria as the Foreign Pentecostal churches which emerged in 1931, while indigenous Pentecostal churches emerged in 1950’s. And the Charismatic movements constitute the newest10.
In this study, we shall not make any distinction between the Pentecostal and Charismatic churches because they all share some common features. According to Ojo the churches share common phenomena through literature, crusades, camp meetings, Fire or Holy Ghost or Power crusades, open air evangelism etc.11
Richard Burgess also defines Pentecostalism as movement that stresses the experience of the spirit and the practice of spiritual gifts12. In other words, the churches have some common features which are points of attraction to the people. The methodologies adopted in this study are historical, phenomenological and comparative13. As an historical method, the analysis and interpretation of data was based on the principles of historical method14. This involves an attempt to interpret past trends for the purpose of understanding the present conditions and predicting what conditions are likely to be met in the future.
The phenomenological approach seeks to unfold the archaeological realities of the objects, beliefs and practices under study without presuppositions. This made us to take active part in the observation of the activities of the churches.Daramola views it as a process whereby individuals or a group of people are commissioned to watch and record the happenings or events, or even study behavioral patterns in settings of interest15. This method was considered necessary because a research work such as this requires eyewitness accounts. In view of this an attempt was made to attend the various services and programmes of the churches under study. Coupled with the above was the Comparative methodology. The reality or otherwise of the people’s view are critically examined and compares the relevance of the objects or practices in relation to contemporary views, especially as they relate to dynamics of social change.
The objectives to be achieved in the paper are:
1. To correct some generalized notion of some earlier scholars on the offshoot of Pentecostal churches in Nigeria in particular and Africa in general.
2. To indicate the importance of Charisma as a phenomenon in the growth and expansion of Pentecostal Churches in Ilorin metropolis.
The scope of the paper is a focus on Pentecostal churches in Ilorin the state capital of Kwara state, Nigeria. The state was created in 1976 by the military government of General Yakubu Gowon (retired). It is located in the North-central zone of Nigeria.Danmole opines that Ilorin emirate represents the most southerly of the emirates within the Sokoto Caliphate that was established after the successful jihad in Hausaland during the early 19th century16. By its location in the transitional belt between the open savanna to the north and forest zone to the south, Ilorin was advantageously located to attract settlers from both the north and the south.
There is no doubt that the community was dominated by the Muslims before
the imposition of colonial rule on the emirate in 1900 by the British
colonial authority.Danmole went further to say that “The movement
of population to Ilorin before the jihad can be accounted for through
the activities in the town of three major figures in the period towards
the jihad. These were the Afonja, al-Salih and
Solagberu”17.The Emirs however tried to protect Islam jealously from incursion of the Christian missionaries. However, the colonial laws gave the Christians the privilege and opportunity to spread the gospel in the community. Hence, the in-flux of Christians to the area. This was not without the challenges posed by the Muslims to the Christians.
However, Ilorin community as witnessed an influx of Christians from the Southern part of the country. For instance, the Ijesa textile dealers known as Osomalo were found in Igbomina and Ilorin at the beginning of the 20thc.Many of them were Christians before they left home as itinerant traders. The construction of railway lines from the Southern states to the Northern states also contributed to the expansion of Christianity to Ilorin18. Some of the railway workers were from the Southern states of the country and they were already converted to Christianity before they took up the job.
These Christians used to meet as Christians in a fellowship and thereby propagate the gospel in an Islamic community. Revd Jefferson Bowen of the Baptist mission and Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther of the Anglican mission visited Ilorin in 1855 and 1857 respectively19. The Emir on throne, Shitta welcomed the clerics but did not allow them to establish churches. His action was to protect Islam from incursion and influence of Christianity.
The Christians in Ilorin were persistent in their appeal and request for place of worship from the Emir Shehu Suleiman. He eventually granted them a piece of land outside the town20. From our investigation majority of the early Christians were members of the Anglican Church. This eventually led to the establishment of St Barnabas Anglican Church, Sabo-Oke. Other Christian denominations like the Baptist, Methodist, and Catholic followed suit. Later the African church was established and it was followed by the establishment of Aladura churches like the Christ Apostolic church, Cherubim and Seraphim, Church of the Lord (Aladura), Celestial Church of Christ and Evangelical Church of Yahweh.
The relaxed atmosphere also brought about the establishment of the following Pentecostal churches : The Rhema Church, New Testament Christian Mission, Jesus is Life Outreach Ministry, King’s Vine, Be of the Same Mind Evangelical Ministry, Shield of Faith Ministry, Potter’s Household, Canaan Ministries, Trinity Household of Faith, Christ Assembly, Christ Proclaimer’s Ministries, Jesus Revolution Revival Mission,Endtime Over Comers Mission, Dominion Life International Church, Elevation Christian Centre, Potter’s Porch, Search the Scriptures Gospel Ministry, and of course Word Commission Ministry. These churches were founded and established in Ilorin metropolis by some educated individuals who are professionals, academics and civil servants. In fact, some of the church founders are full-time/part-time pastors in their churches. It is observed that these churches survive in Ilorin because of the charisma being displayed by the founders of the churches. As Ojo stated that “they are led by the educated elite21, which though small in number, exert considerable influence in the society”.
Many of them are graduates from Nigerian universities. In fact many of them are University, Polytechnic and Colleges of Education lecturers. For instance, the founder of Shield of Faith Assembly, Rev. (Dr) Steve Metiboba was a former Lecturer at the Department of Sociology University of Ilorin. He is presently a Reader in the Department of Sociology Kogi State University, Ayingba, Kogi State. Pastor George Adegboye the General Overseer of Rhema Church was a former lecturer at Kwara State Polytechnic, Ilorin, so also, Revd Emmanuel Oset was a former lecturer in the same institution. Search the Scriptures ministries (Strong Towers Church) was established by Professor Timothy Opoola, a Professor of Mathematics at the University of Ilorin.Rev Idowu Olawuyi the founder of Trinity Household of Faith holds a Master’s degree in Fishery management and a senior civil servant at a Federal ministry in Ilorin.
Another peculiarity noted was that some of them were Muslims before they were converted to Christianity. For instance, Pastor Mohammed Alli, the Pastor in charge of Christ Assembly and Pastor Rahman Moses Popoola, the Superintendent of New Testament Christian Church were Muslims by birth. The understanding of the Quran and the Hadith are being used judiciously and comparatively in the teachings of the gospel.
Pentecostal Churches whose founders are not based or having the headquarters of their churches in Ilorin are outside the scope of this paper. For instance, Sword of Spirit Ministries(Wale Oke), the Redeemed Christian Church of God(Enoch Adeboye), Deeper Life Christian Church(William Kumuyi), Living Faith Mission(David Oyedepo), and Latter Rain Assembly(Tunde Bakare), Fire and Miracle Ministries(Daniel Olukoya) and Christ Embassy(Chris Oyahilome)etc. These churches are based in the South-western part of Nigeria, most especially in Lagos, Abeokuta and Ibadan.
It is necessary to mention that most of the earlier studies and researches on Pentecostal churches are on churches located in these urban and relatively peaceful and economically booming areas of the country. In fact some of them started in Ilorin or some parts of the Northern states but quickly relocated to the Southern area probably because of religious intolerance being witnessed in the Northern states or to be associated with economic boom and prosperity of the south-west. The area is dominated by the rich business men and women who are seeking protection and prayers of church founders notwithstanding the sources of their ill-gotten wealth. The church founders also feel more protected because the area is dominated by Christians and without regular religious violence and much conflict as being witnessed in the Northern states. The Living Faith for instance started in Ilorin in 1981 but the founder later relocated the headquarters of the church to Otta, Ogun State.
Pentecostal Churches in Ilorin.
The emergence of Pentecostal churches is a new development globally most especially at the beginning of the 20thc in Europe. It became a major issue in Nigeria after the Nigerian civil war in the 1970’s.It reflected the political, social and economic insecurity and political instability in the country. According to Ojo “by the 1990’s, the movements had become a major factor in Nigerian public life as they sought to give religious visibility to the middle class that had already been decimated by harsh economic realities”.22 It is necessary at this juncture to correct some notions that Pentecostal churches were an offshoot of American Pentecostalism in Nigeria. It is generally associated with William Seymour and the Azusa Street revival in Los Angeles in 1900.Later some popular televangelists like T.L. Osborn, Oral Roberts, William Branham, Franklin Hall and Kenneth Copeland23 brought in more life into the popularity and wide acceptance of Pentecostalism in the World.
Many Western scholars have attributed the emergence of the Pentecostal churches in Africa to the activities of the Western evangelists. For instance, Ojo quoted Paul Gifford, van Dijk, Rosalind Hackett and Ruth Marshall saying that “African Charismatic Churches are American extensions or that religious influences flow only in the West to East direction ignore some pertinent factors about the dynamics of African religious movements going back to the rise of the Zionist/Aladura and Messianic churches of the early twentieth century”.24
We agree with the position of Ogbu Kalu that “Nigerian Pentecostalism is not an offshoot of Azusa Street revival … or an extension of American electronic church or a creation of televangelists”25 In view of this eminent scholar’s position, we disagree with the position of Oyeronke Olademo and Dada A Oyinloye whose opinions are on the side of the Western scholars that Pentecostal churches were off-shoots of the global Pentecostal movements. Olademo opines that “Pentecostalism in Nigeria emanated from the American flavour”26 while Dada said “Neo-Pentecostalism found its way into Nigeria in the mid-sixties through the activities of some America faith-healer and Televangelists…”27
The African people are religious; religion forms the bedrock of their lives from time immemorial. Everything in Africa was done religiously from birth to the time of death. As earlier mentioned, Bolaji Idowu said “in all things they are religious” In other words, Pentecostalism is inherent in the religion of the people.Ojo’s position is germane when he said that “Charismatic movements in Nigeria have indigenous roots, and are sustained because of their affirmation of African cosmology of spiritual powers”28.
The introduction of Pentecostal churches into Nigeria was led by the late Arch-Bishop Benson Idahosa the founder of the Church of God Mission based in Benin City, Edo State. This was followed by the emergence of the following churches: The Living Faith Church (Winners Chapel) founded by Pastor David Oyedepo, Deeper Life Christian Church under the leadership of Pastor William Kumuyi, Latter Rain Assembly, Redeemed Christian Church, and Christ Embassy, Sword of the Spirits, and Fire and Miracles Ministries. They all enjoy the activities of the vibrant media that are located in Ibadan and Lagos. In earlier work, Omotoye said that “Human society is a dynamic organization. If the society is to be progressive, humane and visionary, there is a need for purposeful, dedicated, courageous, honest and determined leaders29. Coupled with these attributes, a leader who is to be highly respected in a religious circle, most especially, in an African Independent Church, must be a charisma. This will serve as a motivator to his or her followership”.
The above quotation is applicable in the growth and development of Pentecostal churches in Ilorin. The following are some of the available Pentecostal churches and their founders in Ilorin.
1. The Ever Increasing Ministries (Rhema Chapel) founded by Pastor George Olawale Adegboye.
2. Endtime Overcomers Mission (Revd S.O.Olayinka)
3. Jesus Revolution Revival Mission (Pastor Johnson O. Kusina)
4. Potter’s Household (Pastor Victor Philip Ibitoye)
5. New Testament Christian Church (Rev. Moses Rahman Popoola)
6. The Shield of Faith Assembly (Rev (Dr) Steve Metiboba)
7. Trinity Household of Faith (Rev.Idowu Olawuyi)
8. Word Commission Ministries (Evangelist Isaac Omolehin)
9. King’s Vine Church (Rev. Sam Abejide)
10. Jesus is Life Outreach Ministries (Bishop (Dr) David Bakare)
11. Be of the Same Mind Evangelical Ministry (Pastor Evangelist David Akano)
12. Search the Scripture Gospel of Christ Ministry (Strong Tower) (Evangelist Professor Timothy Opoola)
13. Christ Proclaimer’s Church (Pastor J.T.Opatola)
14. Elevation Christian Centre (Pastor Tope Ajetunmobi)
15. Dominion Life International Church (Rev. Barrister Bode Amoo)
16. Canaan Ministries (Champions’ Church) (Rev.Emmanuel Oset)
17. Potter’s Porch International Church (Pastor J.T Aboyeji)
18. Christ Assembly (Rev.Joseph Mohammed Alli) 30
We shall examine some
of the above churches in other to have some information about the founders
of the churches and their qualities that constitute the charisma they
The Ever Increasing Ministries (Rhema Chapel).
The Church was founded by Pastor George Adegboye. He was born on 7th December, 1958 in Offa, Kwara State into polygamy and Baptist family. Polygamy in Africa is seen as a social and not a religious matter. In fact in the olden days ones status was determined by the number of wives and children a man had in the society. Though, he was born in a mission church, George broke the tradition by establishing a Pentecostal church with a tradition which is against polygamy and different from a mission church.
According to Ojo the church has about 50,000 members. The church has a beautiful architectural design. The majority of the members of the church are youths, most especially students in tertiary institutions in Ilorin. George Adegboye was a former Lecturer at the Kwara State Polythehnic, Ilorin before he went into full time ministry. He is versatile in quoting the Bible off hand. He is therefore referred to as “mobile bible”. The church has a bible training institute and a nursery and primary school. A printing press was established to handle the printing of tracts and other related church books.
In propagating the gospel, the Pastor is always on the Nigerian Television Authority, Ilorin every Sunday at 2.00-2.30pm.He is assisted by his wife Rev Mrs. Oluruntoyin Adegboye. In other words, women are given the opportunity to serve as a leader in the church.The church is located along the University of Ilorin road in Tanke.
New Testament Christian Church.
The New Testament Christian Church was established by a Muslim convert called Pastor Rahman Moses Popoola. His father was the chief Imam of Omu-Aran town in Kwara state.He is a Geologist from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. He started the ministry in 1980’s.The branches of the church are now found in many towns of the Federation. For example, Lagos, Lokoja, Ibadan Portharcourt, Kaduna and Federal capital territory Abuja. He preaches on the Nigerian Television Authority, Ilorin every Sunday at 7.30pm.
is a prolific writer. He has published the following books to his credit:
Dynamic Spiritual Growth, New Life School manual and Freedom from Evil,
and Believers shut out of Heaven. The church as a regular attendance
of about 5,000 worshippers every Sunday. The focus of his preaching
is sanctification and holiness. The church has eight centers of worship
in the town. These are located in Amilegbe, Ayetoro, Akerebiata, Ero-Omo,
Fate, Gaa-Akanbi, Kulende and Tanke. The headquarters of the church
is at Salvation road, off Stadium road, Ilorin.
The Shield of Faith Assembly
church was established by Rev. (Dr) Steve Metiboba. He is from Kogi
State. The church was founded in 1996.He was a former lecturer in the
Department of Sociology, University of Ilorin and he is presently at
Kogi State University, Ayingba, Kogi State. The Church is located at
Flamingo close, off Stadium road, Ilorin.There is a focus on prophecy
in the church. As a result of this people from different denominations
do visit the church.
Trinity Household of Faith Church
Rev.Idowu Olawuyi was the founder of the church. He is a native of Imeri, a town in Ondo state. He was a former Rev Canon in the Diocese of Kwara Anglican Church before he established the Trinity of Household. He holds MSC degree in Fishery management from the University of Ibadan and he is an officer in the Federal parastatals in Ilorin. He was the Chaplain in charge of the Youth chapel of the Cathedral Church of Saint Barnabas before his exit from the Anglican Church. He left the church because of irreconcilable disagreement with Bishop Adeyemi the Kwara Anglican Bishop.
started the Trinity Household of Faith in September, 2006 at Salem house,
Amilegbe, Ilorin.The church has moved to a permanent Graceland at Tanke,
Ilorin.The wife is also a Pastor in the church. She is named Dr Mrs.
Bolanle Olawuyi a lecturer in the Faculty of education, Universitry
of Ilorin. The church has more than twenty house fellowship centers
in the city.Rev.Olawuyi always appear on both Kwara State Television
and Nigerian Television Authority to preach the gospel.
Word Commission Ministry
The Word Commission Ministry was founded by Evangelist Isaac Omolehin.
It is located at 15, Ajase-Ipo road, Ilorin. The founder of the church
was born in 1955 at Iluke, Kogi State. He obtained a degree in Animal
Science from the University of Portharcourt in 1983.He started a Joint
Christian ministry in 1984 known as Christ United Mission but due to
misunderstanding he had to pull out of the Joint Ministry to start the
Word commission in 1996.The popular annual programme titled Shiloh is
always attracting people of different traditions. Pastor Omolehin preaches
at 7.30 am every Sunday on Kwara State radio. There are twenty one branches
of the church in Ilorin. Branches are in Lokoja, Aiyetoro Gbede, Isanlu
and Kaduna. The church has a nursery, primary and a college as her part
of contribution to the development of education in Ilorin.
Search the Scripture Gospel of Christ Ministry (Strong Tower)
church was founded by Evangelist Professor Timothy Opoola. He is a lecturer
in the Department of Mathematics, University of Ilorin; Ilorin.He was
born in Ijagbo, a town in Kwara state. The church was established in
1994.It is located along the University of Ilorin road. Professor Opoola
is presently the President of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria,
Ilorin city. He is assisted by his wife Mrs. Elizabeth Omolara Opoola,
a PhD student in the Department of Religions, University of Ilorin.
She is presently a senior teacher at the Cherubim and Seraphim secondary
school, Sabo-Oke,Ilorin. It is observed that majority of the members
of the church are students of the University of Ilorin. Evangelist Opoola
preaches on the Nigerian Television Authority.
Canaan Ministries (Champion’s Church)
Emmanuel Oset was born in Kabba, Kogi state. He read History and International
Studies in the University and he became a lecturer at the Kwara State
College of Technology, now known as Kwara State Polytechnic before he
went into full time ministry. It is interesting to note that he was
one of the pioneering Pastors of the Living Faith Church established
by Pastor David Oyedepo in Ilorin in 1981 before the latter moved to
Kaduna.Rev Oset is married to Mrs. Grace Oset. She is an assistant Pastor
who always appear on the Nigerian Television Authority with her husband
on Sundays at 3.00pm.The church celebrated her twenty years of existence
some months ago. The church has a nursery and primary school.
Elevation Christian Centre
Church was founded by (Surveyor) Tope Ajetunmobi. He was born in 1972
in Ilesa<Osun State. He holds a Higher National Diploma in Engineering
from the Kwara State Polythecnic, Ilorin.He was trained by Pastor Mike
Bamidele of Victory Christian Church, Ilesa. He is married to Mrs. Pamilerin
Ajetunmobi. The Church started in 2006 and located near F division of
police barrack Tanke, Ilorin
Dominion Life International Church
The founder of the Dominion Church is Rev Barrister Bode Amoo. He was born in 1960 at Omupo, a town of some kilometers to Ilorin. He attended the University of Lagos for a degree in Law. He was a lecturer for some years at the Kwara State Polytechnic Ilorin before he went into full-time ministry. He his happily married with children. The Dominion Life church was started in 1995.The headquarters of the church is located at Gaa Akanbi, Ilorin.
Be of the Same Mind Evangelical Ministry (Seed of Harmony Bible Church)
Church was established by Pastor David Akano at Tanke, Oke-Odo, Ilorin.He
started his ministerial work at Deeper Life Christian Church, Ilorin
before he was called to establish a new church. The wife of the Pastor
Mrs. Florence Nike Akano is an assistant pastor in the church. The founder
is about to complete his Master’s degree programme at the Department
of Religions, University of Ilorin, Ilorin.
King’s Vine Church
The church was founded by Rev Segun Samuel Abejide. He attended University of Ilorin where he read Performing Arts.. He taught for some years at Cherubim and Seraphim secondary school and served as a Pastor in the Rhema Church before establishing his own. In our investigation he was described as a radical Pastor in defense of the gospel. The church is located at Oro road, Ilorin.
General features of Pentecostal Churches in Ilorin.
The phenomenal growth of Pentecostal churches is noticeable in the nooks and crannies of the
town. The factors that are responsible for the growth are:
The Pentecostal churches lay much emphasis on healing of the sick in their churches. It is believed that with God all things are possible. Faith as requested in Hebrews 11:1 is expected from those seeking healing in the churches. The founders of these churches are believed to have spiritual gifts of healing which manifest when they pray for sick people. As a result of this, different sicknesses are brought to them. This phenomenon has drawn many people from other denominations to the Pentecostal churches. In course of our investigation, different testimonies were heard in the churches on divine healing.
In all the Churches visited parallels were drawn from the different miracles that were performed by Jesus Christ and his apostles in the bible to assure their members of the power of miracle. Ojo has identified four major areas of healing. These are: physical healing, deliverance, success and prosperity, and healing activities over the political and socio-economic conditions of a nation31. Many big signboards are placed on streets; advertisements are announced on radios and televisions to draw people to their churches. Healings of different kinds are announced and testifiers are brought to authenticate “the goodness of God”However, it may be necessary to ask that: Are all the claims true and authentic? Some people who claimed to have been healed of some sicknesses are later seen with the problems. It got to a stage in Nigeria that the Government had to ban some advertisements relating to miracles and healings on the televisions.
This is the pivot of the Pentecostal churches. The members are encouraged to commit every situation of life in the hand of God. In our investigation, we observed that many of the people in the churches are members of the mainline churches. They came to attend different programmes in the Pentecostal churches in order to pray and seek solution to their problems. Aylward Shorter opines that prayer in the mission churches is stereotyped, memorized or read, fitting all circumstances32. Emotions and feelings are very important elements in prayer as it is understood by the African and they determine the depth, the sincerity, even the worth of the prayer, not to talk of the wording and the mood. Such prayer can only be spontaneous. African prayer is what may be termed “charismatic improvisation”33 prompted by the need of the moment. Such prayers are long and at times are accompanied with fasting. In some of the churches the members are encouraged to bring bottles of water for prayers. Psalms in the bible are read and the water or oil are blessed and sanctified for healing. Night vigils and prayer meetings are organized, so as to pray about protection and find solution to some problems.
The concept of prophecy is found in the Pentecostal churches as a way of divine guidance. In Africa, it is believed that there is no smoke without fire. There is a cause for every mis-fortune and disaster. In other to avoid such calamity, the prophets are visited, so as to predict what the future has for them. According to Omoyajowo:
It is however true that people in distress flock into
them in search of solution to their spiritual problems,
for the cure of their diseases, for protection from
both their physical and spiritual enemies and for the
fulfillment of their ambitions and hopes.34
At the beginning of a new month a programme called “begin the month with the Lord” has been introduced in almost all the churches. The Pastors are expected to declare the mind of God to the people.This kind of prophecy is also expected at the beginning of every year. As Nigerians are preparing for a general election in 2011 the politicians are regularly seen in some of the Pentecostal churches for prayers so as to know the mind of God about their ambitions.
The Pentecostal churches are seen as committed to the command of Jesus on evangelism as recorded in gospel of Matthew 28:19.”Go ye therefore to all nations…”Many strategies and methods have been adopted to proclaim the gospel in Ilorin which is traditionally an Islamic community. Many of the churches occasionally embark on street evangelism and revivals. It is however unfortunate that such effort are not permitted in some parts of the town like Oja Oba, Oke-Lele, Balogun Fulani and core areas where the Indigenes of Ilorin are residing.
The use of tracts, radio and television as been successful in the propagation of the gospel in the community. Many of the Pentecostal churches are involved in this exercise. Even though it is expensive and exorbitant to pay the television and radio stations some evangelists and pastors like Evangelist Isaac Omolehin, Pastor George Adegboye, Emmanuel Oset, Professor Timothy Opoola, Professor Alfred Adegoke, M.R Popoola etc are featuring on the Nigerian television and Kwara radio. These churches are working and cooperating in the field of evangelism.
They are all under the umbrella of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria and Christian Association of Nigeria. International and National Evangelists and Pastors are invited for crusades and revivals in the community. For instance, the German Evangelist,Reinhard Bonnke,Pastor William Kumuyi, David OyedepoTimothy Obadare etc are always hosted by the organizations. Such open revivals and crusades have assisted in winning souls for Jesus Christ.
Upholding of Family Ethics on Monogamy
The teachings of the Pentecostal churches are contrary to that of the Aladura or Independent churches that tolerated polygamy as an African way of marriage. They encourage only monogamous marriages and forbid divorce, fornication and adultery. Every Christian home is expected to hold morning family worship, read the bible and attend fellowships. It is emphasized that man is the head of the home as outlined in the bible. Husbands are expected to love their wives and wives are expected to be submissive to their husbands and children to obey their parents. The fathers are expected to provide for the family. In other words, there is no room for ex-marital affairs and visit to beer parlous and hotels where you carouse with harlots and prostitutes. Ogbu Kalu opines that the conversation experience creates “the backdrop for accessing charisma as the power freely given to achieve self discipline, sobriety, holiness and righteousness, and this experience is further consolidated in new ethics as part of the new Christian identity”35. This brings about discipline, orderliness and peace into every family that accepts the teachings of the church wholeheartedly.
Women in Pentecostal churches.
Women in the Pentecostal churches are recognized and valued. In fact they play complementary roles with their husbands. In many of the churches visited they are called Pastors and next to their husbands in the pyramids of authority. They are called Pastor Mrs. and they are allowed to officiate during worships. Some of them appear with their husbands on television programmes. For instance Mrs. Oset of Canaan ministry plays guitar and sings anytime the husband has completed his sermon on the television. She is also in charge of the Nursery and Primary school established by the church. In course of our investigation, we observed that women are also founders of some Pentecostal churches. For instance, Pastor Mrs. Amila of Christ the Messiah Church located at Unity road, Ilorin was founded by a woman. This is a different tradition from the activities of the mainline churches that are reluctant to ordain women in Nigeria. Women spirituality and talents are recognized and encouraged in the Pentecostal churches.
Music and Dancing
These features are part of worship in the Pentecostal churches in Ilorin.Insruments
of different kinds are used in worship.Guitars,piano,organs,
Challenges of Pentecostal churches in Ilorin.
1. A major challenge being witnessed in Ilorin town is the threat of Islam. Muslims are aware of the phenomenal growth of the Pentecostal churches in Ilorin and its implications on the spread of Christianity. At times land are not sold to Christians to build churches. In fact some areas are seen as no “go area” for the churches.
2. Exhorbitant price of featuring on television and radio.
It is true that the government
is encouraging privatization of parastatals and companies in the country.
This has necessitated the hike in money being paid by the churches in
the buying of time on the radio and television. In fact some churches
had to stop featuring because of the increase in the deposit to be paid
for such programmes.
churches are multiplying daily in Ilorin in spite of the fact that the
community is traditionally regarded as an Islamic community. Some of
them are contributing significantly to the religious, political and
socio-economic development of the community.However,it is recognized
that the charisma of the founders of such churches is a major factor
in the growth of the churches in Ilorin. Many of them are intellectuals,
educated elite, professionals and civil servants. These are demonstrated
in the strategies and methods being employed in the propagation of the
gospel. The challenges notwithstanding, the churches are growing and
they are attracting other Christians in African Indigenous churches,
mainline churches and other religions into the fold. A major point of
attraction is the charisma being displayed by the founders of the churches.
It is necessary to note that there is a need for further research on
the claim of the churches on prosperity teaching and divine healing
being claimed by the churches.
Notes and References