Time … is a strange thing. For someone, an age is as a day, for others an hour as eternity. The concept of time is infinite, but time in itself is very inexorably fleeting …
It has been more than 16 years, but still the controversy has not abated as to why the evangelical church, The Embassy of the Blessed Kingdom of God for all peoples, founded by Sunday Adelaja, has become so popular among the multinational population of Ukraine.
Our first interviewee, Zhanna Kobylinskaya, knows the structure of the church by her experience, and currently she is the representative of the church on public relations.
Zhanna, we read, we see and hear about the church with a lot of very different information. Who else but you can tell us the truth and only the truth.
The Embassy of God church was founded in 1994. Senior Pastor Sunday Adelaja is a citizen of Nigeria. As of today the church has spread to more than 30 countries worldwide.
According to different estimates THE EMBASSY OF God has been among the ten fastest-growing evangelical churches in the world for the past one year.
Different experts, medical experts, psychologists and journalists have tried more than once to explain the reason for this runaway success. Some argue that the new church gathered all desperate and frustrated people and acquired its popularity in the niche left by the party-union ideology “vigilant care for everyone”, being ahead of the traditional church quite by accident.
Others refer to the unusual and charismatic pastor, who by his life-asserting ideas, formed the philosophy of success, freedom and prosperity in the modern consciousness of our fellow citizens. Others explain the popularity of the church with stories of incredible miracles that are the results of the pastor’s prayers, through which people get healed of sterility, cancer patients who are in the preoperative condition are healed, and destroyed family relationships are rebuilt.
In fact, the success of the church is in providing care and support to those who specifically need it.
Members of the church support financially and help orphanages, hospitals, nursing homes, troubled families. Through the joint efforts of the Pastor and his team we have established and successfully operate 150 rehabilitation centers for alcoholics and drug addicts throughout Ukraine; soup kitchen “Stephanie” for the poor and persons without fixed abode, and about 100 socially oriented projects. In addition, Pastor Sunday Adelaja has an uncompromising stand on racism, profanity and pornography.
The basis of quantitative and qualitative growth of the God Embassy church is “system of 12-th”. And this is not an abstract scheme, but ordered, mobile structure, constructed according to the Word of God, designed first of all to serve the people. Thanks to that system of leadership and discipleship; in the many thousands that constitute the church, no one remains alone with his or her problems, without attention, care and love.
The principle of “system of 12-th” consists in the following. It is recommended to those who come to the church for the first time (those who repented) to visit home groups, which consist of a leader and the twelve disciples as a rule. The Word of God is discussed in more detail during these meetings which give opportunity to more thoroughly analyze the current problems and implement a joint search for solutions. The efficiency and effectiveness of such a system comes from the fact that each group member is encouraged to have his own 12 disciples – thereby using this multiplier effect to take the Gospel throughout the world and increase the dissemination of the teachings of Christ.
Each leader must not only encourage his disciples, but also help to educate each of their 12 disciples. It means that each leader raises and trains 12 more potential leaders.
Meetings for the leaders (current and potential), are held monthly, several leadership schools are held annually in which the pastor reveals the secrets of successful and effective leadership, and also gives practical advices about how to use gained knowledge.
Inherently the Embassy of God church is different from other churches in that here, problems are not only solved, but they become a springboard for the formation of the person himself as a leader.
We have heard a lot of Sunday Adelaja but I think there are those who know nothing about him. Please introduce this person to “Organizator” readers.
Sunday Adelaja – founder and senior pastor of a large evangelical church. Thanks to modern means of communications and satellite television, tens of millions of families around the world listen to weekly television program with Pastor Sunday.
He is an author of over 100 books; some of them have been translated into 17 languages. Honorary Academician of the International Academy of Spiritual Unity of the peoples of the world at the UN, Honorary Doctor of Theology; a member of the International Committee for Human Rights at the UN; the winner of the International Prize “Golden Fortune”.
In the beginning Pastor Sunday made three fundamental decisions which he does not fail to live by to this day: ”To be afraid of nothing in this life, doubt nothing, not be offended at anyone”.
I think that the managerial abilities, administrative skills, analytical thinking, ability to plan clearly and step by step, to assign tasks to himself and like-minded people, uncompromising belief in the achievement of his goals, helped Sunday Adelaja to build such a strong structure as the Embassy of God, with results which cannot be ignored.
The pastor is convinced that life is built on certain principles and laws; compliance with them forms and determines the quality of life for everyone. So it is naive to assume that some external being has already decided everything, and fixed destiny. On the contrary, everything depends on individuals complying with or violating the established regulations. He believes that one can conquer any summit, if you believe in unshakable victory. Faith inspires, reveals unlimited abilities and potential, makes impossible possible.
Friends and assistants of Pastor Sunday Adelaja have never seen him passive or discouraged. On the contrary, his normal state is a constant tireless search for and implementation of original and new ideas. Meanwhile, none of his ideas, plans or programs ever die: at the very moment of conceiving an idea he runs a mechanism for its implementation right away. Typically, the period between the conception and the beginning of the implementation of an idea is no more than three days. This is the duration he has set for himself. Having seen the evidence of efficiency of such a mechanism, he encourages all his followers to try to apply it in their lives. Thus, the system itself disciplines the Pastor and helps him to implement all his plans.
The principle that guides Pastor’s life is simple, specific and acceptable to all well-meaning people: the only thing necessary for the existence and spread of immorality and lawlessness is the inaction and silence of the decent and morally healthy people. That is why he calls everyone, regardless of social status, to stop being indifferent, to become active citizens, to become patriots of their country and by their actions to favour a real transformation of Ukraine.
Senior pastor of the Embassy of God church Sunday Adelaja – the one person who has been able to build a church with a membership count in thousands in Ukraine, of whom are now varied opinions, and the subject of many heated arguments and debates. He turned 43 years old on the 28 of May. Therefore we are pleased to respond to the invitation to talk with this person.
Pastor Sunday, today you are a famous person not only in Ukraine but also far beyond its borders. Did you ever dream that you would be in the position you are today?
Of course not. I will tell you more: the fact that I am alive is a great miracle. A woman gives birth to the child after 9 months of pregnancy. My mom was not able to give birth to me – I was in the womb for 12 months! But thank to God, I was born after all.
What happened then?
Despite the fact I was born in a rather prosperous and respected family in our village (Idomila village, Ogun State, Nigeria – Author’s note), a few years later my grandmother and me were forced to struggle for survival: collecting firewood, selling jelly. Studying at school was out of the question: hard work took all the time and energy. So up to 10 years I could neither write nor read. As a matter of fact those circumstances toughened me, making me strong and enduring; I learned to overcome difficulties and to defend and protect myself. Soon I acquired fame as a bully fighter and a difficult child.
When I was 16 years old, my grandmother who was very dear to me died. This was a great shock to me because she loved me, cared about me, put the best in me. She replaced my mother. After her death, I realized I was left all alone in the big world.
In adolescence, everyone is an emotional maximalist. What helped you to choose between two life styles – a passive existence and an active position? Where and how did you find the meaning of life?
At age 18 my sister came to me. She first told me about God, His love and that He could change my life if I wanted to. This day has become a key day in my life. A year later, switching TV channels, I heard one preacher who offered TV-viewers to become reconciled with God and repent of their sins. That moment something happened inside me. God’s Grace poured upon me: I repented of my sins and accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.
After that I began to study intensively in school. So I was able to pass the final examinations coming out at the top; as a result I received a government scholarship to study abroad and enter the Belarusian State University (BSU) at the Faculty of Journalism. Over the next 5 years, I spent several hours every day in the library. I was rewarded for my work: I graduated from the University with honors.
How did the Soviet Union welcome you?
Honestly, I was shocked. Naive idea about the Soviet Union as a superpower country like USA, was shattered! Dirty room, the gray buildings, bleak weather, ignorance and indifference on the faces of people, the lack of churches and friendships with other believers – all did little to impress me . I wanted to return to my homeland. After much deliberation, I began to understand: I did not accidentally come here. So with renewed vigor, I began to look for like-minded people to pray and study the Bible.
So, in Belarus, you lived and studied. You managed to create several churches. It seems that everything went well. How then is it that you came to Ukraine and began your religious activity here?
It seemed to have gone well. The meetings I held were underground. At that time any mentioning of God and Jesus Christ was prohibited. Therefore our activities very soon were under the view of the KGB. On the verge of being deported from Belarus because of my religious activities, I accepted an invitation from an American missionary to work for an independent commercial television channel in Ukraine. So I came to Kiev.
You have started to create the church several years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, when neither the state nor the people themselves were able to tolerate the faith and even more other denominations except the Orthodox. Why did you not join one of the traditional church or well-known church communities?
When I arrived in the Soviet Union, I felt a spiritual void; I saw a complete absence of God, the absolute atheism. To me, the hot African guy who was a believer only six months, it was incomprehensible how people can live in an Orthodox country and at the same time not to recognize the existence of God. I was convinced that the Orthodox churches could not bring people close to God. In my understanding (at that time and now), the church has to manifest the Living God, Who really changes people’s lives. At that time I did not find such a church.
What kind of relationships do you have with representatives of other denominations and confessions?
All believers, regardless of confessions and denominations, are brothers and sisters. We are all the body of Christ and are all designed to manifest God’s actions on earth. Therefore, any confrontation between churches is completely unacceptable. Despite some discrepancies in the interpretation of the Word of God and in holding worship services, I have quit good relations with representatives of different denominations.
In your church you hold leadership meetings regularly. What are the personal qualities of a good leader in your opinion?
Well, first of all, a good leader must have a great goal and believe in its implementation. If one does not believe in his dream, no one else will believe in it. To be successful, you must be sure what you are doing is right and important.
A good leader must love the work he does. Without the dedication, self-sacrifice and enormous work, not a great deal can be accomplished. Other important qualities for a good leader are dedication, seriousness, responsibility, diligence as well as flexibility of thinking.
Pastor, where did you acquire the experience to create an organization of such level and quality as the “Embassy of God Church “? Is it possible to use such gained experience in any other sphere of activity?
As for knowledge and experience on creating such a huge structure like the Embassy of God Church, my first assistant was the Bible. One can find a lot of useful information on the raising of leaders, creating a team, creating a structure. Jesus Christ is the best and most successful leader, manager and coach. In addition, I like to read about great and successful people, analyze their lives, define the important principles of their success.
The principles I am guided by are universal. Anyone can apply them and achieve high results. It does not matter color, origin, territory or environment.
Pastor, you are the author of more than 100 books. What are they about? What audience are they intended for?
In general, all my books are intended to help people to solve their problems, to get an answer to their questions. They are all based on Scripture. In addition, you can also find in my books the results of various studies, facts, opinions, forecasts and other information on this topic.
Due to the various book titles, a variety of audiences are targeted: men, women, teenagers, youth, married couples, businessmen, leaders, managers, believers and unbelievers, the Russian-speaking and English-speaking audience.
What is your goal – maximum?
My biggest dream is that more and more people on earth may know God and from this knowledge do everything they do, so that the kingdom of God can come to every place on earth.
What is your wishes to readers, potential leaders…
I wish readers of “Organizer” Magazine to have a great dream in their hearts and do their best to make it true! Be blessed!
Translated by Anna and Helen Krets
Edited by Arinze Chukwu Chianumba