The Point of Exodus

The year 1993 was the beginning of the Embassy of God. God was about to call His people to leave their old, dead traditions and come experience a new, living relationship with Him. This was the year that Word of Faith Church was born. In the winter streets of the country of Ukraine, Christmas joy was flowing. The people were happy about Christmas, but had no idea what God was about to begin -what a wonderful invitation they would receive from their God.

As they watched their television sets, a black man appeared on the screen. His eyes were shining with love and his words were not very clear, but they went straight to the heart. He was inviting people to come experience healing and freedom. Later on, came advertisements in the newspapers. So soon after the bright, eye-catching ads began to appear, the first people began to come. First, courses teaching the Bible were held in Kyiv Polytechnic Institute. It began with about 7-15 people, but the young Adelaja was happy with that small beginning and knew that it would become great. His faith was strong.

On January 7, he prepared a hall that could seat an audience of 200 people. No on expected more than 1000 people. This day became a great day in the history of Ukraine. God had called his trailblazers for Ukraine – Samson, Albert, and Adelaja. These men got on their knees before the Lord, opening their hearts. They cried out to God, asking him to save Ukraine. This prayer lasted through the entire night. People did not suspect what this night meant in their lives. In the spiritual world, the victory was won and the powers that were holding the people of Ukraine in bondage, were at last broken.

Sunday Adelaja gathered the hungry people almost every day and fed them spiritual food. As a loving parent, he cared for his spiritual children. Many of them underwent many complicated psychological and physical situations, but their thirst for the Word was overwhelming. Pastor Sunday searched for new ways of attraction of people. Sunday once asked them to help him in an unusual evangelization tactic. He asked them to bake as many sweets, cookies or cakes as possible and then meet together with people who wish to study the Gospel. This offer was shocking, because many of them didn’t even have enough to feed themselves, let alone others. They knelt before God and prayed, “ My God, help us. ” And the Lord heard and answered all their prayers. God provided them with the necessary ingredients to make pies and food, even though they couldn’t afford them. In the end, there weren’t enough tables to put all the cookies. They continued working, and grew from glory to glory in God and became stronger in faith.

One year later was the first birthday of the Word of Faith Church. This long-awaited event changed the destiny of Ukraine. There were many obstacles in the way, for example the church was not able to rent a hall, but Pastor prayed and God performed a miracle – all the required papers were signed. The Lord prepared the means of rescuing the people. The church began advertising, but it was not very successful – only 50 persons came even though the hall had been designed for 1500. But, God worked and 48 people repented.

The Lord started to raise and use the first pupils of Pastor Sunday. On television screens around the city, a woman with a beautiful smile, which started in the heart, charmed audiences. Listening to her, people received hope. She talked about life, testifying to the world that the God who made the world wanted to help them. Natasha Potopaeva is a woman with a heart for the hopeless and rejected of society. She is a gifted artist and a good psychologist who left her prestigious job with a high salary to devote herself to serving God.

With the beginning of Pastor Sunday’s great ministry, great tests and obstacles also began. Pastor Sunday’s apartment was robbed four times. The trials the young Adelaja endured are known only by God and a few close friends. But nothing could prevent this man of God because he knew the reason he was called to this land.

On April 27, 1994, the first services of the Rehabilitation Center were held with four people. Natasha Potopaeva was the leader of this ministry. Even then, the Lord had placed in her heart the plan to rescue alcoholics and drug addicts. After several years she became director of this center and thousands of addicted people received freedom.

In July of the same year, the first water baptism took place. Many people were changed on this day, as over 300 people went into the water in a symbolic gesture of being crucified, buried and resurrected with Christ, leaving their sins and old ways in the water.

God told Pastor Sunday, “ it is not good for man to be alone,” and on August 13, 1994, Pastor Sunday was united in marriage with Abosede Dere, whose worth was far above pearls. Two hearts were made one and this became a blessing for the people of the church. Over 400 people came to congratulate and share in the joy of the celebration. After his marriage, Pastor Sunday authored the book, “A Blessed Marriage Takes Work.” This marriage has become an example for many families.

On September 12, 1994, after long opposition the church was officially registered. Documents were issued by the Department of Religious Affairs, the very same ones who had opposed the registration.

Take Your Cross

Anytime a person chooses to follow God whole-heartedly there will be difficulty. It was no different with the young Word of Faith Church. As the pastor and congregation obeyed God, they paid the price. In the beginning the church was known as a place where the lowest form of society went – it was a church of drug addicts and alcoholics. Pastor Sunday faced much personal persecution. His apartment was broken into four times. He faced numerous racial insults and abuse, and many would have justified themselves for fighting back. However, Pastor Sunday’s response was always only love. The members of the church were so fervent for God that their families would try to stop them from attending church or tell them they were crazy. Negative rumors were spread by almost everyone, it seemed. The persecution did not stop with just ordinary citizens. The government became interested in the church’s activities and began to investigate. The Orthodox Church began to criticize and make accusations. Newspapers wrote many negative articles. Pastor Sunday faced several death threats and other threats of bodily harm. Armed men would come to the services to try and intimidate. Members of the police force, psychiatrists and doctors would attend nearly every service looking for evidence to be used against the church. At one point, there were over twenty investigations and court cases involving the church.

Another area of intense persecution was in the renting of premises for meetings. The church had to relocate numerous times. At points, some of the daughter churches held services outdoors, in the street, when there was no indoor facility available. Even in the dead of winter, the cold, wind, and snow could not deter people from gathering together to worship and praise their Lord.

Things certainly seemed bleak for Adelaja and the church. During this time, only one thing was certain – the word that God had given this body. The people, instead of becoming discouraged and depressed, spent more time in intense prayer and fasting. Rather than the church growing smaller, it continued to grow in the face of its trials.

Taking Kiev by Surprise

by Frank Brown

…In Soviet times and before the 1917 Russian Revolution that brought Communists to power, Ukraine had a small Protestant minority that knew its place and never took on the dominant Russian Orthodox Church. With his ambitious church-planting campaign and growing Kiev megachurch, Adelaja most definitely does not know his place. Consequently, his enemies are not hard to find.

They view him as a foreign-financed charlatan who brainwashes and hypnotizes congregants into parting with their money. Speaking in tongues and falling under the power of the Holy Spirit are just more proof of the cult like nature of the Embassy of God church, according to critics who nearly succeeded in getting him kicked out of Ukraine in 1998.

To this day, Adelaja says, Orthodox Christian leaders are preventing him from getting city permission to build a proper church. Instead, he must rent an indoor sports facility that can hold only one-third of his congregation at once. Adelaja’s steadfast and most powerful foes are not shy about their desire to have the Nigerian shut down. On Kiev’s Right Bank, not far from the monastery that is one of Orthodox Slavs’ most holiest sites, are the offices of the Union of Orthodox Brotherhoods.

Led by Valentin Lukiyanik, the Union of Orthodox Brotherhoods represents 36 lay organizations in Ukraine that are loyal to the 80 million-member Russian Orthodox Church. Sitting under a portrait of Patriarch Alexy II, the Moscow-based head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Lukiyanik explains why Adelaja is so “dangerous.”

“Sunday is not a classical Protestant. He is a neo-Protestant, not like a Baptist, Adventist or even Pentecostal. He is something new. What he has is a totalitarian, destructive cult,” says Lukiyanik, who is not so keen on Roman Catholics either, having organized street demonstrations against Pope John Paul II’s 2001 visit to Ukraine.

Lukiyanik, a broad-faced affable man who works in an emergency room in a Kiev hospital, concedes that Adelaja has a vibrant, growing church but predicts it will begin to evaporate as Ukraine’s economic situation improves.

“Yes, they’ve got influence. But it is an aberration,” he says. “I’d say it is some kind of psychosis. We consider it to be some kind of psycho-cult that is well-financed.”

That financing, says Orthodox spokesman Father Georgy Kovalenko, comes from Adelaja’s laundering of money for Nigerian drug barons. The accusation—unsubstantiated and denied with a laugh by Adelaja—has wide currency in Ukraine’s yellow press in part because Nigerians do play a role in the country’s heroin trade.

Though Adelaja has enemies in high places, he also has well-placed friends, including three members of the congregation who sit in Ukraine’s lower house of parliament. One such church member proved to be an important ally when Orthodox Church leaders launched a campaign in 1998 to slow the spread of charismatic churches by revoking Adelaja’s Ukrainian visa.

At one point, Adelaja had two weeks to leave the country. He refused and Vladimir Shushkevich, a church member and then-parliamentarian, gathered 60 signatures in parliament and thwarted the campaign, allowing Adelaja to stay.

Charisma, June 2003, Volume 28, Number 11

Topic of the Day

by Oleg Gavrish

— Is there a lack of understanding from the government?

— More often from individual Orthodox Christians. I tell them, you are fighting against the wrong people; we are your brothers and sisters in Christ. After all there are Wahhabis, who actively preach in Crimea, Krishnaites, Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses. All these movements are not considered to be sects or cults, but we are always attacked.

However, in 1997 I had problems with the government as well. When we celebrated the church’s third anniversary (we had 3 thousand believers in our church) the police came and told me I could not preach. I showed them my visa and permission. The next day policemen came again and told me, “Non-adults come to your church.” I said, “Of course, they come to church, but with their parents.” At that time they started writing malicious articles in the mass media. Interestingly, they described us as the White Brotherhood or some other non-Christian religion… When people in our church read this lie, they were appalled. No one said that the Pentecostal church is one of the main Protestantism movements in USA, Canada and Europe. We were mainly accused of preaching the Gospel in a modern way. But, we live in the twenty-first century and must talk to people in a language of today. 

Specially for «Pravda Ukrainy» (according to Pravda Ukrainy May 22, 2003)