Regarded as the most successful pastor in Europe with branches in over 50 countries worldwide, Pastor Sunday Adelaja, the Nigerian-born Founder and Senior Pastor of The Embassy of the Blessed Kingdom of God for All Nations, headquartered in Kyiv, Ukraine, talks about the secret of his succesful ministry and what he thinks of Femi Aribisala’s recent criticism of him, why he endorses the Buhari administration, among other issues.
“I was born in the village of Idomila Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State, Nigeria and raised by my grandmother. I received Christ 6 months before I left Nigeria, to study journalism on scholarship at the Belarusian State University in Minsk, Byelorussia USSR. After my studies in Belarus, I got a job in Kiev, where I worked for some time as a journalist before I eventually started the Embassy of God church. I started initially with just a handful people. Through hard work, we overcame all sorts of challenges and by the grace of God we are where we are today”
On what inspired him to embrace the pulpit?
“The pulpit is not something that you could just choose to embrace. It is not a profession as far as I am concerned. Becoming a pastor, a full time minister, is a matter of calling. I got my calling 6 months after I gave my life to Christ. I had just arrived in the former Soviet Union as a 19-year-old lad. Then I met someone we call Brother Paul Dahunsi from Akure. He was the leader of the underground church in Minsk Belarus at that time, 1986. I was complaining to him on why God allowed me to come to Russia, since I also got admission into University of Ife in Nigeria, and also Columbia University, USA. I thought maybe I had made a mistake coming here; no believers, no church and things were not as smooth and straight forward as I had thought. This man, who was also a student, advised me to pray to God and seek his face, concerning why he allowed me to come to Russia because God is a God of purpose”
For about two weeks he was praying the same prayer, morning, afternoon, and evening on my purpose in Russia. Afterwards, he had an encounter with the Lord for three consecutive days; Jesus was coming to my room and showing me, basically all the things that he is doing today. He saw himself preaching to mainly white people and miracles happening and all sorts of things that he thanks God for today. That was how his journey in the ministry started.
He is a journalist and a writer, so probably he would have been doing that if he wasn’t called, he says.
It seems that Pastor Adelaja has his sights set on home (Nigeria). In the face of the many challenges Nigeria currently faces. He said, “Well, firstly that is changing now. If you noticed, I have started speaking to issues in my home country, Nigeria, starting from the last presidential election. The reason why I have not been involved in the issues of Nigeria is, because for a long time, I was not thinking of myself as somebody who could meddle into Nigeria’s current affairs. I thought the only way to contribute to the issues in Nigeria will be through what I do best – pastoring or church. However, since I was not coming to Nigeria to pastor, I just decided to forget about it.
Another reason I didn’t want to come to Nigeria to start a church, is because I know that Nigeria has too many churches already. A lot of people are doing a good job, but some of them are not too good. I didn’t want to come and add to the confusion in Nigerian church politics. I thought I could support the hands of the people who are doing well who may need my help. However, if God gives me instruction to come to Nigeria to start a church, I will be willing. However, right now I want to contribute to the political and current affairs of Nigeria. And I do that now largely through my writings on Facebook and on my blog, www.sundayadelajablog.
Popular social commentator, Pastor Femi Aribisala, recently, lashed out at Pastor Adelaja. His words: “He tells his congregants that God is going to make them slum-dog millionaires, provided they give some of their hard-earned cash to his church. This casino-Christianity strategy has provided the basis of the success of many mega-pastors.” How would you react to this?
Pastor Adelaja’s answer, “First of all I do not know who Femi Aribisala is. I don’t know him, I have never met him. I don’t think I have ever heard of him. I don’t know, is he a pastor, a theologian or a social commentator? What does he do? I don’t think he knows me; he has never been to my church. I am sure he has never heard me preach, and he has never listened to my messages. So where he is getting his fantasy from, I don’t know. I think that is just the product of his fallacy.
What he is accusing me of is the direct opposite of what I stand for. On the contrary, I am one of those who passionately oppose people who preach prosperity in our modern day churches. I don’t believe by bringing money to a church is how you get prosperity, even though giving is one of God’s principles of wealth creation. I rather teach that it is wrong to give people such false hope.
I have a whole book written on that called “Money Won’t Make You Rich”. However, God bless him nevertheless. I guess he needs popularity. He probably needs to ride on someone else’s shoulder to get it.
On why he supported Buhari/Osinbajo in the 2015 polls:
My position was informed by what I know and the principles I stand for. I believe the Nigerian church is wrong, especially the leadership of the church, by keeping quiet about issues of the society. I think that if I as a leader know something is good for my country, it is a crime for me to keep quiet about it. I feel it is my social responsibility to speak my mind. Even though these people have the right do as they believe, it is their choice, I nevertheless must express my opinion in this regard.
I believe in Buhari because of his past records. I believe in Osinbajo because I know him personally as a man of integrity. I know the integrity and the principles he stands for. I know that if these kind of people lead Nigeria, Nigeria can never get it wrong. The fact that I am a pastor is even the more reason why I think I should speak out. Because it is when the righteous people keep quiet that evil prospers, prevails and triumphs in a society. I will rather speak out, than keep quiet, because I know what is right. I speak out for what I believe is best for my nation and the Kingdom of God at a particular time.