By Bisi Daniels
At 81 years, Pastor Enoch Adeboye’s life has been wholly dedicated to God with holiness, obedience, humility and hard work. Miracles, signs and wonders and a fast-growing mega-church have been the reward.
After what could have been described as a demotion from life in a sprawling accommodation as a university teacher to a one-room apartment in Mushin, a relatively poor suburb in Lagos, not many people, even some men of God, would have believed the promise of a city.
Yet he believed God, who had responded to his prayers for a decent accommodation with, “Son, don’t ask for a house because I have decided to build you a city.”
Pastor Adeboye, who had become the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) in 1981, said, “That response was beyond what I could comprehend. But after this encounter, I began to dream of a city where everybody would be a Christian; a city where there would be no molestation; a city where there would be no power failure or water shortage. God began to stretch my mind to see a city where His praises would fill every mouth.”
When the headquarters at Ebute-meta, Lagos, became too small for the church’s growing congregation, he asked the elders to look for a bigger place. But when they eventually found a piece of land around Iju, Lagos, for N54,000, he did not have even N54. And the elders were angry with him because he refused to borrow money.
“If our church were the kind where they vote, I would have been impeached because I told them I was not going to borrow,” he recalled.
A few days later, a member was going to Ibadan from Lagos when he saw a piece of vacant land and called to say that the owners were ready to accept N6,000 for it. He told the member not even to negotiate, and they quickly paid for it to build the Redemption Camp at Kilometre 46 on the Lagos-Ibadan road for the church’s programmes. It was a piece of land in a dense forest of snakes and other dangerous animals, which served as a den for robbers.
Many church members were surprised Pastor Adeboye moved into the Camp on October 1, 1985, to host daily programmes and live there. Brimming with faith in God, he never looked back.
Against all odds, the Camp developed so fast that on Tuesday, August 9, 2022, the General Overseer renamed it Redemption City to fulfil God’s prophecy.
The city of about 200,000 inhabitants is almost self-sufficient in socio-economic facilities. One could source all physical and spiritual needs there.
Residents and visitors are assured of uninterrupted power supply from a 25-megawatt power station constructed by the church and managed by it. The plant has three gas turbines of varying capacities. Currently, only 15 megawatts are consumed in the city.
The city also supplies its water for residents and visitors, some 6.7 million litres daily, which is far more than the community needs.
There are over 10 educational institutions within the city cater to primary, secondary, and tertiary education needs.
The city has a self-run security and fire station and there are bank branches, shops and market squares. There are also recreational facilities for adults and children, and health centres catering to the health and well-being of guests and residents.
The key attractions in the city are its prayer and worship centres. When the church built its first auditorium by the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, some members were jubilant about its size, but it soon became too small for the increasing congregation.
Years later, the three-million-seat hall was considered the solution, but it also became small for the growing congregation. It is now called Old Auditorium.
With the massive three kilometre-by- three kilometre auditorium, called The Arena in the city, the attention of visitors, including foreigners, is now on the six million sitting capacity facility also called The New Auditorium.
Building a city of over two thousand hectares from a camp of about four acres of land on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway attests to the leadership qualities of the church, God’s faithfulness and His ability to do the impossible.
With the achievement of building a beautiful city promised by God, it is easy to forget the challenges encountered in the process, but there were many.
Pastor Adeboye shares some of them as testimony to God’s Almightiness. “Many divine instructions that produce outstanding results do not make sense. When the almighty God told me that the current location of the Redemption Camp was where it should be, it was a jungle and headquarters of highway robbers tormenting people on the expressway. We were offered four and a half acres of land in a jungle filled with snakes of different species, but God insisted on the site.
“People told me then that we were crazy because it was far from Lagos, amid a God-forsaken jungle, and there was no electricity or water supply nearby. But I allowed the One who knows tomorrow to order my steps.
“I made the first bed I slept on at the Redemption Camp myself. I just got some pieces of wood from here and there, knocked them together, put some planks on top, and I was ready.
“Those days, before we went to bed we would have worked all day and all night till about 3 a.m. at the campground. I used to call the carrying of bags of cement, balancing the equation: I carried one bag with my right hand and another with my left and moved steadily.
“Some people laughed at us because our dormitories looked like hen pens. Each dormitory was open, with the walls only about three feet high, and surrounded with mosquito nets.”
Poverty in the Camp
Those early days in the Camp were some of the poorest for the man who had to leave a comfortable job as a university lecturer to be a General Overseer of RCCG. There were days when the family had no money to feed well or fund some urgent building projects.
He recalled: “In those early days of the Camp, sometimes my wife prepared dinner for the children without meat, and I was touched.
Sometimes I would tell her to cut cow skin meat, popularly called ponmo in local parlance, into smaller pieces so that it could go round.”
It was also difficult to fund the construction work at times. He said, “When we were building the first auditorium of 100 metres by 50 metres at the Redemption Camp, the carpenters came to me one morning for N204.00 to continue with the work, but I didn’t have money then, so I told them I would send for them when I got it.
“They were surprised that I could not afford a mere N200! And as they left, I overhead them grumbling. They said I was complaining that the pace of work was slow, yet I didn’t want to give them money.
I reported the matter to God: “God, You can hear them; send help.”
After that, I fell asleep because I had an all-night prayer. When I woke up, a man was sitting at my office’s door eating breakfast. I told myself, Ah, this man’s case must be serious; he is blocking my way, so I can’t go out.
“Sir, how can I help you?” I inquired. “What’s your problem?”
He said he had no problem but that he had collected house rent from his tenants, and as he was about to have breakfast, God told him to go quickly to the Camp and give the money to me.
The man continued: “When I came and I found you sleeping, I said to God, ‘Can I eat my breakfast while he is sleeping?'”
He gave me the money, I blessed him, and he left. I opened the envelope containing N1,200.00, so I sent for the carpenters; it was time now for me to show off. They needed and grumbled over N204.00, but God had provided N1,200.00.”
Through all the challenges, God, who promised the city, came through for him.
The city’s beauty goes beyond aesthetics to loud truths about God’s word, which never fails.