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Thursday, 4 January 2018

THE JOSHUA GENERATION Part 1: David Abioye: An Example In Stewardship

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Bishop David Olatunji Abioye is the foremost ‘assistant’ in Christendom today, especially when considering pentecostal ministries in Africa. A significant member of the leadership of the Living Faith Church Worldwide aka Winners’ Chapel International, one of the leading Pentecostal churches in Nigeria with over 6,000 branches worldwide (excluding over 2000 Zonal Fellowship Centres in Lagos alone).
The Senior Pastor of Living Faith Church, Goshen City, a sprawling church and community development occupying a large expanse of land, about 740 acres on the outskirts of Abuja (Auta-Balefi in Nassarawa State), the capital of Nigeria, he is a father-figure and mentor to hundreds of thousands of people all over the world.

The second most senior bishop in Winners Chapel, Abioye has been with the presiding bishop, Oyedepo from the inception of the ministry in 1981. Abioye saw Living Faith Church grow from a small church in Ilorin, to Kaduna and now to a mega church with branches in over 60 countries. In April 1987 when Oyedepo received instruction for Living Faith Church to ‘spread out’ with the first 5 branches, Abioye was chosen to start the Maiduguri Church which has stood firm till today as one of the most prominent Churches in North Eastern Nigeria. When Oyedepo left Kaduna for Iyana Ipaja, Lagos in 1989, Abioye was left to man the 3000 member Garden of Faith, the Church's National Headquarters while Oyedepo took over Lagos and later moved to Canaanland, Ota. He was ordained a Bishop in Living Faith Church in 1993.
Bishop David Abioye was born in March 1961, to the Baptist family of Pa and Mrs Abioye from Kwara state. A graduate of the Mechanical Engineering Department of the elite University of Ilorin, he gave his life to Christ at a tender age and soon became the President of the Fellowship of Christian Students (FCS) at the university.
In 1979, during a Joint Campus Fellowship (JCF) meeting in Ilorin, Oyedepo, then known as ‘Bros Dave’ the then JCF Fellowship President asked Abioye the FCS President to lead prayers and Abioye upset at Oyedepo’s seeming brashness instantly replied ‘No’. That was their first meeting he recalls and also the last time he has ever said ‘No’ to David Oyedepo.
Abioye accepted the call of God upon his life to start up ministry as a preacher, having to abandon his lecturing job at a time when ministers of the gospel were largely seen as failures or tagged a nuisance. Some of them were literally disowned by their parents and family members for taking to such a ‘miserable’ vocation.
According to him “I and my wife, newly wedded then had to start up in a small cubicle for an apartment. Among my most priceless possessions was my face cap and a 6 spring mattress”.
Abioye pastored the Kaduna Church for over 10 years and was present during all the religious crisis in the City. He was always on hand in any trouble spots to solve crisis and put all erring clergy in the Church to order. As mild as he is, he is a disciplinarian. In 2004, Oyedepo transferred Abioye to Abuja as the senior pastor and it took only the grace upon his life for the crisis generated by that transfer to be quelled. The former Bishop of Abuja, Dayo Olutayo, resigned from the church in the wake of Abioye's transfer and many thought that Winners Chapel in the capital city will collapse in his hands but after few months of shaking, the church stood on its feet and multitudes both those that had left and new ones thronged the Church at Durumi. During the crisis in Ghana in June 2004, Abioye was on hand to quell the rebellion by Bishop George Adjeman and eventually the Church had to set up a new Church from scratch a short distance from the old Church. In 3 months, the new Ghana Church was properly established and bursting through the seams.
Abioye supervised the establishment of numerous branches of Winners Chapel in the capital city including Karu, Nyanya , Mararaba, Lugbe, Kubwa, Gwarimpa, Jahi , Life Camp, Sunnyville, Lokogoma and numerous other mega Churches before he moved to Goshen City, a 15,000 capacity auditorium (largest Church auditorium in Northern Nigeria till date) in Auta Balefi, Kilometre 26, Abuja Keffi Expressway with estimated cost of initial construction cost being put at over N2 Billion naira.
It was on record that Goshen City was built within 15 months and crowds of worshipers have continued to overflow the Church in 3 services every Sunday despite the myriad of Church branches within the Capital City. Goshen City has a primary school (Kingdom Heritage Model School), a Secondary school (Faith Academy), a Youth Center, a mini housing unit of about 50 houses, Guest House, Printing Press, Youth Church and the massive auditorium. As part of its Vision 2031, the 25 year vision of the Church which ends in the year 2031, another university would be built in Goshen. Goshen City is the Mission headquarter of World Mission Agency (WMA) and home of the First Vice President of the Church where the activities of churches in the mission field of the world is supervised.
Abioye has displayed rare qualities of humility, loyalty and faithfulness in his service to Bishop David Oyedepo and the Winners Chapel family. It is prophetically discernible that Bishop David Oyedepo is the current Apostle of Faith and in his extraordinary work of faith he has mentored many sons of the prophet, one of which is David Abioye.
The ‘Bishop’ as he is fondly called by his sons and daughters in the Lord which include founders and leaders of other ministries was among the seven founding members of the Church. At inception, Oyedepo had like Idahosa decided to go on Bible School training in the USA. He assured his assistants that they were all going to attend the training with him just like Paul was trained in Arabia. Later in a sudden turnaround, Oyedepo cancelled the trip which had been prayed and planned for, declaring that God had asked him to remain in Nigeria and that “he was going to no America”. This was upsetting for most of the pastors and they voted with their feet and left the ‘dreamer’ Oyedepo. Abioye remained, of course along with Florence (Faith) Akano who later became Oyedepo’s wife.
After a little while when the ministry seemed to be stabilizing, the leaders who had left returned and Oyedepo told them point blank that Abioye would remain number two. Ever since then, till date, Abioye’s loyalty and support to the work of God, in the hands of his life time mentor and spiritual father, the very respected Bishop David Oyedepo. (President of L.F.C worldwide) has been intactly unquestionable. This has been so for almost four decades now.
David Abioye is a seasoned teacher of the word. While Oyedepo oscillates between insightful mysteries and deep prophetic release, Abioye goes into deep expositions of the Word, and breaks the lump, heavy prophetic releases of the Presiding Bishop into pieces such that even the newest convert could grasp, thus creating a colorful balance in the ministerial team of Winners Chapel.
Despite all the greatness associated with David Abioye, he has not failed in private and public to attest his loyalty to the leadership of Bishop David Oyedepo. During Shiloh programmes, with the exception of 2013, where Oyedepo's son took over the Youth Seminar, Abioye has not failed to re-emphasize to the teeming youth of the church the need to remain faithful to the leadership of the presiding bishop and those teachings of his have greatly influenced the attitude of the church in general that they've learnt to be patient with what they couldn't understand till they grow into maturity.
Until a few years back, Abioye was the sole Vice President of Living Faith Church Worldwide and is in charge of the general administration of the churches in Nigeria and overseas but his office has been split and he is now is the First Vice President. Recently, the succession pattern as enshrined in the Church's 'Red Book' or 'Mandate' further foreclosed the possibility of succeeding Oyedepo in the future especially after he clocks 60. Severally, people have advised Abioye that it is time to part with Bishop Oyedepo. While some alluded to gradual marginalization, others concocted all manners of suppositions and pledging to follow him-yet Abioye has always maintained that God called him to follow and obey his master (Oyedepo) as Joshua followed Moses, leaving those advisers disappointed.
Abioye has demonstrated that one must not be a President and Founder of a ministry before getting fulfillment in God's vineyard. People are no more patient with their leaders and they are quick to claim that God has called them for something else. Therefore, Abioye's stay in Winners Chapel has made many gallivanting pastors stick to their visioneers and wait for God's appropriate time to quit. However, one must not always quit where one started.
Jacob, one of our fathers in the faith, was with Laban for 21 years and his wages was changed ten times, yet he did not leave Laban until God authorized him to get back to his father's house -Genesis 30:1-28; 32 and 33. This does not presuppose that Oyedepo is cheating Abioye- rather it justifies sticking to a place until God speaks otherwise. Therefore, pastors should learn from Bishop David Abioye and remain faithful in the place of their assignment. They must ignore rumors, gossips, insinuations and tale bearing of men and ask God for direction.
David Abioye has displayed unparalleled loyalty, faithfulness and service to Winners Chapel and Bishop David Oyedepo, one hopes that this service continues till God only speaks to the contrary-one prays too that those about to abandon their place of service without proper authorization will emulate Abioye, shun divisive tendencies and concern themselves with building the church of God till they get clear orders from above.
In a time as this where breaking up from God ordained followership and “sheep stealing” is becoming a trend in religious circle, the man of God has remained rock solid in his God ordained role in the body of Christ.
Bishop David .O. Abioye is a renowned author and key note speaker in both religious and secular conferences around the world. He regularly lectures top brass military officers, Generals, Admirals and Marshals of the Air Force at the National Defence College. He is the author of several Christian literature and leadership books
He is happily married to Mary .A. Abioye, who is also an ordained minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ. They are blessed with three God-fearing children David jnr, Ruth and Daniel.

By Leke Beecroft
Part 2: Pastor Agu Irukwu

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