Posted by By FEMI MACAULAY on
"Weíve been receiving testimonies from different parts of Nigeria and from all over Africa," said Pastor William Folorunso Kumuyi, General Superintendent of the Deeper Life Bible Church, Lagos, while speaking recently about its quarterly "Great Africa Ė wide Crusade."
"Weíve been receiving testimonies from different parts of Nigeria and from all over Africa," said Pastor William Folorunso Kumuyi, General Superintendent of the Deeper Life Bible Church, Lagos, while speaking recently about its quarterly "Great Africa Ė wide Crusade." This programme, which started in 2005, is usually transmitted across the continent and other parts of the world through district satellite crusade locations and the Internet.
In Nigeria, the church has organised this crusade in Port Harcourt, Benin, Aba, Kaduna and Ibadan. The programme has also taken place in Ghana, Togo and Sierra Leone. There are many testimonies of miracles at these crusades that the church has documented in its Great Crusade Testimonies Directory.
Take, for example, the high-profile testimony by the wife of the Prime Minister of Namibia, Mrs Tangeni Angula, who was "healed of a long time sickness" during the Kaduna crusade last year. She experienced the miracle at a district satellite crusade location in her country. Angula was said to have suffered from "pains in the back for many years" and was "due for an operation soon". According to the report, "After the prayers of the man of God (Pastor Kumuyi), she got healed completely and perfectly. She did not give the testimony the same night as she was still checking herself (whether it was true or not). Last night, she came out to give the testimony herself of the miracle of the Lord."
The report lists other testimonies of miracles that happened during these crusades: Insanity gone; blind eyes open; deaf and dumb healed; issue of blood dried; the lame walked; miracle of pregnancy and babies; swollen parts healed. "Everybody wants to be well Ė whether we call it miracle or healing," said Kumuyi, a former Mathematics lecturer at the University of Lagos (UNILAG). Deeper Life started in August 1973 as a 15-member Bible study group in Kumuyiís flat at UNILAG, although the church was formally established in 1983. Today, it reportedly has over one million members in over 60 countries around the world. Kumuyi, 65, in this interview during the Kaduna crusade speaks about the power of God and the mission of his church.
Emphasis on miracles
Itís like if you asked a politician why does he lay emphasis on improvement of the community, why does he lay emphasis on building good roads, giving them good hospitals and making them to live a more convenient life. Why would a doctor lay emphasis on wanting to heal the people, wanting to be a blessing to them? Why would technology lay emphasis on making life easier? Why would the entertainment industry lay emphasis on making people happy and feel relaxed and wanting to have a better life? It could be the same question. Donít you think that people could be drawn to those politicians or those scientists or those technocrats because of the emphasis on these? The point is that you want to meet needs and the needs of the people are there.
People are sick and they donít have the means to get well and some of them have been disappointed by traditional medicine, by hospitals and all that, and you know God can help them; therefore, you lay emphasis on that. You go from the felt need to the unknown need. The main emphasis is that their morals need to be changed. They need to get off the selfish concentration of me, me all the time. But if you just talk about that, they are not going to listen. The need they feel is that "Iím suffering, I want to get relief, Iím sick, I want to get healed. I have this need, I want to get the need met." Therefore, you take them from what they want to what they ought to have.
That is the approach. You see, in Deeper Life, for example, we have schools outreach. The students want to pass their exams, so what I would do is to teach them the principles of success because they want to succeed. You as a parent would also want your children to succeed. Letís say you as a journalist- if youíre sick, you want to be well. So, everybody wants to be well. Just like in the West, all the social services are available- why do they do that? In Germany, for example, somebody doesnít have a job and then theyíll give him a particular allowance every time, even the foreigners who are there. Why do they do that? They want to make life easy for the people; at least have a sense of the worth of a human being, so that they can live conveniently. If the politicians and the government of the world can do that, why wouldnít God take care of us? And weíre presenting a God of love who can do much more for His creatures than the governments of the world can do for their citizens.
Difference between churches in the West and Africa
About a hundred years ago in the West, the religious impact was felt. You think of the time of Martin Luther, John Wesley and such church leaders in the West and you find thousands of people. Actually, the church that Charles Spurgeon was pastoring about a hundred years ago came to about 7,000 for their Sunday worship. But as things evolved, youíll find that there are some Christian principles that those church leaders put in place and already influenced the whole society. If you take Britain for example, or any of the European countries where you have real Christian influence, there are some things we preach now which is like a norm, the normal thing in a place like America or Europe. So you find that because of that emphasis on the moral side, they feel they have arrived at this.
The word ethics, for example, that you find in the West is mainly from Christian principles, and then the interaction, the respect for human life, the social norms and all that are from a Christian perspective. Because theyíve got all that, they feel that this is what Christianity has to offer, therefore, they kind of sit back. Thatís not to say that even in the West they donít have this kind of spiritual desire or quest. For example, in Britain, witchcraft is now more pronounced than probably in Africa, because in Africa, witchcraft is kind of a hidden thing. If somebody is a witch he would kind of hide himself; he doesnít want the community to know, whereas in Britain it is different.
You actually have the medium and people go there, itís a public thing and you can read in the papers, you can read on the Internet and they would say if you want this and that, the soothsayers and all that. And that in a way is a kind of spirituality. And so they concentrate on that. If you took the motivational speakers, for example, in the West, if a motivational speaker were to say that he was coming to the stadium, he could fill a stadium even in the West. Why would a motivational speaker fill the stadium? Because there is depression, there are problems they cannot resolve. There is a kind of oppression. Even in the West, you still face problems in place of work, inferiority complex and all that. If you listen to those motivational speakers and their positive mental attitude and all the things they say, if you go back to the Bible, youíll find that it has roots in the Bible.
That is, say that youíre a person of note, you can do something, donít feel you canít amount to something. All the explorers and inventors of the past, many of them were Christians. So itís out of that Christian background these motivational speakers gather crowds. But here in Africa we donít have those motivational speakers- when somebody has depression they are looking for either traditional medicine or they take them to psychiatric hospital. If a woman is not having a child and then she gets into depression, they think itís an evil spirit or something like that. In the West, there is a way they would deal with such things.
They have their counselors and all that. So, what the church is trying to do here, the professional counselors, motivational speakers and the witch doctors are doing. For example, I think on October 31, Halloween or so is a major thing in America. You canít do that here, when you devote a whole day to evil and the devil Ė in dressing and appearance even on television, some weird things.
You will see that there is a quest in the hearts of people even in the West; they are still looking for something. If they do that and they take a whole day and they talk about all these weird things, then, those of us in Africa that know that with the power of God people can be healed, why would we just sit back and not influence people in the right direction? Our people need motivation, they need to know that they can do something in life; they need to know that the devil canít hinder them; they make up their minds to progress in life. If nobody is telling them, then Africa will just remain a dark continent. Thatís why we have been coming out and saying this is what God can do in our lives.
Teaching by example
There are times you influence people by direct instruction, but sometimes, you influence people by indirect approach; that you donít condemn the people, you donít criticize them, you donít say you are wrong, I am right. But you show by example. For example, youíve seen at the crusade we didnít collect offering. And then all these ministers are there; we just preach the word and be a blessing to them without collecting offering.
So, if we do that often and they see the example and they see that by the grace of God, God is blessing us, weíre evangelising, we go to different parts of the world and weíre doing the work without putting emphasis on money, that would help them to also follow through. And then with the teaching, you see at the ministersí forum, for example, the majority of those people are not from our church, though quite a good number are from our church.
But with the approach, the presentation of the message and then linking up with them, motivating them, making them know that they can succeed, youíll see that the influence and the impact is there. A lot of them will also go back to their churches and say this is the example Iíve seen and then theyíll follow through with that example. Itís not going to happen in one day, but as you repeat this kind of programme and influence them, theyíll kind of de-emphasize that urge for money, money in everything. The Lord has really helped us to touch the lives of quite a number of people and some are following through. The problems are still there with quite a number of churches but things are changing.
Iíve seen that in many places; Iím happy but not excited to the point that Iíll forget the purpose of the crusade. Sometimes, when you see their response and see a crowd like that, you might forget yourself and say OK, this crowd is there, youíre happy, youíre excited and then you just talk to them to make them keep coming. But your purpose is not just to gather a crowd together, your purpose is to affect their lives, affect their families.
Therefore, I still keep to the reason for the crusade. I still have to make them see, look at their lives, think through of their lives and see areas where they need change; and then when they feel powerless and weak to make that change they can have help from the Lord to help them make a change. Iím happy about the crowd, but then, I donít get excited to the point that I forget the purpose of the crusade. Not only that, when you think about the people inside the stadium, the way I would think is that there are more people outside than inside. Though they appear many, the percentage of the people we are reaching is still not as much as the people who are outside.
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