– The most powerful Nigerian pastors of all time
Christianity is an integral part of the nation Nigeria. It is a prominent part of the nation’s history. The religion has evolved since the advent of the colonial masters who brought Christianity with them. We have acquired some denominations and started others, majority still gain strong ground till date. SelahAfrik recognize the exploits of these early veterans of faith and in the light, we have compiled a list of the most powerful Nigerian pastors in terms of influence and impact in Nigeria and around the world.
Regarded as the father of Anglicanism in Nigeria, Bishop Crowther, who was born as Ajayi in western Nigeria in 1807, is credited with bringing many Nigerians to Christ. So great was his impact that he was ordained the first African Anglican bishop in 1864, despite great protest.
A former slave, Bishop Crowther became a great linguist, translator, scholar and mission teacher. He is also credited with producing the Yoruba Bible and greatly influenced how government’s improved their view of Africa in the 1800s.
But despite his passion and high achievements, Bishop Crowther’s mission was undermined and dismantled in the 1880s by racist white Europeans, including some of his fellow missionaries.
According to reports compiled by historians, prejudiced fellow Anglican missionaries wrongly questioned the moral values and competency of Bishop Crowther and his African staff – and systematically dismantled his mission and undermined his work. In the end, he resigned.
During the 150th anniversary of Bishop Crowther’s ordination in 2015, Archbishop Welby apologised for the church’s mistreatment of Africa’s first bishop. Definitely one of the most powerful Nigerian pastors for his impact and contribution!
Joseph Ayo Babalola:
Joseph Ayo Babalola was the first General Evangelist of the Christ Apostolic Church, popularly called CAC in Nigeria. He was credited with healing powers. He created the Christ Apostolic Church in 1941 alongwith 2 other pastors, after leaving the Apostolic Church. Prior to the time, he was a steamroller driver and was one of those who worked on Osogbo – Ilesha road.
Babalola was baptized in Lagos lagoon in December 1929. Following a schism in The Apostolic Church about 1940, Babalola went with a group led by Pastors J.B. Akinyele and D.O. Odubanjo to form a new independent church, Christ Apostolic Church (CAC), where he continued his healing and revivalistic activities until his death.
The Joseph Ayo Babalola University (JABU) a private Nigerian university located in Ikeji-Arakeji in Osun State, established by the Christ Apostolic Church (CAC) Worldwide is named after him, located at the place where he was called by God in 1928.
He is famous for the revival of the 1930s in the South West and the miracles that accompanied it, such as the raising of a dead child and the 3-week healing of about 100 lepers, 60 blind people and 50 lame persons.
Timothy Oluwole Obadare:
Apostle Obadare was a popular indigenous prophet in spite of an eye problem that made him blind. Despite his ‘disability’, he became an evangelist in the Apostolic Church of Nigeria in 1953. Obadare was there for fours years before going to the Christ Apostolic Church, which was founded in 1941 by Joseph Ayo Babalola:
He took the leadership of CAC after Apostle Babalola died in 1959. During his reign as the G.O, he evangelised on both radio and TV. Obadare founded the World Soul Winning Evangelistic Ministry. Prior to his death, he was the President of the Interdenominational Ministers’ Association of Nigeria (IMA).
Obadare received an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from the Trinity College of Ministerial Arts and an honorary Doctor of Ministry degree from St. John’s University in Missouri.
He was at CAC for 56 years until his death on March 21, 2013.
He is the father of African Pentecostal movement, one of the most influential pastors in Africa as widely accepted by Nigerian Christians.
He led the Pentecostal movement in the 1960s and 1970s. He founded the Church of God Mission International in 1972. Some of the most beloved pastors of today were groomed by him. This include Bishop. David Oyedepo, Bishop Wale Oke, Pastor Chris Oyakhilome, even Pastor Poju Oyemade had his encounter with the great man of God.
He is also the pioneer of what has been regarded these days as “prosperity Gospel”. It was reported that he was excommunicated from the Assemblies of God Church by his pastor for buying a motorbike. At the time, only bicycles were considered proper for believers and a motorbike was considered extravagant and worldly. Benson Idahosa was the first pastor in Nigeria to buy and use a Mercedes Benz and he was criticized for that by a lot of ministers especially from the orthodox churches for being ‘worldly’
He also pioneered Televangelism in Nigeria as the first minister in Nigeria to preach TV. It was considered wasteful and a show-off by both Christians and non-Christians at the period. Bishop Benson Idahosa traveled to about 145 countries to preach the Gospel. He basically change the perspective that Christianity is synonymous with poverty.
He also stands out for standing up to Islamisation attempts during General Babangida’s administration in 1986. He advocated for other Christian leaders to be activists.
Enoch Adejare Adeboye:
Pastor Adeboye, fondly called ‘Daddy G.O’ is arguably the most important Christian figure in Nigeria. The most influential amongst powerful Nigerian pastors. He is respected globally and a voice to reckon with amongst Nigerian Christian and in the political circle, (although he mostly reserves his opinion on politics).
He joined the Redeemed Christian Church of God in 1973 and began interpreting Yoruba to English for Pastor Josiah Olufemi Akindayomi, who is the founder of the church. In 1975, he obtained a Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics from the University of Lagos and went on to hold a position as Professor of Mathematics at University of Lagos.
He was ordained a pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God in 1977. He became General Overseer of the church in 1981. For three years he filled the role part-time, still lecturing at Ilorin, until giving up his university position to preach full-time.
The church, which was not well known prior to Adeboye becoming the General Overseer, currently has several branches globally in about 196 nations (as at March 2017), including more than 14,000 in Nigeria. Adeboye has stated that his aim is to put a church within five minutes walking distance in developing cities and five minutes driving distance in developed cities.
Idahosa’s time was followed by a new era of churches like the Living Faith Outreach Worldwide, popularly known as “Winners’ Chapel.”It was founded by Bishop Oyedepo in 1986, whose church seats 50,000 people.
The Winners’ Chapel network of churches is located in over 300 cities, in all states of Nigeria, and in several cities in 45 African nations, Dubai, the United Kingdom and the United States. Oyedepo has been seen as one of the pioneers of the Christian charismatic movement in Africa and has been referred to as one of the most powerful preachers in Nigeria. He is the Chancellor of Covenant University and Landmark University. He was named in 2011 by Forbes magazine as being the richest pastor in Nigeria.
According to him, he received a mandate from God through an 18-hour vision in May 1981, to liberate the world from all oppression of the devil through the preaching of the word of faith. This is the inaugural vision that led to the founding of the Living Faith Church World Wide (LFCWW), first called Liberation Faith Hour Ministries, in 1981. Two years later, on September 17, 1983, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, ordained David and his wife, Florence Abiola Akano (known as Faith Abiola Oyedepo) to become pastors and officially commissioned the new church. Five years later, Oyedepo was ordained as Bishop.
Living Faith Church (AKA Winners Chapel) started in Kaduna but moved to Lagos, the former capital of Nigeria in July 1989, to start a new branch of the church after Oyedepo claimed to have received instructions from God to reach out to the people of Lagos.
Oyedepo is the wealthiest preacher in Nigeria with a net worth of over US$150 million. The church owns four private jets and several buildings, including in London and the US.
In 1998 he was instructed by God to build a new base for the Commission to accommodate the increasing number of worshippers. This resulted in Oyedepo’s church’s acquisition of the initial 530-acre (2.1 km2) facility, known as Canaanland, which serves as the headquarters. It is the home of the 50,000-seat capacity auditorium, the ‘Faith Tabernacle
Faith Tabernacle was reported as the Worlds’ Largest Church Auditorium in December 2005. This was a feat also recorded by the Guinness Book of Records. Construction was completed within 12 months. Reports also claimed that this building was built debt free. This 50,000-seat edifice was dedicated on September 18, 1999, under the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Canaanland is in Ota, Ogun state and is the 5,000-acre (20 km2) estate and campus, that houses The 50,000 church building, the church secretariat, the church’s youth chapel, a primary school called Kingdom heritage model school, a full boarding mission secondary school called Faith Academy, with over 1,500 students and the Covenant University facilities, which accommodates over 7,000 students.
In 2018, Dunamis International Gospel Centre in Abuja, inder the leadership if Dr Paul Enenche (who was mentored by Bishop David Oyedepo) broke Winners Chapel record to become the world’s largest church auditorium with a 100,000 seating capacity.
Other powerful Nigerian pastors of repute Include:
1. Josiah Olunowo Oshitelu: Like Orimolade, this Christian leader gave people something they could identify with. He founded The Church of the Lord (Aladura). This church falls under the African initiated church category. These are churches that were started in Africa by Africans and independent of foreign missionaries. He was succeeded by Emmanuel Owoade Adeleke Adejobi on May 7, 1967.
2. Samuel Oshoffa: Reportedly, his ministry started after he resurrected people from the dead. This ministry is the popular Celestial Church of Christ. He lived from 1909 to 1985.
3. Moses Orimolade: It is impossible to discuss religion in Nigeria without mentioning Orimolade, the founder of the Eternal Sacred Order of the Cherubim and Seraphim. He was one of the first people to provide Nigerians with a relatable version of Christianity, after the colonial era.
4. Gabriel Olutola: Olutola is a former President of The Apostolic Church Nigeria, which was borne out from the Apostolic Church of the United Kingdom. The international church was brought to Nigeria by three Missionary delegates on September 23, 1931.
As part of the powerful Nigerian pastors in influence, we also recognise:
5. William F. Kumuyi: Pastor Kumuyi is the founder of one of the most known churches in Nigeria, which is the Deeper Life Ministry. He was named one of the “500 most powerful people on the planet” in April 2013.
6. Mike Okonkwo: He is the Presiding Bishop of The Redeemed Evangelical Mission (TREM). It was was founded on January 4, 1981. The church’s founder is one of Idahosa’s protégés.
7. Daniel Kolawole Olukoya: The Mountain of Fire and Miracles (MFM) is undoubtedly one of the most popular churches in Nigeria. It was founded by Pastor Olukoya in 1989.
8. Chris Okotie: This man went from the music scene to establishing the Household of God Church International Ministries in 1987. Later on, he tried his hand at politics by running for the President under the Justice Party (JP) in 2003. He lost to Olusegun Obasanjo but this did not stop him from trying again in 2007. This time, he created his own party, Fresh Democratic party, FRESH. Sadly, he was beaten by Umaru Yar’Adua. Pastor Okotie tried for the third time in 2011. Unfortunately, he lost to President Goodluck Jonathan.
9. Chris Oyakhilome: He is the founding president of Believers’ Loveworld Incorporated, also known as Christ Embassy. Pastor Oyakhilome was one of Nigeria’s most popular televangelists. We recognise his impact as one of the most powerful Nigerian pastors of all time
10. Temitope Balogun Joshua: This preacher came on the scene when he started the Synagogue, Church of All Nations (SCOAN) with only eight members in 1987. Since then, his church has become a go-to for miracles, prophecies and more for Nigerians and people from all over the world. Prophet T.B Joshua is definitely one of Nigeria’s biggest Christian leaders in 2017.
11. George Adegboye: He is the President of the Ever Increasing Word Ministries, also known as Rhema Chapel International Churches. The church was started in Ilorin, Kwara State after God called Adegboye on December 19, 1981. His ministry has birthed Pastor Sam Adeyemi, Pastor Samuel Olubiyo, Pastor Victor Adeyemi and others.
12. Lazarus Muoka: He started The Lord’s Chosen Charismatic Revival Movement with a few pioneer members. The church was created sometime in 1994.
13. Biodun Fatoyinbo: He is the senior pastor and founder of the Commonwealth of Zion Assembly. The megachurch was created on February 14, 1999.
14. Suleman Johnson: This Apostle is the Senior Pastor and General Overseer of Omega Fire Ministries International, created in 2004. The headquarters is in Auchi, Edo State.
15. Samuel Adeyemi: He is the Senior Pastor of Daystar Christian Centre. The church was started on November 18, 1995 at the Eko Chinese hotel on Allen Avenue, Ikeja Lagos.
16. Felix Meduoye: Rev. Felix Meduoye is the fourth indigenous General Overseer of the Foursquare Gospel Church in Nigeria.
17. Poju Oyemade: Poju Oemade is the Senior Pastor of Covenant Christian Centre, Lagos. He is the convener of West African Believers Conference (WAFBEC) and The Platform. Pastor Poju is recognised as one of the most powerful Nigerian pastors for his impact with word of faith.
18. Bishop FEB Idahosa: Born to one of the world’s most renowned evangelists – Late Archbishop Benson Idahosa of blessed memory and Archbishop Margaret E. Benson Idahosa, Bishop Faith Emmanuel Benson Idahosa II, popularly known as Bishop FEB, presides over the Church of God Mission International and is the president of Benson Idahosa University (BIU).
19. Paul Enenche: Paul Idoko Enenche is an Abuja-based Pastor in Nigeria. He is the founder and senior pastor of the Dunamis International Gospel Centre. It’s headquarter in Abuja is the largest auditorium in the world with 100,000 seating capacity.
20. David Ibiyeomie: David Ibiyeomie is the presiding Pastor of Salvation Ministries. The church began in Port Harcourt but is fast spreading across the country.
21. Paul Adefarasin: Paul Adefarasin is the senior pastor of House on the Rock Church. He is an author, televangelist and architect. He hosts the weekly television religious program, Something Is About to Happen and convener of the annual mega concert “The Experience.”
Sources: Wikipedia, Pulse NG, Memikoroduroad, SelahAfrik