Sept 24, 2014 – Bishop David Oyedepo’s Diamond Jubilee, 60th Birthday For Sept 27, Read His Life Story & Latest Interview
In celebration of the grace of God upon Oyedepo’s life as he reaches a milestone of 60, we bring to you excerpt from his latest interview and his autobiography.
Interviewer: What do you feel when referred to as richest Pastor ?
Oyedepo: May I say here that God owned the silver and the gold and he is the most holy God. If wealth and righteousness are not the best of friends there is no way God will be the wealthiest of all. From his fullness we all received we are also told that Jesus died so that through his poverty we will be made rich and I think there is no father who wishes his children poverty. If God is truly a father he will not wish his children poor and the wealth of every parent is reflective in their children.
Interviewer: It is like you have developed thick skin towards criticisms and negative publicity by not reacting to them. Why is it so?
Oyedepo: My understanding of opposition and persecution is someone’s opinion harshly expressed. Everybody has his rights to his opinion. I don’t feel it is necessary the energy.
Excerpt from Bishop David Oyedepo’s Autobiography – Part 1
Bishop Oyedepo’s Place Of Birth
I was born in the church on September 27, 1954, at Osogbo, Osun State. In my very early days, the only outing I knew outside my home was going to church. My mother made me attend early morning prayers at 5a.m. everyday, dragging me along, half asleep and half awake.
Bishop Oyedepo’s Life Story
I grew up addicted both to God and the church. My parents left me behind in the village with my grandmother, who also was a devout Christian in the Anglican church. She would go to church on Sunday mornings for the Holy Communion, and would always take her tithe along with her in a tin container. I remember asking her one day, “What is this money you take to the church every Sunday morning?” She replied, “That is God’s portion that makes the remainder meaningful.”
Life Lessons Oyedepo Learnt From His Grandmother
My grandmother was a far-above-average woman in her own right. She was well to do, and took good care of all her children. I grew up in a spiritually healthy environment, with my grandmother as my first God-ordained mentor. She did a good job on me through her philosophical teachings. She taught me the following:
The dignity of labour
The futility of depending on one’s father’s inheritance
The burden of indebtedness or borrowing
The danger of keeping wrong company
The principles of commitment
The dignity of integrity
I was fed on very deep proverbial saying as a little boy. She did a good job on me. On her death bed, when asked, “Are you owing anybody?” She said, “No!” “Are there people owing you?” she was the asked; and she drew out a long list of names and said, “If they pay back, take it; but if not, I forgive them, as no one rejoices with debt.”
Bishop Oyedepo Talks About Parents
I also learnt several lessons from my parents. I remember when I spent my holidays with my parents, I discovered that it was my mother’s custom to serve meals to all the tenants’ children. There were about fifteen families in our estate. I asked her one day, “Why must you serve these children meals? Did their parents complain that they have no food?” I was bothered because I was the one washing the dirty plates. My mother answered, “Your own children would be somewhere tomorrow, and someone else would serve them.”
It is amazing how God brought me through this great lesson that would become an asset in my adult life. It was a lesson on the virtue and value of liberality. That is: what you make happen for others, God is also committed to make happen for you. It’s a powerful law that borders on sowing and reaping. That is, whatsoever a man sows, that he shall reap. Today, my wife and I are serving many children of other families through scholarship and education support investment.
I salute her commitment to liberality. She eventually went to be with the Lord in 2011 at the age of 97. She was an active member of the church, and served in the Sanctuary Keepers’ Unit.
My father was not much of a talker, but a doer. I still remember clearly that he hated to see dirt anywhere in the room. He had a small broom he kept wherever he sat, to take care of any piece of paper, mud or any dirt. He swept by himself any unwanted stuff on the floor. He had a commitment to neatness, which has reflected in my life as well.
I remember in 2001, when the National Universities Commission (NUC) delegation came to the then proposed Covenant University off-campus facility at Iyana-Ipaja for verification. One of the officials commented thus: “This is not Nigeria. You cannot pick a piece of paper on the ground here.” That, I believe, was part of my heritage
growing up. It was not taught, but shown by example. At the age of 101, when my father paid my family his last visit before being called to glory, he shared some stories with us about his life; they were very motivating.
Hard work, he said is the heritage of our forefathers. He said our family lineage believes in hard work, and that is responsible for the name of our clan, Odo-oro (place of wealth). He also told the story of when he suffered a business setback; how he would go to his shop and work till 5.00p.m without remembering that he had not had breakfast. He recovered his business fortune by dint of hard work.
Later when he met Christ, his strength was multiplied, as there was no sickness and disease in him. He was still attending services, including our annual convocation (Shiloh) here in Canaanland. He was still looking after his business, collecting rents from his estate and giving offering sacrificially to all kingdom ventures. His physical strength, habitual early morning prayers, and giving life greatly inspired me. I remember his last seed of 140,000 naira to the Covenant University project. He went to be with the Lord in 2004 at 102. He was an active member of our church.
I heard people talking about being born again for the first time in 1968, when I was in the secondary school. I felt my case was different. “How could anyone be more born again that myself?” I thought. I was born in the church and started going to church from the beginning of my life. What then could being born again mean?
I remember throwing stones to one of my seniors that was trying to preach to me to give my life to Christ. But bless God for the loving and caring ministry of a missionary teacher, Miss Betty Lasher. On February 19, 1969, I gave my life to Christ and became a child of God.
At this time, I was a victim of tuberculosis. One day in September 1969, I woke up at night to discover that all the students had moved their beds away from my side in the dormitory, because of my terrible cough in the night. I felt very ashamed. So, I went out and stood on a little rock behind the dormitory and cried to God, saying: “Jesus Christ, if it is true that You did all the miracles reported in Mathew, Mark, Luke and John, heal me now or…” And that was it! The horrible plague ended that night!
I attended my first Christian conference in March 1970, under the auspices of the Fellowship of Christian Students (FCS). The theme of that conference was, “God Is Never Late” (2 Peter 3:9). It was a lesson indeed, which would be much needed in my life’s journey.
Something amazing happened in 1970. My mother had suffered all kinds of deadly attacks on her children. I knew of at least two of my younger ones who had died. I was on holiday, and my younger brother had measles. It was so severe that he passed on at dawn.
My mother wanted to cry out, but I said to her, “If you cry, he will be gone forever. Don’t cry. Put him on your back, and let’s move him to my father’s new project site.” She carried the seven-year old boy on her back, and I walked behind her, shielding her from the back, so passers-by that early morning would not notice dangling legs of the dead child. We got to the property, and I asked her to lay the child on the planks. Then I prayed. I cant remember what I said, but it was a heart cry. “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,” I screamed, and bless God, the boy came back to life!
In 1972, my father who did not belong to the faith then offered me some charm for good luck. I rejected it, and he said to me, “Let me see how you will succeed in life.” One of my uncles standing by said to me, “Just take it from him first.” I did, and on my way to school I threw the talisman into a stream. I said, “Jesus, I believe You are enough for my life and destiny”
Then came examination time in my final year. I was afflicted with a mysterious whit-low on my middle finger on my right hand. It started at about 3.00p.m. and by 9.00p.m., it had grown very big and painful. I went to the school’s dispensary, and the nurse exclaimed, “This is not ordinary! You better leave your exam and go home for urgent attention.” But I said, “No, God is up to any challenge.” I had three exams the following day. Concentration was bad, and the pain was terrible. My writing was virtually illegible, because of the central role of the afflicted finger in writing. Yet I wrote the five papers and still came out with a second class division in the secondary school certificate examination results.
At graduation from secondary school in 1972, a magazine was published for the graduating students and comments written under each person’s name. Sometime in 2005, I was given a copy of that old magazine. Under my name was written: “Disciplined and spiritually robust.”
While preparing to return to school in 1973, a man visited my uncle. He was an Area Educational Officer. He asked if I could take up a relieve teaching job for someone who had gone on maternity leave. I jumped at the opportunity, as every open door for evangelism interested me. I was to spend 70 days on the job.
I got to the village in Dumagi, in Shonga Local Government Area of Kwara State, where I met a teacher, whom I thought must be a Christian or at least a church goer, going by his name-Abraham. I asked him what church or churches were in the village and he said none. “Not even a Catholic church?” I asked in surprise. This was because Catholic churches were everywhere by reason of its spread. But he replied, “Nothing.”
When I got to my hut, I knelt down and prayed. I said, “Lord, let me never leave this village the same way I met it. Lord, put your name in this village.”
My friend spoke the local language (Nupe) very well. So, I was the preacher, and he, the interpreter. We began to hold a fellowship at the entrance of our residential compound, and the number of worshipers began to grow.
We engaged in strange evangelism by requesting to visit the parents of our pupils to pray for them in their houses around the same time they normally would go to the mosque which was by 5:30a.m. Since teachers were treated as kings in villages those days, every scheduled appointments to visit their homes was always greeted with great honour, respect and expectation.
This was how we led many of them to Christ. The number of worshipers began to grow, and we approached the village head for a piece of land, which he gave us. Mobilizing the pupils, we built a temporary shelter for our church, made of palm fronds. About forty days after my arrival in the village, a church building was in place in that village. It was a great move of God!
On my last Sunday in the village, (the 72nd day), the church was packed full with the village folks, and something prophetic happened. The oldest man in the church was asked to present a farewell gift to me on behalf of the church.
He stood up and said, “We have heard that wherever church gets to, civilization gets there too. Thank you for bringing civilization to our village.” He then continued, “Silver and gold we have none, but we give you this bush lamp (lantern); that the light you have brought to our village, let it shine round the world.” They then presented the lantern to me, a prophetic symbol indeed!
My interpreter then is today Deacon Abraham Kuranga of the UMCA Church.
[Credit: Bishop David Olaniyi Oyedepo’s autobiography, ON EAGLE’S WINGS: My First 30-Year Adventure In Ministry]