Men of Faith
GUINNESS BOOK OF RECORDS WORLDS LARGEST CHURCH BUILDING: The Journey of God through Bishop David Oyedepo, his wife & the Church so far at Nigeria.
50,000-seat capacity auditorium with 50,000 members plus, the ‘Faith Tabernacle’, which is reputed to be the largest Church auditorium in the world. This was featured or also recorded by the Guinness Book of Records.Inside Sitting Capacity 50,000 Outside Overflow Capacity 250,000 plus.
David O. Oyedepo, affectionately called Papa by his followers (born September 27, 1954) is a Nigerian Christian author, Preacher and the founder and Presiding Bishop of Living Faith Church World Wide also known as Winners Chapel and its affiliated International churches known as Winners Chapel International, with headquarters in Ogun State, Nigeria. He is also the senior pastor of the acclaimed Faith Tabernacle,a 50,000 seat church auditorium reputed to be the largest church auditorium in the world by the Guinness Book of Records. The Winners Chapel network of churches is present in over 300 cities in all states of Nigeria, as well as in over 63 cities in 32 African Nations, Dubai, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Oyedepo has been seen as one of pioneers of the Christian charismatic movement in Africa and has been referred to as one of the most powerful preachers in Nigeria.
Early life and history
On September 27, 1954 David Olaniyi Oyedepo was born in Omu Aran, Kwara into a religiously mixed family: his father,Ibrahim,was a Muslim healer and his mother,Dorcas,was a member of the Eternal Order of the Cherubim and Seraphim Movement (C&S), a branch of the Aladura movement in Nigeria. David was “born again” in 1969 through the influence of his teacher, one Ms. Betty Lasher, who took special interest in him during his high school days. He studied architecture at Kwara State Polytechnic and worked briefly with the Federal Ministry of Housing in Ilorin before resigning to concentrate on missionary work. Oyedepo also gained a Ph.D in Human Development from Honolulu University, Hawaii, United States of America.
According to him, he received a mandate from God through an 18 hour long 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 LFCWW, first called Liberation Faith Hour Ministries, in 1981. Two years after, on 17 September 1983, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, ordained David and his wife, Florence Abiola Akano (now known as Faith Abiola Oyedepo) to become pastors also officially commissioned the newly started church of Oyedepo. Five years after, Oyedepo was ordained a Bishop.
Oyedepo’s church started in Kaduna, but moved to Lagos, the former capital of Nigeria in September 1989 to start a new branch of His Church, after receiving an instruction from God to reach out to the population in Lagos. This Church has gone on to become the International head quarters of His Church.Due to the increasing flow of people into His Church with crowds spilling over to adjacent roads, and on decks of uncompleted buildings nearby and people standing for hours to listen to His teachings, it became necessary to search for a larger place.This led to the building of the renowned Faith Tabernacle.
Place of worship
In 1998,Oyedepo set forth to build a new building to accommodate the increasing number of worshippers. This resulted in his Church’s acquisition of the initial 530-acre facility, known as Canaanland, which serves as the headquarters of His Church.It is the home of the 50,000-seat capacity auditorium, the ‘Faith Tabernacle’, which is reputed to be the largest Church auditorium in the world.This was a feat also recorded by the Guiness Book of Records.
World largest church auditorium, Faith Tabernacle,December,2005
The speed of the construction of Faith Tabernacle was breath-taking, considering the size of the building. Construction of this gigantic project was completed within 12 months, which experts claim could only have been a miracle, because such a project should normally take a minimum of three years to complete. Reports also claimed that this building was built debt free.This 50,000-seat edifice was dedicated in September 18, 1999 under the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Canaanland is in Ota, a suburb of Lagos and is the 5,000 acre 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 its University facilities which accommodates over 7,000 students, fully resident in ultra-modern hostel facilities, with fully equipped faculty buildings and numerous staff housing facilities.Canaanland campus also has for profit establishments operated by the church such as a bakery, a bottled water processing plant, a petrol station, various restaurants and shopping stores, several residential houses that provide for the over 2,000 church employees, and guest houses.Four banks are also present on this Estate, three of which are branches of external commercial banks and one which is a community and micro-finance Bank and operated by the Church.
The teachings of Oyedepo has put him in the category of what is commonly called the Word of Faith Movement. He has referred to principal exponents of the Faith Movement such as Kenneth Copeland, Gloria Copeland,the late Kenneth Hagin, T.L Osborn, Smith WigglesWorth as well as renowned Nigerian preachers Enoch Adeboye and the late Benson Idahosa as mentors.
The teachings of Oyedepo are grouped under a range of topics called ’12 pillars of faith’, which include: Faith, The Word, Prosperity, the Holy Spirit, Praise, Consecration, the Supernatural, Wisdom, Prayer, Success, Vision and Healing. The Overall focus of His teachings centre around Faith in God’s, Prosperity and Miracles.He teaches that faith in the word of God is the key to a life of God’s blessings and security of the works of the devil.He teachings on prosperity are aimed at empowering people to live free from poverty, particularly the African continent. He describes his own teaching on prosperity as “covenant software for programming yourself into victories and triumphs.” His Church (Winners Chapel) also operates a Bible training programme known as Word of Faith Bible Institute for members and non-members alike to develop knowledge of Christian principles and to develop leaders and future pastors.This institute is run in major branches of the Church.
Oyedepo who operates like the “Chief Executive Officer” of a conglomerate,is the President of David Oyedepo Ministries International (DOMI). DOMI is the umbrella organisation comprising Living Faith Church World Wide (a global network of churches), World Mission Agency (WMA); the global missionary arm of the church’s operations, Dominion Publishing House; the publishing arm of the church, Covenant University, and the Social Development Missions projects (made up of hospitals, maternity homes, schools, etc.
Oyedepo is also a strong critic of corruption in Africa as a whole and poor leadership in government.
Criticisms and controversy
Oyedepo has received much criticism from many in the Christian community as focusing on prosperity.
Oyedepo’s socio-economic endeavours include founding educational institutions based on Christian principles for primary, secondary and tertiary stages of formal Education to empower the young generation,develop the human capacity and improve the educational system in Nigeria and Africa. This has led to the establishment of kingdom heritage model schools in different cities in Nigeria for primary education, Faith Academy; a missionary full boarding secondary school and Covenant University.Covenant University was opened to students on October 21, 2002 and was adjudged to be the best private university in Nigeria as of 2005.
Oyedepo’s church also operates its own publishing house,called Dominion Publishing House(DPH), commissioned in December 5, 1992 which has published over 60 christian, inspirational and motivational books, mini books, magazines and other resources.Some of His Best Selling books include:
* Pillars of Destiny
* Exploits in Ministry
* Walking in Dominion
* Possessing your possession
* Exploits of Faith
* Anointing for exploits
* Walking in the Newness of life
* Maximise destiny
* Commanding the supernatural
* Winning invisible battles
* Success Strategies
* Success systems
* Towards Excellency in life and Ministry
* Excellency of Wisdom
* Breaking Financial Hardship
* The Release of Power
* Excellency of Wisdom
* Born to Win
In 1982 he married Florence Abiola Akano (now known as Faith). They have four children together (David Jr, Isaac, Love and Joys). David Jr and Isaac Oyedepo were ordained as Pastors in May 2007 by Kenneth Copeland. David Jr was appointed resident pastor of the London Branch of His Church in 2007, he married Kemi Olude (now known as Kemi Oyedepo) in July 2008 and they have one daughter, Blessing. Isaac was appointed resident pastor of the branch in New York in 2009