The seed for the Holy Ghost Congress was sown in 1977. Conceived as a radical Pentecostal response to Festac ‘77 (otherwise called the Black Festival of Arts and Culture) hosted by Nigeria at the then freshly sculpted National Theatre, Lagos, it was meant to be divine monument against apostasy in the continent of Africa. Like every monument, the Holy Ghost Congress started from the scarcely available cultivated land of faith. Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye, played the triple roles of a visionary, a surveyor and a planter plowing the land of faith to cultivate the seeds through which a contemporary festival of Pentecost will blossom like an oak.
Like every new venture in God’s hands, the Congress programme held in 1977 was a humble beginning that could not gather up to one thousand believers. Yet, like a well nurtured hybrid seed, the power of God mixed with the faith of men in God, has ensured the burgeoning of the programme. From a protest against idolatry in 1977, God breathed the freshness of the Holy Ghost into the Congress 22 years later. Through the freshly transformed Holy Ghost Congress, emblazoned as LEKKI ‘98, people around the world had a divine encounter with the God who birthed a novel revival from Nigeria in December 1998.
For once, the western media, hitherto loathed by Africans for always reporting only calamities and oddities about Africa, had something great to report about Nigeria, the most populous nation in Africa. CNN, the flagship of western media woke up in the morning of Saturday December 19, 1998 drooling about the miracle from Nigeria. CNN reported its first good news from Nigeria to the world: There was an unprecedented gathering of over 7000,000 Christians who prayed all night in Lagos Nigeria. That report, corroborated by the BBC World Service, beamed the light of curiosity on Nigeria and the Redeemed Christian Church of God.
22 years of the Holy Ghost Congress, God has shaken the weak foundations of the idolatrous world, God, through the Holy Ghost, has progressively multiplied His wonders. God has turned the Holy Ghost Congress to a process producing nectars for men and women of goodwill from across the world to relish the taste of God’s goodness. The magnetic pull of the Holy Ghost Congress on the world every December gets more irresistible every year, ordering the steps and flights of people around the world to the Redemption Camp. The world keeps a date with the Holy Ghost every first week of December through the second weekend in the twelfth month of the year. Thousands of men and women from across the globe, regardless of their professed faith, have a date with destiny in Nigeria during the Holy Ghost Congress in December.
The tribe of faithful worshippers who have a permanent annual appointment with God through the Holy Ghost Congress transcends the continent of Africa. Pastor James E. Sturdivant (fondly called Bamidele by Nigerians) a Pastor and founder of Faith United Ministries in Maryland, USA has a lifetime pact with God to attend the Holy Ghost Congress every year in Nigeria. A native of Washington, Bamidele Sturdivant, in the delivery room of the Holy Ghost Congress, in a God-appointed relationship, became the son of Pastor E.A. Adeboye. A list of notable men and women of God who have attended the Holy Ghost Congress programmes in the last 20 years reveal that the programme has attained the enviable status of the foremost international gathering of Christians who sincerely seek the presence of God.
Years ago, Pastor John Hagee of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, a leading father of the Christian faith in America, expressed his delight when he attended the Holy Ghost Congress for the first time. Apart from the thousands of Christians who are members of the Redeemed Christian Church of God in the Diaspora, there are still many Africans who leave the comfort of their cities in Europe, North America and Asia to attend the Holy Ghost Congress with an amazing devotion every year.
Dr Adekunle Adedeji, a medical Doctor, who owns a flourishing medical practice in the USA, does not miss the Holy Ghost Congress for any reason. Since the first time he attended the annual convocation of those who seek the eternal God, this smiling Doctor has had an unwritten pact with God. An evidence of his commitment to having an annual tryst with God is the fact that he is attending this year’s edition of the Holy Ghost Congress straight from his base in USA. He would arrive at Redemption Camp from the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja on day one of this programme. His return ticket shows that he would leave Nigeria not one day after the end of the Holy Ghost Congress. Simply, this lover of God is only visiting Nigeria to attend the Holy Ghost Congress as he has always done in the past.
Some years ago, a Pastor based in USA was surprised that there were no available seats to Nigeria in the first week of December. When he called up two airlines to find out what was responsible for the non-availability of seats to his home country, Nigeria. The responses he got were shocking but humbling for him. He learnt that most people had booked their flights well in advance to travel to attend the annual Holy Ghost Congress in Nigeria. From that period, he decided that he would never miss future editions of the Holy Ghost Congress programmes. Seven years after he made that vow, the Pastor is here again this year. In last 22 years, most Christian leaders in many nations have not only made valiant efforts to attend the Holy Ghost Congress programmes, they have all returned to their continents with testimonies of revival.
Newsweek magazine, in its January 5, 2009 cover story, included Pastor Adeboye, the General Overseer of The Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), on its list of 50 world’s most influential people for the year. The Newsweek magazine listed the Nigerian, Pastor Adeboye and the Late Pope Benedict XVI as the only Christian leaders on a list that included global positive influencers such as former US presidents; Barack Obama, the Clintons and Chinese President Hu Jintao. There is considerable evidence that Adeboye got the attention of the global and western media after the Holy Ghost Congress of 1998. From that moment, the world began to pay attention to his rise as a humble but passionate soul winner for Jesus. In like manner, the RCCG has soared largely on the wings of the annual Holy Ghost Congress propelled by the wind of the Holy Spirit Himself.
Someone said all politics are local. That cannot be said of the Holy Ghost Congress which holds its distinction as a purely spiritual awakening movement. The programme may have started in 1977 as a local Pentecostal rebuttal to a global cultural profligacy by African leaders but it has acquired a global relevance. In terms of impact, it dwarfs the World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture which provoked its birth in 1977. For once, the next edition of the World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture took place more than 30 years after 1977 on December 10, 2010. The cultural festival which cost upwards of £52m was mostly funded by the African Union and the government of Brazil.
Whereas, the Holy Ghost Congress is wholly funded without any government support. Yet, in impact and attendance the Holy Ghost Congress continued to wax stronger as an annual event. In December 2010 the World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture held in Dakar was reported to have been attended by “more than 17,000 participants from over 50 countries, it was the largest cultural event ever held on the African continent.” At the same period, the Holy Ghost Congress attracted over ten million people with participants drawn from over one hundred nations of the world. In the last three years, more nations from Asia and Eastern Europe have been featuring prominently like the nations from Europe and North America, taking the Centre stage in praise and worship sessions during the Holy Ghost Congress.
Another measure of the international coloration of the Holy Ghost Congress as a modern international Pentecost is the shift in the nature of interpretations. Once upon a time it was common to interpret English sermons and prayers to some Nigerian major languages such as Yoruba, House and Ibo. Today, foreign languages such as French, Swahili, German, Malay, Mandarin et cetera are interpreted into English language during some sessions. Just as it happened on the day of Pentecost, in Acts 2:1-11 almost all the major languages of the world can be heard in the Redemption Camp during the period of the Holy Ghost Congress.
As the world celebrates the presence and faithfulness of God through intense worship, praise and prayers this week of the Holy Ghost Congress, believers have a right to access the throne of grace. Everyone is at liberty to ask God to promote him or her, crowning well intentioned efforts with global acclaim. In this week of the Holy Ghost Congress everyone has an opportunity to experience a Great Turnaround. History is about to be repeated for those who are ready for the move of the Holy Ghost. The Bishop’s Boys once experienced a great turnaround that changed the way the world used to travel.
The first time Orville and Wilbur Wright designed and flew an aircraft was December 17, 1903. It was largely a localized affair. They were reported to have flown the aircraft four times near Kill Devil Hills, about four miles south of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Since then, the invention of the two brothers, fondly called the Bishop’s Boys, has given birth to the manufacturing of several thousands of planes. As at 2015 it was reported that the global skyline had up to 12,838 flights at any given time. As at March 22, 2018 US Bureau of Transportation Statistics reported that U.S. airlines and foreign airlines serving the U.S. alone carried an all time high of 1.0 billion system wide scheduled service passengers in 2018. This growth in aviation has been made possible because the Bishop’s Boys overcame the devil near Kill Devil Hills by resolutely pursuing their God ordained dreams. One of their secrets is that they were anointed by God through their father to do exploit in the world through aviation. The phenomenal growth of the aviation industry through the innovation of the aircraft has a striking parallel in the growth of the Holy Ghost Congress which became a global brand in December 1998. On the occasion of the 22st edition of the prime global event in the world, all the participants are set to embark on a flight of global influence, not missing their eternal destiny and destination.