Folu Adeboye: A worthy example in womanhood
Pastor (Mrs.) Folu Adeboye, who turns 73 years this Tuesday, July 13, is a remarkable woman of many parts whose life is worthy of emulation and celebration. Although there is already some literature that documents her immense contribution, and has also been given awards and recognition, little is known of her role as mother, wife, and general womanhood. Called Mother-in Israel and Mummy G.O by her thousands of her sons and daughters all over the world, she is the mother that makes you feel that you are her only child, and she treats each of her biological and adopted children in an incredibly special way of care and attention. She carries herself with grace and simplicity and is always careful to return all praise to her Maker and Creator. She describes herself simply as the wife of the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God.
Investment in education
Her passion for education is immense. After her training at the prestigious United Missionary College (UMC) founded by the combined Methodist and Anglican missions to produce a core of dedicated and well-trained teachers for the nation, she has chosen to serve in the education sector. It is believed that she may have indeed chosen to be married to her husband because of her preference for a teacher as a life partner. After her husband was installed the General Overseer of the RCCG, Mrs Adeboye volunteered to serve as teacher in the Church School without taking any salary. She persistently followed on her vision to found educational institutions which would produce men and women of character and faith for service in the country and beyond. This was the genesis of the pre-primary, primary, secondary, and tertiary educational institutions in Nigeria and abroad which she inspired and established. She was the one who collected the certificate of the registration of the Redeemer’s University on the day of the Holy Ghost service in January 2005 at the time that fuel shortage prevented flights from Abuja to Lagos. It was only a miracle that helped her join her husband at the monthly programme.
Her contribution as a teacher is proverbial. For example, she taught at the Church School in Ebute Metta without a salary when the young RCCG Church could not afford to pay her. Always eager to have everyone acquire knowledge and be liberated, she makes sacrifice just to build institutions that would ensure a future of promise and hope for children, younger adult, and adult population. Mummy G.O inspired the establishment of educational institutions: primary, secondary, and tertiary; and specialised colleges and academies, including one which is established at Ifewara, the home of the husband.
In addition to founding educational institutions, Pastor Folu Adeboye awards scholarships to indigent students and sponsors children of ministers who are unable to support their children. She has a Foundation which deliberately looks for sex workers and drug pushers and who are invited to accept the Gospel and turn around their lives to more positive living. Pastor Folu Adeboye was a Founding member of the Board of Trustees of the Redeemer’s University which later awarded her an honorary degree. In the UK, Pastor Folu Adeboye is the brain behind the establishment of the Christ the Redeemer’s College. She helps her husband run the School of Disciples programme and she is ever excited by the graduation ceremonies of the School of Disciples held in different towns and cities throughout the world.
Pastor Mrs Adeboye continues to develop herself in all the fields of education and has earned certificates in education in higher education institutions in the United States and Europe. As an author, Mrs Adeboye has published top quality books including Model Home, Mother in Christ, Journey to Marriage, Prayers and Timeless Wisdom for A Purposeful Christian Lifestyle.
Her marriage to Pastor Adeboye was ordained and she is always delighted to declare that the union of both of them was built in heaven and operationalised on earth. Indeed, the love story of Pastor Folu Adeboye is both fascinating and stimulating. The young lady as a student fell in love with Enoch Adejare Adeboye, then a student of Mathematics at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, (UNN). Adeboye was a prodigy of Mathematics and it is reported that he had spent part of his vacation from the UNN to teach the young Folu Mathematics, possibly to impress the young lady with his natural talents, academic endowments, and skills and to let her see what she could miss by saying No to his proposal for marriage later in life. It is certainly by no means a mere coincidence that September 8, the day of their marriage is also the International Literacy, the day chosen by the United Nations to celebrate the importance of literacy for development.
The passion for evangelism and the provision of development for African nations led her to introduce the Africa Mission programme in which she takes the Gospel and vocational skills and development to parts of Africa. It is interesting to note that she and the husband responded to the Altar call and surrendered their lives to the Lord Jesus on the same day in Ebute Metta. She was subsequently ordained by the husband as the first female Pastor in the RCCG. It has been through her influence that women have been ordained Pastors in the Church.
Pastor Folu Adeboye has keyed into the vision of her husband in establishing the Holy Ghost service, the Divine Encounter and Shiloh programmes. She is always with her husband on his missionary journeys to all parts of the world sharing with him the challenge of long-distance travels, the frequent weather changes, and other inconveniences for the sake of the Gospel. In ministrations all over the world she is always a major player. On her own she has founded the Feast of Esther in which she brings together women leaders in the Church, wives of General Overseers and her spiritual associates into programmes reminiscent of Queen Esther who found favour with her husband and thereby delivered her people from the destruction planned by the enemy.
During the Holy Ghost Congress, and the Annual Conventions of the RCCG when the Church hosts the world, Pastor Folu Adeboye is in her best form as hostess, ensuring that the feeding peculiarities of the various guests across the world are respected and taken into consideration. She even goes to provide Nigerian traditional dress to many guests who would wear such for the first time, and with joy and dignity.
Away from the shores of Nigeria, Pastor Adeboye would take gifts and presents with her to the various missions where she gives the ministers and their family members in the various countries across the world.
No less known is the compassion of this silent and gentle achiever. Pastor Folu Adeboye makes caring for people a lifestyle, having grown up as the first child of a reasonably large family, taking care of her siblings as she grew up. She weeps uncontrollably with the close relations of deceased spouses and family members. She also celebrates with those who have been visited with blessings and miracles. She pays personal attention to ministers and Church members at celebrations of weddings, funeral birthdays.
Support for the husband
Pastor Mrs Adeboye believes that stability at home has a major impact on the success of the husband. She is dedicated to her husband and nourishes him with affection, encouragement, and support. The husband constantly acknowledges the contribution of the wife and declares at the end of the Holy Ghost Congress, the Convention and other major outing of the Church that without the support that he receives at home it would have been impossible for him to spend quality time at prayers and intercession.
The love of Pastor Folu Adeboye for her husband led her to move from the comfort zone of the University of Ilorin to Mushin where the husband came to live on being named as the General Overseer of the RCCG. She later accompanied her husband to the robbers’ den and snake capital habitation which later became the Redemption Camp. The couple with their children had to confront the challenges of living in the wilderness where there was neither water supply nor electricity. It took the couple an unusual faith to craft the Camp into a modern city that it is now.
Mummy G.O was of course used to making sacrifices on behalf of her family. For example, she had sacrificially and single headedly brought up the children at Oke Igbo when the husband left his station where he was a teacher after graduation to study at the University of Lagos. This exemplary wife encouraged the dedication of the Open Heavens Gallery to her husband to allow the wider public share the first home of the couple at the Camp where prayers were answered and where sings, wonders and miracles took place.
At great sacrifice Mummy G.O represents the husband, most often at short notice, at events that the husband was unable to attend in person. One of such is the annual celebration of the husband’s birthday with the lecture organised by the Triumphant Elders of the RCCG. She would sit patiently and listen to lectures for hours, and finally accepting the invitation to pray on the occasion.
Response to great loss
Pastor Folu Adeboye has had her own share of grief, deaths, and challenges. But she refuses to allow these to define her relationship with her Maker and Redeemer or her husband, the wider family, and the global Church. Over the years she has been seen to have grieved when she lost her relations. Her recent loss of her miracle son, Pastor D has clearly hit her extremely hard as it did to members of the family and the Body of Christ worldwide.
Her response to grief has however been commendable. Less than two days after the death of the son, Pastor Folu Adeoye, like her husband, she ministered at the Holy Ghost service even when the corpse of the son was still to be buried, and she energetically prayed for the nations of the world. She is happy that the son has made heaven by the grace of the Almighty God whom she loves.
She has kept away since the bereavement from the use of her hallmark hat at the programmes of the Church, and she has been noted for wearing a simple scarf in the black colour. It is easy to see pain written on her face while she continues to encourage everyone to praise the God of all flesh for His unfailing love, provision, Salvation of souls and the promise of His Return. We pray that the Lord whom she and her family serve with passion and dedication will console her and her entire household throughout the world, as we wish her happy birthday.
• Emeritus Professor Michael Omolewa was President of the 32nd Session of the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
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