Deeper life: Fulfilling the mandate
There is, perhaps, no better time to tell the story of Deeper Christian Life Ministry and its offshoot, Deeper Life Bible Church than now, when the doors of its expansive ultra-modern headquarters’ building are flung open. The beauty, tenacity of purpose, and commitment that characterise this edifice are metaphoric expressions of what constitutes the Deeper Life. The emergence of Deeper Christian Life Ministry was manifestly auspicious. Smarting from a devastating civil strife, the Nigerian nation was in acute need of spiritual awakening, healing and revival. The political class and generality of the people were unwittingly sinking into the emerging culture of corruption. The Christian community that was supposed to chart the right course and provide exemplary leadership was buried in orthodoxy and nominal existence. Then God, Who understood the mood of the nation, raised a ministry with a mandate to reach the people with a message of hope and experiential Christianity.
From the quiet ambience of his sitting room on the campus of University of Lagos, Nigeria, William F. Kumuyi, a Mathematics lecturer at the institution, gathered a group of 15 sincere seekers of truth, who had requested teaching of God’s Word. With this motley group, he began a Bible study in August 1973; thus was born Deeper Christian Life Ministry (DCLM), a non-denominational endeavour committed to the spiritual welfare of the people.
This group continued until early 1976, when venue of the Bible study became too small for its growing membership, necessitating relocation. The Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) headquarters on 1-5 Redemption Way, Ebute Metta, Lagos, provided a sanctuary for this purpose. The then moderate church auditorium was venue to the now-famous Monday Bible Study sessions, which held for several years before DCLM acquired a permanent site at Gbagada.
Besides the central Monday Bible Study sessions at Ebute Metta, pockets of believers met regularly in different parts of Lagos for studies and evangelism. By 1977, centres had been established at the following locations: Baptist Church, Chemist Bus-stop, Akoka, Gospel Pentecostal Assembly, 17, Shoremekun Street, Mushin, Yaba Model School, Surulere, Pentecostal Holiness Church, 97b Ogba Street, Agege, 25, Mba Street, Ajegunle, Christ Gospel Mission and 6, Onitire Street, Itire, among others. Siting study locations closer to the people was a strategy meant to bring benefits of in-depth Bible study closer to the people. This, coupled with the exemplary lifestyle of the leaders and members, brought rapid growth to the new movement.
By 1992, membership had risen to 50,000 at the Old Gbagada headquarters building, ranking the church as the third largest single Christian congregation in the world. The church continued to grow in leaps and bounds. Professor C. Peter Wagner, a church growth expert wrote: “Go to almost any metropolitan area and ask to visit the largest Christian Church… in Lagos, Nigeria, it would be the Deeper Life Bible Church, pastored by William Kumuyi.”
The Deeper Life Women Ministry has been playing a key and supportive role within the Deeper Christian Life Ministry right from inception. It focuses on meeting the specific, spiritual, and family needs of women within and outside the church all over the world. Through this ministry, multitudes of women have been saved, restored, sanctified, and Spirit-filled. Many separated families have been re- united and several family problems resolved through God’s intervention. The Women Ministry was pioneered and developed by the General Superintendent’s late wife, Sister Abiodun Kumuyi, who passed on to glory on April 11, 2009. The Late Sister Abiodun Kumuyi was very energetic, dynamic and visionary. Apart from mentoring and galvanising women in the church, she started the widely circulating Christian Women Mirror magazine; a monthly publication that has been helping to meet the spiritual and family needs of women within and outside the church. The magazine has been of tremendous blessing to both women and men.
The articulate and hardworking Sister Esther Kumuyi (popularly referred to as Mummy Esther), wife of the General Superintendent, is now at the head of the Women Ministry. Building on the legacies of Late Sister Abiodun Kumuyi, she has expanded the scope of the Women Ministry. The ministry organises regular and special programmes aimed at enlightening and uplifting women spiritually and otherwise.
In over four decades of its existence, the DCLM has become a force that cannot be ignored. The Lord has used this umbrella ministry to benchmark biblical Christianity. Born again members of the church are known for uprightness, honesty and truth in their daily life, workplaces and business deals, so much so that some employers of labour prefer to source their key personnel from among the church members. DCLM’s influence is so widespread that many churches and assemblies, today, have recourse to the doctrines of the Bible, as expounded by the church. This impact is further driven by leadership by example and commitment to holy living that characterise the ministry.
Today, Deeper Life Bible Church has planted churches in every part of Nigeria and in most African countries. It maintains a reasonable presence in every continent, with a membership that is growing in strength. With regular weekly programmes of Sunday Worship Service, Bible Study, Revival and Evangelism Training Service and Home Caring Fellowship, the spiritual, social and material needs of members are adequately catered for. Retreats have been a regular feature in the life of Deeper Christian Life Ministry. Two regular retreats hold every year – Easter Retreat and December Retreat. These events happen simultaneously across Nigeria and beyond.
The Man Behind The Work
When, on Friday, June 6, 1941, Mrs. Comfort Akinfewa gave birth to her first son in Erin-Ijesha, Osun State, little did she and her husband, Mr. Gabriel Kumuyi Akinfenwa, know that God was sending a defender of the faith through them to this generation. Young William Folorunsho Kumuyi’s pedigree is like a star that rose from obscurity to illuminate and brighten the horizon.
A man of destiny, William Folorunsho Kumuyi was raised in a strict Anglican family, where the Bible was taught to be the word of God. His father was a ‘militant religious’ man, who compelled his family to join in morning devotion at about 5.30am, everyday. Church attendance was also mandatory for every member of the family. This early upbringing helped to shape young Kumuyi’s Christian view and protected him from indoctrination in atheism at Mayflower School, Ikenne, Ogun State. His Principal and Proprietor of the school, Dr. Tai Solarin, passionately taught the students to share his belief that God did not exist. Young Kumuyi survived this onslaught against his faith and became one of the greatest defenders of Christ’s gospel in our generation.
After primary education, Kumuyi proceeded to Mayflower School for his secondary education in 1957. With an excellent result, both in his School Certificate Examination and GCE Advanced levels, he was quickly admitted to study Mathematics from 1964 to 1967 at the University of Ibadan, where he graduated with first class honours. Due to his brilliance and academic achievement, he was awarded a scholarship for further studies, an offer he declined in order to concentrate on his call to preach the gospel. Afterwards, he did a post-graduate diploma in education at the University of Lagos, where he later became a lecturer.
Several years into his teenage, W.F. Kumuyi struggled with guilt and emptiness. He lacked the peace of mind he earnestly desired, forcing him to move from one church to another. At a point, he joined a white garment assembly, where he became a drummer. But a Christian friend persuaded him to worship at The Apostolic Faith Church. It was there, on April 5, 1964, that he gave his life to Christ and was born again. His personal encounter with Christ transformed his life and made him a child of God. The experience instilled in him a passion to seek biblical truth and live Christian life. His encounter with Christ was so definite that he would not forget. In his own words: “It was such an important day for me that I still remember it to this day, even where I knelt, how it all happened, and the peace and joy that came to my heart; that now I was reconciled with God through Jesus Christ. It was very definite.”
The New International Headquarters Edifice
The vision for a befitting international headquarters for Deeper Christian Life Ministry was long conceived. Several attempts were made in the past to acquire a secure location without success. However, sometime in 1979, the present location in Gbagada area was acquired. This land is significant for the singular reason that it is accessible from virtually all parts of the city. Worshippers, visitors and guests arriving from any part of the state can easily access Gbagada via the numerous road networks. Moreover, Gbagada’s emerging status as a business district and mostly middle-class residential area accords it additional relevance. And today, this once sleepy community, marshy landfill is the base of one of the most modern and imposing worship centres in Nigeria – the new international headquarters of Deeper Christian Life Ministry.
In the Beginning
Commencing the construction of the first 3,000-capacity auditorium in 1980 was essentially an act of faith. With steel stanchions, the auditorium was considered to be a luxury considering where the church was coming from and the fact that it had been without a fellowship centre of its own for many years. Weekly fellowships – Monday Bible Study and Thursday Revival sessions – ran along with construction activities and continued until the hall became inadequate for the growing membership. Gradually, other adjourning auditoriums were raised and completed. In all, five halls covering the entire land-space measuring a little more than an acre were built. Additional space was secured across the road with a structure to accommodate the children section. Besides, the church rented blocks of flats from owners around the church for offices and administrative purposes. Without doubt, the arrival of Deeper Life Bible Church at Gbagada opened up the developing communities of Soluyi, Ifako and Atunranse for residential and business opportunities. The old structure continued to experience different forms of renovation and maintenance for more than two decades until 2005, when the church took a bold decision to commence work on the new edifice. The soil texture of the land was a big issue to consider, if a standard multi-storey building was planned. In this case, piling (a process of pushing stone or steel into the ground to serve as support) was compulsory. The piling work was awarded to Messrs. Trevi Foundation on June17, 2005. This foundational work took about a year to complete. Afterwards, Cappa D’Alberto Construction Engineering Company began the first phase of the 30,000 capacity super-structure on March 8, 2006. At various stages, the architectural and structural details were reviewed and modified to achieve the goal of a modern international church auditorium and the founder’s vision. The church has had to cut through numerous challenges to make the project a reality. These challenges include responding to technical, economic, social and regulatory dictates.
Constructing a 30,000 capacity church auditorium with adequate offices and facilities is obviously an ambitious project, what with the limited land space! Of course, standard cannot be compromised, irrespective of the challenges. Space became a huge challenge that must be overcome. Beside the option to raise the floors to a permissive level, the other is to acquire more landed properties and buildings, which were not readily available. The church embarked on a difficult shopping for land and convincing landowners to sell their properties. Through it all, the Lord granted abundant grace and favour and made everything beautiful in His time.
The residents’ apprehension that the presence of a mega church would destroy the community’s residential status was assuaged, when the church embarked on the construction of a multi-million naira overhead bridge. Designed to specifically serve and ease traffic around Soluyi/Oduwaye/ Diya/General Hospital roads, the bridge is a testimony to the church’s social responsibility and public relations consciousness. On February 27, 2018, the Lagos State governor commissioned the bridge, which now spanned entire length of the parallel Oduwaye Street, complete with traffic lights. It was a testimony to the church’s commitment to residents’ welfare. Among numerous advantages, the bridge will allow motorists and pedestrian’s unfettered access to other road networks, even during church service sessions. At its inauguration and commissioning, Lagos State government gave kudos to the church for the initiative and enormous sacrifice to embark on a project of such magnitude for benefit of the masses.
The headquarters auditorium itself comes complete with modern and latest facilities and equipment for the comfort and convenience of worshippers. It boasts some of the latest gadgets and devices both for safety, as well as security of the congregation. The main building consists of a three-storey amphi-theatre with central air-conditioning units, chiller farm, and air handling units. There are also modern toilet facilities connected to a central sewage system, standby power generating units and panel rooms (high voltage and low voltage), 7.5 MVA dedicated public power and 2.5 MVA transformers. The structure also houses a multipurpose hall, water treatment plant, modern sewage treatment plant, two industrial boreholes, and fire-fighting equipment, fire hydrant and hose reels, office facilities in five floors, six and 12-passenger elevators, etc. Adjoining the facility is a four-level framed structure car/bus park measuring 9,063 m2. It can accommodate about 450 cars and 75 buses, toilet facilities, restaurants and two-level sewage treatment plant.
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