The full gospel business men’s fellowship international (FGBMFI) and the Nigerian revival
After World War II, Demos Shakarian had a dinner with Dr. Charles Price, one of the foremost evangelists in America in the early 20th century. During the dinner, Charles Price spoke to Demos that a worldwide revival that would impact the world was imminent. He made him to understand that it was a revival that would affect: “All flesh, that’s what Isaiah tells us. This is going to happen spontaneously — all over the world — to ordinary men and women — people in shops and offices and factories. I won’t live long enough to see it, but you will. And, Demos, when you see it you’ll know that the time of Jesus’ coming is very near.”
This prophecy was partly fulfilled in 1952, when Demos Shakarian, an Armenian, whose forebears immigrated to the United States, started the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International as a non-denominational global organisation of businessmen and professionals (laymen). The FGBMFI is a membership-based organisation including men and their wives and single men and ladies. Its vision is that the light of God will shine forth from men to every culture, nation, race, language, and creed. The FGBMFI has nearly 10,000 chapters globally, spread across over 160 nations of the world.
The FGBMFI came into Nigeria in 1983 through the late Archbishop Benson Idahosa. It’s first National President was Mister Sam Mbata. They have since blossomed into 400 chapters scattered all across Lagos. As at 2014, there were over 2,250 chapters in Nigeria. Their mission includes calling men back to God; teaching and equipping them to fulfill the mandate of reconciling men to Him.
God opened the understanding of Demos Shakarian to realise that laymen could be great instruments in reaching out to their fellow men with the gospel. The economic boom following World War II saw to the empowerment of men and women that triggered a life of business and leisure in the American society. Men, rather than attend church services, preferred to drive and drop off their families in churches and then go to hotels and clubs to relax and to engage in business meetings. FGBMFI’s strategy was to take the gospel to the hotels and clubs where these men could be found. The setting was designed to appeal to these businessmen, who ordinarily would be put off by a church-styled setting.
The preaching style is story-telling, which excludes all forms of church worship styles including singing, clapping of hands, and the use of religious clichés like “praise the Lord,” hallelujah, and so forth. The work in Nigeria has, no doubt, swelled the population of professing Christians. It can be described as a marketplace renewal.
Many followers of the mainline churches, particularly the Catholics, have come to know the Lord through the work of the FGBMFI. The revival occasioned through FGBMFI did not stop with the mainline churches only. Many from the churches like Cherubim and Seraphim and The Celestial Church of Christ, have also come to know the Lord through the work of the FGBMFI. The Fellowship has benefitted immensely from their strategy of likes attracting likes. What this means is that people of similar background reach out to their colleagues. In other words, lawyers reach out to lawyers, doctors reach out to doctors. A number of people have opened up to the gospel through this method.
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