Sunday, 14th April 2024

Redemption City Of God… where everything works

By Gbenga Salau
11 December 2022   |   4:14 am
Echoes from the large auditorium are deafening, as participants respond to a word of faith and prayer. But for the screens at different spots, it would just have been a staccato of voices from the pulpit.

• Adeboye’s first residence at the camp now Open Heavens International Centre Library and Gallery, a knowledge centre<br />

Echoes from the large auditorium are deafening, as participants respond to a word of faith and prayer. But for the screens at different spots, it would just have been a staccato of voices from the pulpit. The non-verbal cues of the ministers and other speakers would have been lost.
The three-kilometre by three-kilometre-long new auditorium of The Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), called The Arena, no doubt, is one of the signature structures at the erstwhile Redemption Camp now christened Redemption City. 
The auditorium’s long stretch, especially when no religious activity is ongoing, leaves a visitor to wonder about the sea of heads that would fill the entire space.

You can have the best fill of the auditorium during the church’s monthly Holy Ghost Congress when the place is filled, including spilling the participants into other halls within the city.
The new Redemption City is not limited to the audacious auditorium, which is the third of its kind, built by the church in the city. There are so many other facilities.
Residents and visitors to the unique facility are not worried by the poor power supply from the national grid, as they enjoy uninterrupted power supply from a 25-megawatt power station constructed by the church, and managed by it. Currently, only 15 megawatts are consumed in the city.
The plant has three gas turbines of varying capacities. The first is a Taurus 50TTS2 with 5.2megawatts; the second, is a Taurus 60 TTS3 with a capacity of 5.63 megawatts, while the third and the most recent is the Titan 130 with a capacity of 15 megawatts.
The mission’s Electricity Generation and Distribution Service (EGDS), which manages the turbine, is responsible for the generation, sales, distribution, and maintenance of the facilities. And every residential building in the community has a prepaid metre to measure and manage electricity consumed. 
The community also does not rely on the government for water supply. It has a water corporation that generates the needed quantity of water for residents and visitors. The water corporation can supply 6.7 million litres of water per day, which is far more than the community needs.
The Guardian learnt that this was deliberately done to meet the future water needs of the city. Also, the water treatment plant in the city currently stores up to seven million litres of water daily in two 1.5 million litres, and four other one million litres tanks.
Speaking on how self-sufficient the community is, a resident, who pleaded anonymity, said a child given birth to in the community may not have any reason to go out of the community for anything, including meeting his or her medical and educational needs.

• Halleluyah House where prayers go on 24 hours daily<br />

There are over 10 educational institutions within the city that cater to primary, secondary, and tertiary education needs. The educational institutions were established not just to serve members of the community, but as many that are interested in gaining admission into schools from any part of the world.
For residents and visitors, interconnectivity is not an issue because the roads are well laid out and built not just for ease of movement, but also interconnectivity for visitors, motorists, and residents living in about 13 residential estates dotting the city.

THE Redemption City, which is bound by River Owuru and its floor plain to the East and the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway to the West, has its markings and landmarks. 
That corridor of Ogun State has not been the same since February 1983 when the first bulldozer was mobilised to what is now regarded as the main gate of the city. 
Many church members were pleasantly surprised when the General Overseer of the church, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, moved into the camp on October 1, 1985, not just to host programmes, daily, but to also live. This was at a time when the entire area was still largely a forest occupied by snakes and other dangerous animals. Interestingly, since moving in, Adeboye fondly called Daddy G.O. has not looked back. 
Districts within the city are relatively large sections that are distinguished by an identity or character. An example of a district within the city is the cluster of guesthouses North East of the Arena, among which are White House Suites, Shiloh Guesthouse, and Moses Apartment.

The National Secretariat is where the administrative activities of the city are conducted from. It houses the offices of the general overseer (GO) and his wife, as well as other senior officers of the church.
Behind the National Secretariat are the provincial coordinating office, event centre, and ICT centre.
There are not less than seven bank branches serving the financial transactional needs of the community members and visitors, just as there is the main market where residents and visitors shop. 
There are recreational facilities for adults and children, in addition to clinics and health centers that cater to the health and well-being of guests and inhabitants.
Paths within the city, which are in the form of streets, and roads are named after leaders of the church, those associated with righteousness, or biblical characters.  
To ensure orderliness, there is a self-run security station to make people fall in line if there is an attempt for them to go overboard. 
During emergencies, the fire station within the city springs into action, while officers of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) are also on the ground to ensure that motorists operate within permissible limits. 
And over the years, some of the initial heavy-duty equipment that was used in constructing the place and making the camp habitable have now become artifacts.

REDESIGNING the community from a camp of about four acres of land, on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, into a city of over two thousand hectares took quite tremendous hard work. This was, in part helped by the fact that a lot of facilities and monuments that were earlier developed dot the entire expanse of land. 

• The river for water baptism<br />

As of 2018, the facility had over 15, 000 residents, but it bursts at the seams when it plays host to over two million worshipers during the church’s special activities/programmes. 
While many argue that the planning of the city is circumstantial, some members of the church, who were there at its inception claim that it was conceived by the GO long before the location was found, and developed into what it is today due to the vision given by God.
They said that Adeboye had, during a leaders’ meeting years ago, raised accommodation concerns, but with faith, told those at the meeting not to worry, as God has promised to give him a city to live in.
It was also gathered that at some point, the church struggled to find a decent location and apartment to serve as the residence of the Adeboyes. He was even offered a facility in the Alakuko area of Lagos to build an apartment, but he rejected it, only for him to come up with the present-day Redemption City as the place where the long-standing vision would be realised. 
The first residence of Adeboye in the camp is now called Open Heavens International Centre Library and Gallery. It presently serves as a knowledge centre with a large depository of spiritual and soul-lifting literature and electronic materials.
So, those that shared Adeboye’s vision of the facility ab initio are not surprised that three decades after, the camp has metamorphosed into a modern city, with all the features of a well-laid-out and planned settlement. The difference between Redeemed City and other cities is that it is a religious community as reflected in, not just the facilities, but in its day-to-day activities and administration of the community.

This city with six gates is not just planned; activities within it are orderly, hugely different from the way things are done in other cities with no religious inclinations. This explains why not just anyone can buy a plot of land to build or live within the community. Only members of the church are allocated land to build accommodation within the community and they must develop the plot of land within six months of acquisition. 
As part of efforts to promote orderliness within the city (in line with its Christian religious philosophy), displayed across the community are codes of conduct, which inhabitants, and visitors are expected to abide by. 

WITH many visitors wowed by activities in the community, its relics, and artifacts, the church has created a six-day pilgrimage package for tourists from different parts of the world. The package enables the visitors to engage in spiritual exercises, including prayer walks among others.
Shedding light on the pilgrimage, Pastor Felix Makanjuola said that the package includes feeding for six days, luxury double-bed accommodation, an air-conditioned bus for movement of tourists, entrance fees to sites, special recognition at the Holy Ghost Congress, prayers with the G.O, a visit to the DGO Prayer Caravan, which is noted for miracles, photo album (CD and DVD of pilgrimage), and a Daddy G.O-signed pilgrimage certificate.
According to him, places within and outside the city to be visited by pilgrims during the six-day pilgrimage include, Mount Carmel Mountain, Ifewara, Osun State;RCCG Headquarters, Ebute Meta, Lagos; Open Heaven International (the first home of Daddy G.O when the camp started); Halleluyah House of Prayer; the six altars in the city; Dove Water Fountain of Life; visit/pray at the location where Adeboye prayed and there was an earthquake, and a visit to Emmanuel Amusement Parks for Children, among many other faith monuments in the city.
Speaking on the community’s transformation, the Pastor in Charge, Eternal Joy Zone, Lagos Province 26, Region 1, RCCG, Lagos, Ademola Agunlejika, said his first day at the Redemption Camp birthed joyful pleasant memories of a great spiritual atmosphere of God’s worship.

“My first Holy Ghost Service was in June 1996, which was held in the second auditorium where I got my miracle of long-awaited university admission.”
Agunlejika thereafter looked forward to the monthly Holy Ghost Service throughout his university days and hardly missed any.
“The monthly Holy Ghost Service programme continued to increase in leaps and bounds, just as the Redemption Camp has been rightly upgraded to a city….” 
On his part, Adeyemi Adepetun, a worshipper said his first visit to the Redemption Camp was in May 2009, and since then, it has become a ritual that his family hardly misses. 
“Aside from the ambience of the environment, the spiritual alertness that comes to mind signals the presence of God at Kilometre 46, Lagos Ibadan Expressway.
“I have had a personal touch and encounter with the Holy Spirit via several visits to the Redemption City. The touch of the Holy Spirit is manifestly evidenced in the miracles that we have witnessed at the Redemption City. 
“The city has been a Mecca of sorts for several people, even from within and outside Nigeria. From the monthly Holy Ghost Service to the August Convention, and the yearly congresses, which take place in December, lives have been blessed and transformed.
“We must appreciate God in the life of his servant, Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye, who inherited about 39 parishes from the late Pa Akindayomi, the founder of RCCG worldwide, in 1981, when he became the general overseer. We look forward to greater things in the years ahead, with the belief that God will still give his servant, Pastor Adeboye, who clocked 80 years in March, more years to touch humanity.”
Even though the community was proclaimed a city in 2021, Dr. Abubajar Mobolaji Olaseni, a partner at Vistaplan Consulting, the outfit, which drew the city’s master plan in 2014, stressed that as far back as 2000, the community had all the features of a city. 

Olaseni, who disclosed that work started in the camp in 1983, with the auditorium, dormitories, and other structures preparatory for that year’s convention, added that work has since continued since then. 
He revealed that drawing up the master plan for the entire community was not an easy task. Not only because of the terrain, or the large environment but also because some structures were already standing in sections of the community.
He said that at the initial stage the camp did not have a plan in the real sense of it, even though some rudimentary planning went into the siting some of the initial structures that were erected within the community.   
“If you want to establish a camp or a settlement, you will call in the planners to prepare the plan. So, as of that time, there was nothing like that. So, the camp grew by what we call unplanned accretion.”
He said that when his organisation was engaged to draw up a master plan, the task was to generate a plan because the mission was desirous of having the plan to assist in further development and to identify the direction of growth.
“It is a big place and well planned because we prepared the master plan. The camp grew by what is known as unplanned accretion. The land was there, but it was not ours. But as the opportunity presents itself, the church kept on buying more plots of land and expanded the frontier of development. In such a situation, it is very difficult to plan because the mission was adding more to what it already had. It would have been a different case if the mission had the whole place. 
“What happened at the Redemption Camp, is unlike what another religious organisation that acquired what it wanted, and was able to prepare the master plan and execute the development the way it wanted. In our case, we didn’t have the land, and even though the land was there, we didn’t have the money to acquire it then. So, as the money was available and the villagers were ready to sell, we purchased these plots and development was spreading to the newly acquired areas slowly,” Olaseni said.
He explained that drawing up the master plan was not a smooth experience, especially with the difficulty in getting information for the master plan. 

Said he: “Apart from the existing physical development, which we can see, obtaining information from the survey department wasn’t an easy assignment. Also, getting information about the economic characteristics of the place wasn’t easy. But we eventually overcame the challenge, and that was how we were able to prepare the master plan, which was presented to the community and submitted to the state government.”
Stressing that the church has invested so much into making residents and visitors to the city comfortable, he pointed out that “the entire city is well connected, with every part of the city accessible by road. And the roads are well-tarred and drained.
“In drawing up the master plan, provisions were made for green areas, parks, and creational centres. Even though there were some provisions initially, we needed to expand and emphasised this. We also created buffer zones to serve as resilient stretches so that whenever it rains and there is a flood, the buffer zones take the pressure.

• RCCG secretariat building within the city<br />

“We were also able to indicate the estates appropriately, and come up with a fitting location for the cemetery. Locating a place for the cemetery was initially a problem, but we were able to assist the mission in sorting this out, and the cemetery is now up and running. 
“Now, the new city has all that a city should have, including agencies that guide development; people cannot just build the way they like. The final approval for anyone to build comes from the Ogun State government.”
Within the sprawling religious city with six official entrances, residents are safe, ambience is peaceful, and quiet, and the atmosphere is quite refreshing.
RCCG started in 1952, at 9 Willoughby Street, Ebute Meta, Lagos as a house fellowship called, the Glory of God Fellowship. It grew to the behemoth of an organisation that it is now from an initial nine members.   

According to historical accounts, the name of the church – The Redeemed Christian Church of God was revealed to its founder, Pa Josiah Olufemi Akindayomi, through a vision of words on a blackboard. At that time, Pa Akindayomi, who was not lettered, surprisingly wrote the words down. 
After worshipping at Willoughby for years, it procured a new property on Cemetery Street, which is now 1-5 Redemption Way, Ebute Meta. The location houses the church’s National Headquarters.
Pa Akindayomi continued to nurture the church until around the 1970s when God spoke to him about his successor- a young educated lad who at that point was not a member of the church. 
Not quite long after the revelation, Pa Akindayomi, in 1973, recognised a young university lecturer that later joined the church as the person whom God mandated him to hand over the mantle of leadership.
The man was later identified as Enoch Adejare Adeboye, a mathematics lecturer, at the University of Lagos. Adeboye was active in church, and before long became one of those that interpreted Pa Akindayomi’s sermons from Yoruba to English. He was made a pastor in 1975 after Pa Akindayomi’s death.
Over the years, the church has experienced exponential growth spreading its tentacles across the world under Adeboye, with the Redemption City being one of its many landmark projects.