He is undoubtedly one of the most popular clerics in Nigeria. Bishop David Oyedepo commands a huge congregation, which flocks to his church every Sunday to hear him preach the word of God.
Reputed to be a fiery preacher, charismatic individual, a strict disciplinarian, a savvy entrepreneur and an eloquent orator, but who is David Oyedepo, a Christian convert who has held Nigerian and the global Christian Pentecostal movement spellbound?
David Olaniyi Oyedepo was born on 27 September 1954 in Osogbo, now Osun State’s capital in Southwestern Nigeria. He was born into an interfaith home as his father, Ibrahim, was a Muslim, while his mother, Dorcas, was a Christian.
Although a native of Omu-Aran in the Irepodun Local Government Area of Kwara State, the young Oyedepo was raised in Osogbo by his grandmother, who taught him the principles and virtues of Christianity. She also, according to him, made him familiar with the concept of paying tithes.
He obtained a diploma in architecture from the Kwara State Polytechnic, Ilorin. He also bagged a PhD in Human Development from Honolulu University, situated in the US state of Hawaii. The man of God worked at the Federal Ministry of Housing and was also a teacher before he received his pastoral calling.
As earlier mentioned, Oyedepo was converted to Christianity as he learnt about the religion when he lived with his grandmother. After his formal conversion in 1969, Oyedepo continued with his various works and then became a missionary, helping in the evangelisation of the word of God. But in 1981, according to him, he got a divine instruction from God during an 18-hour vision to “liberate mankind in all facets of human existence and restore broken destinies”.
Subsequently, the Liberation Faith Hour Ministries was established in 1981. Furthermore, on 17 September 1983, Oyedepo and his wife, Florence (now Faith) Oyedepo, were ordained pastors of the new church by Pastor Enoch Adeboye, General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God. He further moved up the clerical ladder five years later when he was ordained a bishop by the late Archbishop Benson Idahosa.
The name of his ministry later changed to the Living Faith Church World Wide (a.k.a. Winners Chapel International), and it began in Kaduna State, North-West Nigeria. Oyedepo eventually relocated to Lagos State, the then capital of Nigeria, in 1989 to start a new branch of his church after he received another mandate from God, according to him.
The cleric also stated that he received another commission from God to build a large base for his congregation. That led to purchasing the initial 530-acre of land in Ota, near Abeokuta, in Ogun State. The name of the land is now known as Canaanland, on which the ‘Faith Tabernacle’, the 50,000-seat capacity church auditorium, was built and now serves as the headquarters of the Living Faith ministry. The church auditorium was dedicated in September 1999.
The church’s biggest programme is the Shiloh, which holds every December at the Faith Tabernacle in Canaanland. The event sees thousands of congregants across the world attend.
Today, Oyedepo’s ministry has expanded to almost 5,000 acres of land in the area. He has also assembled all components of his ministries under a single umbrella: the David Oyedepo Ministries International (DOMI).
Also under the DOMI umbrella is the Word of Faith Bible Institute, a Bible training school. Participants in this institute are taught about the Christian faith, and it is also a formation house for future pastors.
Oyedepo is, according to Forbes, estimated to be worth over $150 million. This makes him one of the richest pastors in Nigeria and the world.
As mentioned earlier, the church assets are held under the David Oyedepo Ministries International (DOMI). The DOMI comprises the following:
- Living Faith Church World Wide (branch of churches in Nigeria and other parts of the world);
- World Mission Agency (WMA), the global missionary arm of the church’s operations;
- Dominion Publishing House, the publishing arm of the church;
- Covenant University, a private Christian university located in Canaanland;
- Landmark University, another Christian university located in his home state, Kwara;
- Faith Academy, a secondary school, spread across Nigeria;
- Kingdom Heritage Model Schools, a primary school situated in different states in Nigeria;
- a microfinance bank; and
- the Social Development Missions projects. These are made up of hospitals, maternity homes, etc.
The cleric, through the DOMI, is also said to own about four private jets: Gulfstream I, Gulfstream IV, Bombardier Challenger 604 (N664D) and Gulfstream V Jet. He is also reputed to have several buildings in the church and his name, including in the UK, the US, and some African countries.
He is also reported to own several exotic cars, including a Toyota Land Cruiser and a Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
Oyedepo got married to Florence Abiola Akano in 1982. His wife now goes by the name: Faith Oyedepo. The marriage has been blessed with four children: David Jnr, Issac, Love and Joyce.
Remarkably, the two sons have taken after their father in pastoral duties. Both David Jnr and Issac were ordained pastors by the popular American televangelist Kenneth Copeland. David, who is Oyedepo’s first son, is said to be the current resident pastor of Faith Tabernacle, while Issac is in charge of the Winners’ Chapel International, situated in the US state of Maryland.
Love and Joyce are currently married to their husbands, Stephen Ogah, a Winners’ Chapel pastor, and Abimbola Abodunrin, respectively.
The renowned cleric operates a foundation: the David Oyedepo Foundation Scholarship. The institution provides scholarship opportunities for gifted African students with proven superior academic abilities to pursue undergraduate programmes at both Covenant University and Landmark University.
According to the foundation, it is an organisation that seeks to create a better life for humanity by creating platforms to drive social change. It encourages individuals to build up the leadership potentials that are lacking in the leaders of African countries through the yearly programs and community development initiatives and the full sponsorship of the tuition fees at the aforementioned universities.
Upon the competition of their scholarship, the beneficiaries are expected youth leaders to put their learned skills to work in contributing to social, economic and political development in their countries.
Prospective applicants must be indigenes and residents of African countries. They must be between the ages of 22-30 at the time of applying and must have secured admission to an approved undergraduate course at either Landmark or Covenant University. Furthermore, they must have an internationally recognised secondary school/high school certificate or its equivalent and must not have registered for an undergraduate degree programme outside which they have gained admission in the mentioned universities.