Christianity, Pastor Enoch Adeboye’s Legacy, And The Redemption Of STEM -By Bunmi Fatoye-Matory

Filed under: Article of Faith |

There is no doubt that Pastor Enoch Adeboye, the general overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), has accomplished a great deal in his lifetime. He is one of the most influential people in the world, with a church membership of about five million people spread across the planet in over one hundred countries. For many in the diaspora, RCCG is the anchor of their lives, materially, emotionally, and spiritually, as they build new lives in their host countries. What is generally not known is that Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye was a professor of Mathematics, that rarefied field of human knowledge that is only accessible to a few. If there was a subject I dreaded as a pre-teen high school student at that famous school affectionately called Oke Agidimo, a.k.a Christ’s School, Ado-Ekiti, it was Mathematics. The thought of my elderly Maths teacher still gives me shivers to this day. The same man taught us English in which I performed very well, but the Maths class was always a painful journey to a disorienting and confounding maze. Pastor Adeboye, even though he grew up in a poor family with non-literate parents, was excellent at Maths as a young student. His passion for this mysterious but extremely important subject was so strong he earned his doctorate in it and became a professor of Mathematics at two of our best universities back then – the Universities of Lagos and Ilorin. His earlier academic pursuit of Mathematics already set him apart as a gifted man. His mind treats complexities in a methodical and logical manner that eludes so many of us. Mathematics is also the gateway to science and technology.

Pastor Enoch Adeboye

RCCG was founded by Reverend Josiah Olufemi Akindayomi in 1952. It had its humble beginnings in Ebute-Meta, Lagos. Dr. Adeboye joined RCCG in 1973 when he was a lecturer in the University of Lagos. He was then thirty-one years old. A natural leader, he got deeply involved in church activities and also became one of the interpreters for Baba Josiah Akindayomi, translating sermons from Yoruba to English for the congregation. Reverend Akindayomi knew that to appeal to a wider audience and bring in the alakowes, highly literate people like Dr. Adeboye, he had to make his sermons accessible in English. It was progressive and strategic thinking. What language was used was important, but what was said and how it was said was even more important. Baba Akindayomi talent-spotted Dr. Adeboye, noting his beautiful mathematical mind as he approached his duties, and must have appreciated his effective style of communication. The wise Akindayomi tapped Dr. Adeboye as his successor, only revealed after he had passed. He could have chosen anyone but he chose the mathematician who took up the mantle of leadership of RCCG in 1981. One must salute Reverend Akindayomi for his foresight, his understanding of human character, and his brilliance in appointing a mathematician to lead his church. He himself did not have much formal education, but he was self-confident enough to attract well-educated people to his church without feeling threatened that they would usurp his power, and he was brilliant enough to recognise the great value they would add to the church. His choice of Pastor Enoch Adeboye as the next leader was evidence of his genius. It has yielded abundant fruits probably unimaginable to the late founder.

Pastor Adeboye as the general overseer of RCCG has been able to attract millions of fellow Nigerians and foreigners to his church by communicating the word of God effectively. RCCG is a behemoth full of many brilliant Nigerian minds who look up to Pastor Adeboye as their spiritual and secular leader. He is trusted and much admired. His influence cuts deep across all sections of the society – rich and poor, academics, civil servants, young and old, literate and non-literate, powerful government officials, businessmen and women, and ethno-nationalities. He is celebrated internationally in many countries around the world where RCCG is flourishing.

Dr. Adeboye turned 77 this month. The exponential expansion of RCCG, a home-grown indigenous Pentecostal faith, is evidently his legacy and it is impressive. A Yoruba proverb goes that, “eni to ba maa pegan ajanaku la ni mo ri nkan firi”; translated: “it’s the person who wants to slight the elephant that claims he caught something small passing briefly from the corner of his eyes.”
Pastor Enoch Adeboye, with his exemplary leadership skills, his beautiful mathematical mind, his strong faith and vision, could make RCCG the arrowhead of scientific inquiry in our society by integrating its mission with Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). At the beginning of the 21st Century, the equivalent of Reverend Akindayomi recruiting and nurturing highly-literate people like Dr. Adeboye, would be the immersion of RCCG into science and technical research. By doing this, Pastor Adeboye would be continuing Baba Akindayomi’s legacy, who knew that for his faith to be a part of aiye olaju, English language and higher education were essential. STEM is the call of our times.

In our era, Pastor Adeboye could influence the infusion of STEM into Redeemer’s University’s mission by funding scientific research and recruiting the best and brightest of our scientific and engineering minds to conduct world-class research there. There is no contradiction at all between science and religion. First, if you are persuaded that God is the fountainhead of all knowledge, as I’m sure Pastor Adeboye is, then science and technology are definitely a part of that purview. In spite of the Catholic Church’s persecutions of scientists in the Middle Ages, it produced great scientists. The towering cathedrals all over European cities tell the tale of the expertise of medieval scientists, engineers and architects. People of the Islamic faith gave us Algebra in Mathematics and other wonders of science. While visiting Andalusia in Southern Spain, I saw the spectacular architecture and water system built by the Moors, Muslims from North Africa, who ruled Spain for eight hundred years from the 8th to 15th Century before they were kicked out in 1492. The water system designed and built by these ancient Muslim Water engineers still works! The Alhambra, a huge and complex network of gorgeous palaces, towers, mosques, and gardens, was built to survive earthquakes! This was science and engineering at its finest. The mosques were converted to churches after Christian Spain took control, but they kept the beautiful architecture intact. This area attracts millions of tourists annually.

The Higgs Boson, the subatomic particle found by Peter Higgs and Francois Englert over forty years ago, but only discovered in 2012 by physicists working on the Haldron Collider in Switzerland, was called “God’s Particle” by another physicist, Leon Lederman. In appreciation of their important finding, Higgs and Englert were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2013. Albert Einstein, who gave the world the Theory of Relativity, famously said, “I want to know God’s thoughts, the rest are details.”

RCCG could produce some of the best scientists and scientific research in the world within its ranks if it so wishes, and the person capable of creating that vision and infrastructure is no less a man than the mathematician who has the intellectual sagacity and organisational skills to expand the church of Christ all over the world.

It is also an ethical duty, affirmed by Biblical injunctions. The parable of the master who gave his servants a talent each while going away on a journey, and asked them to do whatever they like with it, comes to mind. Many of them increased the value, to different degrees by the time he came back. But one buried his and never did anything with it. We are in a situation of buried scientific talent and Pastor Adeboye could help us unearth it. RCCG has been able to expand because of the phenomenon of the advances in science and engineering used in communication (radio, television, cell phones, flat screen TVs, microphones, speakers, WhatsApp, Skype), aviation and transportation (cars, boats, airplanes), building and acoustic engineering. All these came out of the hard work and research of scientists of different faiths or of no faith at all. RCCG can plant the seed of scientific advancement in our people in the 21st century. Where it leads, others will follow, as they’ve generally done. Just as Baba Akindayomi, an unlettered man, recognised the value of higher education and passed the torch to a Ph.D. in Mathematics, Professor Adeboye could gift us the spirit of scientific inquiry that is so sorely lacking in our society.

RCCG and Pastor Adeboye have tremendous resources, material and human, to accomplish this goal. It is a process. He could be our Renaissance man, the chosen man of God and science, to plant the seed and lead us out of the darkness cast by the debilitating lack of scientific curiosity. His influence would radiate to other sections of society which would start investing seriously in scientific research. One Nigerian billionaire lamented a few years ago that he did not know what to do with his money. Others just bank their money and sit on it, or take it to foreign countries. Evidently, the government has to be a part of this, but the government is made of human beings too, and many of them are members of RCCG and other mega churches. They could be persuaded. Pastor Enoch Adeboye has been able to use his higher-level fine mathematical mind to lift a humble home-grown Ebute-Meta place of worship to the top of the global mountain; he is more than capable of shining the light of science on our society. I wish the pastor-mathematician-great influencer a very happy birthday, and a long life lived in good health. Emi ola o gun o!

Bunmi Fatoye-Matory was educated at the Universities of Ife and Ibadan, and Harvard University. She lives with her family in Durham, North Carolina. She is a writer and culture advocate. Email: [email protected]

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