Liberty students had the chance to hear from the pastor of the largest evangelical church in Europe at the March 12 convocation service.
Pastor Sunday Adelaja is the founder of The Embassy of the Blessed Kingdom of God for All Nations, in Kiev, Ukraine. His local church has more than 30,000 members, and of his 400 churches in Ukraine, there are 100,000 believers. His church has planted 700 churches worldwide, including 20 in the United States.
Adelaja, a native Nigerian, has written 85 books, many translated into various languages. The latest, “ChurchShift,” lays out a strategy for transforming the church in the United States. Adelaja signed books after convocation and all ministry students received free copies.
Adelaja, who has spoken at the United Nations, the U.S. Senate and with other political leaders and heads of state, said this was his first visit to Liberty University.
“I’ve been very impressed by the response of those students who came to me after the talk,” he said. “Many of them were very touched and many of them said that message was what they needed. I was very impressed that the leadership of the whole school came and we were able to fellowship and share heart to heart … and I think this is the beginning of a long relationship with this school.”
After convocation, a luncheon was held in his honor with church and university leaders.
Adelaja became a Christian at age 19 in Nigeria. He went to Byelarussian State University in the former Soviet Union on scholarship and received a master’s degree in journalism. There, he attended an underground church and had some brushes with the KGB; he was even ordered to leave the country. But God called him to Kiev and full-time ministry, and there he began to build a church as religious freedom was being granted through the reformations of Mikhail Gorbachev. He said through prayer and fasting, he received God’s direction to minister to the “down and out” and touch people through ministry.
“So I removed my suit, removed my tie, closed my Bible and went out to find the down and out. So I began to interact with the alcoholics, the bums, the drug addicts, and I dumped love on them. Continually I cleaned their hair, their nails, changing their clothes, loving them, praying for them and miracles began to happen.”
Those people he ministered to went back to their families, who wanted to know who did this to them, he said. Many then came to the church, which started with seven people and grew to 1,000 in one year.
While many people may ask why Adelaja is focusing on ministry in the United States, he said his “heart breaks” for the country that has done so much to help his native Nigeria economically.
“I feel responsibility to do something about never allowing America to fall,” he said.
“The message I’ve brought to America is If we don’t change our focus from just doing church into transforming culture, guess what happens? Hollywood, the media, BET will take the role of dictating values to our culture … and it’s already happened.
“Most people in this country right now follow Hollywood and the media more than they follow the principles of the Gospel because the church has been busy, locked up in ourselves instead of focusing on what Jesus said, discipling the culture. He said ‘Go ye therefore and make disciples of the nations,’ that is of the culture.”
He teaches in his churches how members should be prepared to influence the culture for Christ in whatever field they go into. For instance, 600 people from his church have run for political offices in his country, he said.
He said the late Dr. Jerry Falwell was a great example for him, in getting involved in cultural issues and taking a stand for biblical principles.
“What makes nations great? Nations are great because of the wealth of their virtues. If we lose the wealth of virtue, we lose the nation,” he said.
Adelaja calls it a miracle that a Nigerian could lead a church of mostly Caucasians in a European nation. But he said as a foreigner, he has a different perspective on how countries need to transform their cultures.
“You see what people inside don’t see,” he said.
Adelaja said he has plans to return to Liberty.
“I want to come back here and do teaching and give some classes on church planting and on prayer. I look forward to being back here again.”