There is a revolution taking place in Africa which those of us living in the West have not paid much attention to, or at best sniffed at. We may not like it, but it does affect the lives of many millions of Africans. Seeing it at close range on a recent reporting trip to Togo, Ghana, Sierra Leone and Nigeria, it would be foolish of us to pretend that no such revolution is happening or that it is not relevant to the lives of so many millions of our compatriots.
The revolution is religion, Christian religion, and it is sweeping the continent off its feet. To see over 15,000 people devotedly, and with clock-work discipline, filling up the 10 halls of the Deeper Life Bible Church (DLBC) at Ayobo, Lagos, Nigeria, on a Sunday morning, at about eight o'clock, and a good number spilling onto the massive grounds of the church reached by loudspeakers, you wonder where we in the West have emigrated to.
It was a sight to behold, and what impresses most is the discipline with which this massive throng of people go about their religious duties. Many may have woken up at 4am to prepare for the journey to Ayobo, to be seated by 8am when the service starts. Even football, the so-called new religion of the people, especially in the West, would have been impressed. It was awesome!
Which shows how relevant religion, or Christianity, is to the people. In Freetown, Sierra Leone, a country which holds the record for the highest rainfall in West Africa, a daily minimum of 10,000 people defied the heavy rains on three consecutive days in mid-August (the height of the rainy season) to attend a Deeper Life crusade at the National Stadium. The crusade was held in collaboration with all the non-orthodox churches in the country, calling themselves "the body of Christ in Sierra Leone".
Each day they braved the rains to come to the stadium. Those who sat on the roofless terraces had only their umbrellas for shelter. You don't go to such lengths for something which is not relevant to your life.
Similar scenes have been repeated all through West Africa for much of this year. It was the turn of Lome, Togo, on 30 July. Again, it rained for much of the day but it didn't stop over 8,000 people filling a local stadium for another crusade there.
Earlier in the year, on 29 January to be precise, over 45,000 people had assembled at the National Stadium in Abuja, Nigeria, for another Deeper Life crusade.
A similar crusade in Ghana in April had drawn comparable crowds to the Independence Square in Accra for four days. Christianity is dying in Europe but it is flying on eagles' wings in Africa. And the earlier we paid attention to the revolution, in order to influence the weeding out of the fake churches and prophets, the better.
Yes, not all of the new Pentecostal and so-called "charismatic churches" are genuine. Many are frauds. Many are gigantic money-spinning machines ripping off their unsuspecting members of their hard-earned tithes.
Many still have become part of the problem faced by society, instead of being part of the solution. They deceive, they browbeat their members, they practise spiritism, they confuse, they have become breakers of families, their understanding of the Bible is atrociously scanty, and their churches have become venues for drumming and dancing. In short, they give God a bad name.
In the midst of these bad apples is hidden a gem. This much, even the competition concedes. The Deeper Life Bible Church, founded 33 years ago in Nigeria by Pastor William Folorunso Kumuyi, stands head and shoulders above the crowd of the Pentecostal and charismatic churches filling the void left by the orthodox churches in the lives of the people.
A stickler for Biblical truths and practising what they preach, Deeper Life (as it is affectionately called) has accumulated a solid reputation of serious Christianity for itself over the years, such that, at a recent encounter at the Murtala Mohammed Airport in Lagos, the mere mention of the name "Deeper Life" was enough to open doors for us. …