My role mentor, Pastor Sunday Adelaja persecuted in Ukraine for changing lives!

FOR Pastor Sunday Adelaja, the founder and senior pastor of a Kiev-based, the Embassy of the Blessed Kingdom of God for All Nations church, this may not be the best moment for him and the ministry he started in Ukraine in 1993.
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Unlike our privilege Nigerian 'men of God' who live the life of riches and glory, the private jets, the hummer Jeeps  the Rolex watches. the entourage and the adoration of their faithful congregation.
Pastor Sunday is the first man of God I have had the privilege of meeting and thought wow!, I wonder what Jesus will really be like when I finally see Him in heaven! He had a passion  and hunger for the affairs of God and His Kingdom that I have never witnessed before up till today.  
When i visited his church in Ukraine, with London crew,  we cried ourselves to sleep every night for a whole one week. It was as if I had just wasted my forty something years doing nothing. 
Here were people who were walking evidence of Isaiah 61:1 The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed.  The low life's, the nobodies, the alcoholics, the drug addicts, the prostitutes, people coming to the church with no pants etc. Yet gave them hope, equipped them with practical steps to overcome their strongholds and they all have the absolute crazy passion of reaching the world with the gospel of home. The millionaires have their mercsJeeps painted with Jesus on it, full blown size!, the bakers gave bread free in the market with gospel papers as bread wrappers.
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When they have their anniversary or convention, it is not about speaking grammar or '7 ways to prosperity etc. Its ok, showcase your project that you have done since last year, what have you done in your neighbourhood, how many orphanage's have you built, how many drug addicts have you rehabilitated, how many street kids have you given a home to. If there is any problem, situation or crisis happening in the city, they immediately raise a project for it. They don't have departments, they have projects.   
My life changed from that time forth, I was blind but through him and his ministry I understood what the true meaning of 'the ministry of Jesus Christ'. I will always be indebted to him and his wife Pastor Bose Adelaja. As a matter of fact everything I do, every step I take, every way I live my life, every project I do, as a school governor, a Spiritual Coach, a Hospital chaplain, a motivational speaker, a web designer, a house of Parliament prayer member, a property investor and soon to be TV speaker is all because of their teaching, Godly passion and practical way of living.  If you are truly a seeker of Light and looking for a meaning of your life and purpose, I strongly encourage you to listen to their messages or better still visit them in Ukraine. His books, church shift and the whole world is waiting for you, revolutionised my life.!

Just like the wave of oppositions and persecutions from Pharisees and Sadducees spread against Apostle Paul in his missionary journeys, Pastor Sunday, as he is fondly called in Ukraine, is currently battling with persecutions from the Ukrainian government and its apparatchiks, who seem poised to end the vast influence he wields in the country.

Presently, the government of Ukraine has pressed what looks like trumped-up charges against him. He has been accused of fraud and leading a criminal organization, though his ministry and well-meaning Ukrainians have risen up in his defence calling the charges spurious and a mere victimization as well as an act of discrimination against the Nigerian said to have a powerful evangelistic call.
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Ukraine, an Eastern European country which used to be part of the Soviet Union until 1991, practices liberal democracy and mixed economy, though the country, it is believed, still holds tight to vestiges of communism it inherited from the Soviet Union.

Some of the vestiges include arbitrary arrest of perceived enemies, restriction of movement of the accused, illegal imprisonment, racism, unfair trial and other widely condemned practices that pervade post-communist Ukraine.

Having been accused of knowing about the collapse of King Capital, a mortgage company that collapsed few years ago due to the worldwide economic downturn and similarly plunged Ukrainian economy, he is said to have declined any link with the company, but claimed that it was owned by his church members.

According to Ukraine's Internal Affairs Ministry, King Capital defrauded innocent Ukrainians of their investments in the company when it collapsed in 2008, a claim Pastor Adelaja has since described as untrue and spurious.

A US-based Nigerian publisher, Dr. Segun Olanipekun, said the charges pressed against Pastor Adelaja had been changed to a criminal one as he was billed to appear before the police last Tuesday.

Dr. Olanipekun, who said he had an encounter with the cleric in Kiev last year August, wrote in an online material that the pastor had been placed on “probation” by the government.

“It is a probation that prohibits Pastor Sunday from travelling out of Ukraine. It also subjects his actions and activities in and out of the church to state surveillance. Like a criminal under parole, he is constantly under watch.




“That has been his experience since 2009 when he was fraudulently framed in a ludicrous charge that he was a scammer along with some of his church members in a failed real estate business he knew nothing about.

“The frivolous charge by Ukrainian Interior Ministry accuses him of defrauding the country's citizens of money, an amount which the ministry's Department for Media Liaison and International Activity then put at $100m.”

The pastor, whose congregation is the largest in the country of about 45 million people, and the largest church in Europe, is said to be a victim of political and religious victimizations.

His ministry comprising the dregs of the Ukrainian society raised many from the streets and gave them a new lease of life. The dregs, said to have lost faith in the secular authority, have, however, given their support to a charismatic evangelical organization that raised them from the fringe of the Ukrainian society.

Many politicians in the country are also said to depend on the large congregation for support in order to have electoral victory. This played out in 2004 when members of the church took active part in Orange Revolution between 2004 and 2005 against the election of the present president, Viktor Yanukovych, believed to have been rigged.

The protests aided the call for a re-run which was later won by Viktor Yushchenko, though Viktor Yanukovych later won another election in 2010, thus fuelling the insinuation that President Yanukovych may be using the charges against the cleric to avenge his 2005 election loss.

Another source of Pastor Adelaja's problem has been traced to deep opposition the local Eastern Orthodox Church bears against Adelaja's charismatic ministry. The Orthodox Church in Ukraine may have seen Pastor Adelaja's protestant church as a threat to its existence not only in Ukraine but in the whole of Eastern Europe where it has challenged many of its doctrinal beliefs.

altTo Pastor Adelaja, these persecutions are political. In an interview he granted Dr. Olanipekun, he was quoted as saying that he would survive these charges as he has survived 22 cases so far.

“Apart from persecutions, I do not think I face any challenge. I am enjoying the ride. I call myself pastor without tears. But the greatest challenge I face now has to do with government, society and persecution. I am undergoing one right now.

“There is a case in court. It is a case that involves members of our church that have investment company that collapsed during the recent economic meltdown, lost money and the government found it as a good opportunity, a good excuse to charge me to court. I have survived 22 court cases so far. This to the government was a good one because members of our church were involved. The only thing the police were asking me is: Do you know them? And my answer is: I know them.

“So, as long as I know them they believe I must be involved. So, it is just a way to be able to corner me. They have been looking for a way and Satan did a good job this time. He gave them a good excuse. The people who started the company are not denying it.”

Though, crowd who don't like his face and the fact that he is a black man preaching Christ have at several times thrown banana peels at him in public, the Nigerian-born pastor who was described by the New York Times as a success story in the former Soviet Union, has remained undaunted, he could, however, be walking a tightrope while protecting his religious empire built in a post-communist Eastern European society.

Angel Falese

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