Nigerian Pastor Finds New Flock In Ukraine

KIEV, Ukraine -- Inside one of Ukraine's biggest sports halls a band pumps out deafening music surrounded by pom pom-waving dancers in shiny blue outfits.

Sunday Adelaja

Thousands of people are on their feet enthusiastically singing and clapping along, as if at a pop concert.

A Pentecostal church called the Embassy of God is sweeping across the country.

It claims to have 25,000 members in the capital alone.

For many people here a church service that has a feel-good factor is something new.

"First of all I liked the music and I liked the girl who was singing on the stage. Maybe that's why I went back again. Then I understood that there's a God and he loves us," says maths teacher Roman Bazhok, who has been a member of the church for two years.

Political devotees

One of the main reasons the Embassy of God attracts so many people is down to its charismatic leader Sunday Adelaja.

He left Nigeria to escape witchcraft and to study in the Soviet Union.

After the collapse of communism Pastor Sunday, as he is known, started his own church with just handful a of fellow African students in the capital.

Now politicians and even Kiev's mayor Leonid Chernovetsky are regulars.

Wearing a striking green suit, Mr Adelaja charms the audience with tales about the temptations he has turned down.

Speaking in accented Russian he tells the youthful congregation they should abstain not just from sex but also kissing before marriage.

Then looking close to tears, with his hands in the air, he says a prayer.

Today he is preaching to more than 10,000 people at the same place in Kiev that was used to host the Eurovision Song Contest last year.

The Embassy of God hires this venue once a month.

Normally services are held at a dilapidated hall in an industrial part of the capital and at other churches throughout the country.

Uncertain response

Pastor Sunday says he has faced a lot of hostility in Ukraine.

"Can you imagine a black man coming from Africa, in this society; here you are lucky if you are white because if you are black you will feel the difference," claims Mr Adelaja.

"Here there are not too many black people. Even the Orthodox priests say to me go and play basketball, go and play soccer but don't try to teach us how to live."

Church leader Sunday Adelaja with Kiev mayor Leonid Chernovetsky
Critics are wary of the church's links with politicians like Kiev's mayor

The Orthodox Church is still the main religion in Ukraine despite the Embassy of God growing in popularity.

Golden-domed churches dominate the skyline of Kiev.

Inside St Michael's Cathedral priests in purple and red robes conduct an early morning service led by Father Superior Yevstratiy Zorya.

Ancient icons glow in the candle-light as women wearing headscarves kneel on the cold stone floor.

Nothing like the Embassy of God has ever been seen before in Ukraine.

Some critics are suspicious of this evangelical movement and its close relationship with powerful politicians.

'No brainwashing'

The Orthodox Church feels threatened. It says Embassy of God is a cult.

"The followers become like zombies - they are fully devoted to the leader of the organisation, ready to fulfil any of his desires," says Father Superior Yevstratiy Zorya, spokesman for the Orthodox Church in Kiev.

"It also has an impact on political life, because these people help to campaign for the politicians loyal to their church."

The Embassy of God says there is no brainwashing. Instead it targets people who feel rejected by society.

It runs a homeless shelter in the capital which helps prostitutes, drug addicts and members of the mafia like Alexander Skrypin.

"Before my encounter with God I was quite a rich person, but it didn't save me from being drunk in the gutter and living in brothels. After coming to Embassy of God I know that my life is for living," says Alexander, a former bank robber.

Many people have become alienated following the end of the Soviet Union.

There is poverty, unemployment, and a state which is no longer able to care for everyone.

Perhaps the reason that this new church is so popular is that it offers a sense of community, something which has been in short supply for many Ukrainians.

Source: BBC News


Frankies said…
Well, i think if we must talk about church and politics then we must bear in mind that there is no great man anywhere on earth there only people that God is helping just like Pastor Sunday,i was so opportuned to meet with one of his teachings at Goodtidings Bible church international in Nigeria,i realy think God is using this man so to touch the lives of even kings.God is too interligent to be involve in a coicident,pastor sunday s calling as a black sherphard is no coicident because God is the only author of the recycling process,so being identify with the things of GOD should be the top most priority of any one, for this is the primary duty of anyman that will ever exist on the surface earth so being a politician is just the secondary aspect on it.Politicians should even embrace christ the more because being in that position takes only the grace of God which can only be active through fellowship with the saint.
There are still millions of undiscovered Sunday Adelaja s in Nigeria,if only the world will accept us for what we can offers.
Franklin I Echewodor
Good tidings bible church international,utako district,by bergers HQ,FCT ABUJA,NIGRIA.

Am also waiting to be discover so that i can also affect the lives of kings with the true knowledge of christ and to make a mark in the signs of time
Frankies said…
The neglect of christ is the greatest error of mankind,why because walking with God is the altimate calling of everyman so missing this point is like missing the whole esence of life,so politicians are no super hero they are rate equal before God,If i where to say of a truth i will tell the world that the pilot of an aircraft is not the wisest man in that aircraft but my his connection with the control tower he hears the sound of a storm that the ordinaryman can not hear,Pasor sunday is call by God so it doesnt matter where he comes from and who belief in him.No man has the power of transforming anybody except christ be with him.Lets celebrate the power of God upon his life.
The main duty of man is to serve GOD then politics should be the secondary.
Thank you
We have all it takes to make the world a better place but yet like pastor sunday we have not yet beind discover base on our poor level of exposure to the outerword at large.WE NEED UKRAINIAN HELP to also discover us.
email2femail said…
Mmmmmmmmmmm a bit crazy I think!! is Ukraine heading the USA way?