Assistant Pastor, Leke Adeboye, is the last son and Senior Personal Assistant of the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (Worldwide), Pastor Enoch Adeboye. He speaks with SEYI SOKOYA about life as the son of a notable minister of God, among other issues:
WHAT was growing up like as Pastor Adeboye’s son?
I think by the time I came into the family, he was already a pastor, maybe not a full pastor, because you go from being a deacon to an assistant pastor, then a full pastor, but he was always working in line with the church and with the work of God. He is an amazing father who is a fantastic role model. He always had time for his family despite the workload. One of the things most people do not know is that he had his own idea: he wanted to be Africa’s youngest vice chancellor; that was what he was pushing for. He also ensured that the wellbeing and welfare of his family was a 100 per cent priority, keeping in mind that he came from a super-poor background. His own game plan was that once God accepted him, he needed to pull everybody else out of poverty. So, I didn’t see him as a pastor, I saw him as a man first.
Was he strict while you were growing up?
The Bible actually gives guidelines to parents on what to do; it says you should train your child in a certain way and he won’t default from it. He trained us to be good; to treat every human being with respect; not to cheat anyone, even if your life depended on it; do what you are told by your parents; honour your father and mother; always be honest and caring. Anything outside the rules and regulations that they’ve given you attracts disciplinary measures.
In your school days, were there certain things you couldn’t do because you were Pastor Adeboye’s son?
Not even just that, they would say you shouldn’t do certain things because you are from a particular tribe. They would say that you shouldn’t be talking in a certain way because you are a man. But there are different families, different experiences and different exposures.
It has been a great task for me. People tend to judge, because your father is famous. However, I feel it is normal, because that is what is applicable to the children of any influential person in the society. Expectations are very high being the son of a pastor. During my NYSC days, whenever we observed our monthly meetings, you hear people say ‘Leke Adeboye pray for us.’ As a pastor’s child you are expected to know the Bible, know how to pray and preach. One must also know how to be helpful and supportive in every aspect of life. The fact remains that one will be judged by what your parents do and this is what is obtainable across the globe. For me, I have been on the Redemption Camp since I was three month’s old. It was like an isolated and different life then; no electricity and telephone. We were cut off from the world until when the camp and villages around started developing. Unknown to many, the Adeboye family, seen as wealthy and famous today, started from nothing.
It is undeniable that Pastor Adeboye is loved by many, but you can’t take away the fact that there will be enemies. How does the family handle this?
In life, if you don’t have haters, you aren’t doing anything positive. It also means you are not gifted or talented, because some people would be upset, that it is always you. I see this as what should be expected among human beings. In fact, you would still find some people who are very close to you that will not be genuinely happy when God places you in a position in life. I would say that the family and, even my father, have been able to manage all these without offending anybody. He is always humble. I think God is really behind the fact that he is loved by many, because he did not call people to love him. He is just focused on his primary assignment to get people to heaven. I feel it is normal for some people to like him and otherwise.
It is no more news that there are some people that will always have something negative about notable ministers of God. We know them and we understand that they are carrying out their assignments. At present, there is a particular lady complaining about an issue relating to money coupled with so many stories, but we don’t know how true they are. We have also realised that some people just use him to draw more attention through social media. They have their own game plan. So, we have chosen not to respond to such issues.
How did you feel when you heard that your father would retire as the General Overseer of the church?
Officially, I am not expected to talk about that, but don’t forget that information is very powerful. A lot of people get things wrong, because they are not well informed or how the information is being disseminated. I was in the gathering where he made the announcement. Immediately, I said ‘thank God.’ We are moving and doing something else. That means we would have more time for other parts of the world than we used to have, because there are some countries that we have not been able to touch, such as China. Normally, one is to work till age 70, but if God pushes you to work beyond 70, it is according to His will. The church has already been well-structured and it is moving well. We now have overseers in all the RCCG churches across the globe, but the fact that the headquarters is based in Nigeria, most people assumed that there would not be the need for one. Our pastor, the national overseer, who is also a Big Daddy to me, had already been carrying out all those assignments that should have been accorded to a national overseer in Nigeria. He attends the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), among other meetings. He even controls the payments of RCCG’s staff salaries in Nigeria. I think people just wanted to twist things when the announcement was made.
Aside being Pastor Adeboye’s son, you are also his Senior Personal Assistant, would you say that you were deliberately made to occupy this office, because Daddy G.O. does not trust anybody else?
I see this task as just a glorified title for a messenger; I am just a messenger. I was the first person to be interviewed as a Personal Assistant in RCCG eight years ago. Most people don’t know that I actually finished my Master’s in Engineering Project Management at the Bournemouth University and my first degree in Aerospace Technology and Engineering at the University of Hertfordshire, England. I earlier had my secondary school education at the Command Secondary School, Apata, Ibadan, and did all the other part of the secondary school in Kent Canterbury in England. I have not taken it lightly the privilege I have been given to study outside the country. Above all, coming around to say I would love to work for the mission without sleepless nights has been God. I came back to explore the resources and experience I have gathered so far as a professional to help the mission to be better. I went for an interview to occupy a role that paid the lowest salary grade in the mission. I actually had an eight-hour interview. I went in full suit, but came out with singlet and boxers. Ordinarily, people are usually given three to six months’ probation when employed, but I was given one and half years probation, because they did not joke with their general overseer, regardless of who they wanted to employ. I was scrutinised more than anybody else that was interviewed, but I didn’t mind. I don’t see him as my father when it comes to work; I see him as my principal, my boss. I see this as my obligation and I have been trying hard on how to improve my duty as a personal assistant and how to improve the office of the general overseer. We usually invite international experts in the field to train all senior pastors during our meetings. Personally, I have been able to display professionalism in this work. He just happened to be my father; he could have been anybody else. My main job, as the Senior Personal Assistant, is to ensure that the Chief Executive Officer gets his own primary assignment done without missing out anyone. In fact, I have many responsibilities, aside being the PA. To be candid, it has been a great experience and quite interesting!
How is your relationship with your mum?
She’s my mum. What do you expect the relationship to be like? She brought me into this world and I love her so much, because she would be 70 next year and I am already celebrating her. She is an amazing woman that does many things that are not on record. In fact, I am still waiting for a day that CNN would come to do a documentary on her. She has an empowerment project geared towards women, especially s3xually and domestically abused women and prostitues, which she funds personally and with support from others. That is why it is sometimes annoying when people say all sorts on social media without getting the real facts. She has another empowerment initiative for transforming the lives of kids, mostly the desititute and orphans on the streets. There is another African mission initiative supporting some African countries that are not as blessed as Nigeria. This initiative provides houses, schools and basic amenities for these countries. It may interest you that she always supports RCCG missionaries that are sent to different countries across the world. She just pushes to support them. Aside all these, she still caters for the family. I am proud to let you know that daddy is not the only one that has a doctorate degree in the house; mum is also a PhD holder. She was a teacher and she gave up a lot of things to ensure her children were raised right. Her level of sacrifice goes beyond what I feel she could do. I love my mum and I pray God preserves her beyond 70.
Given your role as your Dad’s PA, would you say you’re his favourite child?
I am not the favourite; don’t get me into trouble. I guess it is because I have a list of responsibilities. This is a family that is so dedicated in doing God’s work and our parents have instilled many things in us that have made us active in the vineyeard. For instance, our first born, Pastor Adeolu Adeboye, owns the Wise Men Apparel, a fashion outfit that has offices all over Nigeria, which started from London. He is into construction as well and an active member of the Team Nehemiah, an arm of RCCG that ensures the safety of people within and around the camp, especially during activities in the camp. I have another brother, Pastor Oluwadamilare Adeboye, who is in charge of the national youth affairs and also works with the Redeemed Campus Fellowship for all universities in Nigeria. In fact, he represents and even preaches more than the G.O. He is always on the move. We sometimes track him on social media. Even Daddy would always want to know his movements. I feel the insinuation of being the favourite is just because of the fact that I am the only one around him. Maybe, because I am the troublesome son too, so they keep me closer. I also have a sister, who is also a pastor based in America. She is helping mum to run an arm of RCCG called Feast of Esther, an organisation for wives of general overseers across the globe. It is really a big family devoted to doing God’s work. In fact, there are extended members of the family that are also doing one thing or the other in this mission.
If you were not a pastor, what would you have become?
I am not a pastor yet; I am an assistant pastor. I am also a drummer. I have seen my dad serving people all his life and his philosophy has ingnited the will to also serve people and impact lives. I am just trying to do my own bit in my little way. I am in charge of Pastors’ Seeds Family, which comprises the children of ministers, missionaries and workers in RCCG and anybody that has something to do in RCCG and we are more than 7,000. I realised that the major problem in Nigeria is the mindset of the people, especially youths and the social media is not helping matters. Our objective is to build good human capacity. You have to build your integrity and character, irrespective of any religion. As a human being, one has to be honest and accountable. Personally, I can’t just afford to live my life anyhow. I look around to look for what I can do to impact lives positively; this is how we can develop a society full of business ideas. I’m delighted to have a platform that is empowering the youths, because I see this as my own assignment and people are already tapping into it.
You were recently sighted on a beach bike. Would you say that you have flair for bikes?
Yes, I do. I have a flair for bikes and extreme sports to a fault. But, I have soft-pedalled now that I am married and have three kids. Though life insurance is all about God, I have to take care of them. I have flair for anything that moves fast, especially what will take me anywhere on time. This was why I studied Aerospace. I guess this is also preparing me to get to heaven fast when the trumpet sounds.
Do you also have fashion cravings?
We are not allowed to be carnal. Although I like fashion, I love anything that is simple and comfortable. At present, I wear made-in-Nigeria clothes, except for my watches. I patronise a brother in our church, who has a shop at Ebute Meta and he has been doing a fantastic job for me. That is how we can support the economy and encourage people.
People believe everything about Pastor Adeboye is spiritual. What is Daddy GO like when he is not on the pulpit?
He likes to fish, and every single place we live in this camp has a fish pond behind it. It is very easy to set up and also a very good way to relax. He likes to walk and go on train rides. Thank God things are developing in Nigeria. When we are outside Nigeria, we go to places by train. We get to see the countryside and have a different view of life than being in the car all the time. He likes watching movies a lot, not immoral movies and necessarily 100 per cent Christian movies at all time, because you may be caging yourself by not engaging in what other people are facing. One of the movies we watch is Take Heed. He is also a huge fan of James Bond; we have about 50 collections of the movie. In fact, there is always a replacement of anyone that gets lost or spoilt. I also have copies in my house, as well, just in case he comes to visit, because that is what he would like to see.
Would you say that his passion for fishing brought the idea of the church’s popular programme tagged: Lets Go a-Fishing?
No. That programme is targeted at fishing for souls for Christ and it is biblical.
What is his favourite food?
He likes fish. Maybe because of the village we came from. He likes it more when it is in barbecue form. He also likes bush meat. He always makes a joke even on the pulpit that he likes obe Ila asepo and pounded yam, and iyan gbere (bread fruit).
What do people not know about the Adeboye family?
The family, indeed enjoys the grace of God and is really devoted to God’s service. Dad and mum would mark their 50th wedding anniversary next year. I have never seen them fight or argue. Their union is very strong and we the children have inherited many of their qualities.