By Dr. Marcel Mbamalu (Prime Business, Africa)
Strong, firm, and a stringently outspoken stickler for holiness, Pastor Williams Kumuyi, founder and General Superintendent of Deeper Christian Life Ministries, is 82 on Tuesday.
Without substantially changing any of its doctrines, the church has experienced necessary transition to meet changes in global attendance and the need to deepen the understanding of the gospel. In the midst of the transitions clearly has been an unchanging devotion to deeper life in Christ.
One of the prime examples of the stronger-every-day testimony of Pastor Kumuyi is his launching of the Global Gospel Crusades on his 80th birthday. The crusade has a worldwide attendance, especially through internet connections. At the Gbagada area of Lagos, venue of his 30,000-capacity church, the pastor appears every Sunday and Monday reaching out to the thronging worshippers and learners of the scriptures.
Some estimates rank the church as the fourth largest in the world, built with church effort from the scratch, with state-of-the art furnishings like seats, public address systems, car parks and spectacular crowd and free vehicle control systems for the neighborhood during worship days. It was commissioned on April 24, 2018, attracting dignitaries of note like the immediate past vice president, Yemi Osinbajo.
Born biologically in Erin-Ijesa, Osun State, South West Nigeria, to a Christian family on June 6, 1941, Kumuyi became born again on April 5, 1964. Nine years later in 1973, he founded the Deeper Christian Life Ministry. He had graduated with a First-class Honours in Mathematics from the prestigious University of Ibadan in 1967, after completing his secondary education at Mayflower College in 1961. Kumuyi has a master’s degree in Education from the University of Lagos. He subsequently taught mathematics at the Mayflower College and the University of Lagos.
At 82, Pastor Kumuyi has grown his congregation from a tiny group of 15 Bible trainees to over 500 branches in Lagos alone, with nearly a million members in Nigeria, worshiping in about 5,000 branches. There are also about three thousand other branches in 60 countries of the world, where missionaries work as well.
Kumuyi’s first wife, and mother of his two children (Jeremiah and John), was one of the Bible trainees in 1973. They met in 1972, and married in 1980. The marriage lasted a handsome 29 years when she died in 2009, leading to Kumuyi’s 2010 second marriage to Folashade Adenike Blaize in London, where she was a superintendent of a branch of the church.
Publisher and author of at least 10 books, Pastor Kumuyi has significantly shaped Christian theology and scholarship through his writings. During his 80th birthday, Pastor Kumuyi’s first-ever biography was launched, entitled Defender of the Faith.
Kumuyi is however no stranger to controversies. But through it all, he stands strong and rather always unfazed. In 2013, he debunked the messages contained in a viral video about a Sierra Leonean woman simply called Sister Linda Ngaujah, who, together with another woman and a boy, proclaimed that they had risen from the dead. Although the message from the prophetess was in acclaim of the Deeper Christian Life Ministry (e.g., way of dressing), Kumuyi was quick to warn his members against such visions. He noted: “If you dress like Deeper Life without salvation and sanctification, will you get to heaven? These are the last days.”
The Deeper Christian Life Ministry also came in the eye of the storm in 2020 when a section of the online media accused it of holding a crusade in contravention of a subsiding government’s directive on the coronavirus pandemic. The church, though its secretary, Pastor Samuel Afuwape, quickly refuted the reports saying: “The publication was a complete misrepresentation of our special monthly church service tagged Power Night, which was streamed online to all Deeper Life Bible Church locations worldwide.” The church had publicized information on December 19, in which Pastor Kumuyi had ordered the suspension of Church activities during the coronavirus pandemic era in line with a ban enforced by the Lagos State government against gathering of people in excess of 50.
From Kumuyi’s hardcore stance on the mode of religious worship, fashion, exposure to television and view of political office holders, he has been increasingly softening. Recently, he said genuine worshippers should not vilify politicians for not keeping promises.
He has also started allowing the use of some musical equipment in his recently introduced Global Gospel Crusades. However, he is still absolutely strong and unwavering in his call to holiness exemplified by some austere outlook and lifestyle of his members such as all-covering attire especially for the women folk, known for a particular type of blouse, skirt and hairdo.
In all, Pastor Kumuyi stands out as one of the church leaders whose teachings and followership have been focused on holiness, piety and a general outlook and behaviour pattern that align with the Bible.
His 82nd birthday wishes will certainly witness a litany of encomiums based on his steel-hard insistence on Deeper Christian Life. Happy birthday sir.
Dr Mbamalu is a veteran journalist, Editor and Publisher