by Ife Olaleye David
*Education:* The church of God continues to be a leading light in the educational sector of developing nations. From the very first days missionaries set foot on the Shores of Africa, they made it clear they weren’t only bringing the message of salvation, but on the heels of salvation rapidly came healthcare and education. Today, the church impact on education hasn’t waned.
While the early missionary push focused on access for millions of Africans who had previously never had any form of access to formal education, the contemporary church focused on quality and scientific prowess in nations whose education sector were already in shambles. The 90s and early 2000s witnessed a chaotic period for Nigerian schools – especially tertiary education which was plagued by lengthy strike actions, cultism, indigene – student clashes, decaying infrastructure, female student harassment, over enrollment etc. Public primary school system began to collapse and it was clear that there had to be a radical change to salvage the education sector. The very government officials in charge of running the education sector began to enroll their own kids in foreign schools in a bid to escape the decadence that besieged the sector. Churches immediately took up the gauntlet and began a rescue mission without government financial support to salvage an ailing system. Unfortunately, churches have been mostly attacked rather than celebrated for their intervention in the education sector, primarily as a result of ignorance. Many have criticised the contemporary church for not providing the exact type of education the early missionaries provided, which many claim was free. However, many do not realise that missionaries of old were backed by powerful western nations in funding. The missionaries were also coming from nations with superior economies aided by many free lancers and volunteers. However it is important to state that the Contemporary church regardless continues to subsidise education even amidst unfair criticisms from a section of the populace. To buttress this fact, according to Times Higher education(a British university consultancy company) the American University of Cairo(AUC) and Covenant University Ota(CU) are co-ranked the best private universities in Africa for 2019.
But while CU was founded in 2002, AUC was founded In 1919. And while AUC’s maximum tuition stands at N5 Million per annum, CU’s maximum tuition stands at N900,000 per annum. This clearly indicates that Covenant University by having 80% lower tuition in comparison to an equally elite secular university is definitely being subsidized by her proprietors. The apostolic faith Church on the other hand continues grants subvention worth over N350 Million naira/annum to Crawford University.
_Highlights Of The Achievement Of Churches In the Education Sector_
70% of Congolese secondary schools were founded by the catholic church.
50% of Nigeria’s private universities were established by Churches.
Covenant University, founded by Living Faith Church is the highest ranked Nigerian University on the British Times Higher Education ranking.
Redeemers University a private missionary university remains the leading institution for Infectious disease research and has gone on to create Kits against Ebola and Lassa fever.
Landmark university, founded by Living Faith Church is the first agriculture based private university in Africa.
Multi billion naira research grants are being won by faculty of church universities e.g Professor Happi’s $250,000, $6M from ACEGID, World Bank(Redeemers University). Professor Eni’s $3M from Bill and Melinda Gates found.(Covenant university), Professor Adebiyi’s $6M, $200,000 from World Bank, NIH(Covenant). Professor Moses Emetere’s N9M grant from NCC(Covenant) and Professor Sanjay’s $800,000 grant from David Oyedepo Found(Covenant).
Living Faith is in the process of establishing 1,500 primary schools in Africa.
According to Agenzia Fidez the Catholic Church runs 70,544 kindergartens with 6,478,627 pupils; 92,847 primary schools with 31,151,170 pupils; 43,591 secondary schools with 17,793,559 pupils. The Church also cares for 2,304,171 high school pupils, and 3,338,455 university students.
Yonsei University, founded by protestant missionary in South Korea(a former developing nation) is amongst the popularly known SKY institutions. SKY institutions are the Ivy leagues of South Korea and consist of Seoul National University, Korea University and Yonsei university.
Multi billion naira Tech startups such as Paystack(Babcock) Piggybank(Covenant), Kora(Covenant) MyMusic, PushCV(Covenant), Stutern(Bowen), Softcom(Covenant), Hotels.ng(Covenant), MyMusic(Babcock) were exclusively or collaboratively founded by graduates of church universities.
Kemi Onabanjo a First class graduate of Covenant University became the Valedictorian at one of the world’s most reputable business schools – Insead, France.
Isreal Galadima, a student of Faith Academy, Ota led 2 million jamb candidates with an unprecedented 364 total score.
*Infrastructure:* The church of God has made remarkable strides in developing nations. From hinterlands into cities, the impact of churches is most felt by the people who have had the opportunity to benefit from Church infrastructural projects. Today it is said in many corporate circles that the church is the most relevant investor in the real estate and construction sector. Many of the church infrastructure is geared at filling the gap in areas where the government either failed or is absent. Many of the church projects are responsible for employing thousands of workers and booming businesses for those in the construction sector and across the real estate value chain.
_Highlight Of The Church’s Impact In Infrastructural Development._
In 2010 a devastating earthquake ravaged the nation of Haiti, a particular village called Le Tant was nearly washed away completely. Fortunately for the people of Le Tant the Jentezen Franklin ministry heard their cries. The church with the help of funding from Christians worldwide rebuilt the village. The new village consisted of 100 units of houses and was named Kingdom Connection Village. The newly built houses were given to villagers for free.
The United Nations estimates that there is a 17 million housing deficit in Nigeria. With Lagos alone having 9 million of that number. Two prominent churches LFC and RCCG In Nigeria, are at the fore front of providing thousands of homes to people at very moderate fees.
Canaancity is a new city occupying 8,000 hectares(80 Km2) of land. The city land area which is almost twice bigger than Ikeja City(49.92 Km2) – the capital of Lagos is already being occupied by several residents. The City is planned to house 15,000 housing units. It’s own independent power plants, fire services, police stations etc.
Redemption camp city is a project initiated by the Redeemed Christian Church Of God. The city which at 40,000 acres is the size of the country of Liechtenstein and one of the biggest Christian estates in the world. Redemption camp houses the world’s largest Christian facility for worship – the 3KM – 3KM auditorium which can house millions of worshippers at the same time. In addition, the city contains several residential facilities and is powered by a 25MW power plant. Other significant projects undertaken by churches in Nigeria include the glory dome an 100,000 auditorium by Dunamis ministries, 120,000 salvation ministeries auditorium etc.
According to Churchgist – a christian blog outlet, the Ibikunle Amosun led Government equally announced that a licence had been awarded to Winners chapel to build a rail connecting Ota to Lagos while the church perfects plans to construct a four lane road linking Lafenwa to Ayobo.
In 2017 the deeper life church constructed a multi billion naira bridge and inner roads at the Gbagada area of Lagos.
The efforts of the church in the social development of developing nations are indeed too numerous to chronicle in one article. However, it is important to note that the Church movement has transformed numerous lives and continues to do so. The church has changed the way Africans live from time immemorial. From the eradication of hundreds of indigenous African religions – religions which burdened locals with numerous horrific practices such as the killing of twins, human sacrifices etc till the present day when churches continue to introduce innovative programmes which improve upon the socio economic conditions of the populace.
Improvement of Inter Tribal relations:
In Africa where inter tribal relations amongst many ethnic group had in many cases deteriorated, the church has always served as a platform for reconciliation and healing. Today, it is not strange to see people of various tribes and ethnic groups worshipping God under one roof. Under the church platform, many marriages, friendships cutting across lands and seas have been instituted.
RCCG church commissioned a multi million naira center named Christ Against Drug Abuse Ministry in Epe Lagos where lives of addicted young men and women are transformed for better.
The Tony Rapu Ministry has run a successful ministry taking young adults from the streets and transforming them by providing housing, education and most importantly mentorship.
It has been asserted by the Nigerian Tourism Development Commission that churches are the biggest sources of tourist coming into Nigeria. Programmes such as Holy Ghost congress, Shiloh, The experience are amongst church events bringing thousands of worshippers from across the globe into Nigeria.
Churches like Dunamis, Winners Chapel have been on the fore front of alleviating the conditions of Internally Displaced Persons across Northern Nigeria. By providing food, water and shelter. Churches such as Daystar, KICC are popularly known to provide direct relief to poor individuals in Nigeria.
Winners Chapel at one time allocated N500 Million naira to Widows.
In 2016/2017 Winners Chapel Intl Ghana led by Pastor Muyiwa James provided vocational training to 2155 Ghanians as part of her corporate social responsibility.
Care For The Elderly
Salvation Ministries is the leading organisation in the provision of homes for the elderly. The church has created a number of homes for the elderly across southern Nigeria.
Undoubtedly, the Church movement runs the highest number of private orphanages in the developing and developed world.
Improving Local Economies
Church campuses across the developing world are known to come with an improvement in the local economies of those host communities. According to the BBC, over $1 million is exchanged at Ota environs every Sunday.
Churches are leading employers of thousands of workers. Apart from engagement of ministerial staff(pastors, evangelist and missionaries) with full benefits, Churches also have staff across their various interest such as schools, factories, publishing houses etc.
Sports And Recreation
The church of God has made significant progress in the sporting sectors of developing nations, while many churches now have sporting teams. A particular ministry called the Mountain Of Fire Ministries has stood out remarkably. The MFM ministry runs the MFM FC – a venerable football club that has gone on to win numerous titles across the African continent. Other Churches have gone on to focus on the sporting Infrastructure of their countries. The Winners Chapel Church commissioned a 6,500 capacity football stadium at it’s Ota campus. The stadium built at the cost of a billion naira exceeds the Agege stadium(4,000 capacity) and Onikan Stadium(5,000 capacity) in capacity.
The James and Betty Robinson led Life Outreach Ministry has helped countless scores of dying children in South Sudan by providing them health care, water and food. The ministry in the past few years has dug hundreds of wells in a nation that has not fully recovered from its decades long civil war with its Northern neighbour. The Winners Chapel was also the largest relief donor during the 2005 Ikeja cantonment bomb blast.
Scholarships And Endowments
The Winners Chapel Church has spent over N1 Billion naira on educational scholarships from the inception of the church. Mountain Of Fire Ministries on the other hand built a top notch research center for the University Of Lagos while Pastor Adeboye has endowed professorial chairs in Mathematics at the University of Lagos.
Music And Film Industry
The Church has succeeded in producing highly talented musicians who continue to impact lives with meaningful lyrics. Examples of talented Christian Gospel artistes are Ebenezer Obey, Tope Alabi, Chioma Jesus, Nathaniel Bassey, Sinach, Frank Edwards etc. The Mount Zion Ministry has equally set the pace in Gospel film production that significantly shaped the lives of many young adults for good.