Visitors who drove into Greenville, Texas, just a few years ago always spotted an amazingly insensitive sign that read: “WELCOME TO GREENVILLE, THE BLACKEST LAND, THE WHITEST PEOPLE.”
I am sure African-Americans did not feel welcome in this sleepy community—which is situated 50 miles east of Dallas in the middle of the Texas cotton belt. Of course, black people did not feel welcome in any part of east Texas until recently. The region around Greenville has been a hotbed of Ku Klux Klan activity, and Texas has the dubious distinction of having the third-highest number of lynchings in American history. (Mississippi and Georgia are first and second.)
But things are changing today. Greenville’s black population has grown to 18 percent. The offensive sign was relocated to a museum and the slogan was removed from a water tower. And on the outskirts of town, in a tiny community called Floyd, you will be amazed to find that Christians from Nigeria are building their U.S. headquarters on a huge piece of farmland.
"What is the RCCG’s growth secret? I suspect it has something to do with their commitment to prayer, fasting and faith in God’s supernatural power."
Last month I drove from Dallas to Greenville to see this miracle firsthand and to interview Enoch Adeboye, the leader of the 5-million-member Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG). A Pentecostal denomination established in Lagos, Nigeria, in 1952, the RCCG is now one of the fastest-growing church networks in the world. There are already more than 300 RCCG churches in the United States.
No one would expect an African church headquarters to land on this site. When you turn off the lonely highway in Floyd into Redemption Camp, as the property is known, all you see is a newly paved road in a wooded area. But after a quarter mile the RCCG’s new American headquarters building is visible. It contains a 700-seat auditorium along with offices. The church plans to buy more land around the site for dormitories, cabins, a 10,000-seat arena and even a water park.
Adeboye sees God’s hand all over this project. “A man told us that the Lord instructed him to buy this property several years ago,” Adeboye told me, looking out the window at the flat, 500-acre plot of scrubland.. “Then he sold it to us for the original price.”
The first time I interviewed Adeboye, in December 2001, we were at the Nigerian version of Redemption Camp, an 18,000-acre compound outside Lagos where more than 2 million people gather for the group’s annual Holy Ghost Congress. During one of the evening services I walked into the audience at a steady clip for 25 minutes before reaching the back of the crowd.
I’d never seen that many people in my life. Today I am wondering if 2 million Christians will one day show up at the American RCCG facility near Greenville. Knowing the aggressive nature of these Nigerians, and their infectious zeal for prayer and evangelism, it is entirely possible.
James O. Fadele, the RCCG’s national spokesperson, says his church’s aim is lofty: “Our goal is to plant churches within 10 minutes’ drive in every developed nation and within five minutes’ walk in every developing nation, until every nation in the world is reached for Jesus Christ our Lord.”
What is the RCCG’s growth secret? I suspect it has something to do with their commitment to prayer, fasting and faith in God’s supernatural power.
Adeboye smiled as he told me the story of his first visit to the United States in the 1980s. When he and a few other RCCG leaders held an informal prayer meeting in a hotel room in Tulsa, Okla., a manager came to the door to ask what kind of machinery they were operating in their suite.
“The man said there was a loud vibration coming from our room, and he thought we were using some kind of equipment,” Adeboye said. The hotel suffered severe structural damage, according to Adeboye, because of the unusual shaking originating from that room. “But we were just having a prayer meeting,” he insists.
What Adeboye describes as “just a prayer meeting” obviously shook something in the spiritual realm and triggered a revival that is being felt on every continent today. Ironically, that revival is bringing thousands of praying Africans to cities all over the United States—including a small town in Texas where white supremacists once spread their hatred.
J. Lee Grady is editor of Charisma. He met with the Rev. Enoch Adeboye last month to discuss the launching of the new Charisma Africa, a new edition of the magazine that will be published simultaneously in Kenya and Nigeria beginning early in 2008. Charisma readers are urged to support this project by making donations to our nonprofit partner, Christian Life Missions. You can donate by going to, www.christianlifemissions.org, or by writing Christian Life Missions, P.O. Box 952248, Lake Mary, FL 32795-2248. The new magazine will be a tool to unite, inspire and equip the African church to fulfill their evangelistic mission. All gifts for this project are tax-deductible.