Pastor Raphael Adebayo has been giving back to South Dallas for the past 13 years

Pastor Rapheal Adebayo has been giving back to South Dallas for the past 13 years
By Olajumoke Lawal

Tell us about yourself and background, when did you join RCCG?

I was a Muslim from birth until December 3, 1998, when I met a man of God, who lead me to Jesus Christ. He was a co-passenger sitting beside me in a British Airways flight from London to Lagos. Prior to that, I had left Nigeria for the USA on July 7, 1995, with high hopes for success due to my faith in Islam and other spiritual powers. Reason being that, this faith had helped me overcome joblessness and poverty of many years after graduating from a university in Nigeria with a degree in Chemical Engineering. However, before the decision to fly to Nigeria in December 1998, this faith and its attendant powers seemed to no longer work and I needed a solution.

That conclusion was ignited by an incident in the fall of 1998, while working on my second Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering at the University of Texas at Arlington. That day, two ladies walked up to me and were trying to preach to me about Christ. In response to one of the statements made from the Holy Bible while speaking with them, I asked why the name of Prophet Mohammed was not mentioned in the Bible. After all, the names of other prophets like Abraham, Joseph, Moses, and many others were mentioned in the Qur’an, the Islamic holy book. One of the ladies responded saying it was because Mohammed was a fake prophet. That statement came as a stab to my soul. I wanted to hit her on the head. I stopped the conversation in anger and walked away. I began to speak to myself, analyzing and questioning my faith. For the first time, wondering whether Mohammed was fake or not. The foundation of my faith had been shattered by one fire-packed conversation.

After my conversion in the plane, I was in Nigeria for three months. It was a divine set up as I spent all the time under the tutelage of a man of God who heard about my conversion and decided to mentor me. During this period, God connected me with a lady who later became my fiancée and eventually my wife after two years. She was a worker in The Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG). She invited me to Lekki ’98, a Holy Ghost Service organized by RCCG, themed “Divine Visitation.” The LORD visited me and delivered me from every power that had held me captive. I was very attracted to the Bible and the promises therein of power above every other spiritual power. I discarded every token of Islamic or African spiritual power in my possession and every book or audio that used to inspire me prior to my conversion. I separated myself from my old friends and family members. My previous fellow Islamic clerics told me the power that the Bible promises is not real, and that some pastors secretly go to Islamic spiritualists for power. I told them to give me at least six months to try the validity in the powers acclaimed to be in the blood of Jesus.

On February 2nd,1999, I left Nigeria for my home in Arlington, Texas. When leaving Nigeria, my then fiancée, who is now my wife of 17 years told me to locate an RCCG parish and join the church. In obedience to my wife’s counsel, I immediately started making efforts to find one to commit to as a member. Four days later, I joined RCCG Heavens Glorious Embassy under Pastor Akinkoye. A few months after I joined, I went with Pastor Ropo Tusin and Pastor O.J. Kuye as part of their church planting team to start RCCG Household of Faith. There, I was fully mentored and trained as a church worker and disciple of our LORD Jesus Christ. Where does your passion for giving back come from? My passion for giving has come with me into Christendom from my Islamic heritage. When I began to study the Bible, I gained an understanding that the God of the Bible is generous, almost to a fault. Consequently, the entirety of the Christian faith is based on giving because God so loved the world, He sacrificed His only begotten Son to save the world from the oppressions of the devil. Jesus lived His entire life to serve people and was willing to die like a suicide bomber, not to save Himself but to save the lives of others. Jesus’ death on the cross was a strategic operation to destroy the devil and his works. My study of the Bible also brought me to the realization that notable men and women of God became and remained great because they were addicted givers. They gave to the point of bleeding! Curiously, they were not necessarily givers to their natural family but, they lived to please others; many a times, to the discomfort of their biological families. My findings reinforced my faith in giving and now, I have begun to experience that God will not allow givers to be stranded in the journey of life.

What has been your most rewarding experience? God is faithful, reliable, and dependable. He never fails on His promises. We started our church on the street, at the corner of Malcom X and Martin Luther King Blvd in Dallas on my 41st birthday, by feeding the homeless and ministering to them. Our firstborn daughter was eleven months’ old then. On that day, twenty-eight people gave their lives to Jesus. Until that day, I had never attended any meeting where so many souls were won at a time. This singular experience stirred up my heart for a ministry to the needy and homeless. On May 30, 2004, we had our first service in the chapel of a funeral home. We began buying chicken dinners to feed the homeless weekly from the little resources we had.

One day, I experienced a supernatural supply of chicken dinners. I called a man to buy chicken from him so we could feed fifty homeless people; instead, he decided to give us the chicken for free. In one of his musings to me over time, he wondered aloud if perhaps God had provided him with his chicken business because of our ministry. Since that first day, that man has been faithfully supplying us chicken dinners to feed an average of 100 people every Tuesday evening. It has been over 13 years now. We moved from the funeral home chapel on August 1, 2004 to our present location as tenants with a rent of $1,100.00 a month. God sent someone to us, as a parish member, who paid the rent without fail or lateness for twelve months. In that first year, the same person paid all our expenses to the annual national convention of the denomination to which our church belongs. How can you be supported? We thank God for all the support they LORD has provided us with so far. We are about to complete building our new soup kitchen and community center. We need help to complete this project in the following itemized ways: We want to pour concrete on the parking lot. We plan to build public shower and restroom stalls to alleviate the suffering of the local homeless population. Regular financial support will empower us to reach out to more souls. Scholarships to train and empower homeless people to be in ministry. We need your prayers so we can stay focused. What message do you have for others thinking of giving back? The ministry of rehabilitation and empowerment is very rewarding. There is always favor awaiting people who are ready to take hope to the hopeless and a future to the dying. There are too many people dying from ignorance of the true love of God. We are blessed to be blessings. I pray that our testimony will encourage someone to step out and be a blessing. We are ready to share our experience and resources with anyone who desires to reach out to their local community too. Olajumoke Lawal is the Personal Assistant to the Chairman of RCCGNA.