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The year is 1986 and the place is the outskirts of Lagos, Nigeria. At the time, the once enormously prosperous African country is still coming to terms with the unfolding reality of a sustained economic downturn and its perplexing impact on all aspects of social life. Unsurprisingly, many struggle to adjust to the disorienting socio-economic situation all around them. In a relatively serene corner of the nation, a dynamic pastor with a passion for soul-winning, evangelistic pursuits and an apostolic vision is having a quiet dialogue with God. The conversation soon turns to a divine offer to the preacher to request a gift for his forthcoming birthday. The pastor makes what, for many, would be a most astonishing entreaty: he asks the Lord for a miracle for every member of his church as a birthday present. God’s response? An instruction to invite everyone to a special meeting called the ‘Holy Ghost Service’. In obedience, this divine directive is carried out, thus birthing the monthly Holy Ghost Services at the Camp Ground of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) near Lagos.

Few would seriously dispute that the supernatural growth of the Holy Ghost Services hosted by the General Overseer of RCCG Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye soon came to epitomise the genesis of a spiritual revival in Nigeria which is beginning to spread to other parts of the world. Each month at the RCCG’s Redemption Camp, hundreds of thousands of worshippers now gather to worship the Lord, pray for nations and receive manifold blessings from the Lord. Interestingly, while praying ahead of one of the Holy Ghost Services, the Lord hands another pleasant surprise to Pastor Adeboye: permission to start similar Holy Ghost Services in the United Kingdom. The UK is understandably special to Pastor Adeboye as God had used him to plant the first parish of the RCCG in the country some years before in modest circumstances.

The story of the supernatural birth of the Holy Ghost Service and its spread around the world is best heard from Pastor Adeboye, as told again in response to an interview shortly before the Chicago Holy Ghost Service which took place in September 2016: “Festival of Life started some 30 years ago. I was approaching my birthday when I heard God speak loud and clear. He said, “Son, what do you want for your birthday?” Since I wasn’t aware that God could be interested in anybody’s birthday, least of all mine, I asked Him back, “Lord, please if that’s you, could you repeat the question?” And He repeated the question, and I told Him that all I want is that every member of my congregation would get a miracle.

“And He said “If that’s what you want, then gather them together and I would grant their requests. We did; it was supposed to be a one-off event, but there were so many miracles, so many testimonies as a result, that the people requested if the thing could become an annual event. And after some time, they requested, “Why can’t we have it every month?” So, in Nigeria every month, we have what we call the Holy Ghost Service – that is also called the Festival of Life. And because of the way God has been answering prayers at this all-night prayer meeting, it has become something that has gone outside of Nigeria … to other parts of the world.…”


Indeed, in the UK, the Festival of Life has grown phenomenally, being used by God as a platform for bringing together Christians of various denominations to pray in unity for revival in the country. The vision of birthing a spiritual revival that would inevitably permeate every other fabric of socio-economic and political life is, therefore, at the heart of the motivation of RCCG’s UK Chairman Pastor Agu Irukwu to keep growing the Festival of Life. Pastor Agu, as he is fondly called, is not daunted by the prevailing wave of post-modern thinking which now keeps many Britons away from church. He is unshaken in his focus that God’s hand is upon the vehicle of the Festival of Life and that through it, walls will come down which will ignite the spark for revival once again just like was witnessed in the days of the Welsh Revival of 1904 to 1905 which transformed the spiritual lives of many in Great Britain and beyond.

“Everywhere people hear about Festival of Life or Holy Ghost Service - whatever term you want to use - they want to come because thay have learnt from experince that when you attend, God does answer prayers at these meetings.”

Today, many in the wider body of Christ, the media and government acknowledge and celebrate what the Lord is doing through the Festival of Life in Britain. Worshippers at the Festival of Life have included such persons as the Archbishop of Canterbury Rt Rev Justin Welby who is the spiritual leader of the Church of England and Head of the Anglican Communion worldwide. Other leaders of the main Christian denominations in Britain regularly attend the Festival of Life to worship and pray as one, that God’s Kingdom may come once more in the nation. Public office holders including the former Prime Minister David Cameron have been in attendance, famously telling tens of thousands of worshippers that the Festival of Life has become an established part of British cultural landscape. Other senior public officials who have attended include the past Mayor of London and current UK Foreign Minister Boris Johnson, as well as senior British politician Stephen Timms MP amongst others.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Festival of Life charity Pastor (Dr) Shola Adeaga believes that people keep coming to the Festival of Life because “they have correlated FOL with the blessings they have received from God” and secondly, due to the fact that “the FOL has become a platform that speaks for Christians in the UK”. In an interview with Sunrise, Pastor Adeaga adds: “By God’s grace, the Festival of Life has become a phenomenon both within the Body of Christ and in the secular community.” “You can’t ignore 40,000 people; you can’t ignore the fastest-growing denomination in the country”, states Pastor Adeaga.


For what is easily the UK’s largest single gathering of Christians, the Festival of Life can only continue to record such significant impact spiritually and socially, given its divine foundations and the commitment of its facilitators to the God-given mandate for the assembly. As the Holy Spirit continues to move in the midst of God’s people and in the wider society, there is a conviction that great change is coming, one which will help birth a godly nation once again. As we celebrate 20 years of the Festival of Life in the UK, let somebody shout hallelujah!

By Yinka Oduwole



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