By TOPE ADEBOBOYE
It was an extraordinary spectacle in Ikorodu; an unusual sight in an unusual night. Two hundred men and women arrayed in purple, black and yellow, vocalising an assortment of praise songs from sundown till sunrise. A dozen drummers and instrumentalists, standing atop an aesthetically decorated stage, producing a pleasant cocktail of vibrant, soul-lifting worship songs.
Men and women, clad in local outfit, shaking the horsetails in a rhythmic blend as they engaged in vigorous Igbo, Ekiti and Zulu dance steps. Fire-spitting men of God, raining down curses on all causes of failure in the coming year, and 15, 000 energetic souls, singing, dancing and screaming Hallelujahs from dusk till the crack of dawn. It was an exceptional night inside the expansive grounds of the Ikorodu Town Hall. Indeed, that sprawling, usually boisterous community in Lagos would not forget Saturday, December 7, 2012 in a hurry.
On that night, the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Covenant of Peace Parish, Ikorodu, shepherded by Pastor Olaitan Aromolaran, held its much-awaited night of praises, tagged Convocation to Praise. Inside the town hall, the congregants brought the heavens down, puncturing the peace of the night with 365 hallelujahs, as they praised God for the enablement to witness the final days of this fading year. Aromolaran, pastor of the parish who doubles as zonal pastor, Zone 1 of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Lagos Province 16, said the event was a direct instruction from God. “When the vision came a few months ago, and God said we should gather people in their numbers to give him what had never been given to him before, it appeared like a strange request.
What does one give God that had never been given to him before? I thought it was one huge amount of money, and I was wondering where one could have access to such money. But it was later revealed that what God wanted was a gathering of thousands of people who would shout 365 hallelujahs in one night. Since then, we started trusting God for a successful programme. And we thank God that it turned out a great success,” the pastor told Daily Sun.
It was, indeed, a successful night. The event was to commence by 7pm, but by midday, the organisers were wondering whether the venue would contain the crowd. Pastor Wilson Idemudia, the programme coordinator, said by noon, all the 10, 000 seats initially arranged at the venue had been filled up. A few thousands chairs were brought in later, but the crowd was more than the seats. Many were those that stood on their feet all through the night. By late afternoon and early evening, driving to the Ikorodu Town Hall had become a knotty venture.
All the adjoining roads had been blocked, and even commercial motorbikes had a hectic time snaking through the narrow paths. Security was tight at the venue, with gun-toting, baton-wielding policemen parading the premises. Members of the security and protocol team of the parish, led by Tayo Oladipupo, also ensured that nothing went amiss. Vendors of assorted items, including soft drinks, snacks, candies and the like made brisk business selling their wares. The programme commenced with a cantata, a medley of songs and instrumentation by the Joy Cometh Praise Team whose members were garbed in dark suits and white shirts.
The night resonated with the rhythm as the congregation sang along, the music accentuated by the giant speakers mounted around the expansive grounds. This continued till 9.30pm when a praise and worship session commenced. A couple of kids – boys and girls – danced round the venue, each waving a white flag on which was inscribed Hallelujah. At 10.32, Pastor Idemudia invited a female minister, Deaconess Odusina to read from the Book of Psalms. Shortly after, a group, Footprints of David, – a group of young boys and girls – thrilled the crowd with South African music. As soon as they were done, the Covenant of Peace Dancers entertained the crowd.
They were later replaced on the state by the Teens and Children’s choir of the parish. When they were done, the mass choir, numbering over 200 choristers, filed out in style. Directed by Pastor Ebenezer Shofowora, the women were arrayed in purple gowns and yellow scarves, while the men donned purple shirts, black trousers and yellow bow ties. Among the choristers was popular actor, Funsho Adeolu. For 30 minutes, they sang various songs, backed up by the piano, saxophones, trumpets, and assorted drumbeats. Just before midnight, one of the visiting ministers, Pastor Oriola was summoned to lead the first set of 73 hallelujahs.
He spoke briefly on why men must embrace the Dancing God. At his prompting, a long, loud echo resonated through the night, as 15, 000 voices each let out a thunderous yell of six dozen hallelujahs. After that, the Igbole Ekiti-born Pastor Olaitan Aromolaran was introduced to the crowd. He appeared on the altar briefly, attired in dark suit and purple shirt. Another visiting pastor, Prophet Tokunbo Richman, was then invited to lead the crowd to chant the next set of 73 hallelujahs. A popular gospel artiste, Evangelist Ayino Owoeye was invited to lead the excited congregants in a session of worship songs and choruses.
That over, Prophet Olowoporoku, General Overseer, Love of Christ Chapel International, mounted the podium to lead the next session of hallelujahs. Telling his congregation that only a Christ-filled life could guarantee eternal happiness, he urged those willing to give their lives to Christ to come on stage. Many were those that trooped to the podium to take the altar call. The last set of 73 hallelujahs was conducted by Pastor Aromolaran just after another session of songs by the mass choir. He expressed gratitude to God for making the day realisable. Insisting that there had never been such a session where Christians would shout 365 hallelujahs to God in a single sitting, Aromolaran prayed that God would do something unique in the lives of the congregants.
He also explained how the event came about. “At the beginning of this year, the Lord said to me, ‘I will take an offering from you.’ I thought it was something else. But six months ago, in the midst of revelation, the lord said, ‘you’re not yet big enough to give me money. What I want from you is that you will gather my people together, and they will shout 365 hallelujahs to me.
Because, in 2013, I will walk through the land, but those that come to shout hallelujah will only be bigger.’” He also prayed for specific groups and individuals, and offered prayers for the Ikorodu monarch, his chiefs and other leaders of the community before the event was rounded off at the break of dawn.