David O. Oyedepo (born September 27, 1954) is a Nigerian Christian author, architect, preacher, the founder and presiding Bishop of the megachurch Faith Tabernacle in Ota, Ogun State, Nigeria, and Living Faith Church Worldwide, also known as Winners’ Chapel. Oyedepo is the senior pastor of Faith Tabernacle, a 50,000 seat church auditorium, reported to be the largest church auditorium in the world by the Guinness Book of Records.
The Winners’ Chapel network of churches is located in over 300 cities, in all states of Nigeria, as well as, in several cities in 45 African nations, Dubai, the United Kingdom and the United States. Oyedepo has been seen as one of the pioneers of the Christian charismatic movement in Africa and has been referred to as one of the most powerful preachers in Nigeria. He is the Chancellor of Covenant University and Landmark University. He was named in 2011 by Forbes magazine as being the richest pastor in Nigeria.
Early Life and History of Bishop David Oyedepo
On September 27, 1954 David Olaniyi Oyedepo was born in Osogbo, Nigeria, but is a native of Omu-Aran, Kwara State, Nigeria. He was raised in a mixed religious family His father, Ibrahim, was a Muslim healer. His mother, Dorcas, was a member of the Eternal Order of the Cherubim and Seraphim Movement (C&S), a branch of the Aladura movement in Nigeria. He was raised by his grandmother in Osogbo, who introduced him to the virtues of Christian life via early morning prayers which she attended with him. She also taught him the importance of tithing.
Oyedepo was born again in 1969, through the influence of his teacher, Betty Lasher, who took special interest in him during his high school days. He studied Architecture at the former Kwara State Polytechnic, now Kwara State University and worked briefly with the Federal Ministry of Housing in Ilorin before resigning to concentrate on missionary work. Oyedepo received a Ph.D. in Human Development from Honolulu University, Hawaii, United States.
Early Christian Life
Oyedepo claimed to have received a mandate from God through an 18-hour vision in May 1981, to liberate the world from all oppression of the devil through the preaching of the word of faith. This is the inaugural vision that led to the founding of the Living Faith Church World Wide (LFCWW), first called Liberation Faith Hour Ministries, in 1981. Two years later, on September 17, 1983, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, ordained David and his wife, Florence Abiola Akano (known as Faith Abiola Oyedepo) to become pastors and officially commissioned the new church. Five years later, Oyedepo was ordained as Bishop.
Living Faith Church AKA Winners Chapel
Living Faith Church (AKA Winners Chapel) started in Kaduna but moved to Lagos, the former capital of Nigeria in July 1989, to start a new branch of the church after Oyedepo claimed to have received instructions from God to reach out to the people of Lagos.
Oyedepo is the wealthiest preacher in Nigeria with a net worth of over USD $150 million. The church owns four private jets and several buildings around the world, including London and the United States. Oyedepo is an author and publisher who has written over 70 titles apart from periodicals. He is the Chairman/Publisher of Dominion Publishing House (DPH), a publishing arm of the ministry. DPH has over 4 million prints in circulation to date. Through Oyedepo Covenant University, Faith Academy and Kingdom Heritage Schools have been established to equip the youth for global impact. The construction of a third university named Crown University is already underway, located in Calabar, Cross Rivers, Nigeria.
Faith Tabernacle was reported as the Worlds’ Largest Church Auditorium in December 2005
Bishop Oyedepo claims that in 1998 he was instructed by God to build a new base for the Commission to accommodate the increasing number of worshippers. This resulted in Bishop Oyedepo’s church’s acquisition of the initial 530-acre (2.1 km2) facility, known as Canaanland, which serves as the headquarters. It is the home of the 50,000-seat capacity auditorium, the ‘Faith Tabernacle’, which is reputed to be the largest church auditorium in the world. This was a feat also recorded by the Guinness Book of Records.
Construction was completed within 12 months. Reports also claimed that this building was built debt free. This 50,000-seat edifice was dedicated on September 18, 1999 under the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Canaanland is in Ota, Ogun state and is the 5,000-acre (20 km2) estate and campus, that houses The 50,000 church building, the church secretariat, the church’s youth chapel, a primary school called Kingdom heritage model school, a full boarding mission secondary school called Faith Academy, with over 1,500 students and the Covenant University facilities, which accommodates over 7,000 students, fully resident in ultra-modern hostel facilities, with fully equipped faculty buildings and numerous staff housing facilities. Canaanland campus also has for profit establishments operated by the church such as a bakery, a bottled water processing plant, a petrol station, various restaurants and shopping stores, several residential houses that provide for the over 2,000 church employees, and guest houses. Four banks are also present on this Estate, three of which are branches of external commercial banks and one which is a community and micro-finance Bank and operated by the Church. The whole of Canaanland which includes a proposed 15,000 housing estate known as Canaan City had increased to 17,000 acres as at 2012.
The teachings of Oyedepo has put him in the category of what is commonly called the Word of Faith Movement. He has referred to principal exponents of the Faith Movement such as Kenneth Copeland, Gloria Copeland, the late Kenneth Hagin, E. W. Kenyon, T. L. Osborn, Smith Wigglesworth as well as renowned Nigerian preachers Enoch Adeboye and the late Benson Idahosa as mentors.
His Winners Chapel operates a Bible training programme known as Word of Faith Bible Institute for members and non-members alike to develop knowledge of Christian principles and to develop leaders and future pastors. This institute is run in major branches of the Church.
Oyedepo is the President of David Oyedepo Ministries International (DOMI). DOMI is the umbrella organisation comprising Living Faith Church World Wide (a global network of churches), World Mission Agency (WMA); the global missionary arm of the church’s operations, Dominion Publishing House; the publishing arm of the church, Covenant University, and the Social Development Missions projects (made up of hospitals, maternity homes, schools, etc.
Oyedepo has criticised corruption in Africa as a whole and poor leadership in government.
Oyedepo’s church also operates its own publishing house, called Dominion Publishing House (DPH), commissioned on December 5, 1992 which has published over 70 Christian, inspirational and motivational books, mini books, magazines and other resources. Some of his authored books include:
- Pillars of Destiny
- Signs and Wonders Today
- Anointing for Exploits
- Understanding Financial Prosperity
- The Healing Balm
- The Force of Freedom
- Walking in the Newness of Life
- Exploits in Ministry
- The Unlimited Power of Faith
- Winning Prayer
- Success Strategies
- Breaking Financial Hardship
- In Pursuit of Vision
- Understanding Divine Direction
- The Winning Wisdom
- Understanding the Power of Praise
- Releasing the Supernatural
- Walking in the Miraculous
- Anointing for Breakthrough
- Understanding Vision
- Towards Excellence in Life and Ministry
- Success Systems
- Understanding the Anointing
- Exploits of Faith
- The Blood Triumph
- Satan Get Lost
Marriage and Family Life
In 1982 he married Florence Abiola Akano (now known as Faith). They have four children together (David Jr, Isaac, Love and Joys). David Jr and Isaac Oyedepo were ordained as Pastors in May 2007 by Kenneth Copeland. David Jr formerly pastors the London Branch of the Church with his wife, Kemi but now the resident pastor of the Ministry’s headquarters church (Faith Tabernacle) while Isaac Oyedepo pastors Winners’ Chapel International, South Africa with his wife Ayomitide.