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The Redeemed Christian Church of God was founded in Nigeria in 1952 by Pa Josiah Akindayomi, who grew up illiterate in the West African country's southwestern tribal region. Nine people attended the church's first prayer meeting. Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye, a former mathematics professor, assumed leadership of the church in 1981 after Mr. Akindayomi's death. Under Mr. Adeboye's guidance, the church has established parishes in more than 90 countries, including China and Pakistan, and throughout Europe. There are 292 churches in North America.
World: 2 million to 5 million
United States: 25,000
North Texas: 2,500
To make heaven.
To take as many people as possible with us.
- Source: African church plans 'Christian Disneyland,' The Dallas Morning News, USA, July 16, 2005
The Redeemed Christian Church of God was founded in Lagos by men and women who were once the target of missionary work themselves. Now their church is one of the most aggressive evangelizers to emerge from the recent advance of Christianity across Africa, and their offices in the high-tech corridor of greater Dallas reflect the group's bold, entrepreneurial approach.
The Redeemed Church is part of a boom in African churches establishing American outposts. Jacob Olupona, a professor at the University of California, Davis, who compiles data on African congregations in this country, has found hundreds of examples in cities large and small.
"Anyone who writes about Christianity in America in the 21st century," Olupona said, "will have to write about African churches."
At the core of the shift are pastors from Nigeria. Over the last century, Christians in the West African nation have swelled from a tiny minority to nearly half the population, and its pastors have shown an exceptional talent for winning new believers abroad.
In the United States, the Redeemed Church is ahead of them all.
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