Sunday Adelaja is the founder and head pastor of the Embassy of the Blessed Kingdom of God for All Nations, an independent charismatic church centered in Kyiv. Embassy, claiming 25,000 congregants, is the largest evangelical church in Europe.
You are the most prominent leader at Embassy of God. Do you think it would stand without you?
Oh yeah. That's why I only do one out of 40 services every Sunday. With all the attacks that I have and with all the criticism, I know that I will not be here forever. So I needed to do the church in such a way that even the people who are here when I preach—I do it in a such a way that they are not attached to me.
Many evangelical pastors admit that many of their congregants participated in the Orange Revolution, but they won't say they instigated it. Yet you claim responsibility.
I claim responsibility that the Christian church here played a role. When the rigging of the election was going on, people went ahead and went out following the example [of] what we had done. We were calling people to come out to join, to fight for democracy. No other church did that because everybody was afraid. You see, it's also a unique thing in this culture that anybody at all, especially a religious leader, a pastor, would be bold to tell people what to do. But I'm not from here originally. I don't have the Soviet limitation. I don't care. I'm just doing the will of God.
What is your relationship to leaders of other churches?
Everybody is so skeptical. People all over Ukraine don't understand what this is. They're saying, "Maybe you are being sponsored by Americans. Maybe you are an agent of the cia. Maybe you use black magic like black people."
The Christians know that we don't do that. But even the evangelicals are skeptical. They are not skeptical of the gospel we preach. They are not skeptical of the salvations. They are only skeptical of the methods, that we are too aggressive, that we have too many claims to the government.
We believe that the gospel as a call doctrine should not just influence the four walls of the church. Go out and influence the political life. Go out and influence the economic life of the people. Go out and influence education, media, entertainment, sports. So that's what we encourage people to do. When I do it [other evangelicals] say, "You are causing problems for us. So we don't like you."
What is your greatest hope for your church?
The church is like my platform. My auditorium is the nation. My audience is the nations. So my hope is more for the nation. I care less for the church, because it's just a platform.
Do you preach prosperity gospel teachings?
Health and wealth—rubbish! Especially the Orthodox [accuse me of preaching] this. I'm writing a book, actually, that is going to be against the prosperity message the way it has been preached in America. But because we still do offerings and tithe and many influential people come here, people just put us in that category, because it is one of the most effective ways to attack.
Copyright © 2008 Christianity Today. Click for reprint information.
This article accompanied "Faith and Hope in Ukraine."
Today's Christianprofiled Adelaja in 2005.
Wunderink also reported on the mayoral elections in Kyiv last spring and spoke with Catherine Wanner about the development of evangelicalism in Ukraine.
The Kyiv Post, The New York Times, and other newspapers have updated information about the breakdown of Ukraine's government.
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