•How Pastor BOLAJI IDOWU Runs The Church
+Why His Early Morning Prayer Programme Is Popular
Pastor Bolaji Idowu is a young man with big dreams. He runs Harvesters International Christian Centre (HICC) Gbagada, Lagos as Lead Pastor and convenes The Next Level Prayers every Monday to Friday, from 6:30am.
The early Morning Prayer is so popular that people congregate from different nations of the world to pray. The faith of attendees is bolstered by mind-blowing testimonies of blocked fallopian tubes healed, DNAs changed, infertile women having babies, supernatural financial provision, and generational curses being broken.
Popularly called ‘the last bus stop’ by attendees, Pastor Bolaji boldly invites people with all sorts of issues to bring their problems to the Next Level Prayers.
He clocked 42 this year but his church can safely be said to be Lagos’ fastest growing church. Fondly called Pastor B by his congregants, Pastor Bolaji is greatly influenced by the ministry of Pastor Sam Adeyemi of Daystar Christian Centre. He started his ministry while studying Accounting as an undergraduate at the University of Lagos.
His liberal approach to Christianity attracts young people to his church. They flock to the church in their thousands every Sunday. For instance, the Lekki branch holds 4 services every Sunday! Even that seems not to be enough! To further accommodate the growing population of members, the church is embarking on a mega building project.
The Harvesters’ dream was birthed on the 13th of December, 2003, with a handful of people. Today, the church serves over 70,000 worshippers both online and onsite. With locations across Nigeria, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America, Harvesters has shown what’s possible with faith, determination, focus, and the right team.
As a church populated by young people, Harversters uses technology to reach people. The church is very active on social media. All their programmes are streamed live on Instagram, YouTube, Mixlr, Facebook, etc.
The Next Level Prayers is an outreach of the church that has taken a life of its own. People of all faiths and convictions meet every 6:30 am to 8am Monday to Friday to pray for divine intervention and settlement. Wikipedia says the program averages 50,000 attendees daily.
Other outreaches include the Harvesters Skill Acquisition Program (HSAP) which was launched in July 2016 to help the unemployed create businesses of their own. They’re taught vital life skills which help them fit into any environment they find themselves! There’s also the Prison Ministry established to restore hope in inmates and grant them any sort of assistance, be it legal, spiritual, educational, etc). There’s also the End Hunger Initiative to tackle the challenge of hunger in Nigeria. The goal is to ensure no family goes to bed hungry.
There’s also the Harvesters African Empowerment Foundation (HAEF), which is a non-profit established to provide help for the less-privileged in Africa, in the areas of education, entrepreneurship support, feeding programs, and support for IDPs.
Recently, the HAEF provided support for kids in Makoko area of Lagos. The foundation provided life jackets for the kids while going to school on the waters. The foundation also provided boats to ferry them to school in the riverine community. Philanthropy is really at the core for Harvesters!
When he clocked 40 last year, Pastor Bolaji gave out 4 Million to 40 entrepreneurs to mark the day.
Taking to Instagram to make the announcement, he wrote, “N100,000 /$250 for 40 emerging entrepreneurs, emphasis on ladies especially single mothers and widows .”
Community is also at the core for the church as congregants are encouraged to join small groups that can help them grow in their faith. This fulfills the discipleship mandate of the church.
One thing that stands Pastor Bolaji out is the fact that he’s transparent. He talks about his issues openly so people can relate to his messages. He also infuses humor in his messages.
He has also managed to create a safe place for people in his church. People openly talk about their issues without bothering about being judged or stigmatized.
The fact that he’s young is also a plus as congregants find him accessible and able to understand their issues. He can see things from their perspective and vice versa. He’s pastor to many celebrities including the late Tosyn Bucknor who died in 2018. He officiated at her funeral and said it was as if she had a premonition of her death. He said their last conversation lasted for 2 hours:
“Looking back it was as if she was just telling me ‘Just in case…when that day comes, you’ll know what to say,” he said. “The conversation we had that Saturday before she passed on Monday was the longest we’ve ever had…One of the difficult things as a pastor is to do this [conduct a funeral]…”
The church is a truly global church as its online church is attended by people from all over the world. The youth easily fall in love with the church, whose slogan is “Changing Lives.”
Pastor Bolaji is at the forefront of life-transformation and never shies away from talking about difficult life issues. He says that’s the way to resolve such thorny issues.
He’s also at the forefront of unity among Christian ministers for Kingdom expansion.
At a press conference to announce the fourth edition of the Chris Oyakhilome-led International School of Ministry (ISM) Global Ministers Classroom (GMC) conference in Lagos, last April, he said:
“The gospel is not about the church, and as a church, we must come together for the cause of the gospel; and as someone that has been impacted by the ministry of Pastor Chris Oyakhilome, I think there is a need to extend it to other ministers for them to be partakers.” All these and more make Harvesters the most desirable place to worship in Lagos. But, it has not always been roses. There are some thorns too!
Last May, Pastor Bolaji survived a gunshot attack from robbers in the early hours of the day, during a prayer walk. They wanted to collect his phones and wallet but he resisted them and they shot at him. They then drove off on a bike. But, the amazing thing about the attack is that the gunshot did not manifest on his body! He shared the testimony online, while giving all the glory to God. He has over 500k followers on Instagram.
Pastor Bolaji is married to Omowunmi, who pastors with him, and they have 3 children.
His wife is a Company Secretary/Legal Adviser. She works as a legal practitioner with extensive legal experience in Litigation, Dispute Resolution, Project Finance, Real Estate, Corporate Governance, Infrastructure and Employment Law. She earned her Bachelor of Laws Degree from the Olabisi Onabanjo University, and was thereafter called to the Nigerian Bar. She obtained a Master of Law degree in International Business Law from the University of Hull, United Kingdom and is also an associate member of the Charted Institute of Arbitrators, United Kingdom. In her role as Company Secretary in Ibile Holdings Limited, she oversees the Corporate Secretariat and the Legal Advisory Department.
An advocate for the entrenchment of Corporate Governance values in public institutions, Omowunmi’s strength lies in her dedication, attention to detail, intellectual prowess and her ability to bring her vast legal experience to the fore in her roles in both the public and private sector.
– IYABO OYAWALE
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