Josiah Akindayomi was born into a poor family and his parents were Ogun worshippers (Ogun is the god of iron in the Yoruba religion). His name at birth was actually Ogunribido Olufemi Akindolie (Ogunribido meaning Ogun has a place to stay).Josiah trained under a Traditional doctor in order to become a herbalist. In 1927 Josiah wanted a formal education therefore he joined the CMS school and started attending the Anglican Church in his village in Ondo State. It was here that he was converted and dropped the name Ogunribido adopting the name Josiah. He also stopped using his grand-father’s name Akindolie and started using Akindayomi his father’s name.
In 1931, in search of the spiritual he left CMS and joined the Cherubim and Seraphim Church. It was while he was in the C&S that he began to hear God’s call to be a prophet. Josiah, after resisting for a while he eventually yielded to this call in 1940. He was later officially recognised as a full-time C&S prophet and he moved about as an itinerant prophet praying with people to be healed and delivered from the power of darkness.
Josiah’s ministry became well known in Ife and Lagos. He became a specialist in praying for barren women to conceive. He soon started to invite people for Bible study and prayer in his house. This group was known as the Daily Prayer Band in 1947.Although this group function under C&S it developed its own character as people who were not from C&S also attended. Reports started pouring to the leaders of C&S that Josiah has started his own Church and was going to secede from them. The name of the group later changed to Egbe Ogo Oluwa (Glory of God Society) and due to their growth they soon needed a bigger place to meet. Someone in the group donated his property for the use of the new group. The news of a property confirmed the rumours that the elders of C&S had been hearing and Josiah and his group were expelled from the C&S Church in 1952. This is marked as the official starting date of RCCG.
The name of the group changed again to Ijo Ogo Oluwa (God’s glory Church) and during this period Josiah met friends who were from the Classic Pentecostal Churches and was influenced by the teaching of these Pentecostal Churches through their literatures. Still in 1952 the name of the Church changed to Ijo Irapada (the Redeemed Church).
The Church was later affiliated to the Apostolic Faith Mission of John G Lake in South Africa and in 1954 the name of the Church changed again into The Redeemed Apostolic Church. The affiliation ended in 1960 when Nigeria gained independence.
Later Akindayomi had a dream in which the words ‘Ijo Irapada ti Olorun’ were revealed to him. When he woke up he wrote this down. Akindayomi showed this to Mr Olonade an educated member of the Church who translated the words to ‘The Redeemed Christian Church of God’. Akindayomi came to the conclusion that God had revealed the name of the Church. God told Akindayomi that He would provide for the Church. God also told him that the Church RCCG would be unique becoming a model for other Churches and that the Church would spread to the ends of the earth. One of the objectives of the Church as documented by Akindayomi and the other Elders of the Church is to evangelise and establish Churches throughout the world. It is this vision that is translated into what we are seeing today.
Perhaps the greatest achievement of Josiah was in choosing his successor in the person of E.A. Adeboye who joined the Church in 1973 and later became Josiah’s interpreter. Josiah died in 1980 leaving behind 39 congregations in South-west Nigeria, but today, under the current General Overseer RCCG has become the fastest growing Church in Nigeria, Britain and the United States. The Church can be found all over the world with well established administration, Bible Colleges, Schools, a University, a TV station, numerous publications and an entire city in Nigeria (Redemption Camp). The Church also has one of the largest Christian gatherings in Church history through their Holy Ghost Congress which attracts millions of people. Festival of Life is the UK counterpart of Holy Ghost Congress and is one of the largest Christian Gatherings in Europe.
One of Adeboye’s visions when he became the leader of the Church was to plant a Church of the RCCG within five minutes walking or driving distance of every home worldwide. This vision has become the driving force within RCCG and this is why they are one of the fastest and the largest growing Church denominations in Nigeria. In the UK they have about 530 Churches.
To read more about the history of RCCG please see my book 20 Pentecostal Pioneers in Nigeria.