“SOMETHING IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN!”
Whenever he says that, your senses cannot but tingle in expectation and sudden hope – in spite of yourself, and in spite of whatever it is you may be going through right then.
There is something electrifying about Pastor Paul Adeolu Adefarasin. Perhaps it is his personal magnetism and charisma. Perhaps it is the power of his words as he expounds on the Word of God in that baritone voice that rumbles with thunderous authority, a voice that echoes in and of itself like the biblical sound of many waters. Or perhaps it is the Midas aura he exudes, as if he can – with just an utterance – turn miry clay into purest gold.
In a way, Pastor Adefarasin is indeed an alchemist, albeit on a higher, spiritual, dimension. And the gold he forges is both earthly and ethereal in nature.
He is, of course, the Prelate and Metropolitan Senior Pastor of the House on the Rock Church, a spiritual organisation headquartered in Lagos, Nigeria, with branches in Port Harcourt and Abuja, as well as in Johannesburg, South Africa and London, UK. From its humble beginnings in 1994, the House on the Rock has been positioned to become ‘the hand of power, the voice of excellence, and a bridge of hope for the hopeless.’ According to its leadership, the ministry has been built upon obeying the Scriptures and following the Holy Spirit, a mission anchored on an unflinching and unshakeable belief in the ability of God’s hand and Word to bring transformative change to any situation, no matter how pathetic it may be.
Adefarasin is also the Convener and Host of The Experience Lagos Gospel Concert, an annual Christian music and entertainment showcase which is arguably the largest gospel musical event in Africa. Holding in Lagos every December, it boasts record attendances in excess of 600, 000 on a single night.
Adefarasin has also served as a senior executive of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN).
From his elevated perch, he has overseen a veritable avalanche of transformations: in the way the Christian message is being disseminated in Nigeria; in the evolution of the Pentecostal movement; and in a veritable revolution in the profile and fortunes of the Gospel music ecosystem.
The Experience Concert, in particular, is arguably the most eloquent expression of Pastor Adefarasin’s investment in human capacity – especially in the arts, and music in particular. He is an avowed believer in the power of music to minister to the soul in a way that mere words (oral or written) cannot. Its redemptive power, which is always on display at each annual edition of the Concert since its debut in 2006, is a confirmation (if confirmation were still needed) of Pastor Adefarasin’s decision to use it as a platform to touch souls, change lives, transform families, communities and societies, and influence the most far-reaching spiritual outcomes. The incredible success of the event, year after year, is a resounding vindication of the authenticity of its creator’s vision – and the potency of God’s amazing grace. Even the 2020 Covid pandemic lockdown, which forced a scaling-down of the event, only served to whet the appetite, among the faithful, for its full return.
In addition to the brightest stars in the Nigerian and international Gospel music firmament who have performed at successive editions of the Experience Concert, Pastor Adefarasin’s assiduous promotion and sponsorship of individual artistes speaks volumes about his commitment to their growth and success, and to the ascendancy of music as an indispensable tool for the propagation of the timeless creed of Christ in Nigeria and beyond. A prime example among the beneficiaries of his benevolence in this regard is Moses Bliss. Bliss, whose real name is Moses Bliss Uyoh Enang, is a Nigerian gospel singer, worship leader, songwriter and record label executive. He came to the spotlight with the release of his first single, ‘E No Dey Fall My Hand‘ in 2017. He consolidated his image as a major talent with the hit songs, ‘Too Faithful‘ in 2019 and ‘You I Live For‘ in 2020. Other songs from his stable include ‘Bigger Everyday’; ‘Miracle’; ‘Grateful’; ‘Daddy Wen Dey Pamper’; and ‘Miracle No Dey Tire Jesus.’ Bliss hasn’t looked back since then. His songs have now become a staple in churches nationwide, and at social events such as weddings and the like – and he has the awards and accolades to show for his virtuosity.
In a sense, Adefarasin’s investment in the art of music, and his promotion of talented Gospel musicians, has given him the image of a modern-day Medici. The Medicis were a famous Italian banking family which rose to prominence in the Kingdom of Florence in the 15th century on account of their great wealth. They used this wealth, in part, to act as patrons to a wide range of artists, thinkers, architects, philosophers and other intellectuals. Their stupendous investment in talent and the way they brought together a wide and diverse range of skilled and curious people to Florence, made that Kingdom a glittering centre of enlightenment, and sparked a flurry of innovation that manifested in the phenomenon known as the Italian Renaissance (rebirth). The Medicis were responsible for a high proportion of the major Florentine works of art created during their period of rule. Their support was extremely critical, since artists of the time usually began work on their projects ONLY after they had received commissions from wealthy patrons. Among them, Lorenzo de Medici stood out. Also known as Lorenzo the Magnificent, he was an artist in his own right, and an author of poetry and song. His support of the arts and letters is seen as a high point in Medici patronage – and the high point of the Renaissance.
Interestingly, like their 21st century Nigerian counterpart and his siblings, among the Medicis were a number of clergymen also – including FOUR who went on to become Roman Catholic Popes, namely, Pope Leo X; Pope Clement VII; Pope Pius IV and Pope Leo XI.
And like Lorenzo the Magnificent, in fact, Adedarasin is something of an artiste himself; in 2011, he collaborated with Nigerian artistes such as Niki Laoye, Segun Obe, Sammie Okposo, and the saxophonist Mike Aremu to produce a music album. Also like Lorenzo, who – as already mentioned, was a poet and author – Adefarasin is also the author of over 20 motivational Christian books, among them, ‘Something is About to Happen’, and ‘The Call for a Performing Generation’.
Pastor Adefarasin’s motivation in promoting extraordinary ability in the arts, and his belief in the innate potential of every human being, may be found in his own life-journey. Born on January 25, 1963 to an affluent family, his father, Hon Justice Joseph Adetunji Adefarasin served as the Chief Judge of Lagos State from November 1974 to April 1985, while his Jamaican-born mother, Hilda Joanne Adefarasin was a professional nurse who later became the President of the National Council of Women Societies (NCWS). His siblings include Pastor Wale Adefarasin (currently the Senior Pastor of Guiding Light Assembly Church in Lagos); Pastor (Ms.) Adebola Adefarasin of the Hephzibah House of Prayer, Lagos; Pastor (Mrs.) Yinka Ogundipe; and Apostle Adeyemi Adefarasin of the Kingdom Lifeline Apostolic Ministries International.
The young Paul attended St Saviour’s School in Ikoyi and Igbobi College in Yaba – both in Lagos. His secondary school education was in Haileybury College in England, after which he studied for a Bachelor of Arts degree in Architecture at the University of Miami, Florida, USA. He practiced in Florida for a while – with the firm of Baldwin, Sackman, and Carrington Architects. before returning to Nigeria. He also holds a Diploma in Christian Ministry from the International Bible Institute of London, UK.
The impetus for Pastor Adefarasin’s foray into ministry and philanthropy can be attributed to what happened during a low point in his life. During his American sojourn, this son of a Judge and a nurse, experimented with – and eventually got hooked to – DRUGS. Till date, Adefarasin credits the intervention of the Lord Jesus Christ for his break from addiction. His conversion to Christianity in 1994 gave him the resolve to devote his life to the service of the Saviour, and set him on the momentous path to ministry upon his return to Nigeria.
Like the tiny acorn that, in the fullness of time, for grows into a gigantic oak tree, the House on the Rock Church has grown from humble beginnings to become one of the largest in Nigeria – with over 40 branches across Africa and Europe.
Adefarasin, who is proud to identify as a committed mentee of the influential American preacher, Bishop T.D Jakes (and has been compared to him in various quarters) has over the years carved a niche for preaching the message of hope in the face of despair.
In addition to expounding on the Word of God from the pulpit, Adefarasin is also the host of a weekly television program “Something is About to Happen”, which has also seen many lives blessed and transformed.
Love never fails, wrote Pastor Adefarasin’s biblical namesake – Apostle Paul – almost two millennia ago, in 1st Corinthians 13: 8a. The latter-day Paul has not only taken this principle of love (which, according to the Apostle in verses 4 – 7 is ‘patient … kind … is not jealous … does not brag … is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly … does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things….”) to heart, he has built an entire life, career and ministry on it. His is an all- encompassing and passionate love for Nigeria and Africa, towards whose betterment he has invested vast amounts of resources, time and energy – and for which reason, for example, he established The Rock Foundation; a Christ-centred charity committed to social reformation, the provision of healthcare, education, and relief of work for drug addicts, ex-convicts, prostitutes, and the less privileged in Nigeria and beyond.
It is not hard to see where his empathy for the seemingly down-and-out (and drug addicts in particular) comes from. He’s been down that road before. That’s why it’s easy to believe him when he waxes lyrical about the power of love and the potency of the Gospel of Jesus to change lives – and when he says, as he often does, that, “The crucible of your dysfunction is the opportunity for God’s presence.”
Pastor Adefarasin is also the Founder of the PETRA Coalition, through which he has mentored many other pastors.
This combination of power and simplicity in the exposition of the Word of God and the propagation of the Christian faith is the reason Pastor Paul Adefarasin is loved by his congregation and cherished amongst believers across the globe. His ability to demystify hard spiritual truths in language that is easy to understand and relate to, has helped him achieve a ministry that has promoted reconciliation, redemption, love, and reformation.
Along with his wife, Pastor Ifeanyi Adefarasin, a former beauty queen, and now a noted minister, coach, mentor and conference speaker (whom he married in 1995, and with whom he has 3 children), Pastor Adefarasin has built an institution with a clear mandate based on a message of hope, healing and empowerment. And in the process he has earned a well-deserved reputation as a visionary leader and bridge-builder of global dimensions.