The Living Faith World Outreach Centre (LFWOC) also known as The Living Faith Church or Winners‘ Chapel was founded by Brother David Olaniyi Oyedepo in 1981. The church was commissioned in Kwara State, Northern Nigeria on September 17, 1983 and Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye of the Redeemed Christian Church of God commissioned the ministry. At inception, Pastor David Oyedepo was instructed to move to Kaduna. The Kaduna Church consisted of four members and started on December 11, 1983.
During a Powerhouse meeting in April 1982, Brother David Oyedepo listed seven areas where God had spoken to him concerning the future of the ministry. He stated that “at the base of the commission will be a tent which will sit 50,000 people”. He stated that very soon there will be millions gathering at the base to listen to the gospel.
He added that he saw them flying with the gospel on wings which showed that soon the ministry will have her own aircraft. He added that the whole world will soon be able to hear the message of the commission from the base. At that time, the internet as we know it today was not in view.
At the inception of the ministry, David Oyedepo got instruction to commit the spoken word into writing with the same measure of proof. This led to the establishment of the Dominion Publishing House which won the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Gold Award in 1996 and has produced over 5 million books till date.
In 1987 while in the United States he got an instruction from God to “Get back home and make my people rich”. This served as a major thrust for the prosperity message of the commission. He was ordained as a “Bishop” by the late Archbishop Benson Idahosa of the Church of God Mission in 1988.
During the church’s Easter faith convention in April 1987, Pastor David Oyedepo announced that the church was to begin to spread out and on 27 May,1987, exactly a month later, the first five branches of the church were established in Mubi, Azare, Biu, Maiduguri and Bauchi. In 1989, Bishop Oyedepo received a vision from God to “Get down to Lagos and raise me a people”.
This set the stage for the Lagos branch to start up in September 1989 with the name “Winners Chapel”. The first service in Lagos had about 300 people in attendance. By December 1993, the Lagos church had 3,000 worshippers and by December 1994 it had increased to 10,000 members. In 1996, Archbishop Benson Idahosa was invited to dedicate the church’s Iyana Ipaja facility located at Raji Oba street.
This consisted of a 3,000 seater auditorium with overflow facilities for 30,000 as well as an eight (😎 floor tower which was the World Mission Agency headquarters. This $100 million (N15 Billion) facility was already largely inadequate in less than 2 years of its existence. The church membership increased to 75,000 in single services by the middle of 1999.
The name “Winners Chapel” soon became the popular name of the church even more so than the original name “The Living Faith World Outreach Centre” (LFWOC). Kaduna worshippers however still love to refer to the Kaduna Church as ” Garden of Faith or Living Faith”. The Dominion Cathedral at the Garden of Faith was dedicated on December 1 1995. The Garden of Faith is the national headquarters of the church. In 1993, the Vice-President of the Living Faith Church and then senior Pastor of the Maiduguri church, Pastor David Abioye was ordained “Bishop”. Bishop Abioye is an exemplary leader and an epitome of faithfulness in the Living Faith church and christendom as a whole.
Driving back to Kaduna from Zaria after a meeting on May 4 1994, Bishop Oyedepo heard a call from God that “The harvest of Africa was over-ripe and that he should rush in and preserve it from decadence”. On May 8, 1994,the mandate was dedicated with a giant map of Africa and on January 15, 1995, the first missionaries left the shores of Nigeria.
As at September 2010, Winners Chapel has branches in at least 63 cities in 48 African countries. The mandate to Africa is known as the African Gospel Invasion Program (AGIP). The foreign mandate is an arm of the World Mission Agency (WMA) of the ministry.
In 2000, the prompting came to reach out beyond Africa and this mandate is now known as the “Mission to the World” (MTW). There are at least 30 branches of Winners Chapel in the USA in cities like Houston, Georgia, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Chicago, Dallas, Philadelphia, Minnesota, Atlanta and Massachusetts. There are also branches in the UK, UAE, Belgium, The Caribbean, Canada, China, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan among others all over the world; in Nigeria alone, there are some 5,000 local branches. In the Lagos area, there are about 2,000 zonal fellowships and over 20,000 satellite fellowships. The number of Winners’ Chapel churches grew from about 700 in January 2010 to 2,500 by October 2010 before the present figure of 6,000.
Souls saved in the first ten months of the year 2013 in Faith Tabernacle alone numbered over 65,000 people and all these were given scholarships at the Word of Faith Bible Institute. Faith Tabernacle attendance has averaged 200,000 people on Sundays.
The Commission has 12 Pillars known as The Pillars of Faith. The Pillars are The Word, Faith, The Supernatural, The Holy Spirit, Prosperity, Prayer, Healing, Wisdom, Success, Vision, Consecration and Praise. The church teaches the importance of faith and that both divine healing and material prosperity are benefits of submission to God’s will.
The international headquarters of Winners Chapel is called Faith Tabernacle. It covers about 66 acres and is built inside an over 17,000-acre church complex called Canaanland, the international headquarters of the ministry in Ota, a suburb of Lagos. The building took 12 months to be completed. The foundation laying took place on August 29, 1998 and the announcement of the time frame of one year for the building project was announced on September 13, 1998 by Bishop Oyedepo at the Iyana Ipaja church while work began on September 18, 1998. The dedication of the building took place on September 19, 1999 with 97,800 people in attendance. In December 1999, new bishops were ordained, notable among them is Bishop Thomas Aremu who has remained till now in the ministry and now a vice-president.
Furthermore, the church administration system was improved upon and dioceses were created to be in charge of states in Nigeria. Continents were also structured administratively. More pastors were ordained and ranked administratively; Bishops head the dioceses and watch over state pastors. Under the state pastors are the resident pastors, provincial pastors, assistant provincial pastors, assistant pastors and so on.
Faith Tabernacle is one of the largest Church buildings in the world, with a sitting capacity of 50,400 people and an outside overflow capacity of over 52,000, with 4 services every Sunday. This facility is stretched to 250,000 during Shiloh. Construction completed as well as other facilities with equippings in Canaanland including Covenant University and Canaan City till date is estimated to be not less than N100 Billion.
Faith Tabernacle is the fulfilment of the vision delivered in April 1982. Over 300,000 people have been counted at single meetings at Canaanland. Cannanland was procured in 1998 and was initially 530 acres (2.3 km2). Presently it is over 17,000 acres and will take about 130km to navigate around it.
As an educationist, Bishop David Oyedepo’s mission currently pioneers the establishment of educational institutions at all levels in and outside Nigeria, including the recently established Covenant University with over 7,000 students as well as Faith Academy with 1,500 students both located in Canaanland.
Covenant university was well documented in a Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) documentary on the Nigerian 50th independence anniversary because of landmark achievements in its few years of existence. Covenant University was adjudged the best private university in Nigeria in 2005 and one of the goals of the institution is to be among the best in the world by or before 2020. Presently it is the best university in Nigeria and adjudged 4th in Africa as well as placed 400 in the world.
According to Bishop Oyedepo, “Covenant University is not just an institution, it is a revolution in education”. Faith Academy also placed fourth among Nigerian secondary schools in the 2010 Senior secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE).
The second university of the church is Landmark University in Omu Aran, Kwara State. Construction at Landmark university is estimated to be in the realm of about N30 billion. The University was licensed in March 2011 and presently ranks as one of the best of Nigeria’s 196 universities. Landmark University consists presently of 1,400 acres. There are plans for 5 more universities to be constructed across Africa including at Goshen, Abuja and in Calabar in Nigeria. Others are in Accra, Ghana, Democratic Republic of Congo and Nairobi, Kenya. A very expansive 1,000 acres of land has already been acquired for the university in Ghana while 300 hectares (about 750 acres) have been acquired for the Congo university and this is going to be a French speaking university.
Some years ago, President Yahya Jammeh of The Gambia appealed to the World Mission Agency (WMA) of the Living Faith Church to build a university in The Gambia. Some other projects that were announced during the initial foundation laying in Canaanland in 1999 include a towering administrative headquarters and 500 bed hospital among many other projects.
Winners’ Chapel also runs a chain of about 20 Secondary schools and over 150 Primary and nursery schools in Nigeria. The secondary schools are known as Faith Academies except those located in within the universities known as Covenant University and Landmark University Secondary Schools respectively. The Nursery and Primary Schools are known as Kingdom heritage Model Schools (KHMS).
Some of the secondary schools are located in Badagry, Benin, Warri, Ota, Iyana Ipaja, Ibadan, Lokoja, Asaba, Kaduna and Osogbo.
The mission is presently working on plans to build at least a secondary school each in every country in Africa. It also has a Bible School, called The Word of Faith Bible Institute (WOFBI); this is the biggest such group in Nigeria with branches in over 50 countries worldwide including the United States of America, the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates. As at 2004, WOFBI had trained over 100,000 people all over Africa. WOFBI has 21 campuses in the Lagos Area.
Some other assets of the Church are aircraft including a fixed wing Challenger 605 with call sign “N633WM’ which is listed in the Forbes 500. The fleet includes a helicopter.
The Church fleet is known as the Dominion Airlines which is used strictly for missionary work and the church has also procured an aircraft Hangar at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos. The Dominion Aviation Center, a Hangar owned by the Church costed about $2.5 million (N350 million).
The Church also owns Dominion Publishing House, which turns out Bibles, books and other materials written by David and Faith Oyedepo and David Abioye. Bishop Oyedepo has written over 100 books apart from many also written by Bishop Abioye and Pastor (Mrs) Faith Oyedepo.